Alumni

Elizabeth Banks

Elizabeth Banks has become one of Hollywood’s most sought after and versatile actresses. Originally from Massachusetts, Banks received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Graduate Degree at the American Conservatory Theater. She has appeared as ‘Effie Trinket’ in the international blockbuster “The Hunger Games" series, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” “Man on a Ledge” opposite Sam Worthington and “People Like Us” opposite Chris Pine and Michelle Pfeiffer. In May 2015, she was seen in Universal Pictures’ “Pitch Perfect 2” as Gail. Banks directed and produced the film with her husband, Max Handelman, through their company, Brownstone Productions. On the small screen, Bank earned an Emmy Award nomination in 2011 for ‘Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series’ for her performance as “Avery Jessup on “30 Rock.”

Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan was born in Chicago and raised in San Francisco, receiving her degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1985. Her most recent novel, A Visit From the Goon Squad, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and the LA Times Book Prize. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harpers, Granta, McSweeney’s and other magazines. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. Her non-fiction articles appear frequently in the New York Times Magazine. Her 2002 cover story on homeless children received the Carroll Kowal Journalism Award, and “The Bipolar Kid” received a 2009 NAMI Outstanding Media Award for Science and Health Reporting from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Jessie Redmon Fauset

Jessie Redmon Fauset (27 Apr. 1882-30 Apr. 1961) was probably the first black woman at Cornell University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in classical and modern languages in 1905. While teaching in Washington, D.C., Fauset completed an M.A. in French at the University of Pennsylvania (1919). From 1912 to 1929 Fauset contributed numerous articles, reviews, poems, short stories, essays, and translations of French West Indian poems to Crisis, the official publication of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. At the urging of its editor, W. E. B. Du Bois, she moved to New York City to become the literary editor of Crisis from 1919 to 1926. She was instrumental in discovering and publishing most of the best-known writers of the Harlem Renaissance, including Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, and Counteé Cullen. In 1920-1921 Fauset also edited a monthly magazine for African-American children called Brownies' Book. Discrimination made it impossible for her to work in a New York publishing house, so she returned to teaching. Fauset is primarily known, however, for her four novels--There Is Confusion (1924), Plum Bun (1929), The Chinaberry Tree (1931), and Comedy: American Style (1933). Fauset was noteworthy for her employment of nursery rhymes and the traditional romance plot to alternative uses, unveiling the complex ways in which racism and sexism make the happy endings such plots promise impossible for black women to achieve.

Richard Gay

Richard Gay is EVP, Strategy and Business Operations for Viacom’s Music Group. Mr. Gay works with division brands (MTV, Vh1, CMT, and Logo), other Viacom divisions, and outside partners to help the Music Group achieve its strategic, operational and financial goals. Prior to joining Viacom, Mr. Gay was a Partner in the Media and Entertainment Practice of Booz Allen & Hamilton. Mr. Gay received his B.S. in Economics from The Wharton School of Business and his M.B.A from Stanford University. He is currently a trustee of The Annenberg Center, the New York Urban League and the New York Posse Foundation.

John Legend

John Legend has revealed several personas during his award-winning career. Singer/Songwriter. Musician. Producer. Philanthropist. Entrepreneur. The Ohio native and University of Pennsylvania graduate rocketed to stardom with his Columbia debut Get Lifted in 2004, winning him three of his nine Grammys: best new artist, best R&B album and best male R&B vocal performance. Along with three more albums Once Again (2006), Evolver (2008), and Love in the Future (2013), Legend has teamed with The Roots on 2010’s Wake Up! The album featured reinterpretations of socially conscious songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s, including Bill Withers’ “I Can’t Write Left-Handed.” Giving back is another constant in Legend’s life. He serves on several boards, including the Equality Project, Stand for Children, Teach For America, the Harlem Village Academies and PopTech, a unique innovation network dedicated to accelerating the positive impact of world-changing people, projects and ideas.

Andrea Mitchell

Andrea Mitchell is the veteran chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News as well as the host of “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” an hour of political news and interviews with top news-makers. A native of New York, Mitchell received a B.A. degree in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania where she currently serves as a Trustee, a member of the Executive Committee and Chairman of the Annenberg School Advisory Board. Mitchell covered the entire 2008 presidential campaign and currently covers foreign policy, intelligence and national security issues, including the diplomacy of Secretary of State John Kerry, for all NBC News properties. In September 2005, Mitchell authored “Talking Back,” a memoir about her experiences as one of the first women to cover five presidents, Congress, and foreign policy. That year, Mitchell also received the prestigious Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism from the John F. Kennedy School of Government. In 2004, the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) honored Mitchell with the Leonard Zeidenberg Award for her contribution to the protection of First Amendment Freedoms.

Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad graduated with a B.A. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and received his Ph.D. in American history from Rutgers University, specializing in 20th century United States and African-American history. He is a media commentator, professor of history, race and public policy at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), the Suzanne Young Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the former director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of The New York Public Library (NYPL), one of the leading research facilities dedicated to the study of the African diaspora. His academic work focuses on racial criminalization and the origins of the carceral state. He is the author of “The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America” (Harvard University Press, 2010), which won the 2011 John Hope Franklin Best Book Award in American Studies. His articles and scholarship have appeared in many publications, including the New York Times, New Yorker, and the Washington Post. Muhammad is a native of the South Side of Chicago.

Brian L. Roberts

Brian L. Roberts is Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation. Under his leadership, Comcast has grown into a global Fortune 50 company uniquely positioned at the intersection of media and technology with two primary businesses, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Brian has worked at Comcast since graduating from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Brian has won numerous business and industry honors for his leadership. Most recently, he was recognized by Barron’s as one of the world’s 30 best CEOs, named “Businessperson of the Year” by Fortune magazine and named one of America’s top CEOs by Institutional Investor magazine for the eighth time. Brian is the recipient of the Ambassador for Humanity Award from the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for his visionary leadership and philanthropic work in education and technology. He also received the Humanitarian Award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Brian is a member of the Business Roundtable and also served on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.