The English-Speaking Union

News and Events

News and Events

Chairman's May Newsletter

A Message from Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper

Dear ESU Friends,

I am thrilled to announce that in June we will celebrate the 10th anniversary since the ESU Andrew Romay New Immigrant Center (ARNIC) became an integral part of the English-Speaking Union. Over the past decade, ARNIC has been a beacon of hope and opportunity for new immigrants, providing invaluable resources, education, and the support they need to integrate fully into U.S. economic and civic life.

For those of you unfamiliar with ARNIC, it is a free program that offers new immigrants English language classes, one-to-one conversation sessions with native English speakers and opportunities for civic and cultural learning.

ARNIC Students at the ESU Headquarters

One of the Center's newest initiatives is the Workforce Development Program launched two years ago with a major grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. It advances the economic integration of new immigrants by helping them to develop professional English proficiency and navigate the U.S. job market.

Job readiness English classes equip our students with the vocabulary and fluency needed to thrive in the workplace. A trained career advisor helps them to explore career paths, reviews their job applications and connects them to external resources. The cornerstone of the initiative is the professional mentoring program that matches immigrant job seekers with U.S. professionals who guide them toward reaching their career goals.

With pride, we can say that during the past ten years, more than 2,500 immigrants have passed through the Center's doors, benefiting from our programs and services. The Center's programs have been really effective. One hundred percent of the 395 students at the Center this past year reported improved English, 87% had acquired professional-level English skills and 93% felt more at home in the U.S. There was also a 23% decrease in unemployment among our students.

To commemorate the Center's 10th anniversary, we have launched a special fundraising campaign and invite you to join us in supporting ARNIC's continued mission. Your donation will have an even greater impact as ARNIC's long-term supporter, the Marietta and Andrew Romay Foundation, has generously offered a $25,000 challenge grant, matching all gifts made to the Center. 

Your contribution to the 10th-anniversary fundraising campaign will be instrumental in expanding our services to more immigrants and empowering them to build successful lives in their new country. By investing in our mission, you will be helping these newcomers to America to achieve economic stability, embrace their new home and contribute positively to our society.

To make your contribution and have it doubled, please visit

In addition to this celebration, I am pleased to report on the successful completion of the ESU 2024 National Shakespeare Competition. On April 15, 2024, the Competition returned to its cherished long-time home, the iconic Mitzi Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Forty-four semi-finalists came from all over the country, along with parents, ESU Branch coordinators, and supporters for a weekend of educational and cultural activities in New York City, including an acting workshop with Broadway veteran Erin Dilly, a double-decker bus tour of New York City and a performance of Kimberly Akimbo on Broadway. Perhaps best of all for these teenagers was the opportunity to spend a weekend in New York City with fellow young Shakespeare lovers from across the country. 

The Forty-four National Shakespeare Competition Semi-finalists

With his performances of Sonnet 17 and a moving monologue from Othello, Malachi White of the ESU New Orleans Branch won the English-Speaking Union's 41st Annual National Shakespeare Competition. Willow Peyton of West Virginia took second place while Evelyn Hall of the ESU San Francisco Branch placed third.

From Left to Right: Evelyn Hall, Malachi White, Willow Peyton

I encourage you to read the press release announcing the Competition winners and to peruse the event program to learn more about the talented participants and their remarkable performances.

Dear friends, let us celebrate the tremendous impact of the ESU educational programs. Let us give a round of applause to Malachi White, Willow Payton, Evelyn Hall and all the other contestants of the 2024 National Shakespeare Competition and wish them success in their future endeavors. Let us look ahead with optimism and excitement to the future of the ESU Andrew Romay New Immigrant Center which will build on the solid foundation established during its first ten years. 

With your generous support let's continue to transform lives.

