Following are short profiles of some of the panelists who will take part in the week-long "Empowering Change" observance at the University of Hartford. The speakers are listed in alphabetical order. For information on all of the "Empowering Change" speakers, click on the individual programs under "Schedule of Events."
Dr. James Hadley Billington was sworn in as the Librarian of Congress on September 14, 1987. He is the 13th person to hold the position since the Library was established in 1800. Billington has championed the Library of Congress’s National Digital Library program, which makes freely available online more than 31.4 million American historical and cultural documents from the vast collections of the Library and other research institutions on the Library's website at www.loc.gov.
The Library has placed online under Billington's leadership a major bilingual website with Russian libraries, and has launched smaller such joint projects with the national libraries of Brazil, Spain, France, the Netherlands, and Egypt. Billington created the Library’s first national private-sector advisory and support group, the James Madison Council. Its members have supported major exhibitions at the Library as well as well as important new acquisitions for the Library’s collections.
Billington will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters prior to the closing panel discussion on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in Lincoln Theater.
Dr. Guion S. Bluford, Jr., became the first African American to travel in space in 1983, as a mission specialist aboard the space shuttle Challenger. He later joined the crews of three other NASA space missions. Bluford retired in 1993, after logging 688 hours in space during his career. He was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997.
Bluford began his career as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, flying 144 combat missions during the Vietnam War. He served a total of 29 years in the U.S. Air Force, in a wide range of positions.
In recent years, Bluford has worked in the aerospace divisions of several companies, including the Federal Data Corporation and Northrop Grumman. He currently serves as president of the Aerospace Technology Group, an aerospace technology and business consulting organization specializing in aviation and space-related technology development, analysis, and marketing-related activities.
Bluford will participate in the panel, "Leading the Way in Innovation," on Sept. 18 at noon in Mali I Auditorium (Dana 201).
State Senator Beth Bye represents the citizens of the 5th Senate District, which includes the towns of Bloomfield, Burlington, Farmington, and West Hartford, Conn. Bye is the Senate chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee and is vice chair of both the Education and Higher Education and Employment Advancement committees.
Bye received her BA and MA in child development from the University of New Hampshire, and is widely recognized as one of the state’s leading authorities on early childhood education. She received a “Friend of the Family Award” in 2013 from the Connecticut Family Resource Alliance in recognition of her advocacy on behalf of quality early childhood programs in Connecticut. She also received “Legislator of the Year” awards in 2009 and 2011 from the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance.
Bye will participate in the panel, "Leveling the Playing Field: Education and Healthcare," on Sept. 17 at 10:30 a.m. in Wilde Auditorium.
Stephanie Capparell is a New York-based journalist, author, and filmmaker, and has been an editor and writer at The Wall Street Journal for more than 20 years. Capparell is the author of The Real Pepsi Challenge: How One Pioneering Company Broke Color Barriers in 1940s American Business. The book tells the story of a group of African American businessmen who were among the first black Americans to work at professional jobs in Corporate America—in this case, Pepsi-Cola—and to target black consumers as a distinct market.
In addition, Capparell is co-author of the international best-seller Shackleton’s Way, and most recently, of The Birkman Method: Your Personality at Work, about the Birkman workplace assessment tool. She is also producer and co-director of the documentary, Nazim Hikmet: Living Is No Laughing Matter, about the 20th century Turkish dissident poet. The film is being released this fall.
Capparell will participate in the panel, "Business as Leaders of Social Change," on Sept. 18 at 5 p.m. in Regents Commons (located in the Shaw Center, Hillyer Hall).
Sanford Cloud, Jr., is chairman and CEO of The Cloud Company, LLC, a real estate development and business investment firm. He is the former president and chief executive officer of The National Conference for Community and Justice, a human relations organization dedicated to fighting bias, bigotry, and racism in America and promoting understanding among all races, religions, and cultures.
Cloud also helped found National Voices for an Inclusive 21st Century, a collaboration of national human relations and civil rights organizations that work together to confront bias, bigotry, and racism. A former two-term Connecticut state senator, Cloud’s accomplishments included primary sponsorship of legislation creating the state’s first Department of Housing.
Cloud will participate in the panel, "Business as Leaders of Social Change," on Sept. 18 at 5 p.m. in Regents Commons (located in the Shaw Center, Hillyer Hall).
Kate Emery is founder and CEO of The Walker Group, a technology services firm she started over 20 years ago and now one of the largest of its kind in New England. In 2007 Emery restructured Walker to a Social Enterprise, changing its mission from maximizing shareholder profits to maximizing social contribution. Among other restrictions and commitments, any profits distributed by Walker must be split equally between employees, the community, and shareholders.
Emery is also the founder of reSET, the Social Enterprise Trust whose mission is to promote, preserve, and protect social enterprise. She is passionate about this new model of doing business, believing it to be not only more satisfying, but more sustainable in the long run. reSET is actively working to make Connecticut a hub of social enterprise, through legislative efforts and the creation of a social enterprise incubator which provides space and resources to social entrepreneurs. She has also started an investment fund to provide seed capital to new and expanding social enterprise.
