Noted Writer Jelani Cobb to Keynote at SLA2021

Historian and critic will present the closing keynote address; Debra Jasper to deliver the opening keynote

McLean, Virginia, U.S.A., 21 July 2021—Jelani Cobb, a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism who has written three books and countless articles and opinion pieces for publications ranging from The New Yorker to The Washington Post to The New Republic, will present the closing keynote address at SLA’s 2021 Annual Conference on August 13.

Cobb is best known for his writing on the intersection of race, politics, history and culture. He was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in commentary, and he was awarded the 2015 Sidney Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism. His books—The Devil and Dave Chappelle: And Other Essays (2007), To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic (2007) and The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress (2010)—have explored topics ranging from the roots of musical expression to the constructs and contradictions of the civil rights movement.

A graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C., Cobb received a doctorate in American history from Rutgers University. He currently teaches at Columbia University, where he is the Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism. He was previously an associate professor of history and director of the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Connecticut.

The opening keynote address at SLA2021 will be delivered on August 11 by Debra Jasper, the founder and CEO of Mindset Digital, who works with Fortune 500 organizations to teach their leaders how to connect and compete in a technologically driven environment.

Named one of the top 12 female entrepreneurs in North America by Ernst & Young, Debra directed the Kiplinger Program at Ohio State University’s School of Public Affairs, where she launched the world’s first social media fellowship for journalists. She and her colleagues at Mindset have delivered presentations and training to more than 200,000 professionals in the financial, healthcare, tech and hospitality sectors.

SLA2021 will open on August 3 with dozens of on-demand education sessions that attendees can access on their own schedule. Live programming will begin August 11 and conclude August 13, with sessions addressing topics ranging from ensuring trust in competitive intelligence source identification to supporting inclusive entrepreneurship. All told, SLA2021 will offer more than 100 education sessions, which attendees can access in the conference platform through the end of August. Beginning in September, the conference content will be available in SLA’s Learning Hub.

About SLA
The Special Libraries Association (SLA) is a nonprofit international organization for innovative information professionals and their strategic partners. SLA serves information professionals in more than 60 countries and in a range of working environments, including business, academia and government agencies. SLA promotes and strengthens its members through learning, advocacy and networking initiatives. For more information, visit

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