With best regards,

Dr. E. Quinn Peeper
The English-Speaking Union

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Chairman's April Newsletter

A Message from Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper

Dear ESU Friends,

I am delighted to share with you the tremendous success of the recent ESU Luard Morse Scholarship reunion and celebration, which took place on March 22, 2024, at the British Embassy in Washington D.C. This event was a pivotal moment in our ongoing campaign to raise awareness of the Luard Morse Scholarships, energize our alumni network, and strengthen the bonds within the ESU community.

The evening was nothing short of spectacular, filled with warmth, camaraderie, and inspiring conversations among our guests.

Hosted by the British Ambassador Dame Karen Pierce DCMG and Sir Charles Roxburgh KCB in the historic Lutyens Building, the Ambassador's residence in Washington D.C., the event not only celebrated the achievements of our scholarship alumni studies in the UK but also highlighted the program's transformative impact on their life trajectories.

During her remarks, the Ambassador extended a warm welcome to all attendees, emphasizing the significance of the ESU Luard Morse Scholarships. She spoke passionately about the program's role in fostering international understanding and academic excellence, highlighting its impact on students from historically Black colleges and universities.

British Ambassador Dame Karen Pierce DCMG

Two distinguished ESU Luard alumni, Dr. Laurence C. Morse and Mr. Bruce Thompson, spoke about the scholarship's profound impact on their professional journeys. Their heartfelt stories of studying at the London School of Economics during their Junior year of college served as powerful reminders of the scholarship's enduring value and inspired renewed commitment to supporting and advancing its mission.

The event was part of our broader campaign to raise funds for the ESU Luard Morse Scholarships and the endowment that sustains them. I am thrilled to report that our efforts have been met with great enthusiasm and generosity. Thanks to the support of our members and friends, we are making significant strides toward the campaign's $65,000 goal.

For those who have not yet made a contribution, I invite you to join us in this important endeavor. Your gift, no matter the size, will make a significant impact and help us further our goals for the ESU Luard Morse Scholarships.

Donate to the Luard Morse Scholarship Fundraiser

I invite everyone, whether you attended the event or not, to explore the photo gallery (use password: EntEsU23!). Those who were with us that evening will have the opportunity to revisit cherished memories, while those who missed the event will have a chance to share in the experience and appreciate the special moments captured.

Let us continue to build upon this momentum to ensure the ESU Luard Morse Scholarships' future.

Thank you once again for your dedication and support.

With best regards,

Dr. E. Quinn Peeper
The English-Speaking Union

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February Happy Hour: An Ancient and Global History of the Book

Wednesday, February 7, 2024 at 4 PM (ET) 

February 7 Happy Hour

An Ancient and Global History of the Book with Professor James Raven

Sponsored by the ESU Central PA Branch

As James Raven writes, "perhaps we think we know what a book is—it has a cover and a spine and it's usually printed. It might be illustrated and it's usually read, although sometimes not all the way through. But over many thousands of years, books have come in many different material forms and have served many different purposes. What, in fact, is a book? In this richly illustrated talk, Professor Raven takes us from the earliest inscribed shells, stones, and clay tablets through to knotted strings, buffalo hides, illuminated manuscripts, printed codices, and the modern digital age. This global journey invites comparisons between materials such as papyrus, silk, bamboo, and plant leaves, and explores different ways of creating texts by writing, painting, imprinting, and digitizing. In review of all this, he asks what will happen to the book in the future and challenges us to think about wider sensory aspects of the reading experience. This ESU Happy Hour is sponsored by the ESU Central PA Branch. ESU Happy Hour programs are online, free, and open to all members and the public. Registration is required. Please register here.

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The ESU National Shakespeare Competition is Underway!

News Photo

We are pleased to announce the kick-off of the ESU's 2024 National Shakespeare Competition (NSC)! Now in our 41st year, the NSC has already engaged hundreds of high schools in 44 ESU branches across the country in 2024!  Branch competitions are beginning soon, with winners advancing to our final competition held LIVE on stage at Lincoln Center!  Once again, students, family members, teachers and branch representatives will be invited to join us in New York City for a weekend of exciting events culminating the in the Final Competition.

