Clay Jenkinson returns to Vail Symposium for two special events discussing immigration and a controversial Founding Father

U.S. immigration policy is center to extensive debate yet stands in stalemate.
Courtesy photo
  • What: Conversations on Controversial Topics: Moderated by Clay Jenkinson presents U.S. Immigration
  • When: Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, 6-8 p.m.
  • Where: Vail Interfaith Chapel | Vail
  • More information: Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 the day of the program. Please visit for more information and to purchase tickets.

Clay Jenkinson — humanities scholar, author and social commentator — who has devoted most of his professional career to public humanities programs and is considered one of the most entertaining public speakers in the United States; he’s also one of the most popular guests that Vali Symposium has hosted. Next week, he returns for two special programs. On Wednesday, Aug. 24, at Vail Interfaith Chapel, he’ll moderate the second in a new series called “Conversations on Controversial Issues: Moderated by Clay Jenkinson” with a panel of four experts discussing U.S. Immigration. On Thursday, Aug. 25, he returns to the stage at Edwards Interfaith Chapel as Thomas Jefferson, channeling the Founding Father and third president of the United States for a stirring performance before answering audience questions.

“Clay Jenkinson is one of our most popular guests and we’re thrilled to welcome him back to the valley for two special programs,” said Kris Sabel, executive director of Vail Symposium. “The first program gathers an incredible panel of experts to discuss a controversial topic – U.S. immigration. Then we go back in time for a special fundraising performance as Clay becomes Thomas Jefferson. This is a program that we presented last year but had to limit numbers due to COVID. We hope that anyone who missed out last year will attend; it’s worth seeing a second time as well!”

U.S. immigration policy is center to extensive debate yet stands in stalemate. Current policy is not serving and has not served for decades, for either the United States or immigrants. How did we get to where we are today? How could we address the 11 million undocumented immigrants that live in the U.S. currently? What is needed to address the United State’s southern border immigration issues? How might the legal visa process become more streamlined/efficient? How do we move to both a civil and humane approach to immigration reform? How do we discuss politics, security, and the economy with a new immigration mindset?

On Wednesday, Aug. 24, guest presenters Violeta Chapin, University of Colorado Law School; Jorge Loweree from the American Immigration Council; Alex Nowrasteh, director of economic and social policy studies at Cato Institute and Jessica Vaughan, director of Policy Studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, join Jenkinson as they examine immigration in American life.

Then, on Thursday, Aug. 25, Jefferson Hour creator Jenkinson channels Thomas Jefferson, arguably one of the most accomplished Americans to have ever lived. Five decades of public service included serving as president of the new United States, vice president, secretary of state, diplomatic minister, congressman, governor of Virginia and still others. He was a lawyer, architect, writer, farmer, gentleman and scientist. Yet Jefferson was also a man of contradictions: He was a champion of freedom and democracy while also owning slaves. For this program, Jenkinson will deliver a stirring performance before answering audience questions.

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What: Clay Jenkinson as Thomas Jefferson: Explore an Extraordinary, Controversial Legacy

When: Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022, 5-8 p.m.

Where: Edwards Interfaith Chapel | Vail

More information: Tickets are $150.00 and include heavy hors d’oeuvres, wine, and a special tasting of some one-of-a-kind wines. All proceeds will benefit the Vail Symposium. Please visit for more information and to purchase tickets.

About the speakers

Clay Jenkinson is a humanities scholar, author and social commentator. His performances are always humorous, educational, thought provoking and enlightening, while maintaining a steady focus on ideas. Jenkinson is widely regarded as one of the most articulate public speakers in the country and he brings a humanities perspective — partly learned as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University — to everything he does. Jenkinson is also one of the nation’s leading interpreters of Thomas Jefferson. He has lectured about and portrayed Jefferson in 49 states over a period of over 20 years. Clay also portrays Theodore Roosevelt, Meriwether Lewis, John Wesley Powell and Robert Oppenheimer.

Professor Violeta Chapin joined the Colorado Law faculty after serving for seven years as a trial attorney with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS). Professor Chapin has represented both adult and juvenile indigent defendants charged with serious felony offenses at all stages of trial.

Jorge Loweree is the Managing Director of Programs and Strategy at the American Immigration Council where he oversees the Council’s legal, policy, state and local, immigration justice campaign work. He previously served as Policy Director from 2019-2022 directing the Council’s administrative and legislative advocacy efforts to provide lawmakers, policymakers, advocates, and the general public with accurate and timely information about the role of immigrants in the United States.

Alex Nowrasteh is the director of economic and social policy studies at the Cato Institute. His popular publications have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Washington Post and most other major publications in the United States.

Jessica M. Vaughan is Director of Policy Studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, DC-based research institute that examines the impact of immigration on American society and educates policymakers and opinion leaders on immigration issues. Her area of expertise is immigration policy and operations, covering topics such as visa programs, immigration benefits and immigration enforcement. Vaughan is an expert on immigration enforcement and public safety, having directed a Department of Justice-funded project on the use of immigration law enforcement in transnational gang suppression.

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