John Biewen

Host, Producer of the Peabody Award-nominated podcast Scene on Radio

Shantell Bingham

Program Director of the Charlottesville Food Justice Network

Dr. Gail C. Christopher, D.N.

President & Founder, The Ntianu Center for Healing & Nature

Sahara Clemons

Multimedia Artist, Designer, and Activist

Sam Cole

Journalist at Motherboard, Vice's science and technology outlet

Béatrice Coron

Visual Storyteller

Tim Cunningham

Actor, Clown, Emergency Nurse and Assistant Professor

Kerry David

Producer, Writer, Director

Liza Donnelly

New Yorker Cartoonist

Dan Giusti

Culinary Chef, Founder of Brigaid

Clarence Green

Filmmaker, Producer of Changing the Narrative project

Jessica Harris

Founder and Artistic Director, Empowered Players

Miranda Hope

Open Mic Night Winner, Writer, Performer

Cynthia Keppel

Hall A and C Leader Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

Lewis Miller

Floral & Event Designer, Creator of The Flower Flash

Koki Nagano

Principal Scientist at Pinscreen

Christine Platt

The Afrominimalist

Shyla Raghav

Climate Change Lead, Conservation International

Drew Ramsey

Psychiatrist, Author and Farmer

Craig Richard

ASMR Research Scientist

Rodney Robinson

2019 National Teacher of the Year

John Biewen, of Durham, North Carolina, is audio program director at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University (CDS), and host and producer of the Peabody Award-nominated podcast Scene on Radio. He grew up in Mankato, Minnesota and earned a degree in philosophy from Gustavus Adolphus College. He reported for Minnesota Public Radio, NPR News (in the Rocky Mountain West), and American RadioWorks. His work has appeared on all of the NPR newsmagazines as well as This American Life, Reveal, Studio 360 and the BBC World Service. He is co-editor of the book, Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound.

As the Program Director of the Charlottesville Food Justice Network and a member of the Chesapeake Foodshed Network’s Community Ownership, Empowerment and Prosperity Action Team, Shantell Bingham works to cultivate equitable strategies from the ground-up in local and regional food systems on the East Coast. In 2015, she was awarded the Dalai Lama Fellowship to study compassionate, ethical leadership and social entrepreneurship. During the fellowship she co-founded Growing for Change as a graduate student at UVA. She is a 2018 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award nominee and a 2019 Charlottesville top 10 under 40 recipient. She currently chairs the Charlottesville Human Rights Commission and is working alongside commissioners to reimagine institutional change and community organizing from the inside-out. A great granddaughter to NC tobacco sharecroppers, she believes every human is endowed with the right to self-determination in our food system. Shantell holds a B.A. in Global Development Studies and MPH from the University of Virginia.


Dr. Gail Christopher is an award winning social change agent with expertise in the social determinants of health and well-being and in related public policies. She is known for her pioneering work to infuse holistic health and diversity concepts into public sector programs and policy discourse. Dr. Christopher recently retired from her role as Senior Advisor and Vice President at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, where she was the driving force behind the America Healing initiative and the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation effort. Dr. Christopher also served as Kellogg’s Vice President for Program Strategy and worked on place-based programming in New Orleans and New Mexico. In 2015 she received the Terrance Keenan Award from Grantmakers in Health. She chairs the Board of the Trust for America’s Health.

Sahara Clemons is a multimedia artist, designer, and activist born in Washington D.C and raised in Charlottesville, Virginia. Playing with both the traditional and unconventional, Clemons creates paintings on wood and fabric, wearable art and fashion design. Her work confronts interpersonal and inter-sectional concepts and provides commentary on the historical, political, and social trauma of people of color and its effect on shaping identity. Her work has been shown at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Second Street Gallery, The Bridge Progressive Arts Institute, and McGuffey Art Center. Clemons is a Scholastic Gold Key and YoungArts Award winner and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Rhode Island School of Design.

Samantha Cole is a Brooklyn-based journalist at Motherboard, Vice's science and technology outlet. She covers the farthest corners of the World Wide Web, including dystopian AI applications, sex workers' rights, questionable gadgets, and YouTube feuds. Most notably, Sam broke the news of deepfakes, the algorithmically-generated porn program that became a global controversy. 

