Sylvia W. Kauders Lunch Series

November 16, 2022: Dick Polman: The Midterm Elections Are Over. What's Next for America?

Dick Polman teaches political journalism at Penn, where he has been the full-time Writer in Residence since 2006. Previously, he was a national political reporter and columnist, as well as a foreign correspondent, for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for nearly three decades. He was also a political columnist at WHYY News for nine years, and currently writes several columns a week at


Professor Wendy A. Bach is a nationally recognized expert in both clinical legal education and poverty law. She has been with the University of Tennessee College of Law since fall 2010. From 2005 to 2010, she taught in the clinical program at the City University of New York School of Law. Before entering the academy, she was director of the Homelessness Outreach and Prevention Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York City and a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Brooklyn. Professor Bach has dedicated her career to representing children and families in poor communities in a variety of legal settings, and she continues to do so in UT College of Law's nationally-ranked clinical program. Her scholarship focuses on the interaction between systems of support and care and systems of punishment in poor communities and has been published in the William and Mary, Wisconsin, Brooklyn, and Michigan Law reviews, The Florida Tax Review and The Yale Journal of Law and Feminism.


Libby Copeland (CAS '98) is an award-winning journalist who writes about culture, science and human behavior. A reporter and editor at the The Washington Post for eleven years, Copeland has also written for New York Magazine, The New York Times, The Atlantic and Smithsonian Magazine. She has been a media fellow and guest lecturer, and has made numerous appearances on television and radio. The Lost Family is her first book.


Emily Guendelsberger has worked at Philadelphia City Paper, the Onion’s A.V. Club, Philadelphia Weekly, and the Philadelphia Daily News, and has contributed to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Post, Politico magazine, and Vice . Her book, On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How it Drives America Insane, is a bitingly funny, eye-opening story of finding work in the automated and time-starved world of hourly low-wage labor.

September 11, 2019: THE METHOD TO THE MADNESS

Aaron Short (C’03) has reported on Donald Trump’s political aspirations for over a decade. He is a Brooklyn-based journalist whose work appears in the New York Post, the Daily Beast, and Vice. Short graduated from Penn in 2003, with a double major in political science and history.


Randi Hutter Epstein (C'84), M.D., is an author and writing teacher. She is a proud graduate of Penn where she studied History & Sociology of Science. Randi also has an M.D. from Yale University, where she teaches medical writing to undergraduates and is the Writer In Residence at Yale School of Medicine. She also has an M.S. from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and an M.P.H. from the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. Randi's articles have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times among other publications. She writes a blog for Psychology Today. Her first book, Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank was called "an engrossing survey of the history of childbirth" by the Washington Post. Her most recent book is Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything. The New Yorker called it a "compelling history…a tour of endocrinology, highlighting progress but also the hype that has promoted the curative abilities of hormones."


Rebecca Soffer is the co-founder and CEO of Modern Loss, a publication and community offering candid original essays and resources on loss. She is also coauthor of Modern Loss: Candid Conversation about Grief. Beginners Welcome., which was published in January 2018 by Harper Wave and debuted as a #1 new release on Amazon. She is a former producer for the Peabody Award-winning Colbert Report. Rebecca is nationally recognized presenter on the topics of loss and resilience and has spoken at Chicago Ideas Week, Kripalu, The Commonwealth Club, and BinderCon. She has been published in a variety of media including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, and Refinery29. She is a graduate of Emory University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Rebecca lives in New York City with her husband and two children.


Jennifer Yu is a Boston resident and recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied creative writing. In her free time, she enjoys reading books she's too old for, roping unsuspecting friends into listening to her play the guitar and being far too invested in Boston sports teams. Most of her pop culture knowledge comes from binge-watching late-night talk show clips and occasional nervous forays into the depths of Tumblr. Find her online at or on Twitter: @yuontop.

October 5, 2016: WORST. PRESIDENT. EVER.

