Historic ‘Dinner with Benjamin Franklin’ a Riveting Success for the O’Connor Institute

The Event: Dinner with Benjamin Franklin

The Cause: Sandra Day O’Connor Institute for American Democracy

Event Date: November 18, 2022

Location: Arizona Biltmore Resort

Founding Father Sponsors: Christine & Daryl Burton, Burton Family Foundation | Rebecca Pierson & Frederick Pakis, Pakis Family Foundation

Literary Sponsor: Francis & Dionne Najafi

Event Co-Chairs: Sharon & Oliver Harper | Jan & Tom Lewis

Honorary Chairs: F. Francis & Dionne Najafi | Terry & Steve Roman

Keynote Speaker & Honoree: Walter Isaacson, author of “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” and Recipient of the O’Connor Institute Spirit of Democracy Award

Moderator: Evan Thomas

Notable Moments: After guests were seated to enjoy a modern take on a colonial three-course dinner, the incredible Walter Isaacson gave an impressive talk on Franklin’s legacy that was intriguing, educational and inspiring, and in which he noted several striking similarities between the Founding Father and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The subsequent fireside chat between Isaacson and his fellow journalist and longtime friend Evan Thomas was riveting and offered even greater insight into the genius of Benjamin Franklin. What’s next for Isaacson? Watch for his next book where Elon Musk is the subject. Per tradition, the subject of the 2023 History Dinner was also announced: Frederick Douglass.  

Photos courtesy of Marion Rhoades Photography

Fred Pakis & Rebecca Pierson
Matthew & Michele Feeney
Tochia & Stan Levine
Matthew Feeney, Walter Isaacson, Evan Thomas, Gay Wray & Sara Suggs
Members of the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes & Drums performed the National Anthem

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