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Media Speakers We Cannot Wait to Hear From

Each year, Tom Tom Festival curates a selection of speakers, moderators, and performers who we see are making an impact at large in our society today. This year is no different. However, with Charlottesville in a spotlight since August 12th, 2017, it is more important than ever for us to invite and introduce individuals who represent inclusiveness, ideologies on progress, and ideals for a future of unity.

We are fortunate to have a slew of prominent and prolific journalists, authors, and investigative reporters who embody those elements, all gathering for our 2018 Founders’ Summit, to not just speak on their background and research, but essentially what it means to be American in these tumultuous times. They will each spur discussions on varied topics pertinent to media and our culture – including race, #metoo, health, science, travel, and finance.

Familiarize yourselves with some of our most-anticipated media-related speakers with our handy guide:SEE ALL SUMMIT SPEAKERS

Dan Rather (Lengendary Broadcaster)

What Unites Us Author, Veteran CBS Anchor

This man needs no introduction, but we’ll give it a shot. Legendary broadcaster of 24 years at CBS Evening News, Dan Rather, was a household names for decades. After moving on from CBS (concluding 44-year relationship), Rather founded and helmed independent production company News and Guts, which produces high-quality nonfiction content. He recently published his meditation on patriotism in America, What Unites Us, which he will speak about during his keynote speech.

Known for his pioneering in journalism at times of unrest and upheaval during the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. He has been credited for naturally bringing news into the living room, creating an evening staple for American families. As one of the “Big Three” anchors since the 1908s, Rather gained an impressive reputation that makes his style of delivery and reporting recognizable.

On social media, he is followed by millions who look forward to his daily posts and blogspots surrounding breaking news, and his personal thoughts and takeaways from discussions circulating the internet weekly on various topics. His insightful, sharp-tongued, and wise words speak to the heart of Americans who seek steadfast and consistently delivered news from a man they have trusted for so many years.

Anne Helen Petersen (Correspondent, Buzzfeed)

Anne Helen Petersen doesn’t shy away from a story, nor from taking on the patriarchy. Her editorials are quintessential to this day in age, ranging in topics on being white, masculinity, keeping

BuzzFeed News Western Correspondent

tabs on women’s rights, politics, and how to report the news. While many of her articles on the surface appear to touch on entertainment (movies, music, celebrity gossip), they dive far deeper than your standard Hollywood backyard pool.

She explores misogyny in several industries and at multiple levels: she calls out anchors, writers, shows. She strategically creates labels in a telling-it-like-it-is-manner, and is blistering in her critiques of those who are not up to speed on their couthness and behavior.

The woman is a powerhouse reporter as Buzzfeed’s Western correspondent; but also as an author. In 2017 she published: TOO FAT TOO SLUTTY TOO LOUD: THE RISE AND REIGN OF UNRULY WOMEN. We are beyond enthusiastic for her appearance with us this year, and cannot wait to have her tell us “how to be” and where to go from here.

Laura Bliss (Staff Writer, CityLab)

Laura Bliss is the engaging staff writer at CityLab who is passionately reporting on and embracing the future of the United State’s infrastructure.

CityLab/The Atlantic Staff Writer

Her research and work also appear in The Atlantic, the New York Times, and GOOD.

Laura provides roadmaps for her readers in topics related to technology and our streets: traffic, net neutrality, taxes and construction, ride shares, and public transportation. She takes the hard data and research and translates it for wide audiences to digest.

Laura anticipates driverless technology. Her commentary questions authoritative decisions surrounding the way we rely on transportation, but remain upbeat about the future. Maybe she hasn’t seen any Black Mirror episodes. Or maybe she has, and she’s steering us in a future that we aren’t afraid of, and are prepared to take on. We are proud to have her on board with us at Tom Tom Summits this year to discuss how the “surreal” suddenly became quite, very, “real.”

Roben Farzad (Host of Full Disclosure on NPR One)

Full Disclosure on NPR One Host, Author

His social media presence is rich, as is the dialogue, critiques, and commentary Roben Farzad shares on his Richmond-based NPR show, Full Disclosure. Sarcastic, bold, and honest are characteristic tropes in his approach to news, be it hard or gossip. The host also contributes to PBS NewsHour for roundtable discussions.

Roben dips his toes in many waters. Most especially, Miami’s. He is the Amazon best-selling author of #HotelScarface: Where Cocaine Cowboys Partied and Plotted to Control Miami. It is currently in development for TV. we welcome him to Tom Tom Summits this year to talk on his accomplishments, and varied subjects that are topical for Virginia this year; we are promised an entertaining hour with him, every time.