Born on the eastern shore of Maryland, Sam's eight-year career spans from hyper-local newspaper coverage to national and international outlets including Popular ScienceFast Company, Al Jazeera and many more. In her free time, she can be found dodging traffic on her bike, running, and reading outdoors. 

Béatrice Coron tells stories informed by her life. She experienced a series of odd jobs such as shepherdess, truck driver, factory worker and New York City tour guide. Born and raised in France she lived in Egypt, Mexico and China. In New York she became an artist to explore visual storytelling in artist books, paper cutting and public art. Her cut designs are made of paper, glass or metal. Her work can be seen in major collections such as the Metropolitan Museum and the Walker, and her public art can be viewed in New York and Paris among other places.

Tim Cunningham is still trying to figure out what he’d like to be when he grows up. Originally from Waynesboro, VA, he’s lived in many different places and worn a few different hats. Along the way he has been surrounded by kind, generous, creative and cranky mentors who have taught him acting, puppetry, clowning and nursing. He’s worked in a handful of countries outside of the U.S. with Clowns Without Borders, performing shows and workshops for children and families having been displaced and disrupted by greed-based, manmade disasters, such as war and poverty. While working with Clowns Without Borders, he was inspired to become a nurse and has since worked as an emergency nurse in the U.S. and other humanitarian settings. When he lived in Charlottesville, Tim was the Director of the Compassionate Care Initiative at the University of Virginia and taught in UVA’s School of Nursing and Department of Drama. Currently, he's the Director of Patient and Family Centered Care at Emory Healthcare, where he too frequently has to wear a suit.

Kerry David is a multiple award-winning filmmaker with over 20 years of experience working in the entertainment industry. Starting out in Business Affairs at Paramount Pictures, she left to work with legendary filmmakers, Stanley Kubrick, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman on films that included Eyes Wide Shut, Mission Impossible 2, Without Limits, Practical Magic and Portrait of a Lady.  She's personally developed and produced popular content for audiences around the world including My Date with Drew, Like Dandelion Dust, Agent Cody Banks and Agent Cody Banks; Destination London,  Making Miles: The Miles Davis Story, Perfect Match, Full Tilt Golf with Fred Funk and Jim Furyk, Seeking Happily Ever After and Deposing The Usual Suspects for MGM, 20th Century Fox, Lifetime Television, HBO, Lionsgate Films and Blockbuster.

Kerry directed, wrote and produced the multiple award-winning documentary, Bill Coors: The Will to Live which released in 2018, and has just completed the multiple award-winning documentary; “Breaking Their Silence: Women on the Frontline of the Poaching War” co-produced by her non-profit,

She has been a guest speaker, panelist, and moderator at schools such as Pepperdine, UCLA, and USC, appeared as a guest on The Today Show, CNN and KTLA and has written articles for various magazines including “MovieMaker Magazine,” and “Script” magazine. 

Liza Donnelly is an award winning cartoonist and writer for The New Yorker Magazine, The New York Times, Medium, and a CBS News and CNN contributor.  Donnelly is the innovator of a form of visual journalism called digital live-drawing, wherein she covers news and cultural events by drawing them in real time for news outlets. She’s reported press conferences, the DNC, the 2017 Presidential Inauguration, Oscars, Women’s Marches, etc. Donnelly delivered a popular TED talk that was translated into 38 languages and received over one million views. The author of 17 books, Donnelly is currently a Barnard College Athena Fellow.

Raised in a large, food-loving Italian family, Dan Giusti attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and quickly rose the ranks of the culinary world. He served as Executive Chef of 1789 in Washington, D.C., then crossed the pond to work at Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark. After three years as Head Chef, he returned to the United States to tackle another challenge: school food.

In 2016, he founded Brigaid, which recruits trained chefs to lead institutional kitchens under the premise that students deserve real, wholesome food, cooked from scratch with care and passion. This guiding principle continues to inspire Dan’s work as he leads his teams in the schools of New London, Connecticut, and the Bronx.   

