Morning Breakout Sessions

Breakout Session Speakers

Below is an alphabetical list of the Breakout Session Speakers. This list is not yet complete and will

be added to as we get closer to the conference. You will find both the biographies of the speakers as well as the focus for their talks.


 Morning  Presentations

Allie Bachman, Dana Stewart, Shakti Parker, and Morgan Hall – Solidarity with the World’s Food Insecure – Red 25




All of these Rutland High School students are have taken International Cuisine with Mrs. Cindy Murray this year.  The students studied different countries around the world and the relative level of food security in each country.  They also learned about food insecurity in Vermont, comparing their countries with Vermont.  



Presentation Description: Solidarity with the World’s Food Insecure

What are the causes of food insecurity in the world, and what can we do to reduce it? Students will describe food insecurity status in various countries, explaining who is susceptible, the reasons why, and what each country is doing to combat the issue. The presentation will culminate with students showing how they plan to reduce food insecurity right here in Rutland, VT. Students will gain an understanding of how food insecurity is not just a food issue. Helping to reduce food insecurity at the local level will impact many families in our region. This is the first of many years that this project will occur.



Chief James W. Baker – Project VISION – White 15




Since 2012, Chief Baker has served as the Chief of Police for Rutland City.  He has extensive background in law enforcement.  He was a member of the Vermont State Police for thirty years.  He served in many roles for the Vermont State Police and ended his tenure there as Director of Vermont State Police from 2006 until 2009.    Chief Baker has also been an adjunct professor at the Vermont Police Academy and St. Petersburg (FL) College.  In addition, he has won numerous awards for his work in law enforcement, including multiple Commissioner’s and Division Commander’s Awards, and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Southern Vermont College.  He has also received recognition from the New England Narcotics Enforcement Officers’ Association, Vermont Chief of Police Association, Vermont Sheriff’s Association, Vermont Governor’s Highway Safety Office and United State’s Attorney’s Office.



Presentation Description:

How do communities bring a variety of resources together in an effort to address substance abuse and related social issues?  I will cover the structure of Rutland City’s Project VISION, the partners, the goals and expected measurable outcomes.



Dr. Alan Betts – Dealing With Climate Change, Part 1 – White 21/22




Dr. Alan Betts of Atmospheric Research in Pittsford is Vermont’s leading climate scientist. He is a frequent speaker on climate change issues around the state and has worked on climate change adaptation planning for Vermont. He is a columnist for the Rutland Herald Sunday Environment page. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the Royal Meteorological Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a past-president of the Vermont Academy of Science and Engineering. He is the author of more than 160 reviewed papers in the scientific literature. He was the AMS Jule G. Charney Award winner in 2007. Atmospheric Research was established in Vermont in 1979. Its mission is to understand the Earth’s weather and climate, to develop improved earth system models and to help society understand the deep challenge that global climate change presents to humanity.

Presentation Description: Dealing with climate change: Part 1

What is happening to the climate of Vermont and the Earth and how can we deal with it – as individuals and as a society? The morning session will explain how and why the climate of the Earth and New England are being transformed. Our winters are shrinking (while becoming more variable), and this has benefited the expansion of ‘local food’. However, severe weather and flooding are generally increasing.



Many rich resources are available at



Taborri Bruhl – Sustainable Us – Red 28




Taborri Bruhl lives in rural New Haven, Vermont, with his wife, three children, and two dogs in an off-grid house powered by solar and wind. Taborri is a former Marine Corps officer, and holds a bachelors degree in history and journalism from Texas A&M University and a masters degree in history from California State University. He currently teaches history, economics, and government at the high school level, and is on the board of directors for the Acorn Renewable Energy Co-op in Addison County, VT.



Presentation Description: Sustainable Us

How big are the world’s environmental problems? What might a more sustainable future look like, and how can humanity transition to this new paradigm?  Exactly how much trouble are we humans in with regard to our environment? Are we wrecking the planet, and if so, is there a better way forward? Join Taborri as he discusses these issues, and the lessons he’s learned from being involved in the environmental field. Ideas for more sustainable systems will be discussed, as well as the forces that will enable change. Taborri will close with his list of “Ten things we all should be doing for a more sustainable future”. It is about changing the ways we live to have less impact on the planet, as well as practical things that everyone can do that will have an impact.



