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Kenneth Feinberg speaks in Chicago on March 10, 2013

Kenneth Feinberg speaks in Chicago on March 10, 2013

FOR RELEASE — February 14, 2013

For more information contact:   

Brian Zimmerman | 312.322.1724
Betsy Gomberg | 312.322.1756


The expert responsible for victim compensation for the
9/11 terrorist attacks, the Virginia Tech massacre,
the 2008 financial crisis, and the BP oil spill discusses
his experiences compensating families for catastrophic loss

He appears at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership
as part of a series of impressive leaders who inspire
new thinking on the critical issues of our times

(Chicago) Kenneth R. Feinberg, one of the nation’s leading lawyers, has been front and center in some of the most complex legal disputes of the past three decades. These include Agent Orange, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Virginia Tech massacre, the 2008 financial crisis, and the
BP Gulf oil spill. In each instance, presidents, attorneys general, and other public officials have asked Mr. Feinberg to serve as the objective expert assigned to compensate those affected by tragedy.

Kenneth Feinberg will speak at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership on Who Gets What: Fair Compensation After Tragedy and Financial Upheaval, which is also the title of his new book. The program takes place on Sunday, March 10 at 2 pm.

Kenneth Feinberg appears as part of the Spertus Prime speaker series, an impressive line-up of individuals whose work inspires new thinking with real-world application. The series continues with AHAVA North America CEO Elana Drell Szyfer on May 5 and statistician Nate Silver on May 19. These follow an appearance by author Jonathan Safran Foer, who spoke at Spertus in January.

A specialist in mediation and alternative resolution, Mr. Feinberg was appointed by Attorney General John Ashcroft to administer the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The appointment came just days after the attacks and it asked the impossible: to calculate the dollar value of over 5,500 dead and injured in the worst peacetime disaster in U.S. history. For the next three years, Mr. Feinberg spent almost all his time meeting with families and calculating appropriate awards for each claim. He did this without pay. He wrote about his experiences in his first book, What is Life Worth?: The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11.

Since then Mr. Feinberg has worked on victims’ compensation for other extraordinary assignments, including the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech and the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. He also served as the Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation (popularly called the "pay czar"), determining pay of executives at bailed-out financial institutions and automobile companies. Mr. Feinberg also serves as an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, and New York University.

At the heart of the work Mr. Feinberg does are fundamental questions about how democracy copes with disaster. At Spertus, he will speak about the ethical challenges of his work and how he draws on his own Jewish background and experiences. 

Mr. Feinberg will be introduced by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, who represents Illinois' 9th Congressional District. Mr. Feinberg's books will be for sale at this event and he will be signing books after the program. 

The program takes place at Spertus Institute, 610 S. Michigan Avenue. Discount parking is available for $10 with Spertus validation at the Essex Inn, two blocks south of Spertus. 

Tickets for each program are $75, $50, and $35, with the $75 tickets including a special “meet & greet” reception with Mr. Feinberg at 1 pm.
All seats are reserved. Tickets are on sale online at and by phone at 312.322.1773. 

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Spertus offers dynamic learning opportunities, rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and open to all. Graduate programs and workshops train future leaders and engage individuals in exploration of Jewish life. Public programs—including films, speakers, seminars, and concerts—take place at the Institute's Michigan Avenue facility, in the Chicago suburbs, and online. For more information, please visit

The appearances by Kenneth Feinberg, Elana Drell Szyfer, and Nate Silver (as well as the recent appearance by Jonathan Safran Foer) are made possible with the support of the Harvey L. Miller Family Foundation and other generous donors.

Spertus Institute is a partner in serving the community, supported by the JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.


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