Clarence Green is founder & owner of Underground Shorts Media Company. As well as being a filmmaker and producer, he is a musician, educator, and social entrepreneur. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Communication Arts / Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University. His family roots in Charlottesville, Virginia date back to the 1800’s.  He is currently involved in a partnership with Black Male Achievement and Light House Studio to provide local black youth access and training in narrative filmmaking. 

Jessica Harris is the Founder and Artistic Director of Empowered Players, a Fluvanna-based youth theater nonprofit 501(c)3 dedicated to improving the lives of students through increased access to theater. A Fluvanna native, Jessica is currently pursuing a Master’s in Educational Psychology at the Curry School, and completed her Echols Interdisciplinary Degree (Arts Administration, Youth and Social Innovation, and Drama) at UVA this past spring. Jessica is a veteran director and teacher with a passion for rural equity in arts, and hopes to inspire all students to find their voice and make the world a better place. 

Miranda Hope is a writer and performing singer-songwriter living in Rappahannock County, Virginia. She attended Stanford University (BA in English) and Columbia University (MFA in Theatre/Acting) and has worked mostly as a teacher and counselor for the last 20 years.  She is a member of Warriors at Ease and the Prison Yoga Project and offers weekly therapeutic yoga and meditation classes to wounded veterans and the incarcerated.  She is honored to serve as Vice President of the foundation started by her grandfather: Bob and Dolores Hope Foundation, ("to bring hope to those in need and those who served to protect our nation.")  She is honored to be first and foremost a mom, to her great son Kai, who has taught her everything worth knowing, and a wife to her husband Drew Smith, to whom this talk is dedicated.  Without his deep, unwavering support and love, nothing.   

Cynthia Keppel is both a nuclear physicist and a cancer researcher. She leads two of the four major experimental facilities at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, where she and her colleagues study the structure and dynamics of the fundamental building blocks of matter. She has a concurrent interest in medical technology development, where she holds several patents borne from applying state-of-the-art techniques from discovery science to practical medical applications. She has served on numerous national committees for both fields, including the National Nuclear Science Advisory Committee and the National Institutes of Health Advisory Research Resources Council. She is a Fellow of the American Physics Society, and her awards include a Virginia Outstanding Scientist Award and this year’s Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics Distinguished Lectureship Award. She is an author of over 160 peer-reviewed scientific publications, and has been featured on popular radio and television.

Born and raised in California farm country, Lewis Miller developed a respect for nature at a very young age. When he was 18 years old, he moved to Seattle where he studied horticulture and landscape design. After seven years of successfully pursuing his interest in design, flowers and event planning, Lewis moved to New York City in 2000 where he worked for one of the city’s top floral boutiques.

In March 2002, Lewis launched his own company: LMD New York, Lewis Miller Design. It quickly became one of the premiere floral design houses in New York City. Miller's clients include the world's leading industry professionals in fashion, design, photography, art direction and architecture. Clients include Bulgari, Carolina Herrera, Richard Meier, Mayor Bloomberg, and JP Morgan Chase, just to name a few.  With over a decade of experience, LMD has grown into one of the most sought after and well-respected multi-event production houses in the world.

Miller is also the creator of The Flower Flash, street art installations made of flowers. Miller repurposes flowers from events when he can to create pop-up street installations. These floral works of art are created under 15 minutes and all made before dawn. Miller’s business focuses on flowers and fantasy, transforming key life moments in his client’s lives into magical, everlasting memories. The impetus for the flower flashes was to recreate just a sliver of that sentiment and offer it to everyday New Yorkers and the tourists that visit this great City.  His main vision and goal is to create an emotional response through flowers. To brighten and beautify someone’s day and to make them smile, the way one smiles when they witness a random act of kindness. Miller continues to flash New Yorkers with flowers and recently executed one in Los Angeles. His goal is to continue this work and bring joy and surprise to urban neighborhoods and their city dwellers!

