2021 Commencement Speaker: Bina Venkataraman

Bina VenkataramanBina Venkataraman is an American journalist, author and policy expert. She is currently the editorial page editor at The Boston Globe. Since 2011, she has taught in the program on science, technology and society at MIT. She is the author of The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age, named a top business book by Financial Times and a best book of the year by Amazon, Science Friday and National Public Radio.

Venkataraman formerly served as Senior Advisor for Climate Change Innovation during President Obama’s administration, where she forged partnerships across communities, companies and government to prepare for climate disasters and to declassify and share critical data. She also advised the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology during the Ebola epidemic, promoted patient access to cancer therapies and helped reform public school science education. She previously served as Director of Global Policy Initiatives at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

She is an alumna of Brown University and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Venkataraman has worked in India, Alaska, Cuba, Mexico, Vietnam and Guatemala; she grew up in a small town in Ohio. Her endeavors abroad and at home have included translating Spanish and English in emergency rooms, teaching writing to Harlem high school students, working the graveyard shift at a hotel in the Arctic wilderness, lobster fishing in Baja California Sur and cataloging films for a cinema critic in Havana.

The recipient of a Fulbright scholarship, a Princeton in Asia fellowship, a Metcalf fellowship, a James Reston fellowship and a New America national fellowship in 2016 and 2017, Venkataraman was also named a Global Young Leader by the French-American Foundation. She is a frequent public speaker who has appeared on the TED mainstage, NPR and MSNBC and at the Aspen Ideas Festival and businesses and universities around the world.