My 50th Birthday Dinner

It is a big year for me. I turned 50 in May – an accomplishment I am proud of and a milestone I am feeling completely okay with. And because it is a milestone, I have been thinking about how I would celebrate it, if I could celebrate any way I like.

I have always been fascinated by how people answered when asked to play the game about five people you would have dinner with – dead or alive. There are a few people who are often selected – Jesus, Hitler, Albert Einstein or Aristotle. But other answers are varied, and they give so much insight into what a person values and enjoys. So, I decided that, if I could celebrate my half century any way I like, I would like to have dinner with the following people:

Nelson Mandela

He is the modern embodiment of bravery, strength and justice. His life was a testament to how to best serve others, and he never lost faith in humanity. He never claimed not to be afraid of his life circumstances, but he truly believed in the power to overcome fear and turn it into triumph. He was an activist, philanthropist, politician and father. He would add quiet wisdom and strength to the dinner.

Mark Twain

He is considered to be one of the greatest writers, satirists and humorists of the last two centuries. He traveled the world and incorporated his American sensibilities into his experiences, and we are all better for his insights and reflections. Mark Twain’s work gave us guidance and a great urgency to always seek to do the right thing. He would add wit, humor, levity and keen observations to the dinner, and I would love to hear his discussions with Dr. Mandela.

Stephen Sondheim

He created the modern musical – the roadmap to the modern theater - and without him we would be lost. His mastery of words is unparalleled, but more importantly, his ability to innately understand human emotion and articulate it in a way that is both poetic and relatable is unmatched. He is theatrical royalty, charm, intelligence, and poetry. He would bring incredible literacy and an ability to communicate complex thoughts in a modern way to the conversation.

Robin Roberts

Robin is a survivor. Robin is a kind person, and Robin is a journalist. She has her own story to tell, but also has an inherent interest in others. She has an ability to ask questions in a way that is thoughtful, understanding and probing. Her struggles give her a unique ability to be empathetic. She will bring curiosity, humility and a soft perspective to the dinner.

David Schulte

David is my husband, and I don’t want to have any interesting life experiences without him. He is my best friend and the one person in the world who I want to share everything with. He is an entrepreneur, a teacher, a father and a lifelong learner. He is an excellent listener and would enjoy every moment of this dinner, and we would talk about it together for the rest of our lives.


We would have the dinner at our home, where everyone would be comfortable and at ease. I would serve a pot roast, potatoes, green beans and peach cobbler for dessert. It is a simple, Midwestern meal that would satisfy without intimidation or pretense. I would expect the conversation to be stimulating, thought provoking, humorous, and for the evening to hold great surprises. Most of all, I hope there would be laughter. It would be a great birthday gift. I would treasure every moment, and hate to see it end.