Spring 2024 Lectures


Fall lectures will be held in-person at OLLI: 4801 Massachusetts Ave. NW, in Room A on the first floor. Lectures are on Fridays from 1:30-2:30 PM.


Reservations are required to attend in-person lectures. Registration will open at 10:00 AM on the Friday prior to each in-person lecture. Registration is via an event on the OLLI website events calendar. The direct registration link will be included in the Friday newsletter the week prior to each lecture. Lectures are free and open to the public, but you must have an OLLI account to register. If you do not have one, you can create an account when going to register. Each registrant may reserve one seat. Your name must be on the list of registrants to enter the lecture and you must be in your seat five minutes before the lecture starts to guarantee your seat.


Charles Kamasaki, Immigration Reform, Might Past Be Prologue?
March 8
1:30–2:30 PM
In-Person at OLLI

Charles Kamasaki is Senior Advisor to UnidosUS, formerly the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights organization. Previously NCLR’s Executive Vice President, he managed NCLR’s research, policy analysis, and advocacy activity over three decades.

Kamasaki has authored, co-authored, and supervised the preparation of dozens of policy and research reports, journal articles, and editorials; testified frequently before Congress; and served on numerous nonprofit boards and advisory committees.

He is also a Distinguished Immigration Scholar at Cornell University Law School, and a Fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, under whose auspices he authored Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die (Mandel Vilar Press 2019), an award-winning book about the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

He is the recipient of the Cesar Chavez Award from the American Association of Affirmative Action and the Public Service Award from the American Immigration Lawyers Association. He was named an “Asian American of Distinction” by Pacific Citizen; and was also named a member of the “Dream Team” of civil rights advocates by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

Jeffrey Blount, Mr. Jimmy From Around the Way and the Impact of Literary Activism
March 15
1:30–2:30 PM
In-Person at OLLI

Jeffrey Blount is the award-winning author of three novels. His most recent book, The Emancipation of Evan Walls, was the winner of the 2020 National Indie Excellence Award for African American fiction.

He is also an Emmy award-winning television director and a 2016 inductee to the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame. During a 34-year career at NBC News, Jeffrey directed a decade of Meet the Press, The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, and major special events. He is the first African American to direct The Today Show. He is also an award-winning documentary scriptwriter for films and interactives that are now on display in the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, America I AM: The African American Imprint at the National Constitution Center, and others.

In 2017 and 2018, Jeffrey served as Journalist in Residence and Shapiro Fellow at the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University.

A Virginia native, he graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in Communications/Broadcast Journalism. Born and raised in Smithfield, Virginia, he now lives in Washington, DC.

Hayley Finn, The New Jewish Play
March 22 
1:30–2:30 PM
In-Person at OLLI

Hayley Finn (she/her/hers) is an accomplished director and producer with over 25 years of experience in professional theatre. Prior to joining Theater J, she was the Associate Artistic Director at the Playwrights’ Center. She also served as a Co-Artistic Director of Red Eye Theater from 2019-2023 where she co-produced and curated the New Works 4 Weeks Festival—and she co-led the fundraising and development of a new 150-seat black box theater in Minneapolis.

She has directed nationally and internationally, including at Cherry Lane Theatre (New York, NY), Curious Theatre Company (Denver, CO), the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Edinburgh, Scotland), Public Theater (New York, NY), and many others. Finn was Assistant Director on several Broadway productions, including the Tony Award-winning production of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge.

Finn is an Alumna of the Drama League Director’s Program, recipient of the Ruth Easton Fellowship, TCG Future Leader Grant, National Endowment for the Arts support, and a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant. She received her BA and MA from Brown University.

Steve Livengood, The Temple of Democracy: American History Gets Acted Out in the US Capitol
March 29
1:30–2:30 PM
In-Person at OLLI

Steve Livengood is the Public Historian and Chief Guide of the US Capitol Historical Society, a private not-for-profit organization chartered by the US Congress to develop enhanced experiences related to the history of the Capitol Building and the institutions that have been housed there. His specialty is interpreting the building with historical background on the meaning of activities and artworks as the icons of representative democracy, seeing familiar things from a deeper perspective.

Mr. Livengood began giving tours of the Capitol for his Member of Congress from Kansas in 1965. He has a BA in Political Science from American University. After experiencing the risks of good citizenship in Vietnam, he used his GI Bill benefits as a doctoral candidate in recent US political and social history at Emory University. He has worked in various capacities in DC political and policy circles, culminating with his work for the Capitol Historical Society since 1994. He has been given the Tourism Industry Award by the Guild of Professional Tour Guides of Washington for his work in promoting the interpretation of the Capitol building by professional city guides. He is a board member of the Olmsted Network and helped promote Olmsted 200 for the bicentennial celebration of the genius of landscape architecture.