Emery will participate in the panel, "Business as Leaders of Social Change," on Sept. 18 at 5 p.m. in Regents Commons (located in the Shaw Center, Hillyer Hall).
Robert H. (Bob) Forrester is president and CEO of Newman’s Own Foundation, and chairman and CEO of Newman’s Own, Inc. He was a close, personal friend and philanthropic advisor to actor Paul Newman, who founded the company and foundation.
Prior to Newman’s Own, Forrester was founder, chairman, and CEO of Payne, Forrester & Associates, LLC, an international consulting group providing services to nonprofits. He also has served in senior management positions at the University of Hartford and New York University. Over the course of his career, he has spent 43 years working with nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. He also serves on numerous boards.
Forrester, a University of Hartford alumnus, served as a U.S. Army Captain in Vietnam.
Forrester will participate in the panel, "Business as Leaders of Social Change," on Sept. 18 at 5 p.m. in Regents Commons (located in the Shaw Center, Hillyer Hall).
R. Nelson “Oz” Griebel is president and chief executive officer of the MetroHartford Alliance, the region’s economic development leader and Hartford’s Chamber of Commerce.
Previously, he served as a director and president and chief operating officer of MacDermid, Inc., and worked for more than 22 years with the then BankBoston Corp. in various finance, legal, marketing, and operations positions. In the public sector, Griebel served as chairman of the Connecticut Transportation Strategy Board, was a member of the board of directors of Bradley International Airport, and has been involved in numerous organizations that focus on the economic vitality of Connecticut.
Griebel will participate in the panel, "Civil Rights: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow," on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in Lincoln Theater.
Rabbi Stanley M. Kessler, founding rabbi of Beth El Temple in West Hartford, Conn., was one of the legendary Freedom Riders—the civil rights activists who rode interstate buses throughout the South in the 1960s to protest segregated facilities. In 1963, he was one of 19 rabbis to march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Birmingham, Ala., attended the historic March on Washington, D.C., and two years later he joined King in Selma, Ala., in a prelude to the five-day Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights.
Throughout his career he has continued to speak out on a wide range of issues, from protesting the Vietnam War to speaking up for human rights and helping Soviet Jews who were persecuted and denied permission to emigrate. He served as rabbi for the Beth El Temple from 1954-1992 and remains active in the life of the synagogue.
Rabbi Kessler will participate in the panel, "What Would You Do?," on Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Wilde Auditorium.
Learn more about Rabbi Stanley Kessler.
Rob King is senior vice president at ESPN, where he oversees SportsCenter and the entire newsgathering operation. He was named by Fast Company as one of its “Most Creative People 2014” for leading a major redesign of the most downloaded app in sports.
Previously, King was responsible for all content and the overall editorial direction of ESPN’s digital and print properties, and oversaw management of more than 200 editors, writers, and designers across ESPN.com and its network of related sites, ESPN The Magazine and espnW. He has worked with ESPN’s many news, information and programming units to develop greater cross-platform integration and development of cross-media franchises.
King began his career in newspapers, most recently at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he served as graphic artist, deputy sports editor, assistant managing editor, and deputy managing editor.
King will serve as emcee for the program, "Voices of Yesterday—Leaders of Tomorrow," on Sept. 18 at 2 p.m. in Regents Commons (located in the Shaw Center, Hillyer Hall).
Erika Maye is founder and executive director of Active Voices, a nonprofit organization that helps grassroots racial justice organizers use strategic communications effectively as a tool for policy change.
Prior to that, she served on the communications team for the Advancement Project, a national civil rights organization. As part of their communications team, she executed traditional and social media campaigns that helped change school discipline policies in Philadelphia and Miami and led the media campaign that elevated the Dream Defenders’ takeover of the Florida capitol in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict to national attention. She has trained and coached nearly 1,000 youth and adult organizers in strategic communications and is currently a communications consultant for the Alliance for Educational Justice.
Maye will participate in the panel, "Civil Rights: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow," on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in Lincoln Theater.
Robert Moses is a civil rights leader and education activist who created the Algebra Project, a foundation devoted to improving minority education in math. Since 1982, he has expanded the Algebra Project to more than 200 schools across the country, using a model that is sustainable and enlists the support of parents and the community.
During the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, Moses became involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and helped educate and register black voters in Mississippi who had been shut out of the political process for years. By 1964, Moses had become co-director of the Council of Federated Organizations, an umbrella organization for the major civil rights groups working in Mississippi.
Moses will participate in the panel, "Civil Rights: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow," on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in Lincoln Theater.
Jerry Franklin is president and chief executive officer of Connecticut Public Broadcasting, Inc. He oversees the parent company of Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) and WNPR-Connecticut Public Radio. CPTV and WNPR's community-supported, statewide public broadcasting networks are dedicated to serving diverse communities with a mix of educational, news, public affairs, children's, and entertainment programming and services.