Marta Ceroni – Where do I start? How to find solutions to complex problems – White 27




Marta Ceroni is the Executive Director of the Donella Meadows Institute. Before that she was at the University of Vermont, where she taught and did research on how nature contributes to people’s wellbeing through services such as water purification by wetlands, or climate regulation by forests. A forest ecologist by training, over the years Marta has seen the redesign of the economic system as the leverage point to get to “unsustainability”.  Besides her work, Marta gets energized by dance, accordion playing, native Italian cooking, and the experience of the wilderness and friendship in the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire.



Presentation Description:

The talk will use the case study of a lake in Macedonia that turned from famous beach resort to a contaminated water body and current restoration efforts. The aim is to discuss leverage points, or points of intervention in a system where a change can bring the most positive impact. Once trained in recognizing leverage points, people can apply this thinking to other systems and act towards change that has deep and long lasting effects.



Change the World Kids (Katherine Tucker, Kristin Ramsey, Peter Wilson, Coleman McKaig, and Jack Green) – Bosque para Siempre: Loss, Survival, and Action for Forever – Red 14




In 2003, Vermonters Phebe and Nika Meyers co-founded Change the World Kids in response to a disaster in the world overseas, never thinking that their compassionate reaction as eight-year olds would lead to the formation of a full-fledged, teen-run, Vermont nonprofit that provides over 10,000 hours of volunteer help annually in our local communities and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for environmental work alone.  The Change the World Kids are an energetic group of middle and high school age youth undertaking humanitarian and environmental efforts to make a positive difference in our local communities and across the globe. They have a wide variety of interests, talents, and personalities, and go to different schools, but share a dream. They believe in the ripple effect. By taking action together, we can change the world.

Presentation Description:

How can we, youth northern New England, help change the course of ecological destruction and dramatic loss of our local and planet’s biodiversity, while improving sustainable economies, forging international partnerships to help insure survival of species, and creating small and large opportunities to make a positive difference in our world?



When multinational corporations seduce poor farmers in countries across the planet to make changes that offer short-term economic benefits but cause long-term negative ecological consequences, and these cause biodiversity loss in Vermont, the interconnectedness of global biodiversity is clear.  High in the mountains of Costa Rica, there is an ecological crisis, causing loss in our Vermont forests and other habitats. In 2003 we launched Bosque para Siempre, a project to explore and implement positive practices, while working with native people, international biologists, and youth. In and out of the box thinking.  Our recent research may result in thousands – maybe hundreds of thousands – of trees planted to restore habitat in the sub-tropics. With shovels in Vermont, we help create corridors to insure survival of species, and reflect – particularly after Irene. People Magazine calls us Environmental Crusaders. Come join the story, create the next chapter, and be part of a sustainable solution.



Brielle Finer, Kathleen Sheppard, Alek Beaudoin, Brendan Geiger, Helene Herrick, Bauer Neisner, Amelia Sheppard, and Asa Waterworth – Language Learning and Commitment to Service – Red 13




These students from Woodstock Union High School are advanced French students, many of whom have spent extended time studying in France.  They are all members of the French Club.  Kathleen, Brielle, Brendan, and Amelia are all connected with work the school has done in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo.  All have interest in global issues, ranging from health care and education to art and access to technology.  Asa is a Woodstock Union High School alumna and will be Skyping in from Uganda where she is currently volunteering.  



Presentation Description:

How will engagement in service learning and action benefit you and others both presently and in the future? Our presentation will outline the work that students and teachers at Woodstock High School have done in support of our sustained service projects in Peru, the Congo, and Panama.  We will describe the projects in detail as well as show how these projects support our mission of providing aid and opportunity to children in rural communities victimized by poverty or conflict.   We will also describe the way in which our units of study, especially in the advanced language classes, focus in part on humanitarian organizations whose missions match our own.  We are pleased to have as one of our presenters a student who graduated last year and who is presently in Uganda doing service work at an orphanage.  



