Staff Picks: Our Dream Thanksgiving Dinner Guests

Somehow 2023 is already barreling towards the holiday season, and next week many will sit down with friends and family to give thanks and consume far too much pie. In this latest edition of our Staff Picks series, we asked AHA staff to describe their dream Thanksgiving meal guests.

Who would you want at your table?

In addition to family and friends, I’d love to include two extra seats at my Thanksgiving table. One for Gordon Ramsay, and another for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ramsay would be invited because I’m a giant foodie and he’s Gordon-freaking-Ramsay. I’d love to watch his techniques up-close in the kitchen and offload some of the cooking duties. I’d also love to hear his honest take on my macaroni and cheese and stuffing. Ginsburg would be invited so I could pick her brain about her time on the Supreme Court, what she would think about the country now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, and then finally have her as the ultimate arbiter over who made the better Thanksgiving sides—me or Ramsay.

—David Reinbold, Communications Manager


It’s a no-brainer: Martha Stewart would be my number one Thanksgiving guest request. Not simply because you can rely on her to bring the most fabulous side dish, but maybe when you say “plus one,” she’ll bring along Snoop Dogg—who can whip up his signature gin and juice cocktail combo. This potluck dinner couple at your table could entertain all your senses, creating an epic Thanksgiving for the ages.

—Kristin Wintermute, Director of Education


I now listen to a whopping three different podcasts that feature comedian Nicole Byer, and I think she would be an excellent addition to my Thanksgiving table. She’d easily navigate any family tension, and would likely poke and challenge any conservative guests in a way that only professional stand-up could manage. Plus, she’s absolutely hilarious. In addition, and on a totally selfish note, I’d love to invite chef and food writer Alison Roman over. She’s a brilliant recipe developer and could add some delicious sophistication to our spread.

—Peter Bjork, Web Content Manager


I wish I could enjoy Thanksgiving with longtime friend Annemarie Wong Mogil. I met her growing up at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture and loved seeing her every time I returned. She was one of the most cheerful and caring people I’ve ever met. She was a talented photographer who loved documenting nature and colors, and excitedly sharing the stories behind her artwork. She died earlier in November, at the age of 101, so I’m thankful for the time we had but wish we had been able to enjoy one more meal together. Here’s a video of her photography put to nice music.

—Emily Newman, Senior Education Coordinator


I would like to travel back in time and create a lavish Thanksgiving children’s table to thank all the television hosts who brought joy and knowledge to me (and many others) as a child in the 1960s and early 70s. Most importantly they modeled a healthy, functional, friendly, and sometimes zany humanity. My guests would include: Jane Vance Braham from Romper Room, Fred Rogers from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Bob Keeshan and Hugh Brannum from Captain Kangaroo. Pittsburgh stations had these and other marvelous children’s shows. These hosts also encouraged me to build friendships and go outside and play so I didn’t vegetate in front of the TV during my freetime. I would also invite Paul Reubens from Pee-wee’s Playhouse who helped extend my childlike sense of delight and wonder through the 1980s.

—Ron Millar, Political and PAC Coordinator, Center for Freethought Equality


Political inspirations aside, listening in on a conversation between singer/songwriter powerhouses SZA, Amy Winehouse, and Anais Mitchell would be a treat.

—Isabella Russian, Policy Coordinator


If I could pick any figure throughout history to invite to my family’s Thanksgiving table, I think I’d choose noted astronomer, scientist, and humanist Carl Sagan. I think I’d appreciate his calm and knowledgeable perspectives on the pressing issues facing our planet and his insights into our place in the universe. Or, on a more contemporary note, I think dining with our newest Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson would be fascinating. I’d love to pick her brain about the issues facing the court and her remarkable life in general!

—Nicole Carr, Interim Executive Director