The Winthrop Roundtable

Justice Albie Sachs, 2013

The Winthrop Roundtable is the Friends of the Library’s signature event. Every year, the Roundtable showcases a renowned speaker in a keynote address related to current events or cultural exchange, with the intent of inciting thought-provoking discourse and showcasing unique viewpoints to our community. Starting in 2016, the Friends of the Library will pilot a new Winthrop Roundtable format, with an expanded cocktail reception followed by a lecture-style keynote address.

Chef Sean Brock, 2012

Previous Roundtable speakers have included former Senator and current Secretary of State John Kerry, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, and noted Charleston Chef Sean Brock of Husk restaurant.

In 2013, the Roundtable took on a decidedly international flair, when the Friends hosted South African Constitutional Court Justice and noted international human rights activist Albie Sachs. Judge Sachs, who nearly lost his life in an assassination attempt by the Apartheid government, was appointed by Nelson Mandela to help craft the South African constitution. Judge Sachs’ heartfelt and eloquent delivery of his keynote address, The Triumph of Humanity and Social Justice, held the Roundtable audience captive.

The Winthrop Roundtable is an invitation-only event for supporters of the Friends of the Library at the Contributor ($500-999) level and higher. For more information, contact Vincent Fraley at

The Winthrop Roundtable: A Brief History

Founded in 1989, The Winthrop Roundtable has welcomed more than 30 speakers to the Charleston community. What started as a small gathering of friends in John and Libby Winthrop’s home has blossomed into a much anticipated annual event hosted by the College of Charleston Friends of the Library.

Past Speakers Include:

  • Dr. Lawrence Altman – doctor, journalist, author
  • Mr. Thomas Noyes – Business Leader
  • Mr. Peter Arnett – news correspondent
  • Mr. Sean Brock – James Beard Award-winning executive chef (Spring 2012)
  • Mr. John Brown – House of Lords, Great Britain
  • Dr. James B. Edwards – Governor of South Carolina; President of the Medical University of South Carolina
  • Mr. Marshall I. Goldman – Davis Center for Russian Studies at Harvard University
  • Ms. Linda Gradstein – former authority correspondent on Israel and Palestine, NPR (Fall 2010)
  • Mr. Thomas Graham, Jr. – public servant; terrorist expert
  • Col. William F. Grimsley – Commander, Ft. Stewart, GA; led troops into Baghdad, 2003
  • The Honorable Ulric Haynes – former Ambassador to Algeria
  • Mr. James F. Hoge – former Editor, Foreign Affairs Magazine
  • The Honorable Ernest F. Hollings – U.S. Senator from SC, 1966-2005
  • Mr. Phillip K. Howard, Author of The Death of Common Sense (Fall 2006)
  • Mr. John Huey – former editor-in-chief, Time, Inc. (Fall 2008)
  • Mr. Jeffrey Immelt – Chairman and CEO, General Electric (Spring 2011)
  • Mrs. Martha Rivers Ingram – Chairman of Ingram Industries Board of Directors (Spring 2009)
  • The Honorable Nancy Kassebaum-Baker – United States Senator
  • The Honorable Thomas Kean – Governor of New Jersey; keynote speaker 1988 Republican Convention
  • Mr. Moorhead Kennedy – Senior Diplomat (and hostage), Iran
  • Mr. John F. Kerry – Secretary of State (Fall 2007)
  • The Honorable Phil Lader – Ambassador to the Court of St. James
  • Ms. Darla Moore – pioneering businesswoman and philanthropist (Spring 2008)
  • Mr. Tom Noyes – Business Leader and CEO of Commerce Signals (Fall 2015)
  • Mr. George Plimpton – author; actor
  • Ms. Cokie Roberts – journalist; author
  • Justice Albie Sachs – civil rights activist and former South African Supreme Court Justice (Spring 2013)
  • Judge Alex Sanders – President, College of Charleston
  • Mrs. Jenny Sanford – First Lady of South Carolina
  • The Honorable Mark Sanford – Governor of South Carolina
  • Mr. Bob Seelert – chairman and CEO, Saatchi and Saatchi (Spring 2010)
  • Lt. Gen. George Seignious – U.S. Military; President of the Citadel
  • Mr. Robert Semple – Pulitzer Prize winning writer, The New York Times
  • Ms. Tina Sloan – author; actress on The Guiding Light
  • Dr. Richard Norton Smith – renowned presidential historian (Fall 2009)
  • Dr. Shashi Tharoor – Former Under Secretary for the United Nations (Spring 2007)
  • Mr. Richard Viguerie – author; conservative leader
  • General William C. Westmoreland – U.S. Military; Commander of U.S. Armed Forces in Vietnam
  • Dr. Katherine Wilkinson – Rhodes Scholar and Social Change Strategist (Spring 2015)