Political Analyst Amy Walter and Broadcast Journalist Amna Nawaz to Speak During Commencement Weekend

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Nationally renowned artist Daniel Minter, award-winning arts advocate Marcia Minter, civil rights leader Gerald Talbot, and pediatric oncologist Loren Walensky will also be honored

Speakers and honorands for Commencement 2023 are (left to right, clockwise) Amy Walter '91, Amna Nawaz, Daniel Minter, Gerald Talbot, Marcia Minter, and Loren Walensky
By Laura Meader
April 6, 2023

Colby will honor five influential individuals for their visionary contributions to the arts, journalism, and medicine at the College’s 202nd Commencement May 21, 2023. The honorands will join the Class of 2023, Colby’s distinguished faculty, and guests in celebration of graduates’ academic achievements and personal growth.

Amy Walter ’91, publisher and editor in chief of the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, will deliver the commencement address. She received an honorary degree from the College in 2017. Those receiving honorary degrees from Colby this year are:

Daniel Minter, renowned American artist and artistic director of Indigo Arts Alliance
Marcia Minter, Indigo Arts Alliance executive director and award-winning arts advocate
Amna Nawaz, Peabody Award-winning broadcast journalist and co-anchor of PBS NewsHour
Gerald Talbot, civil rights leader and former Maine legislator
Dr. Loren Walensky, pediatric oncologist, cancer researcher, and Harvard professor

“These inspiring individuals have made important and lasting contributions through their passion, intellect, and commitment to improving society and the lives of others,” said President David A. Greene. “They represent Colby’s highest ideals and aspirations as they, collectively, have contextualized and analyzed historic moments within our lifetimes, advocated for justice and opportunity, and spearheaded life-altering research.”

Amy Walter ’91

One of the country’s most highly regarded political analysts, Amy Walter ’91, Litt.D. ’17 will be the commencement speaker. Walter offers objective analysis of issues and trends shaping the nation’s political landscape as the publisher and editor in chief of the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, an influential newsletter. A popular TV panelist, Walter is a regular guest on national news shows such as PBS NewsHour’s “Politics Monday,” NBC’s Meet the Press, and CNN’s Inside Politics. She frequently appears on Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier. From 2017 to 2021 she hosted public radio’s Politics with Amy Walter on The Takeaway and previously was political director at ABC News.

Walter’s reputation for insightful analysis of Washington politics comes from her unparalleled access to campaign insiders and decision-makers. Washingtonian Magazine named her one of Washington, D.C.’s “Most Powerful Women” and “50 Top Journalists” as a leader in political analysis and forecasting. The Washington Post honored her with its Crystal Ball Award ­for her “spot-on” election predictions in 2000.

Walter serves on the board of advisors of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, where she was an inaugural fellow. She is currently in her second term on the Colby College Board of Trustees. She delivered the baccalaureate address at Colby in 2017 when the College awarded her an honorary degree.

Amna Nawaz
Amna Nawaz

The baccalaureate speaker will be award-winning broadcast journalist Amna Nawaz, co-anchor of PBS NewsHour. Nawaz has covered breaking news and in-depth stories from around the world, previously working for NBC News as a foreign correspondent, Islamabad bureau chief, and managing editor of its Asian-American platform. She’s covered major news events such as the Robb Elementary School mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas; elections and inaugurations of the last three American presidents; the U.S. war in Afghanistan; and the September 11th attacks. She received a Peabody Award as part of the NewsHour team reporting on the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol and another Peabody for her 2019 documentary The Plastic Problem

Nawaz has broken barriers as an American-Pakistani, Muslim journalist. She received the 2022 Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies’ Vision Award and the American Muslim Institution’s Excellence in Media Award in 2018.

Colby will also grant honorary degrees to:

Daniel Minter, a nationally renowned American artist and the cofounder and artistic director of Indigo Arts Alliance in Portland, Maine, a nonprofit supporting Black and Brown artists through a residency program and fellowship. Through his paintings, carvings, block prints, and sculptures, Minter explores themes of displacement and diaspora, Blackness, Afro-Atlantic spirituality, and meanings of home. He believes art is a tool to educate, as cofounder and creative visionary of the Portland Freedom Trail, which explores the city’s anti-slavery movement, and on the Malaga Island Freedom Trail, where his informational kiosk raises awareness of the 1912 forced removal of the island’s interracial community. Minter has illustrated more than a dozen children’s books and has twice been commissioned to create a Kwanzaa stamp for the U.S. Postal Service.

Daniel Mintor
Daniel Minter

Marcia Minter, an arts advocate and community leader who expertly blends creativity with business acumen. As cofounder and executive director of the nonprofit arts incubator Indigo Arts Alliance based in Portland, Maine, she uplifts Maine’s artists of color via IAA’s Artists in Residence Program, which also disseminates their work through community events. An award-winning professional, Minter has been an executive creative director for iconic brands worldwide, including Nordstrom, Essence magazine, and L.L.Bean. She brings a deep commitment to social and cultural activism to her work with community-focused boards while concentrating her curatorial work on photography, symposia at the junction of art and social practice, and exhibition planning and implementation. Minter serves on the Maine Arts Commission and is a trustee of the Portland Museum of Art and the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.

Marcia Minter

Gerald Talbot, a civil rights leader, educator, veteran, and author. Talbot was the founding president of the Portland chapter of the Maine NAACP and the first Black American elected to the Maine State Legislature, serving in the House of Representatives from 1972 to 1978. He was instrumental in the passage of the Maine Fair Housing Bill and the Maine Human Rights Act and the establishment of the Maine Human Rights Commission, and he introduced bills on gun control, migrant rights, tribal sovereignty, and gay rights, the first such bill in Maine. He also served as chair of the Maine State Board of Education. His photographs, papers, and materials now comprise the Gerald E. Talbot Collection at the University of Southern Maine and are the foundation of the African American Collection of Maine.

Gerald Talbot

Dr. Loren Walensky, a pediatric oncologist and chemical biologist who is the principal investigator and an attending physician at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. His clinical specialty is pediatric leukemia and lymphoma, and he uses his research laboratory, the Walensky Lab, to seek out new peptide therapies for these cancers. For nearly 20 years he has been a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and of pediatric oncology in the Department of Cancer Biology at Dana-Farber. He is also director of the Harvard/MIT M.D.- Ph.D. Program. Walensky has been recognized by the Harvard Medical School for quality mentorship, which he offers to Colby students and alumni, who perform cutting-edge cancer research in his lab. He earned M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Loren Walensky

Members of the Class of 2023, who number approximately 538, came to Colby from 38 states and 35 countries. They will go on to a broad range of careers and to graduate or professional schools to study law, education, finance, medicine, environmental research and advocacy, entrepreneurship, nonprofit leadership, and much more.

The commencement ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. on the lawn of Miller Library, weather permitting. It is open to the public. Any notice of weather-related location change will be posted at colby.edu, as will the link to a live video stream for those unable to attend.

Members of the media who plan to attend should contact George Sopko in the Office of Communications at [email protected] or 207-859-4346. Advance notice and Colby-issued press credentials are required of all members of the media.