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January Happy Hour: Potatoes are not Irish with Dr. Robin Sinclair

Wednesday, January 17, 2024 at 6 PM (ET) 

Potatoes are not Irish, Tomatoes are not Italian, Tea is not English or Why We Play Bagpipes at 9/11 Memorials with Dr. Robin Sinclair

Potatoes are not Irish, tomatoes are not Italian, tea is not English, or why we play bagpipes at 9/11 Memorials. Between the 15th and 17th centuries, European sailors traversed the globe in search of riches, glory, and new trade routes to East Asia. Historians refer to this period as the Age of Exploration, or the Age of Discovery. During this time, European explorers made daring voyages that changed world history. These discoveries caused ideas, technology, plants, and animals to be exchanged around the world. This ESU Happy Hour is sponsored by the Nashville Branch. ESU Happy Hour programs are online, free, and open to all members and the public. Registration is required. Please click here to register:

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Chairman's December Newsletter

A Message from Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper

Dear Friends,

As we gather with loved ones to celebrate the joyous holiday season, I extend my warmest wishes. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Reflecting on the past twelve months, our ESU community reached remarkable milestones that truly defined our commitment to bringing people together, forging friendships and unlocking opportunities through the power of the English language.

This past year was punctuated by four national events that etched their mark in the annals of our organization's history. Each milestone we reached was a reflection of our shared vision and determination.

ESU Gala, Photo by Joy Malone 

In October 2022 we welcomed HRH The Princess Royal to the ESU – the first visit by a member of the Royal Family in nearly forty years. The Gala was a triumph in more ways than one, particularly after it had been canceled twice due to Covid. Her Royal Highness' visit was among the proudest moment in the ESU's history.

2023 National Shakespeare Competition Semifinalists

The ESU National Shakespeare Competition made a triumphant return for its 40th edition to Lincoln Center in New York City – an inspiring step forward after the challenges posed by the pandemic. Your resilience and dedication made this event not just another competition, but a celebration of the enduring power of Shakespeare's words and the profound impact of this venerable ESU program on generations of students.

In July we also embarked on a successful National Patron Tour – a long-standing tradition of engaging our most generous members through cultural enrichment and unforgettable adventures. The transatlantic crossing aboard Queen Mary II, and tour in and around London allowed us to immerse ourselves in the cultural tapestry that binds us together. Such experiences enrich our understanding and strengthen the global connections fostered by the ESU.

Members of the ESU Board on board the Queen Mary II

In October, the Annual General Conference in Kansas City, MO, was another resounding success, bringing together members from around the country for a weekend of substantive discussions, social and cultural activities, and warm camaraderie. This event exemplified the strength of our community and the meaningful connections forged during these gatherings.

Tour of the WWI Museum at the Annual General Conference

I want to thank you for your invaluable contributions to these remarkable milestones. It is through your collective dedication and unwavering support that the ESU continues to thrive.

Looking ahead, I am thrilled to announce more exciting endeavors. 

On June 20, we will mark ten years since the Andrew Romay New Immigrant Center became an integral part of the English-Speaking Union. Over the past decade, ARNIC has become the centerpiece of our immigrant programs. It is a beacon of hope and opportunity for new immigrants, offering resources and support to rebuild their lives in the U.S. 

ARNIC students at the 2023 potluck

The theme of this special evening will be "A House of Immigrants: Celebrating Ten Years of Impact and Immigrant Success" – a tribute to the program's founder and benefactor Dr. Andrew Romay's dream to create a welcoming home for newcomers to America. To honor his vision, we will host this year's event at the ESU House, highlighting its warm and supportive environment. The event will include the graduation of the new cohort of ARNIC students as they embark on the next chapter of their journeys.

