Michael R. Bloomberg was elected the 108th Mayor of the City of New York in 2001. He began his career in 1966 at Salomon Brothers, and after being let go in 1981, he began Bloomberg LP, a start-up financial news and information company that now has more than 15,000 employees around the world.
As Mayor, Bloomberg has cut crime by 35 percent, revitalized the waterfront, implemented ambitious public health strategies, including the successful ban on smoking in restaurants and bars, and expanded support for arts and culture. His education reforms have driven graduation rates up by more than 40 percent since 2005.
The Mayor’s economic policies have helped New York City avoid the level of job losses that many other cities experienced during the national recession. In fact, New York City has gained back more than 260 percent of the jobs lost during the national recession, and even surpassed the previous record for the number of private sector jobs, which had been set in 1969.
Katherine Boo is the author of the National Book Award winner for Nonfiction and 2013 Pulitzer finalist, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. She has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2003, focusing on issues of poverty, opportunity, social and economic policy, and education. Before joining The New Yorker, Katherine was a writer and editor at the Washington Post, working on the Outlook and Investigative staffs. She was also an editor and writer for the Washington City Paper and The Washington Monthly. Among the prizes she’s received for her writing about disadvantaged populations are a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, a National Magazine Award for Feature Writing, and a MacArthur “Genius” Award.
Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award. A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Marilynne Robinson is the author of Gilead, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Home, winner of the Orange Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and a finalist for the National Book Award. Her first novel, Housekeeping, won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Robinson’s nonfiction books include Absence of Mind, The Death of Adam, and Mother Country, which was nominated for a National Book Award. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and lives in Iowa City.
Stephen Sondheim wrote music and lyrics for "Saturday Night," "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "Anyone Can Whistle," "Company," "Follies," "A Little Night Music," "The Frogs," "Pacific Overtures," "Sweeney Todd," "Merrily We Roll Along," "Sunday in the Park with George," "Into the Woods," "Assassins," "Passion" and "Road Show" and lyrics for "West Side Story," "Gypsy" and "Do I Hear A Waltz?" He composed music for the films "Stavisky," "Reds" and "Dick Tracy" and the TV production "Evening Primrose." His collected lyrics with attendant essays have been published in two volumes: "Finishing the Hat" and "Look, I Made A Hat.” In 2010 the Broadway theater formerly known as Henry Miller's Theatre was renamed in his honor.