We've hosted a long list of distinguished visitors the past five years. Take a look at some of our visitors from the past. 

John Sullivan

John Sullivan '93
Sr. Lecturer, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University
Assistant Director, Medill Watchdog

John Sullivan, class of 1993, a reporter formerly at the Philadelphia Inquirer who now teaches at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, was on a team that won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service reporting.  Sullivan, who majored in politics and philosophy and minored in classics, wasn’t thinking about becoming a journalist when he was at Cornell, but, he said, the lessons he learned in class served him well.

After graduation, Sullivan became interested in journalism through his brother, who was a reporter. He went to graduate school at the University of Missouri and got a job at the News and Observer in Raleigh, N.C. After that, he moved to the Inquirer, where he served as an embedded reporter in Iraq, covered Gov. Ed Rendell and Philadelphia’s city government, and wrote for the paper’s science desk.

In July 2011 Sullivan joined the faculty at the Medill School of Journalism. He’s the assistant director of Medill Watchdog, an initiative where students write public interest news stories.

John Sullivan's visit included a workshop, "Great Stories are Gray: Telling Investigative Stories in Black and White," a publish lecture on "Public Service Journalism in a Declining Media Landscape: A new model for producing investigative reporting," and he dined with students for a Careers in Journalism dinner.

Visit date: October 3-5, 2012


Harper Reed '01
Chief Technology Officer
Obama for America

Harper Reed graduated in 2001 with majors in Computer Science and Philosophy.  Reed is an engineer who builds paradigm-shifting tech and leads others to do the same. Harper loves using the enormity of the Internet to bring people together, whether as CTO of Obama for America, CTO at Threadless.com, or on his own projects. Harper and his team created Dashboard, a site that connects volunteer teams and acts as an online component of the field office. You can often find Harper playing with new technology, looking for something to hack, or enjoying life in Chicago with his amazing wife, Hiromi.

Harper Reed's visit to Cornell included a workshop on "Marketing Me: Networking, Personal Branding, and Entrepreneurship.", a public lecture on "Revolutionizing Presidential Campaigns with Technology", and he dined with students for a Careers in Technology dinner.

Visit date: December 10-11, 2012

David Hilmers

David Hilmers '72
Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics
Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. David Hilmers is a 1972 graduate and majored in math.  He is now an associate professor in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.  In addition to teaching medical students and residents, his clinical pursuits have included international HIV, pediatrics special needs, emergency medicine, tropical medicine, international nutrition and inpatient internal medicine.

He has worked with a number of international research agencies including the United Nations, the Centers for Disease Control, the Medical Research Council, and numerous non-governmental organizations.  He is involved in the selection and evaluation of biomedical equipment and countermeasures for long-term manned space flight, including the International Space Station and is an advisor to the National Space Biomedical Research Institute.  He devotes a great deal of his time to international and local volunteer service and disaster relief. 

Prior to going to medical school he was a Marine Corps Colonel, aviator and electrical engineer, and served as a NASA astronaut on four space shuttle missions, including the first mission after the Challenger accident.

Hilmers' visit to Cornell included a public lecture,"Space is not the final frontier," classroom visits, and lunch with students from the Dimensions Program.

Visit date: April 1-3, 2013

Chip Koch with Disney characters

Chip Koch '88
General Manager, Entertainment Operations,
Disney California Adventure

Chip Koch graduated from Cornell in 1988 with a degree in Music. After his first year at Cornell he auditioned and secured summer employment at Adventureland outside of Des Moines and his career in amusement park entertainment was launched. Holding numerous jobs, including the opening team of Universal Studios Florida in 1990, Koch eventually joined Disney in the Entertainment Department at Pleasure Island, a nighttime entertainment complex. After 22 years, and various roles along the way, Koch became general manager of entertainment costuming and technical operations for Disney California Adventure (sister park to the original Disneyland) with responsibility for the daily operation of shows, parades, atmosphere, fireworks, and entertainment across the resort.

Visit date: October 2-4, 2013

Rachel Johnston

Rachel Johnston, PhD '94
Director, Criminology Program
Adler School of Professional Psychology

After graduating from Cornell with a BSS in American Studies, Johnston pursued a Masters in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois-Chicago which launched her career in municipal planning and development. Upon becoming the Director of Research and Development for the Chicago Police Department Johnston began pursuing a PhD in Criminology, Law, and Justice which led to distinguished faculty appointments at both the University of Chicago and the Adler School of Professional Psychology.

Visit date: February 25-27, 2014


Derek Johnson.jpg

Derek Johnson '04
Executive Director,
Global Zero

After Derek Johnson completed a degree in English and Philosophy from Cornell in 2004 he immediately enrolled in law school at Boston College. Before taking the helm at Global Zero, however, Derek worked to advance interfaith dialogue and cooperation on humanitarian issues at the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions and helped organize its flagship convening in Melbourne, Australia. He also worked to enhance access to justice, human rights and rule of law at JUSTICE, the British section of the International Commission of Jurists, and practice as an attorney for several years.

Global Zero, a global initiative for nuclear disarmament powered by an eminent group of 300 world leaders and luminaries, is a high-impact grassroots action corps with hundreds of thousands of members online. An experienced strategist and creative campaigner, Derek works on the frontiers of catalytic advocacy, foreign policy and social change.

Visit date: October 15-17, 2014

Melissa Wood.jpg

Melissa Wood '82
Commercial Artist, Book Illustrator, Author, Adventurer,
M. Wood Pen

Melissa Wood graduated from Cornell in 1982 with a triple major in English Literature, Art, and History. Before becoming an accomplished freelance artist with clients including Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Crate & Barrel, Trader Joe’s and many other household brands and names, Wood was an interior designer/space planner with leading firms in the Chicago area. A couple of Wood’s latest projects include that of book illustrator of the Citysketch travel series published by Race Point Publishing and The Architecture of the Cocktail also published by Race Point.

Visit date: March 24-26, 2015

Ellen Horne

Ellen Horne '95
Executive Producer,
Radio Lab, NPR/WNYC

After starting her career working as a Case Administrator at the American Arbitration Association, followed by a stint as Development Director with the Coral Reef Alliance, Ellen followed her dream of working in radio by moving to New York City. After only a few months of networking with professionals across the city, Ellen landed an internship with WNYC, the local NPR affiliate, and spent the following 12 years establishing the program Radiolab, one of the most listened to and well-respected radio programs and most popular podcasts in the world where she won the prestigious Peabody Award. Just weeks before Horne’s residency on campus, she accepted a roe as the Executive Producer of Original Content at Audible Inc., an Amazon company.

Visit date: October 7-9, 2015

Ellen Horne

Allisa Baum '91
Concert Director,
Old Town School of Folk Music                           

Since completing a degree in Sociology at Cornell in    1991, Baum has led a successful career in arts and cultural management. Currently serving as the Concert Director at the Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago’s premier arts and culture education organization, Alisa recruits and promotes musical talent from across the globe, and also travels frequently to West Africa to research the region’s latest stars.

Visit date: October 19-21, 2016

Kyle Davy

Kyle Davy
Chief Revenue Officer,
Iowa Energy, Timberwolves Affiliate

In Kyle’s five short years since leaving the Hilltop, he has climbed the ladder of the National Basketball Association’s Des Moines Development League affiliate, the Iowa Energy. After starting his stint as an entry-level Account Executive, Davy now serves the team as its Chief Revenue Officer and is responsible for a team creating corporate partnerships, season ticket sales and other revenue generating strategies. During his time at and shortly after Cornell, Davy completed internships within the organizations of the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Cubs, and Orchestra Iowa.

Visit date: April 24-26, 2017