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Bryan Stevenson, Author, Lawyer and Founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, to be Featured Speaker at Whitworth President’s Leadership Forum

August 16, 2023


Whitworth University is pleased to welcome author and public interest lawyer Bryan Stevenson as the featured speaker at its President’s Leadership Forum on Thursday, Oct. 5, at 7:30 a.m. at the Spokane Convention Center. Breakfast will be served.

Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a human rights organization in Montgomery, Ala. His bestselling book, Just Mercy, detailed his successful efforts to exonerate an African American man in Alabama who had been sentenced to die. It was adapted into a feature film starring Michael B. Jordan in 2019.

Stevenson has initiated major anti-poverty and anti-discrimination efforts that challenge inequality in America. He led the creation of two highly acclaimed cultural sites that opened in 2018: the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. These national landmark institutions chronicle the legacy of slavery, lynching and racial segregation, and the connection to mass incarceration and contemporary issues of racial bias. 

Stevenson’s work and his drive for equality exemplify Whitworth’s mission to honor God, follow Christ and serve humanity. For this reason, Whitworth will present Stevenson with an honorary doctoral degree during his visit.

“Bryan Stevenson is a person of rare accomplishment, for which he has been recognized by scores of organizations and publications,” President Scott McQuilkin says. “I have not witnessed a better public speaker, and one with such compelling content. His return to Spokane to headline our President’s Leadership Forum has been four years in the making. This is an announcement we are thrilled to make.”

Stevenson, a professor of law at New York University School of Law, has argued and won multiple cases before the United States Supreme Court. He and his staff have won reversals or releases from prison for more than 135 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row. 

Stevenson has won numerous awards for his work, including the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “genius grant”; the ABA Medal, the American Bar Association’s highest honor; the National Humanities Medal; the National Medal of Liberty from the American Civil Liberties Union; and the Olaf Palme Prize, a Swedish international human rights prize. 

In 2015, Stevenson was named to the Time 100 list recognizing the world’s most influential people. The following year, he received the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award. He was named by Fortune in its 2016 and 2017 World’s Greatest Leaders list, and he received the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize from the King Center in Atlanta in 2018. 

The Whitworth President’s Leadership Forum draws key national leaders to the Inland Northwest to provide wisdom and insight on a variety of contemporary issues. The event costs $60 per person or $600 for a corporate table (10 seats per table). Advance online registration is required. Please visit to register.

About Whitworth University:

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of about 2,500 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. 


Sean Duarte, events manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3732 or

Trisha Coder, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or