We have sustained our support of the school in the Congo for at least the last 4 years.  We include this support a part of our mission of the French Club.  We will continue to support the school and remain in close contact with Jean deDieu, who spearheads the effort.  In addition, the work in Peru is finished but the Spanish students have moved their efforts to an orphanage in Panama.  The commitment to South America has been sustained for at least 10 years.



Emma Fowler – International Wildlife Conservation: Protecting Fosa in Madagascar and Argali in Mongolia – White 17




Emma Fowler is a home-schooled student.  She has read extensively in the fields of natural history, ecology, conservation and climate change, studying both historic (Lyell, Darwin, Roosevelt) and current (McKibben, E.O. Wilson, Goodall) sources.  During the past two years she has volunteered on three international scientific research projects to investigate climate change in Canada’s Mackenzie Mountains and community-based wildlife conservation in Madagascar’s Ankarafantsika National Park and in Mongolia’s Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, a U.N. Development Programme model reserve.  She is author of “Letters of the Red Island,” a trilingual children’s conservation book, written to raise awareness of the endangered species endemic to Madagascar.



Presentation Description:

How can we mitigate a host of environmental perils and preserve the diversity of life on this planet?  To find out, join me on a photographic journey to the remote reaches of the conservation frontier, and explore its greatest challenges and successes in Madagascar and Mongolia. Surrounded by chameleons and lemurs, we shall capture the elusive Fosa, the keystone carnivore of Madagascar’s predator-prey network.  We shall build rocket-stoves and conduct midnight species census surveys.  Above all, we will explore the crucial connection between community education and practical conservation.  In Mongolia, we shall gallop across the Gobi-steppe ecosystem with expert horsemen, drive-net the iconic Argali Sheep, near-threatened throughout Asia, and discover the last genetically wild horses in the world, only recently re-introduced to Mongolia.  In conclusion, we will discuss the work of the innovative and determined conservationists managing these projects, and their impact on the future of biodiversity.



Ward Heneveld – Education for All: Schools in Low Income Countries – White 25/26




Ward Heneveld has been a teacher and headmaster in rural Kenya and a teacher educator and college president in Vermont.  He has worked as an advisor and grant maker for education at three foundations and the World Bank with assignments in Brazil, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Romania, and throughout anglophone and francophone Africa.  Ward holds a Diploma in Education (Secondary) from Makerere University in Uganda and a doctorate in educational planning from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  For the last fifteen years Ward has published and consulted on improving the quality of primary education, early childhood education, and the education of girls in low income countries.  



Presentation Description: Education for All: Schools in Low Income Countries

How effective is education in low income countries? All countries and their citizens value education for their young, and the international community has been supporting more and better education for Africans and Asians for more than 50 years.  Each nation’s school systems will continue, and international aid continues to play an important role, especially in the formulation of revised global development goals for education that will be announced in 2015. The presentation will cover what it is like to go to school in Africa and Asia, including in conflict areas, and use that introduction to talk about why schooling is so important to everyone there.  There will be an introduction to what is being done to improve students’ learning in these areas, and we’ll explore ways that Vermonters can participate in supporting better education in poor countries.



Caleb Kenna – Migrant Labor on Vermont Dairy Farms – Red 23




Caleb Kenna is a photographer based in Brandon, Vermont. He grew up in Vermont and his photographs have been published by Vermont Life, The New York Times, Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Outside, Orion, Vermont Land Trust and National Geographic, among others. Along with Chris Urban and The Vermont Folklife Center, Caleb created The Golden Cage – Mexican Migrant Workers and Vermont Dairy Farmers. This project combines photographs and audio interviews to explore the issue of migrant labor on Vermont farms.



Presentation Description: Migrant Labor on Vermont Dairy Farms

What is the relationship between migrant workers and Vermont Dairy Farmers? This session will be focused around Caleb Kenna’s project entitled: The Golden Cage – Mexican Migrant Workers and Vermont Dairy Farmers. This project combines photographs and audio interviews to explore the issue of migrant labor on Vermont farms.The project has raised awareness of the issue of migrant labor in Vermont since it was first created in 2008.



