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Jaquelin Robertson is an architect and urban planner at Cooper, Robertson & Partners, a firm in New York City that he co-founded in 1988. He was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, the youngest of three children. A short, but influential period in his life occurred at age 11 when his family lived in China for a year and a half. At the start of his architectural career, he was one of the founders of the New York City Urban Design Group, the first Director of the Office of Midtown Planning and Development and a City Planning Commissioner under Mayor John Lindsay. In his thirties, he spent three years in Iran directing the planning and design of Tehran’s new capitol center. From 1980 to 1988, he served as the dean of the University of Virginia School of Architecture. His awards include the Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture in 1998, the Seaside Prize for his contribution to American Urbanism and the 2007 Driehaus Prize for work in the field of traditional, classical and sustainable architecture.
Rachel Kleinfeld was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, with two brothers. In 2005, she co-founded the Truman National Security Project, a leadership institute for training progressives on national security. She is currently its president and executive director. She is also a regular contributor on radio and television programs and her commentary has appeared in numerous national journals and newspapers. She was recently named by TIME Magazine as one of the 40 under 40 “rising stars of American politics.” She splits her time between Washington, D.C. and Colorado.
Steven Umin grew up in the Bronx during the 1940s and 1950s as the eldest son of a lower middle class family. He has only one younger sister. He did his undergraduate studies at Yale, where he was ranked first in his class. He planned on becoming a doctor before deciding to pursue law. After law school, he clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Potter Stewart. Over the years, he has been involved in a wide variety of cases in civil and criminal litigation. He is currently a senior member at Epstein, Becker & Green in Washington, D.C. And since 2000, he has been a mediator for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit. Besides making time for art, music, and friends, he also devotes himself to the fight against multiple sclerosis. He is a member of the board of the Multiple Sclerosis International Foundation in London, England, and the Sylvia Lawry Center in Munich, Germany.
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Jonathan Blake grew up in a small seaside town in New Jersey called Rumson. He is the eldest of three sons. He attended the school where his father was the headmaster and spent his high school years at Deerfield Academy, a boarding school in Connecticut. He has been a communications lawyer at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. since 1964 when he started out as an associate. He remains physically active by playing in three to four tennis tournaments annually and since the first U.S. oil crisis in 1973, he’s been running to work. He has been described as one of the finest lawyers in America and “the most ethical person I can imagine in the law profession.”*
David Quammen is an award-winning writer, perhaps best known for his nature column called “Natural Acts” in Outside magazine from 1981 to 1995. His first novel, To Walk the Line, was published when he was 22 years old. He has authored three other works of fiction and seven non-fiction books, including Wild Thoughts from Wild Places, The Song of the Dodo, and The Reluctant Mr. Darwin. His recently published book is Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic. He is also a regularly contributing writer for National Geographic.
Below is the transcribed record of a verbal conversation. Neither David Quammen nor I have tried to make it read like a polished, fully grammatic piece of writing. It is what it is: human talk.
Yale University, 1960, B.A., Scholar of the House in English
University of Oxford, 1962, Dipl., Anthropology
University of California-Los Angeles, 1963, M.A., Theater Arts
Yale Drama School, 1967, D.F.A., Playwriting
Leslie Epstein spent his childhood in the 1940s and 1950s in Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles, California. He was part of a Hollywood screenwriting family. His father and uncle, Philip and Julius, wrote classics like Arsenic and Old Lace and won an Academy Award for Casablanca. He is the author of seven novels and three short story collections. His most controversial work was the novel, King of the Jews, in which he examines European Jews who betrayed their own people to the Nazis. He also wrote an autobiographical novel called San Remo Drive in 2003. For over 20 years, he has been the director of the Creative Writing Program at Boston University.
Below is an hour-long talk we had while he ate lunch and cleared the dishwasher at his home in Brookline, Massachusetts.