Block A: Leonard Riggio, the founder of Barnes & Noble and father of mass book retailing. Riggio understood that paperback books represented a way to allow middle class people to assemble libraries; he also subscribes to the theory that a single book can change one’s life; Block B: My experience in encountering people who are…

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Block A: James Meredith, the first African American to attend Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi, and his persistence; Block B: My persistence in learning how to “write like a human” (as opposed to writing as a lawyer) and writing/launching my book, Getting to Ellen: A Memoir about Love, Honesty and Gender Change (2013).

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Block A: My first attempt to do good in the world by establishing a nonprofit in Cedar Rapids—and how I failed; Block B: Remembering that on this Memorial Day, we all need to do our best to reclaim America’s authenticity and values.

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Block A: Zora Neale Hurston, a writer who’s grandparents on both sides were slaves; Zora wrote about living as a black person in the first half of the 20th century. She interviewed and wrote about Cudjo Lewis, the then last person living who had been brought to America as a slave; Block B: My recent…

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Block A: Dr. Megan Coffee, an under-the-radar idealist who has dedicated her life to improving medical conditions in Haiti; Block B: How I’ve heard that my message about human inclusivity isn’t always received well.

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Block A: The work of Harry and Bertha Holt, who founded the first international adoption agency following the Korean war; Block B: My own story as an adoptive parent to two Korean-born girls and my gratitude for the work undertaken by the Holts.

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Block A: Johan Van Hulst and others saved 500-1000 Jewish children and babies from Nazi concentration camps and certain death; he believed that the risk to his own life was worth it; Block B: How my human inclusivity trainings have sparked compassion from others.

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Block A: Commemorating the life of Linda Brown, the plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court Decision, Brown v. Board of Education; Block B: The price of being an idealist.

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Block A: Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer and contemporary idealist whose advocacy has saved 100+ from death row and who’s the architect of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama; Block B: Ellie’s audience-participatory “Identity Game” where people want to be known for being “compassionate.”

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Block A: Christopher “Tripp” Zanetis, who could have been our “first gay President” and the best that America had to offer; Block B: Ellie’s experience of speaking/training in “the bubble” of the Twin Cities compared to the greater Midwest re: being a transgender person.

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Block A: Marsha P. Johnson, a founder of the modern transgender human movement and a participant in the Stonewall Riots; Block B: Living as a transgender person in the Trump/Pence America and believing in the other, far larger more welcoming and accepting America.

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Block A: Viola Desmond, “Canada’s Rosa Parks”; Block B: Ellie as an advocate for women and on the value to mentoring to girls and young women via Big Sisters.

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Block A: Parkland Fla. high school students leading our “leaders” on changing the gun rights conversation; Block B: Ellie as a whistleblower in college.

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