Journalist, Best-Selling Author, Foreign Policy Expert – Gayle Tzemach Lemmon Joins Midlands Audiences for Enlightening Conversation

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 - 11:30am

TED Talk regular brings stories of female soldiers and entrepreneurs in the Middle East to HT@MTC


“There is no greater multiplier in the fight against poverty than an educated female.” —Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Applauded for her insight by Angelina Jolie and her writing described as “inspiring” by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon can turn heads with her words. Her captivating talks have taken her all over the world and earned her a prestigious spot at the Council on Foreign Relations. This fall, Lemmon joins audiences at Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College on October 11, 2016 at 7:30 PM. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of New York Times bestsellers Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield and The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, the story of a young entrepreneur who supported her community under the Taliban.

On stage, Lemmon reveals the stories of women who accomplished more than was expected of them – and under the harshest of circumstances. Recognizing the grit and intelligence of underestimated populations seems natural to Lemmon. She is the daughter of a single mother, raised in a lower-middle class home, and was the first person in her family to graduate college.

“…Our mother taught us the most American values: hard work, saving, sacrifice, integrity, doing what you have to do give your kids a shot,” a theme that runs through many of Lemmon’s bestselling titles.

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon began her career as a journalist in Washington, D.C. – eventually landing on stages around the globe. From 1997 to 2004, she covered presidential politics and public policy issues for the ABC News Political Unit, and she served as an editorial producer during the first year of This Week with George Stephanopoulos. In 2004, she left ABC News to pursue her interest in international development and began her MBA study at Harvard.

While serving as a vice president at the global investment management firm PIMCO, Lemmon began reporting from conflict regions.

She has reported on Afghanistan since 2005, when she made her first trip to the country. She has written for The New York Times, The Financial Times, Fast Company, The Christian Science Monitor, Newsweek, and The Daily Beast about the country’s politics and economy, the evolving roles of Afghan women, and the small but important class of young entrepreneurs.

In 2011, Harper Publishing House published her first novel, The Dressmaker of Khair Khana. Lemmon spent years on the ground reporting the story of Kamila Sidiqi and the dressmaking business she started in her living room – which went on to create jobs and hope for 100 women in Khair Khana, her Kabul neighborhood.

Lemmon’s second book, Ashley’s War, tells the story of Cultural Support Teams. Believing that women could access places and people that had remained out of reach, and could build relationships—woman to woman—in ways that male soldiers in a conservative, traditional country could not, the United States Army implemented this pilot program to put women on the battlefield alongside Green Berets and Army Rangers on sensitive missions in Afghanistan.

When asked to describe her books, Lemmon explains that both titles “take everything you know about women as victims — women in Afghanistan and what our narrative has come to be about women in the military — and they flip that on its head and show what a one-dimensional and entirely insufficient view those narratives give.”

“Both books are about communities of women that are bound by service, who want to make a difference, who were forever bound by what they experienced in an incredibly challenging time,” she continues, “they’re both underestimated from the outside.”

In addition to her work on foreign policy and the fight to end child marriage, Lemmon has written a number of pieces about women and girls for The Atlantic, including “We Need to Tell Girls They Can Have It All (Even If They Can’t),” which is mentioned in Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

Lemmon is a contributor to The Atlantic’s Defense One site, writing regularly on national security and foreign policy issues. She regularly appears on a number of broadcast networks, including PBS, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, and National Public Radio to discuss foreign policy issues. In December 2011, she gave the opening talk at TEDxWomen, which focused on why investing in women can make the difference for the global economy. Her presentation was named a “TED Talk of the Day.”

When describing the moving aspect of Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s experiences, HT@MTC Executive Director Katie Fox explains, “Midlands Technical College is dedicated to helping our students and business partners build the economic resilience of our community. Women’s leadership and entrepreneurship are crucial to that resilience, and we know Gayle’s insight and experiences can bolster the educational and entrepreneurial resolve of everyone in the region.”

On her own work, Lemmon says, “What I want it to do is shed light, like a small flashlight, on worlds that people didn’t know before,” she shared. “I wanted to make people think about something in a way that they hadn’t before.”

Prior to Lemmon’s visit to Harbison Theatre, she will join the Midlands community at Richland Library Southeast for a casual conversation, that is free and open to the public, about her books and experiences in the Middle East. Harbison Theatre Executive Director Katie Fox will be on hand to moderate the conversation with Lemmon from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM. More information can be found here:

Ticketing Details

Individual show tickets as well as packages are available now at Buyers may also order tickets via phone at 803.407.5011 or in person at the Harbison Theatre Box Office, Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 4 PM. The box office also will open two hours prior to each show.