The 42nd season of bringing influencers from the world stage to our stage in Sarasota returns in January 2023.

For our January 17th  program, TOWN HALL will welcome Maria Ressa, 2021 Nobel Prize Winner. Maria is the co-founder, CEO, and executive editor of, an online news organization in the Philippines. She is honored around the world for her courageous and bold work in fighting disinformation, fake news, and attempts to silence the free press. In 2021, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in exposing abuses of power and growing authoritarianism under the Philippine president. 

Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian, will be joining the series on Monday,  February 6th.  Phelps, a prodigy at the sport of swimming, dominated four Olympic Games, finishing as the most decorated athlete at each one. Since retiring from swimming in 2016, he has become a devoted husband and father to three boys; and opened up to the public about his struggles with depression and ADHD throughout his career. He is now an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness.

On Monday, February 27th Florida native, Admiral James Stavridis NATO’s 16th Supreme Allied Commander will speak as a trusted authority on the European crisis and global security.   Admiral Stavridis attended the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, and spent 37 years in the Navy, rising to the rank of 4-star Admiral. Among his many commands were four years as the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, where he oversaw operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, the Balkans, and counter piracy off the coast of Africa.

On Monday, March 13th , TOWN HALL will welcome José Andrés: Chef, Restaurateur, and Humanitarian.  José Andrés is an internationally recognized culinary innovator, author, educator, humanitarian, and chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup.  A pioneer of Spanish tapas in the United States, he is also known for his groundbreaking avant-garde cuisine and his award-winning group of restaurants.  He believes we can use nourishing meals to empower people and rebuild communities.  Tapping the same innovative spirit that earned his restaurants Michelin stars, Andrés formed World Central Kitchen in 2010, which provides meals in response to humanitarian, climate, and community crises. 

April 3rdThomas Friedman three time Pulitzer Prize winner rejoins the lecture series, being only the second person to be invited back to TOWN HALL. Friedman is an author and American political commentator. Renowned for his direct reporting and accessible analysis of complex issues shaping the US and the world. He is the winner of three Pulitzer Prizes and cited by the Pulitzer board for his clarity of vision, extensive reporting, and commenting on the worldwide impact of terrorist threats.

Since its beginning in 1981 TOWN HALL has been bringing influencers from the world stage to our stage in Sarasota, with a goal to expand horizons, stimulate conversation and inspire the community. Past TOWN HALL speakers include two U.S. Presidents: George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton; author Michael Lewis; ambassador Caroline Kennedy; travel personality, Rick Steves; former vice-president, Dick Cheney; activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali; Prime Minister Tony Blair; and historians, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham. 

The Ringling College Library Association produces the TOWN HALL lecture series.  All proceeds from the series benefit Ringling College’s Alfred R. Goldstein Library, as well as essential funding of student scholarships. Since the series began, RCLA has committed more than $11 million to Ringling College of Art + Design.    

All five lectures will be presented at Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, 777 North Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. Morning lectures begin at 10:30 a.m. and evening talks begin at 7:30 p.m.  The series is sold by subscription.   To learn more about subscribing to the series, please visit

For speaker bio video: