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Eric Liu

CEO, Citizen University


A dynamic author, educator and civic entrepreneur, Eric Liu inspires and energizes audiences everywhere. He is the founder of Citizen University, which promotes and teaches the art of creative citizenship. In settings ranging from the World Economic Forum to the Seeds of Compassion event with the Dalai Lama, from college campuses to corporate boardrooms to grassroots community organizations, Liu brings a message of possibility and responsibility that is unique and powerful.

Hailed by The New York Times and The Washington Post as a leading voice of his generation, Eric Liu has served in senior leadership roles in politics, media, and business. He was a White House speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and later Clinton’s Deputy Domestic Policy Advisor. He is a regular columnist for and correspondent for, and he has authored several acclaimed books that showcase his power as a storyteller and idea generator. He is the son of immigrants form China, and deeply aware of his second-generation responsibilities to push this country to live up to its creed.

Liu’s book Guiding Lights: The People Who Lead Us Toward Our Purpose in Life describes the ways of transformative mentors from all walks of life and was named the Official Book of National Mentoring Month. The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker — his book about race, identity, and assimilation — was a New York Times Notable Book and was featured in the PBS documentary Matters of Race. The True Patriot, co-authored with Nick Hanauer, was a national bestseller and argues that progressives must reclaim patriotism; the pair also co-authored The Gardens of Democracy, which has shaped the national political debate on inequality and the meaning of citizenship. His most recent book, A Chinaman’s Chance, is about being Chinese American in this age of China and America and argues that America still retains a deep competitive advantage - so long as it figures out how to fully activate its diversity.

What connects his wide-ranging work, and what Liu speaks about with passion and clarity, is the question “Who is us?” Liu’s work invites and challenges us to think and act outside our small circles of identity and to build a true “unum” out of our “pluribus.” Whether the topic is diversity, citizenship, or American identity, Eric Liu sparks a belief that we can - and must - be part of something greater than ourselves.


Citizen Power

Far too many Americans are illiterate in power — what it is, how it operates, why some individuals have more than others. As a result, those few who do understand power wield it disproportionately. How can you learn to activate your civic power to see problems through fresh eyes, and bypass broken institutions, stale ideologies, and divisive politics? In this powerful talk about power and civic purpose, Eric Liu expounds the values, knowledge and skills of effective citizenship, and rejuvenates the meaning of being an active American.

Who Is Us: The Future of American Identity

Our country has never been more diverse or more polarized, and the question of what it means to be American—and how we create a sustainable story of “us”—is front and center in our politics and culture. In this rich and provocative talk Eric Liu examines the birthing of a new America and argues that today’s fights over racial justice and social inclusion are fights to ensure that this country lives up to the full promise of its creed, and why now, more than ever, we need to ask: Who is us? Who gets to define modern America?

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