Bill Mares – What’s the Buzz? Honey Bees and Food Security – Red 21/22




Raised in Texas, educated at Harvard,  Bill Mares has been a journalist, high school teacher and member of the Vermont House of Representatives. He is the owner of Mares Apiaries and has served as president of the Vermont Beekeepers’ Association.  He has authored or co-authored 14 books on subjects ranging from the Marine Corps to workplace democracy to desert travel to presidential fishing.  His hobbies include running, homebrewing, beekeeping, singing and fly-fishing.  His latest books are Brewing Change  co-authored with Rick Peyser,and The Bach Road to Boston.  He lives in Burlington, Vermont with his wife of 42 years, Chris Hadsel.   Their two sons live and work in Asia and Latin America.  



Presentation Description:What’s the Buzz? Honey Bees and Food Security (AM and PM)

How can bees help provide greater food security for coffee farmers in Latin America?  As a board member of Food 4 Farmers (, I have been working for five years to demonstrate how beekeeping can help coffee farmers in Mexico, Nicaragua, and Guatemala supplement their incomes and diets with the products of honey bees–honey, pollen, propolis, wax and pollination. I will show images of our work in Mexico, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Food 4 Farmers has one focus: to help coffee co-operatives and other coffee-growing organizations fight hunger by diversifying farmers’ livelihoods. We work with communities, to build long-term plans and implement effective strategies so farmers can produce food for income or personal consumption, and feed their families, every day. Our initial phase of work — the diagnostic and plan — is completed within weeks, and strategies to implement solutions, like cocoa production, school gardens, beekeeping, community and home gardens, and processed foods, can be up and running within months.



Maeve McBride – Divestment: Addressing the root of the climate crisis – Red 11




Maeve McBride is the Coordinator for 350Vermont. She works on soup to nuts: grassroots organizing, event planning, outreach, fundraising, and operations. Maeve’s academic background is in river science & engineering, and she completed a PhD in Civil & Environmental Engineering at UVM. Although she is still involved with river projects in the Northeast, she is a devoted mom, climate activist, yoga teacher, gardener, and bike commuter.



Presentation Description:

When you invest your money, you might buy stocks, bonds or other investments that generate income for you. Universities (and colleges in the US), as well as religious organizations, retirement funds, and other institutions put billions in these same kinds of investments to generate income to help run their institutions.



Divestment is the opposite of an investment–it simply means getting rid of stocks, bonds or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous. Fossil Fuel investments are a risk for investors and the planet–that’s why we’re calling on institutions to divest from these companies. Divestment isn’t primarily an economic strategy, but a moral and political one. Just like in the struggle for Civil Rights here in America or the fight to end Apartheid in South Africa, the more we can make climate change a deeply moral issue, the more we will push society towards action. We need to make it clear that if it’s wrong to wreck the planet, than it’s also wrong to profit from that wreckage.



Mira Niagolova –  Welcome to Vermont: four stories of resettled identity – Theater




Mira Niagolova is an internationally recognized award-winning documentary filmmaker committed to telling socially conscious stories portrayed with sensitivity and compassion.



Presentation Description:

“Welcome to Vermont: four stories of resettled”  is a documentary film that offers a nuanced view of lives of forcibly displaced people once they achieve their ultimate desire to resettle in the US and live the American dream.  In four vignettes, it takes us inside the daily lives of four families from Bosnia, Somalia, Iraq, and Rwanda who have recently moved to Vermont.  The PM session will cover 2 of these segments and be followed by a discussion with Mira.



Will Peterson and John Rice – Energy Management and Savings – White 12




Will Peterson is a senior at Rutland High School.  He spent the fall researching different alternative energy alternatives as part of the Global Studies Capstone Seminar.  As part of this research, he worked with the Rutland City Public Schools’ Maintenance Department to determine how he could apply his research to take local action.  Will was also one of the captains of the football team, runs track, and is the student representative to the Grading Committee, among many other things.



