Alok Vaid-Menon has a complicated origin story. You could say that they survived growing up in a small town in Texas that tried its best to make them less brown, less queer, and less radical (but failed). You could say that they went to a school (a delusion) at a settler colonial private university in California built on occupied Native American land where they were awarded diplomas in peculiar fields of inquiry like gender, sexuality, and race that has somehow given them the authority to speak about these topics even though you live them, too. You could say that they have lived in many countries working with many queer third world movements. You could say that they currently perform with DARKMATTER a queer South Asian spoken word duo and organize with the Audre Lorde Project, a queer people of color organizing center in Brooklyn. You could list their publications and accolades, the news publications which validated them, the places they have spoken. But – what these things will not tell you is how Alok’s body, gender, history, trajectory are in a constant state of flux, hypocrisy, and contradiction. These things will not show you a beating heart, a breathing lung, a mind that yearns for something else. These things will not show you their political vision, let alone how it can be embodied. For these things you must read their poetry (returnthegayze.tumblr.com), you must listen, you must become a part of the movement, you must forget everything you were taught about who is the expert, what is knowledge, and what is history. You must argue with them, you must resist with them, you must build with them. Alok identifies as an interruption, will you allow them to proceed?
Hal’s career path after University of Pennsylvania, 1975, started in food service as a manager and chef. Relocating to Vermont in 1989 to work and teach at the New England Culinary Institute, he transitioned to social services launching his career as a social entrepreneur creating the Good News Garage (1996) and NeighborKeepers (2006). In May 2000 he received an honorary Doctor of Humanities Degree for creating the Good News Garage.
Alec MacMillen ’14
Alec MacMillen (class of 2014) originally hails from Hillsborough, CA and is an International Politics and Economics major with a Middle East focus at Middlebury. On campus he directs a coed acapella group, works as a political science research intern, and serves on the Academic Judicial Board. He also studied abroad in Lebanon and Egypt during his junior year. His other interests include traveling, jazz piano, and baseball. He names middCORE as his favorite Middlebury experience because it pushed him out of his comfort zone and introduced him to an extraordinary group of hardworking and talented people.
Alec’s interest in the interplay between social norms and the science of personality arose when he read Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, and it was Cain’s TED talk that inspired him to enter Middlebury’s TEDx student speaker competition. After graduation, he plans to return to the Middle East to continue studying Arabic and pursue work designing language education policy.
Lucie Ide ’97
Lucie brings her diverse experiences in medicine, science, venture capital and technology to bear in leading Rimidi Diabetes, a software company focused on improving the cycle of care in diabetes management. Motivated by the belief that we can do so much better in managing health as individuals, an industry and society, Lucie left clinical medicine to join the ranks of healthcare entrepreneurs who are trying to revolutionize an industry.
After graduating summa cum laude with a BA in Physics from Middlebury College, Lucie joined the National Security Agency and then the Central Intelligence Agency as a Signal Analyst. She then became an analyst at Monarch Capital Partners, a venture capital firm focused on wireless and satellite communications technologies. With a desire to shift her scientific focus to human health, Lucie completed the Medical Scientist Training Program at Emory University, earning a joint M.D. and a Ph.D. in pharmacology. Following internship at UPMC Magee Womens’ Hospital in Pittsburgh, Lucie saw an opportunity to make an impact on our healthcare system that was undergoing massive changed fueled by economic pressures, policy change, and technological innovations. She co-founded Rimidi Diabetes in 2011.
Lucie is married to Humberto Garcia-Sjogrim (’96). They live in Atlanta, GA with their three boys and enjoy sports and travel in their free time
Dr. Riess is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She directs the Empathy & Relational Science Program, conducting research on the neuroscience of emotions and empathy, and is Co-Founder, Chief Scientist and Chairman of Empathetics, LLC. She is also a core member of the Research Consortium for Emotional Intelligence and is a faculty member of the Harvard Macy Institute for Physician Leaders.
Dr. Riess has devoted her career to research on the neuroscience and art of the patient-doctor relationship and teaching psychiatry residents and medical students. Her research team conducts translational research based on the neuroscience of emotions. The effectiveness of Dr. Riess’s empathy training approach has been demonstrated in several studies including a randomized controlled trial. She has developed faculty curricula for “Teaching the Teachers” of Psychotherapy that is used by faculty psychiatrists. Dr. Riess’s empathy training curricula are implemented internationally in healthcare as well as in business.
