2013 Speakers

Andy Nagy-Benson

Andy Nagy-Benson

Andy Nagy-Benson

The Reverend Andrew Nagy-Benson is the pastor of The Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) in Middlebury, Vermont.  Raised in Simsbury, Connecticut, Andy graduated from Colby College in 1992, where he played lacrosse, edited the literary magazine, and wrote an honors thesis on the influence of the visual arts on William Carlos Williams’s poetry.  After college, Andy worked on a salmon dock in southeast Alaska, taught English and Environmental Education in southeast Costa Rica, and taught and coached at Millbrook School, an independent secondary school in New York.

As a student at Yale Divinity School, Andy served as an intern in the office of the University Chaplain.  In his final year he was selected to be a chapel minister at the Divinity School and concurrently served as the licensed pastor of Pilgrim Congregational Church (UCC) in New Haven.  Upon graduating from Yale Divinity, Andy was awarded the Henry Hallam Tweedy Prize for “the graduating student who has exceptional promise for pastoral leadership.”  He was ordained as a minister in the United Church of Christ in 1998.

Andy served churches in New Hampshire and Connecticut before arriving in Middlebury in 2009.  During his pastorate in Connecticut, he was a Lecturer of Homiletics at Yale Divinity School and contributed articles to the biblical commentary series, Feasting on the Word.

Andy and his wife, Gwen, and their three daughters live in Weybridge, Vermont.

Ai-Jen Poo

Ai-jen Poo

Ai-jen Poo

Ai-jen Poo is the Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), the leading organization working to build power, respect, and fair labor standards for the 2.5 million nannies, housekeepers and elderly caregivers in the U.S. She began organizing immigrant women workers in 1996 as the Women Workers Project organizer at CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities in New York City. In 2000, she co-founded Domestic Workers United (DWU), a city-wide, multiracial organization of domestic workers. DWU led the way to the passage of the nation’s first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010, historic legislation that extends basic labor protections to over 200,000 domestic workers in New York state. DWU helped to organize the first national meeting of domestic worker organizations at the US Social Forum in 2007, which resulted in the formation of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She has been NDWA’s director since April 2010. Ai-jen serves on the Board of Directors of Social Justice Leadership, the Seasons Fund for Social Transformation, the Labor Advisory Board at Cornell ILR School, Momsrising, National Jobs with Justice, Working America, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, and the National Council on Aging.

Ai-jen was the 2000 recipient of an Open Society Institute New York City Community Fellowship, the recipient of the Ford Foundation Leadership for a Changing World Award, the Ernest de Maio Award from Labor Research Association, the Woman of Vision Award from Ms. Foundation for Women and in 2009 was named as one of Crain’s “40 Under 40″ and New York Moves Magazine “Power Women” Awards. More recently, she is a recipient of the Alston Bannerman Fellowship for Organizers of Color, the Twink Frey Visiting Scholar Fellowship at University of Michigan Center for the Education of Women, and the Prime Movers Fellowship. In 2010, Feminist Press recognized her in their “40 Under 40″ awards. In honor of the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, Ai-jen was recognized by Women Deliver as one of 100 women internationally who are “delivering” for other women. In 2011, she received Independent Sector’s American Express NGen Leadership Award. In 2012, Ai-jen was named on Newsweek’s 150 Fearless Women list and on the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. Her work has been profiled in multiple publications, including The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and The New York Times.

Natalie Randolph

Natalie Randolph

Natalie Randolph

Natalie Randolph was born on May 19, 1980 in Washington, DC. She attended the Sidwell friends school from 3rd grade until she graduated in 1998. Throughout high school she played sports and excelled at track and field and continued competing in college for the University of Virginia. She ran sprint  relays and specialized in the 400 meter hurdles in which she finished second overall in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2003. Natalie graduated from the university of virginia in 2002 with a BA in Environmental science and went on to compete for the school for a fifth year during which she earned a Masters of Education degree in May of 2003.

Upon graduation she returned home to Washington and began working for the District government as an Environmental Outreach and Education Coordinator. In addition to her professional endeavors she began playing tackle football for the DC Divas women’s tackle football team. First introduced to the team by her father, who was a physical therapist in the city, Natalie fell in love with the sport. She had wanted to play for her high school team and received consent from the coaches however given her commitment to track and field her father insisted that she not play and jeopardize her track career. Her father went on to volunteer for the team as the team therapist and soon became extremely attached to the team. Natalie left her job as an Environmental educator and began teaching Environmental Science and Biology at HD Woodson Senior High School in NE DC.

During her second year at Woodson, the head football coach caught wind of the fact that she played women’s professional football and asked her to help out with the boys’ varsity team at the school. Unbeknownst to her until the first day of practice, she had been named the new Wide Receiver’s coach. She became the only female football coach in the district. She continued coaching for two seasons at Woodson. In the fall of 2008 Natalie changed schools and began teaching environmental science and biology at Calvin Coolidge High School where she did not continue coaching.  In 2010 the administrative team at Coolidge suggested she apply for the head coaching position at the school since the previous coach had resigned. After applying and going through an interview process that considered 11 other candidates, Natalie was selected as the Head Coach of the Calvin Coolidge Senior High School Varsity Football team. The team made it to the DCIAA playoffs during her first season losing to the 2010 champions HD Woodson High School. During the 2011 season the team defeated the HD Woodson’s defending championship team in the playoffs and lost to Dunbar in the 2011 championship game.

