Judy Shepard, founding president, Matthew Shepard Foundation. James Fallows
In October 1998, Judy and Dennis Shepard lost their 21 year-old son, Matthew, to a murder motivated by anti-gay hate. Matthew’s death moved many thousands of people around the world to attend vigils and rallies in his memory. Determined to prevent others from suffering their son’s fate, Judy and Dennis decided to turn their grief into action and established the Matthew Shepard Foundation to carry on Matthew’s legacy. The Foundation is dedicated to working toward the causes championed by Matthew during his life: social justice, diversity awareness & education, and equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.
Judy Shepard is the founding president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation Board of Directors, and served as its first executive director as well, from 1999 to 2009. In her continuing role as board president, she travels across the nation speaking to audiences about what they can do as individuals and communities to make this world a more accepting place for everyone, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sex, gender identity and expression, or sexual orientation.
Speaking from a mother’s perspective, Judy also authored a 2009 memoir, “The Meaning of Matthew,” exploring the family’s journey through the prosecution of Matthew’s assailants, the ensuing media coverage, and their continuing work to advance civil rights. Originally trained as a teacher, Mrs. Shepard holds a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Secondary Education from the University of Wyoming where she later pursued some post-graduate studies.
A national correspondent for The Atlantic, James Fallows is co-creator, with his wife Deborah, of the publication’s American Futures project. For the last six years, James and Deborah Fallows have been traveling across America in a single-engine prop airplane and reporting on the people, organizations, and ideas re-shaping the country.
As part of their City Makers: American Futures project in partnership with The Atlantic and Marketplace, the Fallowses visited smaller and medium-sized cities, meeting civic leaders, factory workers, recent immigrants, and young entrepreneurs to take the pulse and understand the prospects of places that usually draw notice only after a disaster or during a political campaign. The Fallowses’ book, Our Towns, is the story of their journey — and an account of a country busy remaking itself, despite the challenges and paralysis of national politics.
London-based national correspondent James Fallows has written for The Atlantic since the late 1970s, living and reporting in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter and two years as the editor of US News & World Report.
James Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series “Doing Business in China.” He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. He is the author of numerous books, including Breaking the News: How the Media Undermines American Democracy and China Airborne; as well as Blind Into Baghdad and Postcards From Tomorrow Square, which are based on his writings for The Atlantic.
(Note: This biography was up-to-date as of the date of the lecture. Biographies are not updated over time.)