Speakers & Participants

We are excited to present a preview of our list of 2017 presenters. Please check back periodically as we will be adding new speakers and full bios with photos soon.

is an American photojournalist whose work focuses on conflicts and human rights issues, especially the role of women in traditional societies. Her memoir, IT’S WHAT I DO, describes her pursuit of truth and her zeal to document the complex lives of others. She is a MacArthur “Genius” grant recipient and a member of the team that won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting.

AYAD AKHTAR is a Pakistani-American playwright, novelist, screenwriter, and actor who won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for his play, DISGRACED, about identity and the challenges for upwardly mobile Muslim Americans in a post-9/11 America.

BILLY COLLINS, former Poet Laureate of the U.S., is known for his popular and witty poetry and for tender, profound observations. Billy returns to Sun Valley after a hiatus of 11 years.

LAURA DONOHUE is a professor of law at Georgetown Law and Director for the Center on Privacy and Technology. Her latest book is THE FUTURE OF FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE: PRIVACY AND SURVEILLANCE IN A DIGITAL AGE.

JAY FAMIGLIETTI is Senior Water Cycle Scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and has been researching and communicating about water and climate change for over 25 years. Famiglietti was the featured expert in Jessica Yu’s documentary LAST CALL AT THE OASIS and, along with his team, develops advanced computer models and uses satellite remote sensing to track water availability around the globe. His commentary has appeared in every major newspaper in the country.

LAUREN GROFF is a novelist and short story writer and was a 2015 National Book Award nominee for her third novel, FATES AND FURIES.

CRAIG JOHNSON, prolific Western novelist, short story writer, and author of the Walt Longmire detective novels, will be coming from his home in Ucross, Wyoming, population 25. His most recent in the Longmire novels, AN OBVIOUS FACT, is on The New York Times 2016 Best Sellers List.

PHIL KLAY is a U.S. Marine veteran and Dartmouth College graduate who served in Iraq’s Anbar Province in 2007/2008. His short story collection, REDEPLOYMENT, has won several awards including the National Book Award for Fiction. In a 2016 Brookings Essay entitled Citizen Soldier: Moral Risk and the Modern Military, he writes: “A decade after I joined the Marines, I’m left wondering what obligations I incurred as a result of that choice, and what obligations I share with the rest of my country toward our wars and to the men and women who fight them.”

HELEN MACDONALD, a British writer, poet, historian, illustrator, and naturalist, is an affiliated research scholar at the University of Cambridge Department of History and Philosophy of Science. Her memoir, H IS FOR HAWK, won the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize and Costa Book Award and was named one of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year.

KATI MARTON is a Hungarian-American author and journalist. Her career has included reporting for ABC News as a foreign correspondent and for National Public Radio. She is a former chairwoman of the International Women’s Health Coalition, and a director of the Committee to Protect Journalists and other organizations, including the International Rescue Committee, Human Rights Watch, and the New America Foundation. She has written numerous books, and her most recent release is TRUE BELIEVER: STALIN’S AMERICAN SPY.

Author and journalist JANE MAYER is a New Yorker staff writer covering culture, politics, and national security. She was formerly The Wall Street Journal’s first female White House correspondent. Mayer is the author of four books, including her most recent, DARK MONEY.

Novelist MARIA SEMPLE is the author of three books: WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE; THIS ONE IS MINE, a finalist for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award; and, her most recent, TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT. Before turning to fiction, Semple worked in television, writing for Ellen, Mad About You, Saturday Night Live, and Arrested Development. Her work has also been published in The New Yorker magazine.

SALLY BEDELL SMITH is the author of biographies of William S. Paley, Pamela Harriman, Princess Diana, John and Jacqueline Kennedy, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Queen Elizabeth II. Her newest biography chronicles the life of Prince Charles. A contributing editor at Vanity Fair since 1996, she previously worked at TIME and The New York Times, where she was a cultural news reporter.

ANDREW SOLOMON writes on culture, politics, and psychology and is the president of PEN American Center. His latest book of travel essays focuses on places in dramatic transition – from Moscow (1991) to Afghanistan (2002) to Myanmar (2014). Solomon’s most recent book, FAR FROM THE TREE: PARENTS, CHILDREN, AND THE SEARCH FOR IDENTITY, received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and was chosen as one of The New York Times Ten Best Books of 2012. His earlier book, THE NOONDAY DEMON: AN ATLAS OF DEPRESSION (Scribner, 2001), won the 2001 National Book Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize.

EVAN THOMAS is a historian and former editor of Newsweek who has authored nine books including works on Nixon (2016), Eisenhower, and Robert Kennedy.

LOUISA THOMAS is a historian and author of the recent biography of Louisa Adams, the wife of John Quincy Adams. She is the daughter of Evan Thomas and they will be in a father/daughter discussion together as well as speaking individually about their work.

JEFFREY TOOBIN is the author of five books including his most recent, AMERICAN HEIRESS: THE WILD SAGA OF THE KIDNAPPING, CRIMES AND TRIAL OF PATTI HEARST. As a New Yorker staff writer, Toobin has written profiles of five Supreme Court justices as well as articles on nearly every major legal controversy in the last two decades. The recent Emmy award-winning limited television series, The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, was based on Toobin’s book, THE RUN OF HIS LIFE.

COLSON WHITEHEAD is widely considered one of the best of his generation of novelists and has often written on the African-American experience in his fiction. His new novel, THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, boldly and brilliantly deals with that very subject. Currently on The New York Times Best Sellers List, it is also a 2016 National Book Award finalist in Fiction. Additionally, Colson has published two books of nonfiction.