Cory Booker to Visit GW for Discussion on Political Divide in America

The New Jersey senator will share his thoughts on what is in store for the future of democracy in the United States with the GW community in the launch of The Sesno Series.

September 19, 2023

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) will be the inaugural guest for the The Sesno Series at the George Washington University. The event will take place at 6 p.m. Sept. 28 at Jack Morton Auditorium.

Alumni Ted Segal, B.A. ’03, and Meredith Perla Segal, B.Accy. ’05, created the endowed fund to honor the contributions of School of Media and Public Affairs professor and former CNN reporter, anchor and Washington Bureau Chief Frank Sesno. The series will bring to campus influential voices from across the political spectrum to discuss the future of our country and our world.

Cory Booker portrait
Sen. Cory Booker

The senator is a former mayor of Newark, N.J., presidential candidate and GW commencement speaker in 2016. The Sesno Series aims to promote critical civil discourse, public understanding and the enrichment of student experiences at GW. The series examines trends in media, highlights compelling public figures and provides insightful analysis of current events, such as national elections and foreign policy.

As the inaugural speaker, Booker will lead a discussion titled, “A House Divided: How to Survive our Polarized Times.” During the event, Booker will share his thoughts on what is in store for the future of democracy in the United States. 

“We are thrilled to bring Senator Booker to campus to be part of the inaugural Frank Sesno Conversation Series, said CCAS Dean Paul Wahlbeck. “Thanks to the generosity of Ted Segal and Meredith Perla Segal for creating and endowing this series in honor of Frank’s contribution. Our entire community will benefit from what promises to be lively and engaged discussions on topics of relevance and impact.”

Attendees will have a chance to engage directly with Booker and Sesno, pose tough questions and share ideas about what we can do to navigate these difficult times.

"We are thrilled to launch The Sesno Series with Senator Cory Booker as our inaugural guest," said GW President Ellen Granberg. "This series offers an unparalleled platform for GW students to engage with diverse perspectives on the critical issues shaping our world and embodies the unique opportunities available only at GW."

Sesno said the series “will probe deeply and provocatively the challenges, issues and bold ideas that can be a roadmap through this incredibly turbulent time.”

“An informed public democracy and fact-based storytelling are passions of mine,” he said. “That's why bringing together creative thinkers and our amazing students is so exciting and important. They're all about the future." 

Sesno's diverse career spans more than three decades, including 21 years at CNN. He has covered a diverse range of subjects, from politics and conventions to international summits and climate change. Sesno served as director of SMPA for 11 years and is now the school’s director of strategic initiatives. He is also the creator of Planet Forward, a user-driven web and television project that highlights innovations in sustainability storytelling.

In a video message to the GW community, Booker expressed his excitement to engage in a night of thought-provoking discussion. 

“Frank Sesno and I will be discussing important issues that you encounter every day, in your classes and beyond,” Booker said. “We’re going to explore some of the tough questions confronting our politics, our democracy, and our future. But I have a lot of hope. Not just for one side of the political divide or the other. I have hope for us together and I hope you will join the conversation.” 

As part of the Sesno Series event in September, SMPA has invited Frank Luntz, American political and communications consultant and pollster,  to conduct a focus group with diverse GW students.

The discussion in the focus group will ask some of the toughest questions confronting American politics. On Sept. 28, about five to seven minutes of the recorded conversation of the event will be aired.

The event with Booker will take place at 6 p.m. Sept. 28 at Jack Morton Auditorium. Students are encouraged to tune in via GW's Facebook or YouTube channels. Doors will open at 5 p.m., and overflow spaces will be available on the 2nd floor lobby and MPA rooms 308, 406A and 429.