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Matti Bunzl's Blog

Elizabeth Warren

Event Info
Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 6–7 pm

Thorne Auditorium
Northwestern University School of Law
375 E. Chicago Avenue
Tickets on sale January 4. $5 for CHF members, $10 for the general public. FREE for Charter Humanists Circle members.

To me, Elizabeth Warren is a genuine American hero. A professor at Harvard’s School of Law, she rocketed to national prominence during the recent financial crisis. An expert on our system of credit, particularly the credit card industry and the laws governing personal bankruptcy, she had been among the most prescient commentators on the country’s looming debt problems. Now, in the midst of full-fledged crisis, she became one of the voices of reason, calmly explaining how we got into our current predicament and offering various solutions on how to emerge from it.

E Warren
Elizabeth Warren

In the process, Warren became one of the most recognizable figures on the public policy scene – a position that was enhanced when she was appointed in November 2008 to chair the Congressional Oversight Panel instituted to monitor the implementation of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, variously known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program or, simply, the financial bailout.

In this highly visible role, Warren continued a long-standing quest: her advocacy for the creation of a new consumer financial protection agency – a government outfit that would regulate the financial industry’s practices vis-à-vis individual consumers. Such an agency was, in fact, created through the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act; and Warren was put in charge of its setup, holding the official title of Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Wall Street
The New Sheriffs of Wall Street

Warren’s courageous and dedicated service in these essential positions has led to numerous accolades. Time alone has named her to the list of 100 most influential people in 2009 and 2010 and identified her, along with Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chair Sheila Bair and Mary Schapiro of the Securities and Exchange Commission, as one of the “New Sheriffs of Wall Street.” With such a high profile, many people have also revisited her writings, including several books aimed at a general audience. Much like her work in government, such books as The Fragile Middle Class: Americans in Debt (2001) and The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents are Going Broke (2004) seek to analyze the slow slide of “average people,” explaining it not as a function of individual weakness but of systemic shifts in our economic system. To see Warren enact her academic theories in the realm of public policy is thus quite remarkable in and of itself.

And speaking of remarkable – we were absolutely thrilled when Warren accepted our invitation to speak under the auspices of the CHF. Our original hope was to have the event during the fall festival. But we learned that it is rather difficult to get political figures to come for a lecture in the middle of national elections. But we persevered and are delighted to present Warren in a free-standing event on February 23.

Joanne Alter
Joanne H. Alter

What makes the occasion particularly special is that Warren will give the CHF’s annual Joanne H. Alter Lecture on Women in Government. With the series, we join Alter’s family in honoring the inspiring legacy of a true trailblazer in Chicago politics, the first woman Democrat elected to public office in Cook County and founder of Working in the Schools (WITS), the largest tutoring program for at-risk youth in Chicago. Like few other figures in American politics today, Elizabeth Warren embodies Joanne Alter’s uncompromising commitment to social action and public service – and it will be a privilege to celebrated their shared vision of the public good at the CHF. 



Elizabeth Warren

#414: Wed, February 23; 6:00 PM

Tags: Alter Lecture, Women, Government, Politics, Financial Crisis, Credit

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