Anne Bauer (Senior Data Scientist, The New York Times)

The New York Times

Senior Data Scientist to the New York Times, Anne Bauer, is plotting the way we see and read the news. She carefully and constantly tracks readership and circulation electronically, boosting the way the news is delivered across multimedia platforms. Anne wasn’t always working in media, though – prior, she was involved in research in astrophysics and cosmology in Europe after obtaining her Ph.D. from Yale.

Tom Tom Summits is honored to have her collaboratively speak with Allen Gannett of TrackMaven on the importance of a company using and relying on data scientists to interpret traffic to their site and maximize their business potential. In today’s world with Facebook and Google controlling the majority of what audiences see, Anne is focused on flexing algorithms to find their secrets, and take advantage of them so we can see less “fake news” and more of what is important to us.

Garrett Graff (Contributing Editor, Wired Magazine)

WIRED Magazine Contributing Editor

Garrett Graff is a force to be reckoned with in the print media world. With four books under his belt, Garrett has a lot on his mind, especially when it comes to technology, our nation’s security, and policies. He contributes regularly to CNN, Longreads, and currently oversees The Aspen Institute as Executive Director. He was previously Editor and Editor in Chief at POLITICO and Washingtonian, respectively.

As our nation is rocked back and forth – violently – we look to experts like Garrett to weigh, and help us wade through the thick of it. Having previously written on shocking stories involving the government, including the assassination of JFK, 9/11, and more, we trust Garrett to share with us where his instincts are guiding him. We look forward to his discussion on “Defending the Digital Space” at Tom Tom Summits.

Deborah and James Fallows (Contributors, The Atlantic, National Geographic)

James and Deborah Fallows are the power couple in media that we are pleased to welcome to this year’s Tom Tom Summits. Besides both being contributors to prominent news source The Atlantic and other publications, such as National Geographic, both have spent the last few years traveling in their Cessna, exploring the “unknown” rural America. They spent generous amounts of time in small towns across the States, searching for America’s voice and listening to those who are rarely heard.

Deborah is who we would consider an expert on linguistics. Author of Dreaming in Chinese, she resiliently learned of mainland Chinese culture and life through Mandarin. She has a different perception than many do on the world’s superpower.

James was once President Carter’s speechwriter, before becoming a national correspondent for various magazines and newspapers. He too has written books – ten of them – on national topics and policies. Both Deborah and James are sure to give a rousing, intimate look at the United States – as we know and don’t know it.

Amy Goldstein (Staff Writer, The Washington Post)

Washington Post (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

One of the most concerning topics in our nation is the status of our healthcare system. Look to Amy Goldstein, long-time staff writer of The Washington Post, who is an expert writer on social

policies, particularly health-related. From Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other welfare issues, Amy knows best. She reported from inside the White House during George W. Bush’s administration, and has covered political scandals over the last few decades.

Amy received a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on 9/11 – and the government’s response. Amy goes big – but also goes micro. She put a lens on Janesville, the small midwestern town that lost a large swath of jobs during the 2008 recession when General Motors’ assembly plant closed just before Christmas, in her book: Janesville: An American Story. She will be speaking on her book, and undoubtedly the “bigger picture” – and how this small-town story can happen in Anywhere, USA.

Jennifer Wright (Columnist, Harper’s Bazaar)

Author of Get Well Soon and It Ended Badly, Harper’s Bazaar Columnist

2017 was the year of the feminist. Jennifer Wright is no exception. Author of two books and columnist for Harper’s Bazaar, Jennifer is not one to shy away from the tough topics, including modern feminism in the age of Trump. The ultimate cheerleader and advocate for women with her words, Jennifer is someone we are heartily looking forward to hearing from at Tom Tom Summits, when she will speak on being “Female in Public” with Jenn Brown of Civic Nation.

At the heart of her pieces for Harper’s Bazaar is a fiesty, strong, emphatic woman who is taking on the patriarchy, one Jennifer Lawrence and anti-bra post at a time. She is also interested in historical writing, having published books: “Get Well Soon,” a look at history’s worst plagues, and “It Ended Badly,” a take on the 13 worst break-ups ever. Maybe that text break-up you had last weekend wasn’t so bad, after all…at least there was no bubonic plague involved.

Brad Wolverton (Investigative Reporter, NerdWallet)


Being exploited by financial scammers, identity theft, loan sharks, and abuse of credit card information is real – and one of Brad Wolverton’s biggest concerns surrounding our economy today. Originally, he ventured into sports writing, but found a knack for writing on consumer woes’ regarding their wallet. A self-proclaimed “nerd,” Brad writes to protect us from the latest scams and fraud cases, digitally and by-mail, or from malicious companies the misuse our information.

Brad has won multiple awards from his writing. We are fervently awaiting his talk at Tom Tom Summits on protecting yourself in an increasing reliant world on electronic platforms, and how to approach grandma when she is convinced she has won $4million – if she sends the “lottery” a $130,000 deposit first.






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