Dr. Riess is an internationally recognized speaker, researcher, and clinician whose work has been published in leading medical journals. She has received numerous awards including the Partners Healthcare Systems Medical Education Research Award (2013), the Harvard Coaching Institute Research Award (2012), and The SUNY Medical University’s Herbert Gilbert Humanitarian Lecture Award (2013). Dr. Riess received her B.A. from Wesleyan University and her M.D. from Boston University School of Medicine. She completed her residency training in Psychiatry at MGH and Harvard Medical School.
Big Poppa E
BIG POPPA E is a spoken word artist and three-time veteran of HBO’s “Def Poetry” who melds rhythmic verse, stand-up comedy, and dramatic monologue into explosive works that skewer pop culture, politics, and the tangle of pain and beauty in relationships. His musings have led to appearances on BET’s “The Way We Do It” sketch comedy series, National Public Radio, and CBS’s “60 Minutes” (although, truth be told, he was only on for about three seconds… but still… have you been on “60 Minutes?” Yeah, didn’t think so.)
BPE burst onto the slam scene as a member of the ‘99 San Francisco Poetry Slam Team, co-champions of the ‘99 National Poetry Slam in Chicago and the only undefeated team out of 48 that year. The piece he performed on the finals stage —“¡The Wussy Boy Manifesto!” — has since become a rallying cry for outcasts, dorks, dweebs, and feebs everywhere, leading “Ms. Magazine” to proclaim him “an icon for effeminate males” and “The Los Angeles Times to declare him “the leader of the new Wussy Boy movement.”
Big Poppa E has toured relentlessly on the spoken word highway since 2000, when he did 65 gigs across 27 states in just under four months. In the summer of 2003 alone, he logged over 21,000 miles on his ‘99 Ford Windstar mini-van, which has since been retired after 200,000 miles. He has headlined at 100+ universities and colleges and performed 200+ poetry slam features in 44 states (including Hawaii and Alaska).
Along the way, BPE’s tours have generated countless stories in newspapers and magazines in the US, Canada, England, and Australia, including such publications as: The New York Times; The Washington Post; The Ottowa Citizen; The London Daily Express; The Sydney Morning Herald; Bust Magazine; Poets and Writers; and The Utne Reader.
Inspired by her experiences as a single working mother living in a marginalized community, Tanya Fields founded the BLK ProjeK in 2009 as a response to sexist institutional policies, structurally reinforced cycles of poverty, and harsh inequities in wealth and access to capital that result in far too many women being unable to rise out of poverty and sustain their families. The group was nominated for a 2011 Union Square Award and Tanya has the honor of being a Green for All Fellows, through which she connects with a national cohort of environmental justice change agents. With a Bachelor’s in Political Science from Baruch College, and a talent for public speaking, blogging and singing, Tanya has become a sought after speaker. She provided a widely praised keynote speech at the 2012 Just Food conference, and served as a plenary panelist for the 2011 conference of the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. Previous to the BLK ProjeK, Tanya worked with several high profile environmental organizations located in the South Bronx – Mothers on the Move, Sustainable South Bronx and the Majora Carter Group. Tanya built upon the network, skills, resources and knowledge she gained through those experiences to create the BLK ProjeK.
She is a reputed and rising public speaker and educator. She has spoken, conducted workshops and participated on panels at Just Food Annual Conference, NOFA NY Winter Conference, Manhattanville College, Kingsboro College, Brooklyn Food Coalition, NEWSAWG and others.
She currently writes a twice monthly column on food and food justice for EBONY.com and contributed a chapter for the book “The Next Eco-Warriors” by Emily Hunter
Adrian Benepe ’78
A Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development for The Trust for Public Land, Adrian Benepe is one of the nation’s experts on the nexus of the public, private, and non-profit sectors in public space development and management. Born and raised in New York, Benepe worked for twenty-seven years in the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, serving as Park Commissioner for eleven years under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, prior to joining The Trust for Public Land. During that time he oversaw a major expansion of the city’s parks system, including restoring historic parks such as Central Park and Battery Park, adding 730 acres of new parkland including Hudson River Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the High Line, and laying the groundwork for an additional 2,000 acres of parks.
In his career, Benepe has worked in leadership roles on park and public space conservation, design, construction, and operation, and in the areas of city planning, arts and culture, historic preservation, and landscape and urban design. He also helped to create or empower several New York civic organizations, from Business Improvement Districts to park conservancies, including the Madison Square Conservancy, Jamaica Bay Conservancy, Historic House Trust of NYC, and Fort Tryon Park Trust.
Previously, Benepe served at NYC Parks as Director of Art and & Antiquities, Director of Natural Resources and & Horticulture, Operations Coordinator, Director of Public Information, and Urban Park Ranger. Benepe also served as Vice President for Issues and & Public Affairs at the Municipal Art Society and Director of the Annual Fund & Major Gifts for the New York Botanical Garden.
In addition to a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Middlebury College, Benepe holds a Master’s degree in Journalism from Columbia University, where he was awarded a Pulitzer Fellowship. In 1987, he participated in the Mayor’s Top 40 Program, and in 1992, he was selected to participate in Leadership New York, a program of the Coro Foundation.
Steve Trombulak is the director of the Middlebury School of the Environment. He holds the Professorship of Environmental and Biosphere Studies at Middlebury College, where he has been on the faculty since 1985. His teaching and research interests are in the fields of conservation biology, environmental science, and natural history. He is the author or editor of several articles and books, including The Story of Vermont: A Natural and Cultural History (with Chris McGrory Klyza) and, most recently, Landscape-scale Conservation Planning (with Robert Baldwin). He is one of the founders of the Ghana Antelope Project, a non-profit organization working to promote community-scale captive-rearing of native antelope in Ghana, West Africa, for the conservation of both cultural heritage and wildlife, as well as science education in local public schools. He is a founding member of the Natural History Network and is the editor of its Journal of Natural History Education and Experience. Over the last 30 years he has participated in numerous conservation organizations and initiatives, including the Biodiversity Working Group of the Northern Forest Lands Council; the Vermont Biodiversity Project; the Board of Governors for the Society for Conservation Biology; and Two Countries, One Forest, a confederation of conservation organizations dedicated to landscape-scale conservation planning in the Northern Appalachian region of the U.S. and Canada.
Claudia Chan is a women’s leadership and lifestyle expert dedicated to celebrating today’s female role models through her 200+ remarkable women interview series on ClaudiaChan.com, and S.H.E. Summit, the annual global women’s week convening women dreamers with extraordinary female thought leaders.
Immersed in the women’s space, from all-women’s schools to her 9-year journey as president of girlfriend events company Shecky’s, Claudia noticed the dire lack of mainstream programming positively portraying women leaders and felt that this directly affected how women and girls recognize their own potential. In 2012, she launched SHE Globl Media Inc., a purposeful women’s platform that empowers women to live their most optimal personal and professional lives so they can change the world, through ongoing media and educational initiatives like ClaudiaChan.com and S.H.E. Summit. By sharing practical advice of hundreds of strong female role models like model activist Christy Turlington Burns, philanthropist Jennifer Buffett, fashion designer Tory Burch, humanitarian Zainab Salbi to corporate leaders like Susan Sobbott, S.H.E. Globl Media initiatives give women access to stories, strategies and solutions that are typically inaccessible with a belief that if women lead their optimal lives, they will change the world.
Referred to as “the aspirational Facebook for women” by Forbes.com, “SHE Who Must Be Obeyed” by the The Daily Beast, “Intrepid Woman” by The Glass Hammer, “a motivational media woman in charge” by Cosmopolitan Magazine–Claudia has been featured in countless media outlets including the Aol/PBS initiative “Makers: Women Who Make America.” She also speaks on women’s leadership at corporations, universities, and conferences.
Dickson Despommier is the Emeritus Professor of Public Health and Microbiology at Columbia University, and the vertical farming concept grew out of a medical ecology course he taught in 1999. Articles about the subject have been published in The New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, Popular Science, Scientific American and Maxim. In October 2010, his first book on the subject, The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century, was published.