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StraightTalk Speakers 2019

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Chris Ballard (August 29)

Major General Christopher Ballard, U.S. Army, ret., is former deputy director of operations at the National Security Agency and former commanding general, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. General Ballard has led large military organizations in a broad array of intelligence and cybersecurity missions. A career Army intelligence officer, Ballard has commanded at the company, battalion, and brigade levels with combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. MG Ballard's awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, and Meritorious Service Medal. Ballard holds a B.A. in political science and German from Furman University, a Master's in international relations from Indiana University, and a Master's in national security strategy and policy from the National War College.

Derek Black (September 12)

Derek Black grew up at the epicenter of white nationalism. His father, Don Black, founded Stormfront, the largest racist community on the internet. His godfather, David Duke, was a KKK Grand Wizard. By the time Derek turned 19 and entered college, he was regarded as the leading light of the burgeoning white nationalist movement. At New College of Florida, he encountered diverse perspectives and for the first time questioned the science, history, and prejudices behind his worldview. Eventually, at tremendous personal cost, he disavowed everything he was taught to believe.  He is the subject of Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist by Pulitzer prize-winning author Eli Saslow. A graduate of New College, Black is a PhD candidate in medieval studies at University of Chicago. Follow him on twitter: @rderekblack.

Bart Bonikowski, Ph.D. (August 29)

Bart Bonikowski is associate professor of sociology at Harvard University, resident faculty at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, and a faculty affiliate of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, where he co-directs the Research Cluster on Challenges to Democracy. Relying on survey methods, computational text analysis, and experimental research, his work applies insights from cultural sociology to the study of politics in the United States and Europe, with a particular focus on nationalism, populism, and the rise of the radical right. His research has appeared in the American Sociological Review, Annual Review of Sociology, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies and a number of other peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes. A graduate of Queen’s University in Canada, he received his PhD in sociology from Princeton University. He can be found on twitter at @bartbonikowski and on the web at

Khalilah Brown-Dean, Ph.D. (September 5)

Khalilah L. Brown-Dean is an associate professor of political science at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, where her research interests center on voting rights, election administration and public policy. Her commentary appears in over 400 media outlets including The New York Times, CNN, NPR, Fox News Radio, Democracy Now, Al-Jazeera, and The Hill. Her forthcoming book, Identity Politics in the United States, moves beyond the headlines to show how conflicts over group identity are an inescapable feature of American political development. A graduate of the University of Virginia, she received her PhD from The Ohio State University. Follow her on twitter @KBDPHD.

David J. Fleming, Ph.D. (August 29)

David Fleming is an associate professor in the Politics and International Affairs Department and a senior researcher with the Richard W. Riley Institute at Furman University. He graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in political science from the University of Notre Dame, and he received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009. His scholarly work has been published in the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Education and Urban Society, and the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, among other outlets. Dr. Fleming teaches courses in American politics, public policy, and political analysis.

Ashley Jardina, Ph.D. (September 5)

Ashley Jardina is an assistant professor of political science at Duke. Her research explores the nature of racial attitudes, the development of group identities, and the way in which these factors influence political preferences and behavior. She is primarily interested in how Americans are responding to increasing diversity, and her new book, White Identity Politics, explores the conditions under which white racial identification and white consciousness among white Americans is a salient and significant predictor of policies, candidates, and attitudes toward racial and ethnic groups. She received her BA, MA, and PhD from the University of Michigan. She can be found on twitter at @AshleyJardina and on the web at


Eric Kaufmann, Ph.D. (September 5)

Eric Kaufmann is professor of politics at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the author of Whiteshift: Immigration, Populism and the Future of White Majorities (Penguin/Abrams, 2018/19). He has also written Changing Places: mapping the white British response to ethnic change (Demos 2014), Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth: demography and politics in the twenty-first century (Profile 2010), The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America: the decline of dominant ethnicity in the United States (Harvard 2004) and two other books. An editor of the journal Nations & Nationalism, he has written for Newsweek International, Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines, and blogs at Huffington Post. He received his PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science and his BA from the University of Western Ontario. He may be found on twitter at @epkaufm and on the web at

Sarah McCammon (September 12)

Sarah McCammon is a correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR's National Desk. Her work focuses on political, social, and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. During the 2016 election cycle, she was NPR's lead political reporter assigned to the Donald Trump campaign. In that capacity, she was a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast and reported on the GOP primary, the rise of the Trump movement, divisions within the Republican Party over the future of the GOP and the role of religion in those debates; that work earned her a rare invitation inside a closed-door meeting between evangelical leaders and Trump soon after he clinched the nomination. 

Danielle Vinson, Ph.D. (September 5 & 12)

Danielle Vinson is professor of political science specializing in media and politics, the American presidency and American government. She is the author of two books Local Media Coverage of Congress and Its Members and Congress and the Media: Beyond Institutional Power and numerous articles and chapters relevant to media and politics. She is often called upon by local, national, and even international press, especially during presidential primaries, to make sense of South Carolina politics (not quite as impossible as it sounds). A graduate of Furman University, she received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University.