Franklin was appointed to his current position at the Hartford-based broadcasting company in 1985. Under his leadership, CPTV has won two National Daytime Emmy Awards, 95 Regional Emmy Awards, 392 Regional Emmy Award nominations, seven CINE Golden Eagle Awards, and one Gracie Allen Award. WNPR has earned two George Foster Peabody Awards, five Ohio State Awards, two Gracie Allen Awards, and more than 60 Associated Press Awards, including eight Mark Twain Awards for Overall Station Excellence.
In November 2013, Franklin was the recipient of the Silver Circle Award. The award, given by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, honors individuals for their enduring contributions to the vitality of the television industry. The Silver Circle honors television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the industry for more than 25 years.
Franklin will serve as moderator for the panel, "Civil Rights: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow," on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in Lincoln Theater.
Dr. Gislaine Ngounou, an education leader and a social justice activist, became chief of staff for the Hartford Public Schools on Aug. 1, 2014. Born and raised in Cameroon, Ngounou immigrated to the United States to pursue a degree in electrical engineering. Through her work with the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools, she discovered her true calling: to dedicate her life’s work to improving opportunities and outcomes for young people and communities, especially those that have been marginalized and underserved.
Prior to joining the Hartford Public Schools, Ngounou served as a doctoral resident to the Superintendent of Schools in Montgomery County, Maryland. Throughout her career as an educator, Ngounou has served as a teacher, instructional coach, youth development specialist, and academic program director, and has worked in consulting and coaching capacities with educational systems and organizations nationally and internationally. She holds bachelor’s, master’s and administration degrees from the University of Missouri system, as well as a Doctorate in Education Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Ngounou will participate in the panel, "Leveling the Playing Field: Education and Healthcare," on Sept. 17 at 10:30 a.m. in Wilde Auditorium.
Eva Jefferson Paterson has campaigned for civil rights with passion, courage, and tenacity for more than three decades. Paterson is president and a co-founder of the Equal Justice Society, a legal organization transforming the nation’s consciousness on race through law, social science, and the arts. She previously served 13 years as executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights.
Paterson will participate in the panel, "Civil Rights: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow," on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in Lincoln Theater.
Ruby Sales is a nationally known human rights activist, theologian, and social critic. As a teenager in the 1960s, Sales joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and worked as a student freedom fighter in Lowndes County, Alabama. In August 1965, Sales and other SNCC workers joined a group of young people in a demonstration against the local white grocery store owners who had cheated their parents. The group was arrested and held in jail and then suddenly released. Sales was attempting to buy sodas for other newly released freedom workers when she was shot at by a construction worker, Tom Coleman. Her fellow marcher, white seminarian and freedom worker Jonathan Daniels, pulled her out of the way and took the bullet meant for her, dying instantly. Despite threats of violence against her, Sales attended Coleman’s trial and testified on behalf of Daniels. Coleman was acquitted by a jury of 12 white men.
Sales attended Tuskegee Institute, Manhattanville College, and Princeton University and received a Masters of Divinity from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. As a social activist, Sales has preached around the country, served on many committees, and received many honors in her work on racial, sexual, gender and class reconciliation, education, and awareness. She currently serves as the founder and director of the SpiritHouse Project, a national nonprofit that uses the arts, research, education, action, and spirituality to bring diverse peoples together to work for racial, economic, and social justice, and spiritual maturity. SpiritHouse roots its work today in exposing the extrajudicial murders of African Americans by white vigilantes and police.
Ruby Sales will speak at the program, "Voices of Yesterday—Leaders of Tomorrow," on Sept. 18 at 2 p.m. in Regents Commons (located in the Shaw Center, Hillyer Hall).
Elizabeth Horton Sheff M'12 is a community activist who has advocated on many civil rights fronts, including championing the rights of persons who reside in public housing; those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS; families marginalized by economic challenges; and grandparents raising grandchildren. Sheff also is known for her role as the named plaintiff in Sheff v. O’Neill, the landmark civil rights lawsuit that resulted in a mandate to provide equal access to quality, integrated public education in Connecticut.
Sheff served on the Hartford City Council from 1991-1995 and 1999-2001. As a Council member, she promoted civic engagement, literacy, and community policing, and founded a program to support grandparents who are raising grandchildren. In December 2013, Sheff was the featured speaker at the University of Hartford's annual Fall Commencement, and she was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Sheff will participate in the panel, "What Would You Do?," on Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Wilde Auditorium.
Marie M. Spivey EdD, RN, MPA, is vice president of health equity for the Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA). Spivey leads the organization’s Diversity Collaborative initiative, coordinating CHA’s work with member hospitals and providing outreach to communities and partners statewide, regionally, and nationally regarding CHA’s diversity and health equity activities.
Spivey is chair of the Connecticut Commission on Health Equity. She has also served as the executive director of a federally qualified health center; bureau chief of community health at the Connecticut Department of Public Health; vice president of community relations at Connecticut Health Systems, Inc.; and vice president of community involvement for Hartford Hospital. As a loaned executive for Hartford Hospital, Spivey launched the Learning Corridor—a 16-acre educational campus of magnet schools in Hartford.
Spivey will participate in the panel, "Leveling the Playing Field: Education and Healthcare," on Sept. 17 at 10:30 a.m. in Wilde Auditorium.