John Rice is currently the Director of Maintenance at Rutland City Public Schools.  A West Point graduate, he is a professional engineer with over 40 years experience working for the Army Corps of Engineers and in private industry.  During his career, he has done a great deal of work internationally, including four years in Belgium at the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe. He also spent three years in Niger supervising the construction of a school, and more recently spent three years in China working for private industry.  



Presentation Description: Alternative Energy and Rutland City Public Schools

Have you heard about the different forms of alternative energy, but never fully understood what the difference was between them? This presentation will consist of a brief run through on the advantages and disadvantages of the major forms of alternative energy and information on why alternative energy sources are important. At the end of the presentation, Will will explain the energy project that he hopes to implement at his school.  John Rice will support the presentation by discussing the work that Rutland City Public Schools is undertaking to become more energy efficient and how he worked with Will to develop a plan to take Will’s research and put it into action.



Colleen Bramhall Popkin – Fighting Hunger in the Coffeelands – White 13




Colleen Popkin is a Senior Manager in Sustainability at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR). Colleen manages grantmaking to social and environmental projects with the goal of improving the quality of life of farmers and workers in GMCR’s agricultural supply chain.  Currently, this represents a multi-million dollar portfolio of 100+ projects in 15+ countries with 45+ grantee organizations, through a fund made possible by GMCR’s annual donation of a percentage of its profits.



Prior to joining GMCR, Colleen was a Senior Manager with Accenture, the global business and technology consulting firm.  During her 10+ years consulting, Colleen provided support to multinationals and governments before transitioning to work exclusively with the international development sector on a not-for-profit basis with Accenture Development Partnerships (ADP).



Presentation Description:

What is the role of business in addressing social issues in their global supply chain? Much of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters’ (GMCR) farm community work has been around food security — a complex, global problem that requires the concerted, coordinated efforts of many organizations and resources. The priority we place on food security at the household level stems from research we conducted in partnership with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), a multi-stakeholder collaboration that identified widespread seasonal hunger as a major threat to the agricultural supply chain. When coffee is out of season, many farm families do not have other sources of income, nor do they have other ways to keep food on the table. To address this ongoing problem, GMCR has supported programs to address food security in our coffee supply chain and has reached out to other coffee companies to galvanize support within the industry for this important issue.



Ken Puzey – Global Safe Water Solutions – White 28




Ken Puzey is an inventor that has developed a device to provide a sustainable solution to safe drinking water.  The device costs $40 and can provide safe drinking water for 4 people for 15 years.  The devices can also be used for cooking.  Each device reduces the need to burn 35 tons of wood and avoids 67.9 tons of carbon dioxide production.  Recently Mr. Puzey opened a factory in Kisumu Kenya that employs aged out orphans to make the devices.



Presentation Description:

Over 1 billion people don’t have access to safe drinking water which leads to over 1 million deaths per year and 117 million disability adjusted life years lost every year.  What steps can we take to help global health, improve the environment, and reduce poverty? What are the impacts of these steps? This presentation will begin with a clear explanation of the problem of safe drinking water around the world, focusing on global health, environmental issues, poverty, and security. We will then talk about what has been done and finally focus on the next steps and action required to solve this problem.   



Some information also available on and on the Kisumu Kenya Safe Water Project facebook page.




Jean-Francois Rischard – Discussing the Future of the Planet – Red 15, Red 27, White 16, White 23




Jean-Francois Rischard is the author of  High Noon, 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them, which inspired the teachers who originally formed the Global Issues Network.  He is a former member of the World Bank.



Presentation Description:

In this video, Rischard speaks to a vision of what the world will look like in the next 40 years. This nineteen minute address was recorded for the October GIN 2013 Conference in Quito, Ecuador, is reprised here in Rutland. Just as in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities , he says that it will be the “best of times and the worst of times.”



A facilitated discussion will follow. Some of his talking points include the aging shift, oil depletion, the ecological footprint, and global warming.



Sierra Sowl – Preventing the Spread of Infectious Diseases – White 14




Sierra Sowl a senior at Burr and Burton Academy. Next year I will be attending Elmira College to pursue a bachelors degree in nursing. I am very interested in medical sciences, health, and diseases.



