Provost's Discovery Themes Lecturer Program: J.D. Vance

J.D. Vance TED Talk: America's Forgotten Working Class

Events — October 23, 2017

The Provost's Discovery Themes Lecturer Program: J.D. Vance

J.D. Vance will propose a hands-on approach to problems facing his native state of Ohio: opioid addiction, under-preparedness of the workforce, and domestic instability. Through his non-profit organization, Our Ohio Renewal, Vance, a 2009 alumnus of Ohio State, will tackle these issues that shaped his upbringing in Middletown, Ohio, subject of Hillbilly Elegy, Vance’s #1 New York Times best-seller. 

An advocate for policy changes, Vance believes that involving the family and community can be even more effective in solving these seemingly intractable—and interrelated—problems. “Where civil society can be most helpful,” he says, “is in giving people real networks and social groups that can support them when things are tough, offering them access to better opportunities, to jobs, and to activities in their community.”

J.D. Vance is the author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, inspired by his childhood in the Rust Belt city of Middletown, Ohio, and the Appalachian town of Jackson, Kentucky. Described by the National Review as a “brilliant book” and by The Economist as “one of the most important” reads of 2016, Hillbilly Elegy is a searing portrait of the lives of the white working class, providing timely perspective on the rise of political populism and the growing concerns of many Americans. Vance’s gripping examination of his upbringing strikes a chord with audiences as he shares the personal impact of a social, regional, and economic decline. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment have announced plans to produce a movie based on Vance's book.

A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and Operation Iraqi Freedom and a graduate of Yale Law School, Vance followed a stint at a large corporate law firm with a venture capital career, becoming a principal at Mithril Capital, cofounded by Peter Thiel and Ajay Royan. As an investor, Vance focuses on innovative and transformative sectors of the economy. In early 2017, he joined as a partner in AOL founder Steve Case’s venture capital company, Revolution LLC, which concentrates on bolstering entrepreneurship and disruptive, high-growth companies outside of the sphere of Silicon Valley. Vance also returned home to Ohio in 2017 to found Our Ohio Renewal, a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the state’s opioid crisis and bringing high-quality employment and educational opportunities to Ohioans.

A contributor to The New York Times and a regular political and public policy commentator, Vance has appeared on ABC, CBS, and FOX News, and currently serves as a contributor on CNN.

Please contact Janis Browning at browning.5@osu.edu if you have any questions/concerns.

Full biography