The person chosen to be the fair's keynote speaker should be inspirational; whose achievements are well-known to the public as well as the public interest field. A dynamic, prominent personality will more easily attract school and local press, and draw greater numbers to the fair. And a speech that relays the excitement and rewards of empowering people -- to organize cooperatives, to fight toxic-spewing incinerators in their backyards, to oppose unsafe workplace conditions, to seek equal access to quality education for their children -- will fuel fair-goers throughout the day.

Speakers like Ralph Nader, consumer advocate; Barry Commoner, renewable energy advocate; Lois Gibbs, Love Canal organizer and director of the Citizens' Clearinghouse for Hazardous Wastes; Peter Bahouth, director of Greenpeace USA; Frances Moore Lappe, director of Food First! and author of Diet for a Small Planet, Marian Wright Edelman, director of the Children's Defense Fund; or any of the suggested advocates in the Speaker's Bureau listing (See Appendix I) would draw crowds and media coverage for your event.

Bringing these speakers to campus will cost money. Funds for speakers can be requested from student government, through the career office, various departments, alumni offices or community foundations.

There are also local activists, grassroots organizers, progressive politicians and social change advocates who can inspire. For help in locating them, contact:

  • The staff of your Student Public Interest Research Group (PIRG). The PIRGs are student run, nonprofit, advocacy groups that focus on such issues as environmental protection, consumer protection, energy and government reform (see Appendix C for PIRG offices around the country).

  • Local chapters of national organizations (see Appendix D for suggested groups and their national offices). They may know leading activists and speakers in your community and state.

  • Student centers or student unions. Most student organizations keep files of information in their offices which list speakers and contacts in the school's region.

  • Speakers' bureaus. Local newspapers sometimes have a speakers' bureau as a service to the community. South End Press in Boston, MA has a new speaker's bureau called Speak Out! with "speakers committed to the politics of social change." See Appendix J for more information.

  • Neighboring campuses. These might have PIRG chapters, student union resources, speakers' bureaus and progressive organizations on campus.

After a speaker is selected, draft and send a speaker contract like the one in Appendix L to confirm the terms of the arrangement with the speaker and/or the organization or bureau represented.