Jamie Laidlaw ‘02

Jaime Laidlaw

Jaime Laidlaw

Jamie Laidlaw, Middlebury class of 02’, grew up in the mountains of McCall, Idaho where he was raised to appreciate the outdoor lifestyle.  Much of his youth was spent traveling the country ski racing, kayaking local rivers, and mountain bike racing.  Looking to expand his horizons, Jamie headed east to Middlebury College where he continued ski racing and eventually graduated with honors in Geology and Environmental Studies.  After graduating Jamie returned west where he ski patrolled at Snowbird, UT and is currently a lead guide for Ruby Mountain Heli Ski in northeastern Nevada.  When not guiding, Jamie developed a passion for exploring the mountainous regions of the earth.  He traded chasing gates for the open slopes, applying his technical skills learned from 16 years of ski racing to some of the most demanding descents in the world.  He has logged first descents in Alaska, the Peruvian Andes, Nepal, the Norwegian Arctic, and became the first and only person to ski a portion of the Lhotse Couloir.  These achievements have allowed Jamie the opportunity to work with companies such as The North Face and Dynafit as an athlete and photographer on expeditions to remote regions around the globe.  Jamie has returned to his hometown in the mountains of Idaho where he lives with his wife Megan and their Boston Terrier Warren and carries on the family tradition of landscaping.

Kate Clopeck

Kate Clopeck

Kate Clopeck

Kate Clopeck is the Executive Director for Community Water Solutions. Over the past 8 years, Kate has worked extensively on water improvement projects around the globe including Nicaragua, Cameroon and Ghana.  She co-founded CWS in 2008 while conducting her MIT graduate work on the sustained use of household water treatment technologies in Northern Ghana. Her thesis work left her with the conviction that effective, affordable water treatment technologies existed and that sustainable implementation models offered the key to universal clean water access. This belief was shared across the CWS founding team and the organization was born.

Prior to working at CWS, Kate was an associate engineer at Aerojet, an aerospace firm located in Virginia. She holds a S.M. in Technology and Policy from MIT and a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Virginia. . Kate loves traveling, running marathons, and the island of Nantucket. She currently splits her time between Ghana and her hometown of Boston, MA.

Ryan Kim

Ryan Kim

Ryan Kim

Ryan Kim left Newport Beach, California at age 15 to attend the progressive Vermont boarding school, The Putney School.  An economics major, Ryan has undertaken several projects with College administration and the Town of Middlebury regarding local economic development.  He has been an active member of the SGA Finance Committee since his freshman year, currently co-chairs the Student Investment Committee, and serves on the board of the local downtown organization, the Better Middlebury Partnership.

As an (over)eager young man of only 21, Ryan keeps has committed himself to the pursuit of innumerable passion projects including freelancing for the Middlebury Magazine, writing letters to Warren Buffett and Howard Schultz, designing an art exhibit on industrial design for Middlebury’s student run gallery, and studying urbanism.  As a sophomore, he unsuccessfully ran for SGA President.  He spent the subsequent summer undertaking a self-funded independent investigation of small-town America and getting licensed as a bartender.

Ryan Kim is an “amateur-everything”.  He loves traveling, taking photos, writing short fiction and poetry, telling stories, playing squash, predicting stock market movements, sitting quietly, and much more.  He is not particularly great at any of these, but he is trying.  Not to lose the forest for the trees, Ryan has three core professional aspirations: start a school, start a bank, build a city.  First and foremost, though, he aspires to develop high-density real estate in the spirit of New Urbanism, and to rebuild American cities into healthier, happier, and more vibrant communities.

Polly Young-Eisendrath

Polly Young-Eisendrath

Polly Young-Eisendrath

Polly Young-Eisendrath is a speaker, writer, Jungian analyst and mindfulness teacher. She connects the roots of happiness with our ability to collaborate and engage with others so that we can give back the talents and gifts we’ve been given. Polly is a long-time practitioner of Zen Buddhism and Vipassana in the tradition of Shinzen Young (in which she is a certified teacher). She has published many chapters and articles on Buddhism, psychotherapy, spirituality, resilience and Jung’s psychology.

She is also Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Vermont and in independent clinical practice in central Vermont. Her 14 published books have been translated into more than 20 languages, including ”The Self-Esteem Trap,” “The Resilient Spirit,” ”Women and Desire,” and “The Cambridge Companion to Jung.” She is a frequent speaker and facilitator at conferences, seminars and workshops in the U.S. and abroad. Polly is working on a spiritual memoir called “Love Broken Open.”