Steve loves the work he does so much that he continues as he can in retirement. He resides on the new waterfront in SW Washington where his balcony overlooks Rick Olmsted’s East Potomac Park. His two children and his new granddaughter live nearby in Northern Virginia.

Michael Conley, Honoring Service and Sacrifice: The Story of the American Battle Monuments Commission
April 5
1:30–2:30 PM
In-Person at OLLI

Michael Conley is the executive director for management for the American Battle Monuments Commission. He served previously as the Commission’s director of public affairs and before that as director of communications and associate executive director of the Commission’s National World War II Memorial project.

He has been with the Commission since August 1996, a few months after retiring from the United States Air Force. He served nearly 25 years in the Air Force as a career public affairs officer, with assignments in the continental US, Alaska, and Greece. He spent his last five years on the Air Staff in the Pentagon.

Mike has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from San Jose State College, a master’s degree in executive development for public service from Ball State University, and a master’s in communications management from the University of Southern California.

Friday April, 12—NO LECTURE due to the ANNUAL MEETING

Judge David Tatel, Vision
April 19
1:30–2:30 PM
In-Person at OLLI

David S. Tatel served on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1994 to 2023. After graduating from the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago law school he served as the founding director of the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and then director of the National Committee. He headed the Office for Civil Rights of the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare during the Carter administration and then founded and led the education practice at Hogan Lovells, where he is now Senior Counsel. 

Judge Tatel is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In the past, he co-chaired the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Science, Technology and Law, and chaired the boards of The Spencer Foundation and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Judge Tatel and his wife, Edie, live in Virginia and Washington, DC They have four children, eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Bryan Cheeseboro, The Civil War Defenses of Washington: 1861
April 26
1:30–2:30 PM
In-Person at OLLI

With Washington, DC—The National Capital—situated below the Mason-Dixon Line and surrounded on all sides by slaveholding states, the prospects for Union defeat were very real. Many people are aware of the Civil War Defenses of Washington (CWDW) and that it was composed of 68 forts and 93 batteries. But this was the strength of the defenses in 1865, at the end of the war. How did it all begin? Which were the first forts built? Which was the first fort? And was a Confederate invasion of Washington, DC possible? This presentation will look at these and more questions.

Bryan Cheeseboro is a historian of the American Civil War. His activities include being a reenactor with Company B, 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He has been featured on American Battlefield Trust’s Zoom Goes the History series and Antietam Live! programs. He has written for the Emerging Civil War blog. His presentations to the Rock Creek, DC Civil War Round Table include the programs Outside of Lincoln's White House: Civil War Men and Women of the DC Metro AreaThe Grand Reviews of the Civil War; and The 1st United States Colored Infantry. He was the subject of the article “The Hands-On Historian” in the Spring 2021 issue of Civil War Monitor magazine. In February 2022, he was the guest of John R. Heckman’s (The Tattooed Historian) YouTube channel to discuss his presentation Volunteers, Substitutes, & Drafted Men: Enlisting in the Civil War. He is a Park Ranger with the National Park Service. His site is the Civil War Defenses of Washington.

Mitzi Perdue, A View of Ukraine You Haven't Heard
May 3
1:30–2:30 PM 
In-Person at OLLI 

Harvard graduate Mitzi is a writer, a former rice farmer, and a past president of the 40,000-member American Agri-Women. In the 1990s and early 2000s her column, The Environment and You, was the most widely syndicated environmental column in the US. Recently she’s written a biography of Mark Victor Hansen, the Chicken Soup for the Soul guy. The book, Relentless, has won numerous awards for the Best Biography of 2022 and was an Amazon #1 best seller. Royalties for Relentless will go for humanitarian relief in Ukraine.

She became particularly interested in aiding the people in Ukraine when General Andriy Nebytov, head of Kyiv Region Police, invited her to visit Ukraine in August of last year. She had written about humanitarian conditions in Ukraine, and the General invited her to come see for herself.

Her first night in Ukraine was partly spent in a bomb shelter because of a rocket attack on the city where she was staying. During her second trip there, many of her interviews were conducted in bomb shelters while the cities were under attack. 


OLLI does not endorse any of the viewpoints expressed by the speakers in its series.

We thank the Lecture Committee and all those who suggested and contacted speakers: John Aldock, Ellen Babby, Joe Belden (Chair), Tamara Belden, Helen Blank, David Coffman, Edward Cohen, Martha Cutts, Dave Hensler, Jeanne Kent, Lynn Lewis, Mark Nadel, Irvin Nathan, and Diane Renfroe.