Juliette Kayyem ’87 is a CNN National Security Analyst, Harvard Kennedy School professor, Atlantic columnist, and expert in the field of emergency preparedness, consequence management, and risk reduction. As it happens, Juliette joins The Supporting Cast on the day the CDC lifted its indoor and outdoor mask mandate for vaccinated people. For this reason, Juliette was both limited in her time, but also focused on the subject at hand—risk reduction and a new path forward from COVID-19. As a former Department of Homeland Security official in the Obama administration, Juliette has been applying the lessons of counterterrorism in advising mayors, governors, and private-sector leaders on their responses to COVID-19 and strategies to increase vaccination. Juliette also describes growing up in Los Angeles and attending Westlake School for Girls, Harvard College, and Harvard Law School, before a career that evolved from law to academia to journalism to public service. Juliette references many Westlake teachers, including Joannie Parker, King Schofield, Leni Wildflower, and Francine ’68 & Walt Werner, as profound educational influences.
In the 2015 film “Woman in Gold,” Ryan Reynolds plays Randy Schoenberg, a 30-something lawyer who takes up the case of a family friend named Maria Altmann, played by Helen Mirren, who is trying to retrieve a painting from Austria that had belonged to her family as a child before it was stolen by Nazis in World War II. While such a matter would not typically receive the attention of Hollywood, this was no ordinary case and no ordinary painting. Authored by the world-famous Gustav Klimt, the painting, known as the “Woman in Gold,” was by the late 1990s regarded as the “Mona Lisa” of Austria. Against all odds, Randy opted to sue the Republic of Austria, citing a little known exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which earned the case international attention, eventually making its way to the United States Supreme Court, where Randy argued the landmark case and won. In this episode, the real Randy Schoenberg ’84 tells his story. A native of Los Angeles, Randy attended Harvard School, Princeton University, and USC Law, citing the role of various educators in preparing Randy for his moment on the world stage. Randy references Lee Carlson ’50 and James Lander of Harvard School, in addition to Erwin Chemerinsky and Edwin “Rip” Smith of USC Law, as profound educational influences.
Laura Ross is the Associate Head of School at Harvard-Westlake. In this episode, Laura speaks about helping to lead the school through a pandemic, and what it feels like now to watch students and teachers re-enter physical spaces and experience newfound gratitude for the Harvard-Westlake community. Laura also speaks about her upbringing in Santa Barbara, CA, where she attended Crane Country Day, Santa Barbara Middle School, and Santa Barbara High School, all of which greatly influencing how Laura considers schools as families, start-ups, and multifaceted ecosystems where students should be given both the trust and space to find their identities and passions. Laura also describes her long and varied career in schools, from working in college admission at Stanford, Scripps, and Columbia, to her independent school work at Convent of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco, St. Stephens Episcopal in Austin, and Greenhill in Dallas, before arriving at Harvard-Westlake in 2017 to run the upper school. Laura cites Rob Rosenthal of Wesleyan University and Jim Montoya of Stanford University as profound educational influences.
D. B. (Dan) Weiss is co-creator of HBO’s Game of Thrones. In this episode, Dan speaks about how Game of Thrones came to be. First, how he and co-creator David Benioff read “A Song of Ice and Fire” and believed they understood how to adapt this complex narrative to the screen. Second, how they convinced author George R. R. Martin and HBO that he and David, who had never run a television series before, had the vision to helm this massive production. Third, finally shooting the pilot, which famously had to be almost entirely re-shot due to flaws in the narrative. But despite it all—Game of Thrones became a worldwide culture phenomenon, with more than 32 million viewers per episode across all platforms by its seventh season. Dan also talks about growing up outside Chicago, attending Wesleyan University and other writing programs, and the profound impact of teachers in encouraging his writing from a young age. Dan aimed to convey this same approach show-running Game of Thrones, keeping clear channels of communication across multiple countries and production teams, recognizing and nurturing talent, and knowing when to suppress ego for the good of the enterprise—a value that he and David Benioff share. Dan credits Winnie Engerman of Highland Park High School and Kit Reed of Wesleyan University as life-changing educational influences.