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With lectures on feminism, conservation and politics, Witte series returns to Newport Beach

From left, photographer Joel Sartore, “The End of Men” author Hanna Rosin, Cook Political Report national editor Amy Walter and poet Richard Blanco will deliver this year’s 22nd Witte Lecture Series at the Newport Beach Public Library.
(Courtesy photos)

Over the years, the Witte Lecture Series has garnered a reputation for inviting compelling, engaging speakers.

“The really fun part is that basically anybody in that audience can ask a question or have a conversation,” said Janet Hadley, chairwoman of the five-member committee that selects the speakers. “It’s very intimate.”

A diverse quartet of speakers — whose topics include women’s empowerment, the political landscape, an artist’s struggle with sexual identity, and advocating for endangered species — are slated to speak at the 22nd Annual Witte Lectures at the Newport Beach Public Library.

The opening lecture, “Men vs. Women: What the future holds,” takes place Jan. 25 and 26 and features author Hanna Rosin, whose bestseller, “The End of Men and the Rise of Women,” addresses the shift of male-female relationships in the workplace and the world.


“This is really edgy for us,” said Hadley, who has been planning the speakers with the committee for months. “It was well thought out. We try to be edgy but stay within the boundaries of what the community will accommodate.”

While the “End of Men” was published in 2012, Rosin’s lecture arrives in the midst of the #MeToo movement.

“The global economy is becoming a place where women are more successful than men, believe it or not,” Rosen said during the TEDWomen’s Conference in Washington, D.C. “And these economic changes are starting to rapidly affect our culture … what our romantic comedies look like, what our marriages look like, what our dating lives look like and our new set of superheroes.”

The Feb. 8 and 9 lectures, “The Civic Role of Poetry: For and Of the People,” features Richard Blanco, who served as presidential inaugural poet for Barack Obama.


He’s the first Latino, immigrant and openly gay person to serve in the position. Blanco wrote a poem, “Boston Strong,” aimed at healing the emotional wounds left in the wake 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and penned “One Pulse-One Poem” to pay tribute to the victims of the 2016 mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Florida

Amy Walter, national editor of The Cook Political Report newsletter, will speak at the March 8 and 9 lectures, “The Objective Political Picture: Orange County, California and the Nation.” Walter’s newsletter provides nonpartisan analysis and is respected by both Democrats and Republicans.

Photographer Joel Sartore will give the final lecture, “Photo Ark: The Groundbreaking Effort to Document Vanishing Species,” on April 12 and 13. Sartore is an award-winning photographer and conservationist who documents endangered species around the world. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic and has authored several books, including “Photo Ark: A World Worth Saving” and “RARE: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species.”

The Witte Lecture Series is organized by the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation, a nonprofit established in 1998 by the family of Martin Witte, a Newport Beach builder and supporter of public libraries.

“We’ve had incredible people over the years,” Hadley said. “You never know who is going to resonate with whom. We try to create balance.”

Lectures will take place in the library auditorium; attendance is limited to 200.

Lou Ponsi is a contributor to Times Community News.

If You Go

What: The 22nd Annual Witte Lectures


Who: Hanna Rosin (Jan 25 to 26); Richard Blanco (Feb. 8 to 9); Amy Walter (March 8 to 9); Joel Sartore (April 12 to 13)

When: Each lecture takes place at 7 p.m. Fridays and again at 2 p.m. Saturdays

Cost: Friday lectures are $63 ($58 for foundation members) and include a Q&A session after the talk, followed by a light supper, book sales and signing; Saturday lectures are $43 ($38 for foundation members) and include a Q&A, followed by dessert and coffee, book sales and signing

Information: (949) 717-3890;