Sheryl WuDunn, the first Asian-American reporter to win a Pulitzer Prize and one of Newsweek’s “150 Women Who Shake the World,” will present the commencement address at Rice University May 14.
WuDunn and her husband, New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof, shared the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting for their coverage of the mass movement for democracy and its subsequent suppression in China. More recently they co-authored “A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity,” a 2014 best-seller about altruism and how to effect change in society with evidence-based strategies. The book became a three-part PBS documentary in 2015.
Currently the co-founder of FullSky Capital and a senior managing director for Mid-Market Securities, WuDunn raises capital for men and women entrepreneurs in new media, media technology, health care and social enterprise and advises several growth companies.
“We’re thrilled to have a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author as our commencement speaker,” President David Leebron said. “I’m sure our students will look forward to hearing not only the perspective of such a talented writer and observer of our world as Sheryl WuDunn, but I hope also her insights as a business executive on entrepreneurship and social causes around the globe.”
WuDunn is among the few who have worked at The New York Times as a journalist and an executive. She held management roles in strategic planning and circulation sales and served as editor for international markets, energy and industry. As a foreign correspondent in Tokyo and Beijing, WuDunn reported on economic, financial, political and social issues.
The challenges facing China became the focus of her teaching as a senior lecturer at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs in 2011, and Asia was the subject of two best-selling books she co-authored with Kristof: “China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power” and “Thunder From the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia.”
The wife-and-husband team also co-authored a No. 1 New York Times best-seller, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” about the challenges facing women around the globe. To create more awareness of this issue, WuDunn helped launch the “Half the Sky” multiplatform digital effort, which included a popular documentary series on PBS, mobile games and a Facebook game that was ranked No. 9 in popularity in its second week on the platform.
A former vice president in the investment management division at Goldman, Sachs and Co. and a former commercial loan officer at Bankers Trust, WuDunn has an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. She also has a B.A. from Cornell University and a Master of Public Administration degree from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
In addition to being named by Newsweek in 2011 as one of the magazine’s “150 Women Who Shake the World,” WuDunn was selected as one of the “leading women who make America” in the 2013 PBS documentary “The Makers.”
Among her many other honors are the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Lifetime Achievement, the Asia Women in Business Corporate Leadership Award, the Pearl S. Buck Woman of the Year Award, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Prize, the George Polk Award and an Overseas Press Club award. She has been a judge for the State Department’s Secretary’s Innovation Award for Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment and has won a White House Project EPIC (Enhancing Perceptions in Culture) Award.
WuDunn served as the first anchor of an evening news headlines program for a digital cable TV channel, the Discovery-Times. Last year Business Insider named her one of the 31 most successful graduates of Harvard Business School.
A committee of undergraduate and graduate students worked with the Office of the President to select WuDunn as the commencement speaker. Melissa Marschall, professor of political science, served as faculty adviser to the committee, and David Vassar, senior assistant to the president, also served on the committee.