past speakers - 2014  -  2013  -  2012   -  2011   -   2010    

Sep 18, 2014
Chad Bissonette

topic: Commumity-Driven Development and the Crucial Role it Plays in Ensuring Global Development

Chad W. Bissonnette, Co-founder and Executive Director of Roots of Development holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from American University in Washington, DC, and in 2014 was selected as the School of International Service’s Alumnus of the Year. Before graduating from American however, Mr. Bissonnette spent a year at Emerson College in Boston, MA studying PR/Marketing, and two years in Spain teaching for the Spanish Government and achieving a diploma in Hispanic Language and Culture Studies from the University of Salamanca. Mr. Bissonnette began traveling to Haiti in 2005 and co-founded Roots of Development in 2007. He currently serves as its Executive Director, and is responsible for the creation and implementation of the organization’s unique approach to development. When in Haiti, Mr. Bissonnette spends most of his time on the island of La Gonave, where his organization works with a set of communities determined to manage their own development. With the motto “Development without Dependency”, Mr. Bissonnette speaks regularly about empowerment and community-driven development and his work in Haiti, at high schools and universities along the East Coast. He has also written several articles on those subjects in the Huffington Post. Mr. Bissonnette grew up in Connecticut, and has traveled and lived a substantial amount of time overseas (Spain, South Africa, Brazil, Haiti, etc.). He speaks English, Spanish and Haitian Creole. Mr. Bissonnette currently resides in Washington, DC.

Sep 25, 2014
Jason Riley

topic: TBA

Jason Riley is a member of The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board. He joined the paper in 1994 as a copyreader on the national news desk in New York. He moved to the editorial page in 1995 as copyreader and later became a copy editor. In April 1996, he was named to the newly created position of editorial interactive editor and maintained the editorial and Leisure & Arts section of He was named a senior editorial page writer in March 2000, and member of the Editorial Board in 2005.

Born in Buffalo, NY, Mr. Riley earned a bachelor's degree in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has also worked for USA Today and the Buffalo News.

Oct 9, 2014
Richard J. Deckelbaum, M.D.

topic: TBA

Richard J. Deckelbaum, MD, CM, FRCPC is Professor of Pediatrics, a Professor of Epidemiology, the Robert R. Williams Professor of Nutrition, and Director of the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University Medical Center.

The major focus of Dr. Deckelbaum's laboratory is to determine regulatory mechanisms for cell-lipid particle interaction, cell cholesterol and triglyceride metabolism, and lipid-related gene expression. Dr. Deckelbaum also coordinates programs related to the effects of varying nutrient intakes on expression of cardiovascular risk factors in children of different genetic backgrounds in both national and international studies. Overall, an important objective of Dr. Deckelbaum's program is to develop investigators who can translate basic nutritional questions into basic lipid and cellular biology.

Nov 6, 2014
Steven Lonegan

topic: TBA

Steven Mark Lonegan is a businessman, author and former Mayor of Bogota, NJ. He was State Director of the NJ chapter of Americans for Prosperity and a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor of New Jersey in 2005 and 2009, as well as the Republican nominee in the Oct 2013 special election to fill New Jersey's open U.S. Senate seat following the death of Frank Lautenberg.

Nov 20, 2014
Elizabeth Ames

topic: TBA

Elizabeth Ames, a veteran public relations executive and former journalist. founded Bolde Communications & Public Relations, Inc. in 1999. Ames brings to Bolde more than 20 years of experience on both sides of the press release. Prior to founding Bolde, she spent nearly seven years at Forbes, Inc., where she established the office of corporate press relations, working on behalf of the company in all major media markets in the U.S., as well as in Europe and Asia. She also served on the Public Relations Committee of the Magazine Publishers Assoc.

She previously spent six years in public relations at the Univ. of So. California, promoting the university's faculty and academic research. Ames developed and produced "Your Enterprise," a weekly radio feature promoting the USC Entrepreneur Program that aired on CBS affiliate KNX NewsRadio.

Prior to entering public relations, Ames spent more than ten years as a journalist. She was a reporter with BusinessWee, covering the entertainment business from the magazine's Los Angeles bureau. Her work as a freelance writer has appeared in New York, Newsweek, Vogue, People, Us, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Savvy, Self, Horizon and numerous other publications.

Jan 29, 2015
Theresa M. Grant

topic: Common Mistakes Donors Make & How to Avoid Them

Theresa Grant, Chairwoman and Founder of Make A Difference has dedicated her life to helping disadvantaged children get access to quality education. In 2005 she quit her job as a marketing executive in the Silicon Valley and sold all of her possessions to fulfill a calling she had to make a difference in Africa. She moved to an orphanage on a farm outside of Lusaka, Zambia. Finding so much joy and satisfaction from making a difference in the lives of others, Grant helped start the international side of C2BU, an organization focused on helping people find their purpose in life. After working for two years with C2BU, Grant decided to start her own organization solely dedicated to empowering children in need called, Make A Difference (MAD).

Grant has a BS in International Relations and a BA in Spanish. She has supervised hundreds of volunteers from countries around the world including Australia, Belgium, China, India, Israel, Sweden, Tanzania, UK, USA and Zambia helping empower disadvantaged children.

MAD's mission is to support quality educational opportunities for vulnerable children and youth in developing countries. and it's dream is to help children rise out of poverty and become leaders within their countries.

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