Robert Strauss, the author of Worst. President. Ever. is a former reporter for Sports Illustrated, feature writer for the Philadelphia Daily News and news and sports producer for KYW-TV in Philadelphia. He has also taught non-fiction writing at Penn since 1999 and has been a freelance writer since then, primarily for the New York Times.

March 14, 2016: Lunch with Patrick Kerkstra

Patrick Kerkstra is the editor of Philadelphia magazine. Before that, he covered politics and urban affairs for the magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other outlets in the city.

October 14, 2015: Lunch with Tom Ferrick

Tom Ferrick, Jr. is an editor, reporter and columnist long active in print and web journalism in Philadelphia. Until 2013, Ferrick served as senior editor of Metropolis, a local news and information site based in Philadelphia that he founded in 2009. Prior to that, Ferrick worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Philadelphia Inquirer (1998-2008). The Philadelphia native has spent nearly 40 years as a journalist, focusing mostly on government.

February 24, 2015: A lunch talk with Daniel Menaker

Daniel Menaker is a fiction writer and editor, currently working with the MFA program at Stony Brook Southampton and as a consultant for Barnes & Noble Bookstores. Daniel was a fiction editor at The New Yorker for twenty years and had material published in the magazine frequently. In 1995 he was hired by Random House as Senior Literary Editor and later became Executive Editor-in-Chief.

February 12, 2014: A lunch talk with Mark Halperin

Mark Halperin is an editor at large and a senior political analyst for Time magazine, and a senior political analyst for MSNBC. Halperin, who has covered seven presidential elections, received his B.A. from Harvard University and resides in New York City. He is the co-author (with John Heilemann) of the bestselling campaign books Game Change and Double Down: Game Change 2012.

September 30, 2013: Chris Satullo

Chris Satullo is vice president for news and civic dialogue at WHYY. He joined the public media service in 2008 after nearly 20 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer. At the Inquirer, he served as editorial page editor and a columnist, among various positions. He founded the paper's Citizen Voices program of civic dialogues on public issues, and in 2006 co-founded the Penn Project for Civic Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania. He has won more than 50 awards for columns, editorials, reporting and civic engagement. Before coming to the Inquirer, he worked at the Express newspaper in Easton, Pa., where he was assistant managing editor and wrote a syndicated column. A a graduate of Williams College and a former Fulbright Fellow, he lives in Montgomery County, Pa.


Stephen Ratcliffe has published more than twenty books of poetry, including New York Notes (1983), Distance (1986), [where late the sweet] BIRDS SANG (1989), spaces in the light said to be where one/ comes from (1992), Present Tense (1995), Sculpture (1996), SOUND/(system) (2002), and Conversation (2011). In the late 1990s, he began a series of 'poems-written-in-consecutive-days' which is still going on, and has thus far resulted in three 474-page books – Portraits & Repetition (2002), REAL (2007), and CLOUD / RIDGE (2011) – and three 1,000-page books – HUMAN / NATURE, Remarks on Color / Sound, and Temporality, all available at Editions Eclipse. Audio recordings of his work, including a fourteen-hour performance in collaboration with several Bay Area musicians of HUMAN / NATURE at UC Davis on June 8–9, 2008, and another fourteen-hour performance of Remarks on Color / Sound on May 16, 2010, at Marin Headlands Center for the Arts, can be found at his page on PennSound; his ongoing 'daily poems' can be found online at Ratcliffe has also written three books of literary criticism: Campion: On Song (1981), Listening to Reading (2000), and Reading the Unseen: (Offstage) Hamlet (2010).

Over the past forty years, poet Robert Grenier has constantly pushed poetry into new frontiers of practice and utterance. His handwritten poems, produced in the last decade, cross the upper limit of inscription to be both writing and drawing. His works include Sentences (1978, Whale Cloth Press), Series (1978, This Press), Oakland (1980, Tuumba Press), A Day At The Beach (1984, Roof Books), Phantom Anthems (1986, O Books), and OWL/ON/BOU/GH (1997, Post-Apollo). A graduate of Harvard College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Grenier has received two NEA Fellowships for poetry writing and has taught literature and creative writing at UC Berkeley, Tufts University, Franconia College, New College of California and Mills College.