She discusses her latest book “The Self-Esteem Trap,” in these terms: “I wrote this book because I was at the end of my rope. I had sat hour upon hour in my psychotherapy practice listening to stories about how every child, teen and adult should be special, a winner, with the potential to be great. Although this expectation causes great suffering in individuals and families, it has been almost impossible to challenge. The expectation is founded on the illusion that everyone has an extraordinary potential for creativity or genius or achievement that needs only to be unlocked in order for greatness to happen. When you assume that everyone has something extraordinary to contribute to life, then being ordinary is an embarrassment. This way of thinking has produced a generation of parents, children, teens, and young adults who are caught in the self-esteem trap.”

Derek Amato

Derek Amato

Derek Amato

The eldest of two children, Derek was born in La Mirada, California in 1966. His parents divorced when he was three, as his family relocated to the midwest in 1973. Growing up as a competitive athlete, Derek was groomed from a very early age to compete at a high level of baseball, with a career ending possibility from a shoulder injury. Derek always had a passion for music, a love he acquired from his mother and grandmother, as church hymns would often flow through the house demanding his attention to sing-a-long.

As an adult, Derek held corporate management positions in the gas and oil industry, youth safety education, the mixed martial arts, and the telecom industry. In 2002, Derek suffered a devastating financial loss that would leave him homeless. After three long months living out of his car,†Derek was offered a position working for the US Postal Service in Colorado. Shortly after, Derek joined a large company in telecom as a Nat’l Corporate Trainer.

October 27, 2006, Derek’s life would dramatically change from diving into a swimming pool to catch a football and crashing head first into the concrete of the shallow end. The head trauma would create a list of problems to follow, including 40%  loss of hearing, an onset of migraines , memory loss, and something completely unexplainable, the urge and exceptional skill to play an instrument he had never played before, the piano.

After reaching out to world renowned savant study expert Darrold Treffert with The Wisconsin Medical Society, Derek would then be diagnosed with a rare condition referred to as “Acquired Savant Syndrome” and shortly after diagnosed with yet another rare condition referred to as ” Synesthesia.”

Derek’s condition is one of thirty medically documented cases in the world! Derek’s musical discovery has been shared on The Today Show, Canada AM, The Jeff Probst Show, Weekend Sunrise Australia, Huffington Post Live, The John Moore Show, Skin and Ink Magazine, Ability Magazine, Popular Science, The Jay Thomas Show, FOX & Friends, NY Times, Oprah.com, NPR, BBC, Studio 360, and is currently airing on NOVA and The Discovery Science Channel episodes.

Derek currently resides in Colorado with his three children. He is an avid fly fisherman, and advocates for several charitable organizations throughout the country.

Dean Karlan

Dean Karlan

Dean Karlan

Dean Karlan is a Professor of Economics at Yale University. Karlan is President of Innovations for Poverty Action, a non-profit organization that creates and evaluates solutions to social and development problems, and works to scale-up successful ideas through implementation and dissemination to policymakers, practitioners, investors and donors. Karlan is on the Board of Directors of the M.I.T. Jameel Poverty Action Lab. As a social entrepreneur, He is Founder and President of stickK.com, a website that uses lessons from behavioral economics to help people reach personal goals, such as weight loss and smoking cessation, through commitment contracts. In 2011, Karlan co-authored More Than Good Intentions: How a New Economics is Helping to Solve Global Poverty. Karlan received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and was named an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow. His research focuses on microeconomic issues of financial decision-making, specifically employing experimental methodologies to examine what works, what does not, and why in interventions in microfinance, health, behavioral economics and charitable giving. In microfinance, he has studied credit impact, interest rate policy, savings product design, credit scoring policies, entrepreneurship training, and group versus individual liability. Karlan received a Ph.D. in Economics from M.I.T., an M.B.A. and an M.P.P. from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Virginia. He can be followed on twitter @deankarlan, and blogs regularly on Freakonomics.

Victoria Sweet

Victoria Sweet

Victoria Sweet

Dr. Sweet is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She is also a prize-winning historian with a Ph.D. in history and social medicine.

She practiced medicine for more than twenty years at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, where she began writing. Her first two essays, ”Thy Will be Done” and “Code Pearl,” were published in Health Affairs: The Policy Journal of the Health Sphere. Other work includes her book on the twelfth century mystic, visionary, and medical practitioner, Hildegard of Bingen: Rooted in the Earth, Rooted in the Sky: Hildegard of Bingen and Premodern Medicine (Routledge, 2006) and “Hildegard of Bingen and the Greening of Medieval Medicine” in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine (1999). Her writing has received numerous honors, including the Shryock Medal, the Estes Award, and the Stannard Memorial Award.

Her most recent book, God’s Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine (Penguin, 2012), has received a remarkable reception, in part because of its crossover appeal to doctors, nurses, and patients; historians, ethicists, and humanists; and readers who just like a good story. Dr. Sweet has been interviewed by NPR, The New York Times, the BBC World Service, and the Financial Times, and God’s Hotel  has received insightful reviews from the New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle,  MacLean’s and Publisher’s Weekly, among others. It was picked as a Best Book of 2012 by The San Francisco Chronicle, Scientific American, Barnes and Noble, Kirkus Review, Medscape, and Boston.com. It has been optioned for a television series, and Dr. Sweet is in preliminary discussions about bringing into reality her ideas for new ways to practice medicine—the Ecomedicine Project and the Second Opinion Clinic.

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