Ripple of Hope Special Guests

This year, we’re excited to come together for a hybrid event with both in-person and virtual experiences, featuring an incredible group of special guests—influential leaders across government, business, advocacy, and entertainment—who will make the ceremony one you’ll never forget. Each virtual Advocate, Hero, and Reformer table will have a special guest host private conversations immediately following the program.

2021 Special Guests

2021Jane Alexander

Jane Alexander is an author, actress, and the former director of the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a Tony Award winner and two-time Emmy Award winner.

2021Dan Aykroyd

Dan Aykroyd is a Canadian actor, producer, comedian, and filmmaker. He is a veteran Saturday Night Live cast member and starred in the movies Ghostbusters, Trading Places, and Soul Man.

2021Harry Benson

Harry Benson is a renowned photographer whose pictures have appeared in Life, Vanity Fair, and the New Yorker. He is a recipient of the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Scottish Press Photographers Association and a two-time winner of the Leica Medal of Excellence. Benson was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. Headshot courtesy Gigi Benson.

2021Michael Beschloss

Michael Beschloss is a historian specializing in the United States presidency. He has been a frequent commentator on the PBS NewsHour and is the NBC News Presidential Historian.

2021Aloe Blacc

Aloe Blacc is a soul singer, producer, and philanthropist. He is best known for his singles “I Need a Dollar” and “The Man,” and for writing and performing vocals on Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.”

2021Melinna Bobadilla

Melinna Bobadilla is an actress and producer who appeared in Orange Is the New Black, The Laundromat, and Little America.

2021Lorraine Bracco

Lorraine Bracco is an actress, known for her roles in Goodfellas, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and The Sopranos.

2021Douglas Brinkley

Douglas Brinkley is an author and the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and professor of history at Rice University. He is a history commentator for CNN and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair.

2021Cindy Cowan

Cindy Cowan is a film producer and songwriter. In 1999, she founded Cindy Cowan Entertainment where she produced Scorched, Fifty Dead Men Walking, and Red Lights.

2021Tim Daly

Tim Daly is an actor and producer. He is known for his roles on Wings and The Sopranos, as well as for his voice role as Clark Kent/Superman in Superman: The Animated Series.

2021Brian d’Arcy James

Brian d’Arcy James is an actor and musician. On TV, he has recurring role in 13 Reasons Why, and his many Broadway roles include King George III in Hamilton and Quinn Carney in The Ferryman.

2021Rocky Dawuni

Rocky Dawuni is a singer, songwriter, and record producer who performs in a signature Afro Roots style. He is the first native of Ghana to be nominated for a Grammy.

2021Thomas P. DiNapoli

Thomas P. DiNapoli is the comptroller of the State of New York.

2021Donna Dixon

Donna Dixon is an actress who appeared in Bosom Buddies, Twilight Zone: The Movie, and Spies Like Us.

2021Trevor Donovan

Trevor Donovan is an actor and model who played Teddy Montgomery on the series 90210.

2021Renée Fleming

Renée Fleming is an operatic soprano, known for performances including Countess Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Desdemona in Verdi's Otello, Violetta in Verdi's La traviata, and more. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, Fleming has been nominated for 17 Grammy Awards and has won four times.

2021Peter Frampton

Peter Frampton is an English rock musician, singer, songwriter, producer, and guitarist. His hits include “Breaking All the Rules,” “Do You Feel Like We Do,” and “I’m in You.” Headshot courtesy Austin Lord.

2021Marcia Gray Harden

Marcia Gray Harden is an actress, best known for her roles in Miller’s Crossing, Used People, The First Wive’s Club, and Flubber.

2021Rachael Harris

Rachael Harris is an actress and comedian. She's best known for her television roles, which include Dr. Linda Martin on Lucifer, and her guest appearances on TV shows such as Sister, Sister, Reno 911!, New Girl, Suits and The Good Wife.

2021Marg Helgenberger

Marg Helgenberger is an Emmy award-winning actress who has appeared in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and the TV movie CSI: Immortality. Helgenberger hosts a benefit called Marg and Alan's Celebrity Weekend annually in Omaha.

2021Maria Hinojosa

Maria Hinojosa is a Mexican-American journalist. She is the anchor and executive producer of Latino USA on National Public Radio, a public radio show devoted to Latino issues.

2021Van Jones

Van Jones is a news commentator, author, and non-practicing attorney. He is a regular CNN contributor and host of the network’s The Van Jones Show.

2021Chris Kennedy

Chris Kennedy is a businessman, politician, and Chair of Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises, Inc. He is a son of Robert F. Kennedy.

2021Edward Kennedy, Jr.

Ted Kennedy Jr. is an attorney and a partner at Epstein Becker & Green. He represented the 12th Senate district in the Connecticut Senate from 2015 to 2019.

2021Joe Kennedy III

Joe Kennedy III is an American lawyer and politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Massachusetts's 4th congressional district since 2013.

2021Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is an American attorney who was the sixth Lieutenant Governor of Maryland from 1995 to 2003. She is the eldest child of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy.

2021Max Kennedy

Max Kennedy is a lawyer and author. He is the ninth child of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy.

2021Patrick Kennedy

Patrick Kennedy is an American politician and mental health advocate. From 1995 to 2011, he served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from Rhode Island, working to actively combat the nation’s opioid crisis.

2021Rory Kennedy

Rory Kennedy is a documentary filmmaker and the youngest child of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy.

2021Keegan-Michael Key

Keegan-Michael Key is an American actor, comedian, writer, and producer. He co-created and co-starred alongside Jordan Peele in Comedy Central's sketch series Key & Peele and co-starred in USA Network's Playing House.

2021Richard Kind

Richard Kind is an actor known for his roles in the TV shows Mad About You, Spin City, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. He has been a voice actor for films such as A Bug’s Life and Toy Story 3.

2021Martin Luther King III

Martin Luther King III is a human rights advocate and the oldest living child of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. He founded Realizing the Dream, an organization that has since been absorbed into The King Center, of which King as president. He served as the fourth president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

2021Nicholas Kristof

Nicholas Kristof is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. He is a regular CNN contributor and has written an op-ed column for the New York Times since 2001.

2021Don Lemon

Don Lemon is an American television journalist and the host of CNN’s Don Lemon Tonight. He is a #1 best selling New York Times author of This Is The Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism.

2021George Lopez

George Lopez is a comedian and actor. He is known for starring in his self-produced ABC sitcom.

2021Adrienne Maloof

Adrienne Maloof is a businesswoman, television personality, and shoe designer. She was a cast member for the first three seasons of Bravo's The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

2021Matt McCoy

Matt McCoy is an actor who has appeared in The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, and Seinfeld.

2021John McEnroe

John McEnroe is an American former professional tennis player. He won seven Grand Slam singles titles and attained the world No. 1 ranking in both singles and doubles. Since retired from tennis, McEnroe currently appears as a narrator in the Netflix series Never Have I Ever.

2021Ari Melber

Ari Melber is an attorney and journalist who is the host of MSNBC's The Beat with Ari Melber.

2021Rob Morrow

Rob Morrow is an actor and director. He appears in the TV drama Billions, acted in and directed episodes of Numb3rs, and portrayed Dr. Joel Fleischman on Northern Exposure.

2021Kate Mulgrew

Kate Mulgrew is an actress and author. She played Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager and Galina “Red” Reznikov on Orange Is the New Black.

2021Ken Olin

Ken Olin is an actor, television director and producer. He is known for his role as Michael Steadman in the ABC drama series Thirtysomething.

2021Mandy Patinkin

Mandy Patinkin is an actor and singer. He played Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride and Saul Berenson in the long-running Showtime series Homeland.

2021David Rapaport

David Rapaport is a casting director, best known for his work on Gossip Girl, Riverdale, and The Flash.

2021Rob Riggle

Rob Riggle is an actor, comedian, and former officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is known for his work as a correspondent on The Daily Show and the movies Step Brother and The Hangover.

2021Yusef Salaam

Yusef Salaam is a prison reform activist. A member of the Exonerated Five, he is an award-winning motivational and transformational speaker, thought leader, trainer, author, and coach.

2021Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen is an actor, best known for his roles in the films The Subject Was Roses, Badlands, and Apocalypse Now. He has also portrayed President Josiah Bartlet in the television series The West Wing and Robert Hanson in the Netflix television series Grace and Frankie.

2021Mark Shriver

Mark Shriver is a politician and activist who was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1995 to 2003. Since 2014, he has served as president of Save the Children Action Network.

2021Tim Shriver

Tim Shriver is a disability rights activist, film producer, and former educator. He is chairman of the board of the Special Olympics, an organization he joined in 1996.

2021Patty Smyth

Patty Smyth is an American singer and songwriter. She was the lead singer of rock band Scandal before releasing her 1987 debut solo album “Never Enough.” Her 1994 song “Look What Love Has Done” led to both a Grammy and Academy Award nomination.

2021Donté Stallworth

Donté Stallworth is a former professional football wide receiver. He played 10 seasons in the National Football League for the New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns, the Baltimore Ravens, and the Washington team.

2021Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer. A leader of the American feminist movement since the late 1960s, she speaks frequently with the media on issues of equality.

2021Sam Waterston

Sam Waterston is an actor, producer, and director whose credits include roles in TV’s Law & Order, Grace and Frankie, and The Civil War as well as the films The Great Gatsby and The Killing Fields.

2021Susan Kelechi Watson

Susan Kelechi Watson is an actress best known for her roles in the Netflix show Louie and the NBC drama This Is Us.

2021Patricia Wettig

Patricia Wettig is an American actress and playwright. She received a Golden Globe for her role as Nancy Weston in the television series Thirtysomething.

2021Alfre Woodard

Alfre Woodard is an actor, producer, and political activist. She has appeared in Empire, 12 Years a Slave, State of Affairs, and Desperate Housewives.