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Melanie C. Lawson ’76

Award-winning journalist Melanie Lawson has always loved the news business. She started as a full-time general assignments reporter at ABC affiliate Channel 13 in Houston, then went on to become co-anchor of Live at 5 and Channel 13’s midday show, Eyewitness News at 11 a.m. Lawson also hosts a weekly Community Affairs program called “Crossroads,” focusing on issues and events around Houston.

Lawson has had a varied and exhilarating career. She has covered virtually every city, state and national election during her career. She has traveled to Cuba, Panama, Africa and Australia to cover major stories, among other places. She’s won numerous awards for her reporting, including three Emmys. She has interviewed a wide range of notables, including three U.S. presidents, former Secretaries of State James Baker and Henry Kissinger, the Dalai Lama, poet Maya Angelou, musical superstar Beyonce, former heavyweight champion George Foreman, legendary journalists Barbara Walters and Robin Roberts, evangelists Joel and Victoria Osteen, prima ballerina Misty Copeland, and actors Betty White, Shirley McLaine, Harry Belafonte and Denzel Washington.

Lawson has served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the Houston Ballet, the Houston Museum of African American Culture, SHAPE Community Center, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Volunteer Houston, and the Houston Association of Black Journalists.

She has been honored as the YWCA’s “Outstanding Women of the Year,” a “Women of Distinction” by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, and the Anti-Defamation League, and she has received “Lifetime Achievement” awards from the Houston Press Club, the Houston Association of Black Journalists, Women in Film and Television, and Houston Community College.

Lawson earned a joint degree in Law and Journalism from Columbia University. She worked at a Wall Street law firm for three years before returning to Houston, and is admitted to both the Texas and New York State Bars. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and the Links, Incorporated.

She is also a proud member of the church founded by her parents, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church.


Heart-to-Heart: In-Depth Dialogues with Pioneering Princetonians

Saturday, October 6

Majka Burhardt ’98, Professional Climber and Executive Director, Legado, interviewed by Julia Boorstin Samuelson ’00, CNBC Senior Media & Entertainment Correspondent

Meet Majka Burhardt, author, professional climber, filmmaker and entrepreneur and hear how her passion, purpose and pursuit of excellence have taken her around the globe.

McCosh Hall, Room 10


Gabrielle Sulzberger ’81, General Partner of Fontis Partners, interviewed by Kim Goodwin ’81, CEO, Avanico Holdings

Meet Gaby [Simms] Sulzberger, one of the first women of color in private equity investments. Gabrielle has served on corporate boards since 2003.  She chaired the board of directors for Whole Foods, defending the company from activist investors and overseeing the company through Amazon’s acquisition in 2017.

Alexander Hall, Richardson Auditorium


Helen Zia ’73, Author and Activist, interviewed by Melanie Lawson ’76, News Anchor and Reporter, KTRK-TV ABC-13

Meet Helen Zia, a child of the civil rights era, who quit medical school to work as a construction laborer, auto worker, a feminist community organizer before finding her life’s work as an author and activist. Her passion for journalism and activism led her to Ms. magazine and global encounters.

McCosh Hall, Room 50