March 27, 2013: Lunch Talk with Ryan Lizza

Ryan Lizza is a CNN contributor and the Washington Correspondent for The New Yorker, where he covers the White House and writes the magazine’s “Letter From Washington” column. Since joining the New Yorker in 2007, he has written profiles of Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Barack Obama, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Joe Biden, Rahm Emanuel, Peter Orszag, Darrell Issa, Michele Bachmann, and Paul Ryan.

October 1, 2012: A Lunch Talk with Jonathan Coleman

Jonathan Coleman mused on “the art and responsibility of creative nonfiction writing” (credit Dick Polman) in this wide-ranging lunch talk. The author, who holds that his experience as a waiter informs his writing practice, began with a list of must-have qualities for nonfiction writing, including patience, “curiosity bordering on obsession,” and a long attention span. It was clear that such qualities served Coleman well while tracing the complexities of a remote intra-familial murder case, unraveling the lies of absentee college president “Uncle Jay,” and convincing Jerry West that he was “as nutty as he was.” Coleman’s anecdotes were peppered with practical advice about the field, perhaps the most interesting of which was his technique of picturing a couple named Mildred and Harry in Iowa to achieve relatable storytelling.

March 29, 2012: Lynn Rosen

Lynn Rosen is a book publishing professional with more than twenty-five years of experience as an editor, literary agent, book packager, and author. She is the author of Elements of the Table: A Simple Guide for Hosts and Guests (Clarkson Potter, 2007), a guide to setting the table, dining etiquette, and the history of fine dining. Lynn is also the co-author of The Baby Owner’s Games and Activities Book (Quirk Books, 2006), and The Baby Owner’s Maintenance Log (Quirk Books, 2004), as well as several gift books and journals. Lynn has been a freelance writer for the Home & Design section of The Philadelphia Inquirer covering the domestic beat, and has written on subjects including how to do laundry properly, learning the dreaded art of sewing, and her Mother’s Day special: what she learned about housecleaning from her mother. Lynn has also written legal profiles for Young Lawyer and General Counsel Mid-Atlantic (American Lawyer Media). Lynn is the Director of Graduate Publishing Programs at Rosemont College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. teaches at several major Philadelphia universities. As an editor, Lynn has worked with publishers of adult trade non-fiction and illustrated gift books including Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Peter Pauper Press, an independent publisher of gift books, and Running Press.

February 29, 2012: Anne Waldman

Since the 1960s, Anne Waldman has been an active member of the “Outrider” experimental poetry community as a writer, performer, collaborator, professor, editor, scholar, and cultural/political activist. In the 1960s, Waldman became part of the East Coast poetry scene, during which time she also made many connections with earlier generations of poets, including figures such as Allen Ginsberg, who once called Waldman his "spiritual wife." From 1966-1968, she served as Assistant Director of the Poetry Project at St. Mark's; and, from 1968–1978, she served as the Project's Director. Waldman has published more than forty books of poetry and her work has been widely anthologized, featuring work in Breaking the Cool (University of Mississippi Press, 2004), All Poets Welcome (University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 2003), Women of the Beat Generation (Conari Press, Berkeley, CA, 1996), Postmodern American Poetry (W.W. Norton, New York, 1994) and Up Late (Four Walls Eight Windows, New York, 1988) among others. Her poems have been translated into French, Italian, German, Turkish, Spanish, and Chinese. She is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Contemporary Artists Foundation, among others.

March 16, 2011: David Bianculli

David Bianculli is a guest host and TV critic on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. A contributor to the show since its inception, he has been a TV critic since 1975. From 1993 to 2007, Bianculli was a TV critic for the New York Daily News. Bianculli has written three books: Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, 2009), Teleliteracy: Taking Television Seriously (1992), and Dictionary of Teleliteracy (1996). An associate professor of TV and film at Rowan University in New Jersey, Bianculli is also the founder and editor of the online magazine,

February 10, 2010: Annette John-Hall

Annette John-Hall is a metro columnist for The Inquirer. She was previously a features reporter and columnist focusing on music, film television and pop culture. A native of Berkeley, Calif., she covered professional, college and high school sports at the San Jose Mercury News, the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and the Oakland Tribune.

