Denis McDonough, former Obama Chief of Staff and Deputy National Security Advisor, to speak Tuesday evening at NU!

In Today's Events, by , on October 13th, 2020

You are invited on behalf of Dave Reilly, Chair of Political Science, and the Transformative Visions planning committee to participate in the next event of Niagara University’s presidential speaker series.

Transformative Visions, which hosts visionaries who have imagined and struggled to create a just future.  The series was imagined and developed by University president Fr. Maher, who has challenged us to think more deeply about the issues that receive inadequate treatment in presidential campaigning.  Our speakers have been invited to offer a vision of America and the world that transcends many of our current challenges and limitations through bold leadership and action.

Tuesday evening (October 13th, 7 PM), we are proud to present a “fireside chat” via Zoom  with Mr. Denis McDonough, former Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama and Deputy National Security Advisor.  This event, which will be hosted by faculty from the political science department, will engage Mr. McDonough on topics ranging from the state of American politics, to the climate crisis, to our foreign policy priorities and challenges, to life in the White House.  We will take a no-holds-barred approach to discussing what Mr. McDonough perceives to be his greatest successes and failures working within the Obama administration, and how the Trump administration has rolled back and replaced initiatives he worked hard to advance.

There will be opportunity to ask questions and to participate in a lively virtual discussion of the future of the United States in the world.  The link to join can be found at:

We invite you to participate in this tremendous opportunity to learn about the inner workings of the White House, policymaking, and the people who serve at the core of American government.  A brochure with details of the Presidential Transformative Visions Speaker Series is attached, including events with Dina Gilio-Whitaker (on “Indigenized” environmental resistance and protection) and Soffiyah Elijah (on criminal justice and policing reform) during late October and November.  Below is the description and intent of the series.  

Transformative Visions 

As the 2020 U.S. presidential election approaches, the major party candidates have attempted to define the issues, and for better or worse, to offer a vision of how they would seek to transform America and the world. Historically, campaign promises are thwarted, diluted, or ignored, failing in ways large and small to alter the status quo. Increasingly, American presidential campaigns are understood by all participants as vacuous, uninspiring exercises in the manipulation of consumer behavior. And in the contemporary entertainment-media-technology complex the ideals of equality, reasoned deliberation, and participatory democracy are sacrificed on the altar of corporate greed. As Election Day approaches we can expect to see and hear bold statements about the defining issues of our time and the power of the people to chart our future course.

We believe that a fundamentally different approach is needed. The challenges facing America and the world are complex, magnitudinous, and recalcitrant to simple solutions. Our students—and indeed, all persons living today—need the tools to understand racial inequality, police violence, mass incarceration, civil rights, Black Lives Matter, reparations, access to healthcare, inequities in health outcomes, the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental degradation, catastrophic climate change, the global refugee crisis, immigration, the sexual-assault pandemic, sexual harassment, #MeToo, LGBTQ discrimination, and so many more.

Niagara University’s Transformative Visions series is intended to offer our students a model of inquiry, discourse, imagination, and action.  As we draw our inspiration from St. Vincent de Paul, who organized his contemporaries to respond compassionately to people’s basic human needs, we hope that this series inspires participants to serve all members of society, especially the poor and oppressed, in local communities and in the larger world.