The evening's program will also recognize the many of you who have been part of the Center's success. Awards will be presented including the ARNIC Alumni Award for exceptional dedication, resilience and contribution to both their community and their chosen field; a Volunteer Award honoring those among you who have selflessly given their time and expertise; and a Partnership Award acknowledging the collaborative efforts that have enriched the ARNIC community.

This celebration will allow us to showcase the program's profound impact not only on the lives of its beneficiaries but also on the dedicated volunteers who have contributed to its success. A formal announcement will be going out soon and I welcome all of you to join us in commemorating a decade of transformative support, resilience and the shared journey of building successful lives in the U.S

2023 ARNIC Thanksgiving

In the spring, we eagerly anticipate a joyous reunion and celebration of the ESU Luard Morse Scholarships community, an event that promises to be a testament to the lasting impact of education and cultural exchange. This celebration will also mark the capstone of a fundraising campaign aimed at bolstering the Scholarships endowment. Your support will be pivotal in bringing us closer to this goal, and I am confident that together, we can make a lasting impact on the lives of aspiring scholars.

In April 2024, the National Shakespeare Competition will once again take center stage, bringing forth a new wave of talent and passion to Lincoln Center in New York City. After a brief hiatus, five ESU branches are rejoining the competition. And in even more exciting news, I am delighted to announce that for the first time ever, we are planting the flag of the competition in three new states, allowing students in these regions to embrace the beauty of Shakespeare's words. This expansion embodies our commitment to making the transformative experience of the ESU National Shakespeare Competition accessible to even more young minds across the nation.

The ESU 2024 National Patron tour "Palladio and Shakespeare in the Veneto" will take us on a journey through time and literature as we explore some iconic places that served as the backdrop for Shakespeare's most important plays. Our Italian host, art historian Count Stefano Aluffi-Pentini, founder and CEO of A Private View of Italy, will offer us an unparalleled experience.

Thanks to Count Aluffi-Pentini's long-time friendships with the families that own some of the residences designed by Andrea Palladio, our group will have unparalleled access to private villas and hidden treasures scattered across the picturesque Veneto landscapes. Participants in "Palladio and Shakespeare in the Veneto" will have the extraordinary opportunity to meet a couple of these owners who, as stewards of a remarkable heritage, will graciously share their insights, stories, and family legacies, adding an extra layer of authenticity to the journey. I hope some of you will join us on this extraordinary voyage. For more information about the tour and how to sign up please contact Rossana Ivanova at, (862) 224-4244.

As I extend warm holiday wishes to you and your loved ones, I want to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to all of you who make up our ESU community.

To the members of the ESU National Board, your unwavering support and guidance have been the bedrock of our success. Your commitment to our mission is truly inspiring, and I am grateful for your wisdom and dedication.

A heartfelt thank you goes out to our ESU Branch leaders, volunteers and members who generously give of themselves to make our programs and initiatives flourish. Your passion and tireless efforts are the driving force behind the impact we create, and it is an honor to stand alongside such a dedicated community.

Lastly, big thanks to the ESU staff – your tireless work behind the scenes, your dedication and commitment to excellence are the gears that keep the ESU engine running smoothly. I am grateful for the professionalism and enthusiasm you bring to your roles.

Dear friends, as we stand on the threshold of December, a month steeped in tradition and a spirit of giving, I am reminded of the profound significance of the holidays. It is a time when time-honored traditions come to life, and we find joy in showing appreciation and support for what's important to us. In the spirit of these festive traditions, I invite you to make a gift to ensure the continued impact of the English-Speaking Union.

Just as we come together to celebrate the holidays, let us also unite in support of the values and mission that bind us as a community. Your generosity, whether through financial contributions or active participation, plays a crucial role in fostering global understanding, goodwill and opportunity through the power of the English language. Your continued support will ensure that our organization continues to thrive, making a positive difference in the lives of individuals and communities.

