Trailblazing Public Policy Expert to Be Commencement Speaker

Anne-Marie Slaughter — a think-tank leader who made waves with her article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” after she left her post as the first female director of policy planning at the State Department — will deliver UNC’s Commencement address in May.

The article became the most-read piece in the history of The Atlantic magazine and sparked a renewed national debate about the continued obstacles to genuine male-female equality, ultimately leading to her 2015 book, Unfinished Business.

Slaughter is president and CEO of New America, a nonpartisan think tank focused on solving public problems and enabling those working on solutions to drive stages of change, from inspiration to implementation. She also is the Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor Emerita of politics and international affairs at Princeton University.

“Carolina is incredibly fortunate to welcome an exceptional thinker and leader like Anne-Marie Slaughter to share her wit, wisdom and experience,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “She is a dedicated public servant devoted to solving real-life challenges related to work, family and leadership — issues especially relevant to our graduating seniors. I was lucky enough to hear Anne-Marie speak several years ago and found her absolutely magnetic. She greatly inspired me, and I know students will be moved and motivated by her message.”

Slaughter noted that she has family connections to the state and the University.

“I am so honored to be the Commencement speaker,” Slaughter said. “I come from 200 years of North Carolinians, and my great-grandfather William Alexander Hoke’s papers are stored at the University.”

Hoke, who received an honorary doctor of laws degree from UNC in 1909, was a lawyer, legislator and chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court from Lincolnton.

Slaughter served as the director of policy planning for the State Department from 2009 to 2011. Prior to her government service, she was dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs from 2002 to 2009 and the J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of international, foreign and comparative law at Harvard Law School from 1994 to 2002.

She has written or edited six books, including A New World Order and The Idea That Is America: Keeping Faith with Our Values in a Dangerous World, and is a frequent contributor to a number of publications, including The Atlantic and Project Syndicate.

 Slaughter also provides frequent commentary for mainstream and new media and curates foreign policy news for more than 132,000 followers on TwitterForeign Policy magazine has named her to its annual list of the Top 100 Global Thinkers several times.

 She received a bachelor’s degree from Princeton, master’s and doctoral degrees in international relations from Oxford and a law degree from Harvard. Slaughter is married to Andrew Moravcsik, a professor at Princeton University, and lives in Princeton, N.J., with their two sons.

Folt chose Slaughter in consultation with faculty and staff on the University’s Commencement Speaker Selection Committee, noting that Slaughter’s commitment to public service and exploration of social issues, like work-life balance and workplace equality, offers valuable perspective to students entering the working world.

Spring Commencement will be at 9 a.m. May 8 in Kenan Memorial Stadium. For more information, visit

Online: In this TED Talk video, Slaughter expands her ideas and explains why shifts in work culture, public policy and social mores can lead to more equality.
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