Dynamic couple to share insights in free lecture | AspenTimes.com

Dynamic couple to share insights in free lecture

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

She’s in Congress. He’s the head of a big company. Somehow they make it work.

And you can find out how tonight at a free Aspen Institute lecture with Jane and Sidney Harman called “Balancing Public and Private Lives.”

That’s Jane Harman, as in U.S. Rep. Harman, a Democrat from California.

And that’s Dr. Sidney Harman, the founder and executive chairman of Harmon International, the maker of Harmon Kardon and other top-shelf brand audio systems.

After attending a seminar at the Institute yesterday, the two movers stopped briefly on the patio at the Aspen Meadows.

Asked how he was preparing for tonight’s lecture, the 84-year-old Harman said, “Man, I’ve been preparing for it all my damned life. All I need, speaking for myself, is a few minutes with the boss here to decide just how we’re going to organize it.”

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And the energetic Harman is good at organizing.

His 50-year-old company sold $1.7 billion worth of high-quality audio systems last year with names such as JBL, Infinity and Becker. And his company’s music technologies can be heard in the best concert halls, recording studios and automobiles in the world.

He was deputy secretary of commerce under President Jimmy Carter and founded a program on technology and public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

He has six children, two from his second marriage with Jane.

Their youngest son starts college in September, much to the relief of his mother, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee.

Yes, Jane Harman is not only a mother to a teenager and wife to Dr. Harman, she is also the ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security.

And she is one of the authors of a new report citing poor communication between America’s security agencies.

“Counterterrorism was not a high enough priority in any of the agencies before 9/11,” Harman recently told U.S. News and World Report. “Part of that was resources, but part of it was the aura of invulnerability of the homeland.”

Tonight, along with her husband, Harman may talk about both a secure homeland and a frenetic homestead.

The couple have given only one other lecture together. It was on the subject of “Leadership in a Type A Family.”

“My model in thinking about this was Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter,” said Jane Harman. “They wrote a book together, and he told us the book almost caused their divorce because they had different takes on the same issues. And the way they resolved it was, in each chapter, they had his version and her version.

“So my suggestion for Tuesday night, and we haven’t resolved it yet, is to kind of review six or seven different things – when we met, our decision to marry, our decision to have children, the way we shaped our careers after the marriage, and the way we look at a couple of issues.

“And do ‘she said, he said.’

“I’m not predicting we’re going to have fights, but we don’t have exactly the same perspective, and maybe the moral of the story is that’s what makes a dynamic marriage.”

And a dynamic lecture.

The event starts at 6:30 in the Walter Paepcke Memorial Auditorium behind the Aspen Music Tent on North Third Street. It’s free and open to the public.

[Brent Gardner-Smith’s e-mail address is bgs@aspentimes.com]