Wishing you a season filled with the joy of shared moments and the satisfaction that comes from supporting what truly matters.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

With best regards,

Dr. E. Quinn Peeper
The English-Speaking Union

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December Happy Hour: The Dark Secret Behind Charles Dickens' Christmas Tales with Andrew Halls

Wednesday, December 13, 2023 at 5 PM (ET) 

The Dark Secret Behind Charles Dickens' Christmas Tales with Andrew Halls

The English-Speaking Union Salutes Coronations and UK Memories

When Charles Dickens died, a child famously asked if this meant Father Christmas would die, too. Such was the power of Dickens' grip on the popular imagination, the Christmas season almost seemed his own creation. Dickens inspired millions with visions of a glowing, holly-strewn celebration, rich in sentiment and good cheer, underpinned by recurrent themes of memory, loss and redemption.  These Christmas tales held secrets, dark secrets, personal to their author, too. In this talk, Andrew Halls explores Dickens' Christmas Books and Christmas Stories, showing that some of the most beloved tales of 19th century England and America contain unsettling insights into the mind, motives, and desires of one of the most popular, most known - and yet most hidden - novelists in history. This ESU Happy Hour is sponsored by the Cleveland Branch. 

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Chairman's November Newsletter

A Message from Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper

Dear Friends,

As the leaves fall and November brings a sense of reflection and gratitude, I am delighted to share with you some exciting news and extend my heartfelt thanks to our incredible ESU community. It is through your unwavering support and enthusiasm that we continue to make a meaningful impact on people's lives through the power of the English language. 

The month of October was marked by the 2023 Annual General Conference, themed "Blueprint for Growth: Unity of Purpose," held in Kansas City, Missouri, October 20-22, 2023. Praise goes to our gracious host, the Kansas City Branch, for the success of the event. I especially want to thank Branch President Ben Martin, former ESU National Board Member and former Kansas City Branch President Jeffrey Schnabel, and the volunteers for their hard work to make this conference such a memorable and enriching experience for all of us.

The ESU 2023 Conference participants in front of the
WWI Museum and Memorial, Kansas City, MO 

From the engaging workshops to the thought-provoking discussions, it was a weekend filled with enriching experiences that left us all with valuable insights and lasting memories. As we discussed the challenges we face - leadership development, membership growth, and program relevance – we shared ideas about how to grow our membership and impact by forging partnerships with like minded organizations, deploying technology to reach new constituents, and expanding our programs for life-long learners. The conversations revolved around adapting our offerings to address contemporary needs in order to ensure that the ESU remains a vital resource in an ever-changing world.

The Annual General Conference's social program was a dynamic blend of cultural and historical experiences that resonated deeply with the ESU's mission and founding principles. The visit to the WWI museum was a poignant reminder of the historical context in which the English-Speaking Union was founded. The luncheon with Missouri Poet Laureate Maryfrances Wagner was a celebration of the arts and literary expression, which aligns with the ESU's commitment to the English language and culture.

I should also mention that the conference was also a time to celebrate the ESU's most enthusiastic and generous members and supporters. During the welcoming dinner on Friday night, October 20, we recognized a number of individuals for their leadership within their Branches with the 2023 ESU Membership Recognition Awards.

The Patron Reception, already a cherished tradition that highlights the role our National Patrons play in furthering the ESU's mission, featured Timothy Riley, Executive Director and Chief Curator of the National Churchill Museum, who spoke about Sir Winston Churchill's ability to deploy the power of the English language as a political and diplomatic weapon at home and abroad. 

Tim Riley addresses the ESU National Patrons at
the ESU 2023 National Patron Reception

For a comprehensive account of the conference, including photos, links to ESU documents and resolutions, session videos, and more, please visit our website page dedicated to the event.

ESU Board member Jon Sichel, EVP of Hallmark, and 
Rev. Renee Liabraaten at the Saturday plenary session

At the 2023 Annual General Conference we made two important announcements.

The 2024 ESU Annual General Conference will take place in Cleveland, OH, hosted by our Cleveland Branch from October 18 to 21, 2024. The conference will be of special significance because it will coincide with the 2024 ESU International Council Meeting. We are delighted to have the opportunity to welcome our friends from around the globe to Cleveland next year.

