CSU's 2012 Hunter Lecture Features Critically Acclaimed Author

Gayle LemmonCOLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University’s 2012 Hunter Lecture Series returns with a March 22 campus appearance by critically acclaimed author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.

The public is invited to attend.

Lemmon, a former ABC News reporter, is the author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana (2011, Harper Collins), a nonfiction account of how a female entrepreneur in Afghanistan enjoys success, defying the Taliban’s rise to power in the 1990s. She will address CSU faculty, students and the public at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22 in the University Hall auditorium. A student forum precedes the lecture at 9:30 a.m., and a book-signing will follow the Hunter Lecture in the University Hall lobby.

Lemmon, who left ABC to earn an MBA at Harvard in 2004, was researching a story for Financial Times on unsung heroines who became successful entrepreneurs in conflict and post-conflict zones when she met Kamela Sidiqi, whose story is the focus of Dressmaker. Sidiqi, banished from Kabul’s streets by the Taliban and desperate to support her five brothers and sisters, started a dressmaking business in her living room that eventually offered work to 100 women in her neighborhood.

book coverLemmon, now a fellow and deputy director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, spent three years interviewing sources for the book in Kabul, London and Washington. Before joining the council, a nonprofit think tank, she covered public policy and emerging markets for a global investment firm. Earlier, she spent nearly a decade with ABC News. including This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Her reporting on entrepreneurs in conflict and post-conflict regions has also appeared in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune and Christian Science Monitor, as well as the Daily Beast, Politico and Huffington Post.

A cross-section of faculty from CSU’s colleges and schools have met to pinpoint tactics to build interest in Lemmon’s CSU appearance. Some spring courses are requiring Dressmaker as a small-group reading. The Honors Program has scheduled HON 3000: Hunter Lecturer Book Club for its students.   Neal McCrillis, CSU’s Center for International Education director, has included Lemmon’s lecture among approved International Learning Community events this spring. Lisa Shaw, director of the Academic Center for Excellence, encouraged faculty to put the lecture on a short list of personal or professional development activities and then require students to participate in a certain number of events.

Terry Irvin, who coordinates the First Year Experience, compared the impact of the message in Lemmon’s book to that of Outcasts United, which freshmen read last fall before attending a lecture by the author, New York Times reporter Warren St. John.

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, though very different in many respects, is yet another account of resourcefulness, spirit and resilience,” Irvin said.

The Hunter Lecture Series is made possible by a gift from Madge Hunter, in memory of her late husband, James W. Hunter. Previous speakers have included historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, radio host Garrison Keillor, children’s author Carmen Agra Deedy, paleoanthropologist Maeve Leakey and Nobel Prize winner Oscar Arias Sanchez.

# # #

Photos: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon (high-resolution original); cover of her book, The Dressmaker of Khair Khana (high-resolution original)