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After leading the FBI through unprecedented times, former Director James Comey shares how his moral compass guided his decision-making and issues a clarion call for ethical leadership—no matter the circumstance.
James Comey’s mettle has been tested throughout a career committed first and foremost to serving his country. During his time at the Department of Justice, Comey confronted new threats against Americans at home and abroad, prosecuting terrorists and helping to shape the debates on the collection of information and the detention of enemy combatants in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. As head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he oversaw the federal response to mass murders in San Bernardino and Orlando, which signaled a new phase in the country’s confrontation of domestic terrorism. And in the heat of one of the most closely contested presidential elections in history, Comey made a call that he would defend before Congress as one that prioritized the interests of the country he swore to serve above all else.
When domestic and international forces sought to discredit the values that Americans treasure most, Comey was determined to lead in a way that reflected—and protected—the best of who we are as a nation. In sharing how he confronted the attempts to challenge what we hold dear, Comey will help audiences navigate ethical dilemmas when the road ahead has yet to be charted.
James Comey in Conversation with Emily Maitlis on Speaking Truth To Power
James Comey On How Losing A Child Changed Him As A Leader
James Comey's Speech Topics
The Center Holds: James Comey on America’s Shared Values and Finding Common Ground
America has long been a country of consensus. Historically, most citizens classified themselves at the ideological center – as moderates, with a balanced view on big issues. But today political and cultural tensions feel more pronounced, with a vast and growing gap between Democrats and Republicans. We are often told that the bell-shaped curve of our politics is morphing into two separated and angry lumps. And we’re afraid to talk about it – how we got here and what we should do to move forward. We avoid it at home and work, so as not to provoke anyone.
In this new presentation, former FBI Director James Comey – who served under five Presidents from both sides of the aisle – argues that the center holds. We have much more in common than we realize, he says, especially when it comes to our deeply-held values. Having withstood partisan fire from all directions throughout his career, Comey knows how to turn tough conversations into positive dialogue so our country can begin healing. “I’ve long believed that it’s hard to hate up close,” says Comey. By standing on common ground, he says, we can wrestle with hard issues while not losing what unites us. Inspired by what we share, we can talk politics at the dinner table, to better understand our unique perspectives.
Delivered by one of the most effective, engaging communicators in public life today, Comey’s talk is optimistic and deeply informed. Touching on our shared values, and hidden consensus on issues portrayed as the source of bitter division, he reveals our often-overlooked commonalities. Telling stories drawn from his own life and leadership, Comey – a non-politician – explores issues like gun control, immigration policy, and LGBTQ rights to demonstrate that we are not a country torn by unbridgeable partisan division. Instead, he shows, we can talk with each other, as neighbors, friends, and fellow Americans – even when it comes to tough topics.
Wherever our politics takes us, leading up to the 2020 election and beyond, there is no doubt we need to reframe our differences in a healthier way. Grounded and genuine, Comey shares how to begin that healing process, from the center. We are better than the polarization we’re experiencing, he says. “And it’s up to us to fix it – and no one else.”
Through his experiences gained at the frontlines of policy and leadership, he shares how we can bridge the divide and come together to work toward a better collective future. Providing a winning formula for achieving common ground, Comey proves we can engage in tough conversations to inspire meaningful change – inviting questions from the audience about topics of interest.
The Ethical Leader
Throughout his decades-long career in public service, James Comey has been committed to doing the right thing—at the expense of partisan politics, popular opinion, and even personal friendships. His book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, explores what good, ethical leadership looks like and how it drives sound decisions. He sheds light upon the thinking behind his own decisions and argues that leaders should be laser-focused on a core set of principles, chief among them truth, transparency, and decency. Comey offers executives—and the people who work for them—a road map for ethical leadership even in the most challenging and uncertain of circumstances.
What Other Organizations Say About James Comey
Director Comey was everything you promised he would be and even more. He’s such a kind and accommodating person as well as a thoughtful and inspiring leader. The room was packed when he spoke at the end of the conference and he got a standing ovation. He was really friendly and patient during the long, follow-up photo shoot, and answered non-stop questions in the VIP luncheon.