We also unveiled the 2024 National Patron Tour. As you may already know, the ESU National Patron Tours enhance engagement with the ESU community through bespoke experiences thanks to the ESU's long-established international connections. The 2023 voyage this past July took us on a transatlantic crossing aboard Queen Mary 2 and an exclusive tour to special places in and around London.

Aboard Queen Mary 2 in July 2023 

The 2024 Patron Tour will take us to the Veneto Region of Italy under the theme of "Shakespeare and the Building Arts." We are collaborating with our Italian host, Count Stefano Aluffi-Pentini, founder and CEO of A Private View of Italy, on an experience that will allow us to discover some of the most exciting inaccessible treasures hidden behind closed doors in the Veneto region. 

Verona, Italy

Again guided by our resident Shakespeare expert Dr. Catherine Loomis, this immersive journey will unveil the profound interplay between the streets, the theaters, the aristocratic villas and the world of Shakespearean drama. 

Dear friends, the English-Speaking Union is a family, a community of individuals who share a common passion for the English language and culture, for education and friendship-building. It is through your dedication, passion, and unwavering support that we continue to thrive as an organization. Our mission to promote the use of the English language as a tool for cultural exchange and mutual understanding is made possible by your involvement, support, and commitment. 

Throughout the year, we have witnessed countless moments of inspiration and growth within our community. Whether it's the success of our scholarship recipients, the lively discussions at our events, or the tireless work of our volunteers, each of you plays an integral role in advancing our mission. Your contributions have not gone unnoticed, and for that, I want to extend my sincerest thanks. 

As we gather with our loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving, let us not only savor the delectable meals and cherished traditions but also remember the importance of giving thanks and giving back. Our collective effort ensures that the ESU remains a beacon of learning, inclusivity, and cultural exchange. Your support has allowed us to make a real impact in the lives of countless individuals, and we are incredibly grateful for that privilege. 

In the weeks ahead, just before Thanksgiving, we will be sharing with you our traditional annual appeal for support, a vital moment for our organization. I sincerely hope that, as you have done so generously in the past, you will once again respond with open hearts to our appeal. Your generous contributions have been vital to our endeavors, and we are truly grateful for your unwavering commitment. Your continued support is the lifeblood of our mission, and together, we can continue to make a lasting difference in making people's lives work better through the power of the English language. 

"I can no other answer make but, thanks

And thanks, and ever thanks." 

William Shakespeare, "Twelfth Night" 

With best regards,

Dr. E. Quinn Peeper
The English-Speaking Union

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Annual Conference 2023

English-Speaking Union
Annual Conference 2023

Blueprint for Growth: Unity of Purpose

Kansas City, Missouri

October 20-22, 2023

The ESU 2023 General Conference, themed "Blueprint for Growth: Unity of Purpose" took place in in Kansas City, MO, from October 20 to 22, 2023. 

Our gracious host, the Kansas City Branch, deserves all the credit for the success of the event.  Special thanks go to Branch President Ben Martin, former ESU National Board Member and former Kansas City Branch President Jeffrey Schnabel, and the volunteers for their hard work to make this conference such a memorable and enriching experience for all participants.

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November Happy Hour: Ending the Regency Marriage with James F. Nagle

Wednesday, November 15, 2023 at 6 PM (ET) 

Ending the Regency Marriage: Annulments, Divorces, and Desertion with James F. Nagle

The English-Speaking Union Salutes Coronations and UK Memories

Ending a Regency marriage could be daunting! The formal processes could be complicated, lengthy, expensive, and very public and embarrassing. Thus, one or both spouses often used other methods. James F. Nagle of the Jane Austen Society of North America will educate and entertain us about Regency Divorce and other methods of the time for ending a marriage. This Happy Hour is sponsored by the ESU Seattle Branch

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