Presentation Description:

When we travel, we plan on bringing home souvenirs not infectious diseases. The trouble is that these diseases are numerous and all around us. We even see new outbreaks of diseases like Tuberculosis that have previously been controlled because they are mutating and becoming immune to our vaccines. It is because of this that we must become aware of the infectious diseases we are exposed to when we travel and how to prevent their spreading. Awareness of what  we are facing will allow us to be better prepared to keep ourselves from contracting infectious diseases. This will, in turn, help to slow their spreading and therefore provide us with more time to find preventatives and cures. Learn how to bring sand back from your vacation to the Congo instead of Monkeypox.



Dr. Stephen Sterns – Turning the ME into the WE, “Life in the Interesting Zone” – Red 17




Dr. Stearns has a Masters in Directing, Doctorate in Shakespeare and Post Doctorate in Acting from LAMDA in England. He’s founded: The Horizon’s Project, artists in residence, 1977, The New England Youth Theatre (NEYT) 1998, The Maria’s Children Orphan’s Arts Camp in Russia, 2001, and The Theater Program at Gifft Hill School, St. John, USVI, 2007. Stephen and Peter Gould formed Gould & Stearns Clown Theater in 1980. They’ve written ten plays and performed over 4,500 shows. Their play, A Peasant Of El Salvador has won national awards and been performed from across the globe from L.A. to South Africa, twice at the Edinburgh Festival, once at England’s National Theater. Stephen has written four musicals, and in 2012 received the Vermont Governor’s Award for Excellence In the Arts, a life-time achievement award. His Youth Theatre teaches students life skills that assist them in leading creative, productive and fulfilling lives.



Presentation Description:

Learning the keys to building a sound philosophy of life in order to develop an indestructible internal core that will, in turn, enable participants to tackle global issues with independent thinking and confidence. Through dialogue discussion, students will learn the power of positive thinking, keeping one’s mind on the things one wants and off the things one does not want, and will ponder the question, “What do I really want, and am I willing to pay the price?”



Baylee Thompson and Olivia Pockette – RHS Environmental Club – Red 24




Baylee and Olivia are seniors at Rutland High School. They are co-presidents of environmental club and participate in the envirothon and TRY for the environment.



Presentation Description:

During the presentation we will cover various topics. We will begin with what we do as a club throughout the year, the field trips that we take, and the lessons/ projects that we do. We will have a brief lesson on aquatics, wildlife, forestry, and soils. We will show and do activities of solar and wind that we teach to first graders through a program called” TRY for the Environment” , a state environmental outreach program. We will end the presentation with a fur kit of the animals that can be found in Vermont.



Jennifer Musick Wright – Be the Change: You’re Not too Young to Change the World! – Red 16




After graduating from Mill River UHS in 2005, Jennifer attended Wagner College in New York City where she graduated in 2009 with a BA in International Affairs and French Studies. During her senior year in high school, she volunteered at an orphanage in Zimbabwe. This experience changed her life and marked the beginning of her journey with HEAL. In 2007 she volunteered at another orphanage in Kenya. It was during this trip that she decided to open her own orphanage. Seven months later, HEAL Raising Our World Foundation, Inc. was founded as a New York State not-for-profit.



Today, HEAL cares for 54 children at an orphanage in Kenya, and recently opened a secondary school, where 46 children receive an education. Jennifer dedicates her time and her heart to the mission of HEAL. She spends part of the year in Kenya supervising the development of the orphanage and school, and the other part in Vermont and around the US, where she raises money, rallies volunteers and spreads the word about the work of HEAL.



Presentation Description:

How can we break the cycle of poverty that has resulted in so many children living in unbearable conditions? How can YOU make a difference in our world today? When Jennifer set out to build an orphanage at the age of 22, many people doubted that she would succeed. Through determination, and always believing that she could, her dream has been realized. Join Jennifer as she shares her journey, and the work that her organization does with orphans and vulnerable children that is crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty in Kenya and beyond. Hear the stories of children that will inspire you to reach for your own dreams. We all have a part to play in making our world a better place. This presentation will show you that you’re not too young to make a difference today!


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