Kean University Welcomes Distinguished Lecturer Abby Phillip of CNN

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, March 10, 2022


Kean University Welcomes Distinguished Lecturer Abby Phillip of CNN

UNION, N.J. —  CNN Senior Political Correspondent Abby Phillip delivered a powerful Distinguished Lecture to close out Kean University’s celebration of Black History Month, touching on American democracy, Black voices in politics, and the conflict in Ukraine.

The nationally known journalist packed the auditorium at Kean’s North Avenue Academic Building, where she also spoke about the state of journalism today. Phillip said journalists need to bring their experiences, perspectives, race, gender and more to their work, and stand up for one side when necessary.

“I believe that journalists do need to take sides on certain issues. Two of those things are democracy and humanity,” Phillip said. “Regardless of who we are, where we work, to be able to bring our whole selves with us is vitally important.”

The anchor of CNN’s Inside Politics Sunday, Phillip served as White House correspondent during the Trump Administration and moderated the 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate in Iowa. She is a Harvard University graduate.

As a Distinguished Lecturer, she joins a list of thought leaders who have shared insights with the Kean community. Previous lecturers include Pulitzer-prize-winning presidential historian Jon Meacham, civil rights leader Martin Luther King III, author Chelsea Clinton and political commentator Bakari Sellers.

Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., opened the event.

“Not only is Ms. Phillip an extraordinary national journalist, she is also a national voice on equity and inclusion,” he said. “We have delivered on the promise to bring prominent national thought leaders and change-makers to Kean.”

Darlene Repollet, a former corporate human resources executive who, like her husband, is an advocate for equity and inclusion in education and business, served as moderator for the event.

“Abby Phillip is one of the most respected broadcast journalists in our nation today,” Darlene Repollet said. “She is also a wonderful professional role model for Kean’s students, especially for our young women of color.”

In her lecture, Phillip touched on numerous topics in the news, from the violent invasion of Ukraine to the need for more Blacks in the U.S. Congress.

“It’s undeniable the power that Black voters have to influence the vote. But we still live in a world where Black voters are not reflected in representation,” said Phillip, who is currently writing a book, The Dream Deferred: Jesse Jackson, Black Political Power, and the Year that Changed America.

She also described her career trajectory.

“It has not been a linear path for me to get where I am. I was often the youngest person, the only Black person, the only Black woman in the room,” she said. “My parents were immigrants from Trinidad & Tobago; they didn’t have connections to get me in the door. But even when doors are closed to you, there are other paths.”

Before the lecture, Phillip spoke to a class of Kean communication students. She said later the students were great and their questions “focused on the right things.”

“What I hope a lot of young people think about is, whatever you are doing, how can you make a difference in society?” she said.

Students called Phillip “inspiring.”

“It was definitely something I needed to hear,” said Christian Grullon of Carteret, a senior journalism major who works on Kean’s newspaper, The Tower. “The thing I took from it is to learn how to look at different sources — to make the effort to analyze and observe the information that you’re getting.”

Kean Ocean junior journalism major Elaine Amico, from Ortley Beach, said she was excited when she learned Phillip was coming to Kean.

“She was very encouraging and she’s just so knowledgeable,” Amico, who also writes for The Tower, said. “It was just really encouraging and inspiring for us as Kean students.”

In the audience at the Distinguished Lecture was one especially enthusiastic group: Phillip’s honorary sorority sisters, members of Delta Sigma Theta. Dozens of “sorors” gathered onstage after the lecture for a group picture.

One sorority sister, Charlene Ransom of Cherry Hill, called Phillip’s words “enlightening.”

“It reminded me that as we celebrate the last day of Black History Month, we still have so much more to do,” she said. “What I took away is that she said to just do it. You show up. It’s gonna give the opportunity for somebody else to show up as themselves as well.”


CNN Senior Political Correspondent Abby Phillip delivered a powerful Distinguished Lecture at Kean University to close out the university’s celebration of Black History Month. (Photo Credit: Kean University)


CNN Senior Political Correspondent Abby Phillip speaks with Kean University communication students before her Distinguished Lecture at the Union campus. (Photo Credit: Kean University)



Founded in 1855, Kean University is one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, with a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers and is a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment serving more than 16,000 students. The University’s six undergraduate colleges offer more than 50 undergraduate degrees over a full range of academic subjects. The Nathan Weiss Graduate College offers seven doctoral degree programs and more than 70 options for graduate study leading to master’s degrees, professional diplomas or certifications. With campuses in Union, Toms River, Jefferson and Manahawkin, New Jersey, and Wenzhou, China, Kean University furthers its mission by providing an affordable and accessible world-class education. Visit

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