November 11, 2009: Lisa DePaulo

Lisa DePaulo is currently a correspondent for GQ Magazine. Known at GQ for her political writing, DePaulo has profiled Karl Rove and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, among others. She has also contributed to New York, Philadelphia Magazine, Talk, George, and the blog The Daily Beast. An alumna of the University of Pennsylvania, DePaulo now resides in New York City.

September 30, 2009: Pete Dexter

Pete Dexter, a Michigan native, is an author and former columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and The Sacramento Bee. As a fiction writer, his works include 1988 National Book Award winner Paris Trout (1988, Random House) and 1996 Literary Award recipient The Paperboy (1996, Dell Publishing). He has also written screenplays for Paris Trout, Rush, Michael, and Mulholland Falls. He currently resides in the Puget Sound region of Washington.

March 18, 2009: Steve Lopez

Steve Lopez was a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist from 1986 to 1997 and is currently a columnist for the L.A. Times. His book Land of Giants: Where No Good Deed Goes Unpunished (1995) is a collection of his best Inquirer columns. He is also the author of the novels Third and Indiana (1995), The Sunday Macaroni Club (1997), and In The Clear (2002). His book The Soloist (2008, G.P. Putnam's Sons) was recently chosen as the book for Philadelphia's community reading project, One Book, One Philadelphia. Adapted into a motion picture starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx, The Soloist is based on a series of Lopez's columns published in the Los Angeles Times in 2005.

October 22, 2008: Will Bunch

Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order on his blog, Attytood. He is the senior writer for the Philadelphia Daily News and its former political writer. Will's been covering presidential campaigns and conventions all the way back to Jesse Jackson's historic 1984 bid. Working for the spunky Philly paper that GQ once called "arguably the best tabloid in America," he's gained national recognition for his scoops on the mysteries of 9/11, the crash of Flight 93, the war in Iraq and the beheading of Nick Berg.

October 3, 2008: Gerald M. Stern

Sylvia Kauders and Gerald Stern

Sylvia Kauders and Gerald Stern

Gerald M. Stern, author of The Scotia Widows: Inside Their Lawsuit Against Big Daddy Coal (Random House, 2008), was a founding partner of the Washington, D.C. law firm of Rogovin, Stern & Huge. Prior to that he was a partner with Arnold and Porter for eleven years, where he was the lead counsel for the survivors of the Buffalo Creek Disaster. He wrote about that experience in The Buffalo Creek Disaster, a recently reissued book still widely used in law schools. Before joining Arnold and Porter he was a trial attorney with the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, trying voting discrimination cases in the South. He wrote about those experiences in two books, Southern Justice and Outside the Law. He has also served as General Counsel of Occidental Petroleum Corporation and as Special Counsel to the United States Department of Justice. Presently, he is a legal consultant and lives in Washington, D.C.

April 11, 2008: Leo Bretholz

Leo Bretholz has appeared in the documentary film Survivors Among Us. He is also the co-author of Leap Into Darkness, which describes how Mr. Bretholz fled to the United States when Nazism began to dominate his native Austria. The book is to be made into a movie in cooperation with Senator Entertainment. Mr. Bretholz currently lives in Pikesville with his wife, and speaks regularly on his experiences in the Holocaust.

March 6, 2008: Dick Polman

Dick Polman is the Maury Povich "Writer in Residence" at the University of Pennsylvania and writes a Sunday political column for the Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as a daily political blog, Dick Polman's American Debate. He has been cited by the Columbia Journalism Review as one of the nation's top political reporters. He has been a frequent guest on C-Span, MSNBC, CNN, NPR, and the BBC, and lectures frequently in the community about journalism and presidential politics. He was on the presidential campaign trail in 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004, and is currently teaching a Penn course on commentary writing during the historic 2008 primaries.