Renaissance Weekend, the non-partisan retreat founded in 1981 to build bridges among innovative leaders from diverse fields, tomorrow brings 1,200 participants to Charleston, South Carolina, for 500 lectures, seminars, discussions, and performances concluding with their traditional singing of “Auld Lang Syne” and “God Bless America” at the stroke of the New Year.

The tradition was founded and is hosted by the former US Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s Philip Lader, who is chairman of WPP plc, the world’s largest advertising/media services company, and his wife, Linda Lader.

Lader said, “For 31 years, Renaissance Weekend has continued to be a cross-generational conversation among accomplished individuals with widely divergent perspectives. Civility prevails, partisanship is frowned upon, and commercialism is banned.”

Though strikingly different views of religion, politics, media, science, and every other field are represented, there is more light than heat,” Lader added.

The meetings are likened to the reunion of “an extended family” of prominent leaders in business and finance, education, religion, law, medicine, government, the media, science, technology, sports, non-profits and the arts. This year’s gathering includes CEOs, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, artists and scientists, astronauts, athletes and university presidents, judges, journalists and diplomats, as well as government, non-profit, and religious leaders.

The preponderance of participants have attended regularly throughout Renaissance’s 31-year history. In response to three decades of Renaissance ideas and challenges, hundreds of participants entered public service, started businesses, founded non-profit organizations, and established private foundations. Also, more than a dozen marriages resulted from couples meeting at these Weekends.

The New Year’s gathering is designed to be the largest of four annual Renaissance Weekends, with 2012 sessions scheduled for Santa Monica on Presidents’ Day, Monterey Bay on July 4th, and Aspen on Labor Day.

Each Renaissance Weekend over these past 31 years has sought, with equally distinguished participants, to build bridges across traditional divides of religion, politics, and philosophies, generations, geography and personal backgrounds.” Linda Lader

Past participants have regularly included former US Presidents Gerald R. Ford and Bill Clinton, as well as more than 18 past candidates for President and scores of Cabinet members, Governors, & US Senators, Nobel laureates and MacArthur “Genius” Award-, Pulitzer Prize-, Oscar- and Emmy-winners, Olympic champions and astronauts, best-selling authors, celebrated CEOs and investment managers, Internet pioneers and entrepreneurs, and leaders in education, non-profits, social services, law and medicine.

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