Stanford honors leaders past, present and future with 'Founders' symposium

In the second in a series of symposia marking Stanford's 125th year, President John Hennessy will open a campus conversation with alumni who have put their ideas into action in the world.

detail from poster advertising event

What motivates founders of businesses, movements and causes, and what keeps them on track to succeed? In the spirit of university founders Jane and Leland Stanford, a symposium, “Celebrating Founders,” brings together some of Stanford’s brightest entrepreneurial alumni for a public conversation on these issues.

Tickets are now for sale online for the event, to be held at Memorial Auditorium on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m.

The evening symposium continues a yearlong celebration that began last fall and culminates in October, when the university officially turns 125. Stanford opened its doors to students on Oct. 1, 1891, and since then has been a place where complex challenges meet big ideas and new organizations are born.

Navigating such challenges and generating great ideas has enabled Stanford alumni to change how people communicate, improve human health, help communities in developing economies and enjoy leisure time. On Feb. 24, some of these leaders will share their insights with a live audience.

Stanford President John Hennessy will set the stage with introductory remarks. Ron Johnson, BA ’80, and a member of the Stanford Board of Trustees, will moderate the discussion, speaking from his deep and varied experience. Johnson oversaw Apple’s retail strategy and is now founding partner of venture firm Johnson + Partners, founder of personal commerce platform Enjoy and co-chairman of the $1 billion-plus Campaign for Stanford Medicine.

Joining the conversation will be Reed Hastings, MS ’88, co-founder and CEO of Netflix; Jessica Jackley, MBA ’07, author and co-founder of the social entrepreneurship microlending firm Kiva; Mike Krieger, BS ’08, MS ’09, co-founder and chief technology officer of Instagram; Tristan Walker, MBA ’10, founder and CEO of Walker & Co. Brands; and Kiah J. Williams, BS ’07, MA ’07, co-founder and director of SIRUM (Supporting Initiatives to Redistribute Unused Medicine).

These leaders will share their thoughts on what it takes to move from idea to reality, the role of failure in entrepreneurship, how to motivate others to join in, and deciding when to persevere and when to let go. They will highlight pivotal moments in their own careers and talk about what they have learned.

“Jane and Leland Stanford’s vision to contribute to a better world has been one of the university’s enduring strengths,” said Nicole Sunahara, director of special initiatives in the Office of Public Affairs. “This symposium is a celebration of the tenacity, creativity and vision involved with creating something new.”

“Celebrating Founders” is just one of many events planned for 2016 by the Stanford 125 initiative and by entities throughout campus. Other activities include visual arts and performance, storytelling, lectures, symposia and alumni celebrations of Stanford’s transformative global impact over 125 years. The 125.stanford.edu website has a calendar and details of future events, as well as video and other content from the celebration’s opening event in 2015, the symposium “Thinking Big About Learning.” More stories and video will be added as the celebration unfolds.

Tickets for “Celebrating Founders” are available online, and are $15 for faculty, staff and alumni and $20 for the general public. Free student tickets are available in advance through the Stanford Ticket Office.

Symposium details are available on the university’s 125th anniversary website.

Media Contacts

Nicole Sunahara, Office of Public Affairs: (650) 498-8202, nicole12@stanford.edu