Opening Keynote Speaker: Kal Penn
Friday, November 17, 2023 at 8:30 a.m. -10:00 a.m. CT
Actor, Harold & Kumar; Former Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement
- When: Friday, November 17, 2023 from 8:30 a.m -10:00 a.m. CT
- Location: Skyline Ballroom in the McCormick Place West
Penn will focus on the importance of social activism while weaving in a message that society should be celebrating our diversity because we all benefit. He is a huge advocate of Humanities education, and will focus on the importance of language education, international relations, global citizenship, and a cross-cultural understanding.
Kal Penn is an actor, writer, producer, and former Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. He is known for his starring roles in Designated Survivor, House, Mira Nair’s The Namesake, the Harold & Kumar franchise, and the Christmas comedy The Santa Clauses for Disney +.
From 2009 to 2011, Kal took a sabbatical from acting to serve in the Obama/Biden administration, where he served as the President’s Liaison to Young Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the Arts community. In these roles, he worked on a range of issues, including the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Affordable Care Act, Pell Grants, arts and culture programs, the DREAM Act, and rapid response to the BP Oil Spill and earthquake in Haiti.
He was a national co-chair for the Obama/Biden re-election campaign in 2012 and served on the President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities, focusing on arts education and cultural diplomacy, including the first-ever US Government arts delegation to Cuba. Penn has taught courses at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Los Angeles. Originally from New Jersey, he received his undergraduate degree in sociology, theater, film, and television at the University of California, Los Angeles, and received a graduate certificate in international security from Stanford University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Earlier in the year, Penn wrapped production on the Bloomberg Green climate change docuseries, Getting Warmer, and the Viacom/Paramount + comedy, Surina & Mel. Following the departure of Trevor Noah from The Daily Show, Kal was named as an upcoming guest host.
His first book You Can’t Be Serious was released on November 2, 2021 from Simon and Schuster/Gallery Books. He also narrates the audiobook.