Novelist Isabel Allende Concludes 2023 ILS Spring Lecture Series

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Award-winning actress Laura Dern – along with Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder, explorer, mountain climber, and humanitarian Silvia Vasquez-Lavado, and New York Times bestselling novelists Leila Mottley and Isabel Allende – headlined the Spring 2023 Leadership Lecture Series presented by Dominican University of California in partnership with Book Passage.

Kidder appeared live virtually on March 6, while Vasquez-Lavado (March 27), Mottley (April 24), Dern (May 7), and Allende (June 13) spoke in person in Angelico Concert Hall on the Dominican campus.

The lecture series is hosted by Dominican’s Institute for Leadership Studies.

Tracy Kidder, Monday, March 6. Winner of a Pulitzer Prize for 1981’s non-fiction The Soul of a New Machine, Kidder is literary journalist who has received the National Book Award and Robert F. Kennedy Award. In 2010, he was selected the first A.M. Rosenthal Writer-In-Residence at Harvard University, his alma mater. Kidder’s new book Rough Sleepers, profiles Dr. James O’Connell, who tends to Boston’s homeless community. Dr. O’Connell appeared in conversation with Kidder.

Silvia Vasquez-Lavado, Monday, March 27. One of only a few women to complete the so-called Seven Summits – the tallest mountain on each continent – the Peruvian-born Vasquez-Lavado in 2014 founded Courageous Girls, a non-profit group dedicated to helping victims of sexual violence find their own sense of peace and closure through trekking. Vasquez-Lavado was recognized by Fortune magazine as one of the Corporate Heroes of 2015. CNET named her one of the 20 Most Influential Latinos in Silicon Valley. Her book In the Shadow of the Mountain is a story of heroism and community. She appeared in conversation on stage with Amanda E. Machado, a writer and facilitator who works in the intersections between storytelling and social justice. 

Leila Mottley, Monday, April 24. Mottley, a native of Oakland, became a New York Times best seller in 2022 with her debut novel Nightcrawling, an Oprah’s Book Club pick, about a young black woman who walks the streets of Oakland and stumbles headlong into the failure of its justice system. Her work has been published in the NYTimes and Oprah Daily and, in 2018, she performed and ran poetry workshops as the Oakland Youth Poet Laureate. She appeared on stage at Dominican in conversation with The Oaklandside news editor Darwin BondGraham. 

Laura Dern, Sunday, May 7. Dern, who has won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, a Primetime Emmy Award, BAFTA, and five Golden Globe awards, is the daughter of actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd. She teams with her mother to co-author Honey, Baby, Mine: A Mother-Daughter Talk Life, Death, Love (and Banana Pudding) which details their relationship, ambition, and careers. Zoe Elton, the Director of Programming at the Mill Valley Film Festival, was in conversation with Dern for the in-person event. 

Isabel Allende, Wednesday, June 14. Considered the world’s most-read Spanish language author, Allende’s books have been translated into more than 42 languages and have sold more than 74 million copies worldwide. Her latest novel, The Wind Knows My Name, is a tale of Samuel Adler and Anita Diaz, two unforgettable characters both in search of family and home. She appeared on stage in conversation with Salvadoran-American poet and activist Javier Zamora in front of a near capacity crowd in Angelico Concert Hall at Dominican. The event was held in partnership with the County of Marin Office of Equity and Canal Alliance.

For more information, email Book Passage at or call  (415) 927-0960 ext. 1.

For more information about the Institute for Leadership Studies, email

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