Koki Nagano is a Principal Scientist at Pinscreen. He works at the intersection of computer graphics and artificial intelligence and his goal is to achieve believable virtual humans that can be used as realistic digital presence. His recent work allows anyone to create photorealistic digital avatars from one picture and was demonstrated in many events including EmTech by MIT Technology Review and World Economic Forum. He developed a 3D display that allows an interactive conversation with a holographic projection of Holocaust survivors to preserve visual archives of the testimonies for future classrooms. His work has also helped create digital characters in blockbuster movies such as “Blade Runner 2049”, and “Thor Ragnarok”. His research has won the DC Expo 2015 Special Prize and he was named a Google PhD Fellow 2016. He obtained his PhD from the University of Southern California.


Christine Platt is a passionate advocate for social justice and policy reform. She holds a B.A. in Africana Studies from the University of South Florida, M.A. in African and African American Studies from The Ohio State University, and J.D. from Stetson University College of Law. A believer in the power of storytelling as a tool for social change, Christine’s literature centers on teaching race, equity, diversity, and inclusion to people of all ages. When she’s not writing, Christine spends her time curating The Afrominimalist—a creative platform chronicling her journey to minimalism.

Shyla Raghav is Conservation International’s leading expert on the impact of climate change on people and nature across the globe. Shyla played an integral role in getting the Paris Agreement signed by 195 countries and has been instrumental in influencing international climate policy for over a decade. Shyla has also worked at the World Bank, Adaptation Fund, United Nations Development Programmme, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

At Conservation International, she finds nature-based solutions to fight climate change and ensures they are incorporated into policies. From both California and northern India, Shyla studied applied ecology and international relations at the University of California, Irvine and earned her master’s degree in environmental management from Yale University. She has worked on both climate change mitigation and adaptation – and is a key communicator in the climate movement. She was recently named one of InStyle’s BadAss Women last year.

Drew Ramsey, MD is a leading innovator in mental health, combining clinical excellence, nutritional interventions and creative media. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and in active clinical practice in New York City.

His work and writing has been featured by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Lancet Psychiatry, and NPR, which named him a “kale evangelist.”, the Today Show, BBC and TEDx. He is the author of three books: Eat Complete: The 21 Nutrients that Fuel Brain Power, Boost Weight Loss and Transform Your Health, 50 Shades of Kale, and The Happiness Diet. His e-course, Eat To Beat Depression, helps people maximize their brain health with every bite. 

He splits his time between New York City and rural Indiana where he lives with his wife, children and parents on his 127 acre organic farm.

Dr Richard’s lifetime struggles with stress and sleeplessness led to his accidental confirmation of the relaxing benefits of ASMR.  His journey to understand ASMR includes being co-author of the first ASMR brain scan study, coordinator of the largest ASMR database, author of the book ‘Brain Tingles’, founder of the website ‘ASMR University’, host of the ASMR podcast ‘Sleep Whispers’, and consultant for the first ASMR Super Bowl commercial.  His interest in ASMR has resulted in interviews with The Today Show, New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, Women’s Health, NPR, NBC, ABC, Fox, CBS, and CNET.  He is currently a Professor of Physiology at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA.

Rodney Robinson is a 19-year teaching veteran. He became a teacher to honor his mother, who struggled to receive an education after being denied an education as a child due to segregation and poverty in rural Virginia. In 2015, Robinson started teaching at Virgie Binford Education Center, a school inside the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center, in an effort to better understand the school-to-prison pipeline.  

Robinson uses the whole child approach to education to help the students who are most vulnerable. His classroom is a collaborative partnership between himself and his students and is anchored in him providing a civic centered education that promotes social-emotional growth. Robinson uses the knowledge he has gained from his students to develop alternative programs to prevent students from entering the school-to-prison pipeline.   

Robinson has been published three times by Yale University and has received numerous awards for his accomplishments in and out of the classroom, most notably the R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence.  He is a member of Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s Education Compact Team, which includes politicians, educators, business leaders, and community leaders, and is working with city leaders and local colleges to recruit underrepresented male teachers into the field of education. He has also worked with Pulitzer Award winning author James Foreman on developing curriculum units on race, class, and punishment as a part of the Yale Teacher’s Institute.  

Robinson earned a Bachelor of arts in history from Virginia State University and a master’s in educational administration and supervision from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Past Speakers