This year's Jefferson Series lineup is one speaker stronger.

The New Albany Community Foundation has added an April 17 date to its 2017-18 lecture series, giving author and MSNBC host Chris Matthews a chance to discuss his new book with central Ohio residents.

The series' next lecture is Thursday, Feb. 1, with a panel featuring Gens. Michael Hayden, Stanley McChrystal and Peter Pace at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts in New Albany. The event is listed as sold out.

The series began in 2014 and is presented by the New Albany Community Foundation. Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com.

Matthews last year published a book about Robert F. Kennedy, "Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit."

Matthews is known for his work as a journalist, political commentator and TV host, but his latest book is enough to make a compelling lecture, said community foundation president Craig Mohre.

"We think that will be a really interesting subject for everybody," he said.

Each year when the foundation plans its roster of speakers for the Jefferson series, organizers discuss who has a new book or publication out, Mohre said.

Previous authors have included David McCullough and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

"That's pretty much been a pattern for us," he said.

Jefferson Series organizers originally considered Matthews as a moderator for the Feb. 1 panel featuring Hayden, McChrystal and Pace, Mohre said, not realizing someone already had contacted Fareed Zakaria.

Although Zakaria, a journalist and author, was ultimately selected as moderator, foundation members thought Matthews would serve the series well as a speaker in his own right.

In keeping with previous years, this Jefferson Series will include a student lecture led by Matthews, Mohre said. Matthews' book on Robert Kennedy will continue a conversation about the Kennedy family launched by politician and mental-health advocate Patrick Kennedy's student presentation last year, said New Albany High School principal Dwight Carter.

For many students, the Jefferson Series student presentation is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to have an intimate conversation with a famous personality, he said.

"It brings learning to life," Carter said.

Award-winning journalist and author Elizabeth Vargas will wrap up the Jefferson Series' 2017-18 season May 9.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah