Category: Speakers (page 1 of 22)

Charles Grady, The Opioid Crisis in Connecticut, February 27, 2019

Charles Grady will speak on the opioid crisis in Connecticut. In his talk entitled “The FBI in Connecticut: an Overview and the Opioid Crisis in Our State,” he will focus on various programs and initiatives of the FBI and speak to the issues facing Connecticut relative to its opioid crisis. Charles, born in New Haven, became a police officer in 1982. He was the first African-American motorcycle officer in the Hamden Police Department and its first African-American detective. In 2002, he retired after a highly decorated career as a detective and federal task officer assigned to the Connecticut State Police Narcotics Unit, DEA and FBI joint task force, as well as being deputized by the U.S. Marshals Service. The primary focus of his career has been in narcotics violations and narcotics-related homicides. Charles also is a professional musician and an accomplished stage, television and film actor, appearing in shows such as “Guiding Light,” “All My Children” and “Law and Order.” After his retirement, he spent seven years as an internal audit investigator for a Fortune 500 company. In 2009, he returned to government service as the first ever internal investigator for the Connecticut U.S. Attorney’s office and, in 2012, helped launch the governor’s anti-gun violence program called “Project Longevity” in New Haven and subsequently in Bridgeport. In 2015, he was chosen as the first FBI Community Outreach specialist for Connecticut, in which capacity he educates community members, law enforcement and judicial members on ways to build a safer and more tolerant community.

Arranged by Sunil Saksena

Kevin Gutzman, Thomas Jefferson, February 20, 2019

Kevin Gutzman will speak about Thomas Jefferson. Although remembered as the third president of the United States and chief author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson also was something more: the most successful constructive statesman in American history. He had radical plans to republicanize America and, working with remarkable success, to implement them.  Born into a monarchical society, Jefferson turned his great intellect and energy to making it highly egalitarian. Much of what we take for granted about America now was originally Jefferson’s idea.  It is a fascinating story. Kevin is The New York Times bestselling author of five books. He is professor and former chairman of the Department of History at Western Connecticut State University and a faculty member at His articles have appeared in The Journal of Southern History, Journal of the Early Republic, The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, The Review of Politics and Journal of the Historical Society. He holds a bachelor’s degree, a master of public affairs degree and a law degree from the University of Texas, Austin, as well as an M.A. and a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Virginia.

Arranged by Sunil Saksena

Howard Blackiston, The Vanishing Honeybee, February 13, 2019

Howard Blackiston will speak on the vanishing honey bee. The sweet reward of fresh honey is not, by any means, the only reason folks are attracted to beekeeping. The value of bees as pollinators is immense: One-third of all the food we eat would suffer dire consequences if the honey bee vanished. Howard’s talk will introduce us to the multitude of benefits these creatures bring to our everyday lives, the pleasures of beekeeping and the amazing social structure of a colony of bees.  Discover what goes on inside a bee colony and understand why bees are vanishing and what you can do to reverse the situation. Howard is the author of Beekeeping for Dummies. This is the number one bestselling book on the subject and is one of the top titles in the For Dummies series of reference books. He has been a back yard beekeeper for 35 years and has written hundreds of articles and appeared in dozens of TV programs and radio shows, including the Discovery Channel, CNBC, Sirius XM Radio, Cablevision and NPR. His publications have been translated into 16 languages. He is past president of the Connecticut Back Yard Beekeepers Association.

Arranged by Sunil Saksena

Philip Vitiello, White Star Line’s Olympic Class Ships, February 6, 2019

Philip Vitiello will speak on the White Star Line’s Olympic Class Ships, Olympic, Titanic and Britannic. Almost everyone knows the story of the Titanic, which, while on her maiden voyage to New York in 1912, hit an iceberg and sank, causing the loss of 1,500 passengers and crew.  However, few people realize that the Titanic actually was the second of three super ships built in the Olympic Class for the White Star Line to compete for the Atlantic-crossing passenger trade.  At the time, these three ships were claimed to be the largest ever built. This PowerPoint presentation tells the incredible and tragic story of these three historical ships and what eventually happened to them. Included in the story is the amazing life of Violet Constance Jessop, who, ironically, sailed on all three of these ships as a stewardess and then as a nurse during World War I. Philip is the director of operations of Northeast Food Marketing in Stamford. Hehas been a Civil War historian and re-enactor for more than 40 years and the vice president of the Civil War Round Table of South Central Connecticut. He is a member of the Titanic Historical Society, as well as The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery. He previously delivered two other DMA presentations on Joshua Chamberlain, the Civil War general and on the Hunley, a Civil War submarine.

Arranged by Andre Guilbert

Steven Roach, China: Trade War to Cold War, January 30, 2019

Steve Roach will speak on China: Trade War to Cold War. He is a senior fellow at Yale’s Jackson Institute of Global Affairs and a senior lecturer at Yale’s School of Management. He formerly was chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia and the firm’s chief economist for the bulk of his 30-year career at Morgan Stanley, heading up a highly regarded team of economists around the world and currently focusing on the impact of Asia on the broader global economy. He has introduced courses on “The Next China” and “The Lessons of Japan.” His writing and research address globalization, trade policy, the post-crisis policy architecture and the capital markets implications of global imbalances. Steve has long been one of Wall Street’s most influential economists, and his opinions on the global economy have been known to shape the policy debate from Beijing to Washington, D.C. His new book, Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China, examines the risks and opportunities of what is likely to be the world’s most important economic relationship of the 21st century. Steve served on the research staff of the Federal Reserve Board and also was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from New York University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Investment Committee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the China Advisory Board of the Environmental Defense Fund and the Economics Advisory Board of the University of Wisconsin.

Arranged by Sunil Saksena


Video of presentation:

Flemming Heilmann, Odyssey Uncharted, January 23, 2019

Flemming Heilmann discusses Odyssey Uncharted, a memoir of his World War II childhood and education on four continents. His is a coming-of-age story against a backdrop of historical events and is shaped by immersion in the cultures of Southeast Asia, Australia, Denmark and England. Flemming was born in 1936 of Danish parents in what then was known as Malaya. Spending his early childhood there, he was forced by the Japanese invasion to evacuate to Australia in 1941. The family spent the war as refugees. When the war ended in Europe, and prior to Japanese capitulation, the family traveled home to Denmark on a troopship, evading kamikaze attacks in the Pacific. Flemming’s education spanned Australia, Denmark and the United Kingdom, where he spent four years at Gresham, a boarding school where he instigated a successful mutiny against a tyrannical headmaster, resulting in his being ousted. Vacations were spent in Malaya surviving terrorist attacks, meeting the King of Swaziland and confronting apartheid in South Africa. He graduated from Cambridge with a law degree. The memoir covers his life through his first job at age 22. After a 40-year career as an international business executive, Flemming now is retired and lives with his wife Judy in Rowayton. They have four sons, a daughter and nine grandsons.

Arranged by Sunil Saksena

Odyssey Uncharted – a World War II Childhood Adventure and Education Wrapped in mid-20th Century History by [Heilmann, Flemming]

A yarn about Flemming’s itinerant World War II childhood and education in British colonial Malaya. The book leaps into a roiled global environment, which forces risky decisions and navigation of uncharted waters, sink or swim.

Imminent Japanese invasion plucks the frail five-year-old Flemming out of his environment within the bosom of benign Muslim culture on a Malayan rubber plantation, where his father is in charge of a Danish owned group of properties. Abdul Rahman is his Malay mentor, whose daughter, Fatima, is his beloved playmate. Alongside his brother, John, and mother, Hedde, he waves his father a fearful, tearful farewell in a monsoon deluge as an evacuation vessel inches sideways from its Singapore dock through the gloom. They are refugees headed for unknown Australia, while his father, known as PB, stays at his job managing the plantations until he too must flee. Eventually, PB escapes with newfound friends on a river steamer stolen in Singapore Harbor, to reach Perth via the Indonesian archipelago after months of naked peril. The family is reassembled for years of refugee life assuaged by generous Australians.

Peace in Europe prompts another perilous odyssey, evading kamikaze attacks in the Pacific, and returns the family to Europe before the Japanese capitulate. As Hedde returns to Malaya to join PB, her religious conviction consigns Flemming to an evangelical school in otherwise secular Denmark. Beyond reach of missionaries, he sinks roots into Danish culture, observing its socialist embrace of Janteloven – a Nordic egalitarian dogma, which scorns individualism and personal achievement. Upon a return visit to his parents in Malaya, he survives a communist insurgent attack on the plantation homestead, and then soaks up the eclectic folklore, colors, sounds and smells of the country. PB’s pragmatic leadership and grasp of risk make a deep impression.

In England, Flemming at last spent four years at Gresham’s School after attending nine different schools in eight years of frenetic change. He embraces western democracy with a dash of Danish egalitarianism and a heavier dose of market economics gleaned from his teacher and mentor, Eric Kelly. Sports become a priority. He gets to appreciate America’s role in the post-war global recovery and sees its economic engine driving social and technological progress. A long vacation exposes him to South Africa’s early apartheid and an encounter with Swaziland’s King Sobhuza, resplendent in leopard skins and eagle feathers. Back at school in England he leads a precocious mutiny, unseating the perverse headmaster.

Years in the academic cocoon that is Cambridge University are stimulating, yet sometimes frivolous. Preconceptions are reversed, religion rejected, government intervention in personal choice is confronted. Policies of entitlement, and the dependence they foster, are questioned as Flemming focuses on opportunity and self help. New career aspirations are hatched. The sway of teaching masterminds on this unexceptional student inevitably molds a solid intellectual footing. Life is replete with social events and rugby. The traditions, scenery and architecture of this ancient crucible of learning are soaked up. Finally, two years of hands-on training in the grimy industrial heartland of Britain help prepare Flemming for the real world. The yarn concludes as he disembarks in Cape Town to plunge into an uncharted career in the African hinterland beyond Table Mountain’s purple silhouette. There he will either sink or swim.

An epilogue visits lessons learned from an itinerant childhood and realities encountered. They pertain to issues like religion, sociopolitical dogma, family structure, waste and the role of risk in mankind’s progress – issues given short shrift in today’s classrooms, where preconceptions, risk aversion and instant gratification displace the recognition of opportunity.

Video of presentation:

Andrew Wilk, Live from Lincoln Center, January 16, 2019


Andrew Wilk,executive producer and director of the PBS series “Live from Lincoln Center,” will talk about his long career in broadcast entertainment, with particular focus on the last seven years with the Lincoln Center series. Andrew is an experienced television and media executive with a history of creating innovative, award-winning programming. His work has earned five personal Emmy Awards with 15 nominations. He also is an acclaimed playwright, director and accomplished symphony conductor. He was chief creative officer at Sony Music Entertainment, overseeing visual content for Sony’s label groups and leading Sony’s digital music expansion. He was instrumental in the launching of the worldwide National Geographic channel and developed its initial programming. In 2011, Andrew became the second executive producer and director in the 44-year history of “Live from Lincoln Center” and “Lincoln Center at the Movies.” Andrew holds a bachelor’s degree from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. He and his family live in Westport.

Arranged by Bud Bain

Bill Rycek, History of Football, January 9, 2019

Bill Rycek will talk about the history of semipro and pro football in Connecticut. This narrative of minor league football teams in Connecticut in the 1960s and 1970s is based on extensive newspaper and periodical research and interviews with nearly 70 former players, broadcasters and journalists. Only a few players – like Marv Hubbard, Lou Piccone and Bob Tucker – made it to the NFL, but many more played for as little as $25 per game in their quest to make it big or just have fun. Wealthy men like Pete Savin and Frank D’Addario owned teams in Hartford and Bridgeport. In the days before cable television saturated the media with live sports, small town fans turned out to support their local heroes, often men who worked on construction crews during the week and stopped by the diner Sunday morning to talk football. Now in their 60s, 70s and 80s, these men share their stories of a simpler era: the good times, like the Hartford Knights’ 1968 ACFL championship season and the long bus rides and missed paydays that were as much a part of minor league ball as first downs and interceptions. Bill is a finance professional from Wallingford who has written eight books on sports history, including a trilogy on 19th century baseball, three books on baseball during the 1960s and two books on professional football in the 1960s. His work has earned a number of awards, and he has edited and contributed to other books and publications on the history of sports.

Arranged by Gehr Brown

Video of presentation:

Mark Albertson, The Rise of Hitler, January 2, 2019

Mark Albertson will speak on “The Rise of Hitler.” Mark is an exciting speaker who has spoken to us before on historical topics. 
He is the historical research editor at ArmyAviation magazine and is a long-time member of the United States Naval Institute. 
In addition, Mark teaches history at Norwalk Community College. His courses include World War I and Iraq; Creation of Colonialism; A History of Vietnam; A History of World War I; the Turning Points of World War II; the Great Patriotic War, the Titanic Clash between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union; and American Empire, Grand Republic to Corporate State. 
In May 2005, Mark was presented with a General Assembly Citation by both houses of the state legislature in Hartford for his effort in commemorating the centennial of the battleship Connecticut.


Video of presentation:


Frank Sparks, M.D.:“How the Great Pyramid Was Really Built (It’s Not Like You Think)”, December 19, 2018

Frank Sparks, M.D., will speak on “How the Great Pyramid Was Really Built (It’s Not Like You Think).” His talk will debunk the popularly held belief promoted by egyptologists that the Great Pyramid was made from perfectly quarried 2.5-ton limestone blocks that were then lifted to the top of the pyramid and became the tallest building in the world upon its completion 4,800 years ago. In the past 30 years, electron microscopy has shown that the pyramid “stones” are manmade blocks of limestone in the form of a polymer that contain chemicals not found in any of the limestone in the world. What actually happened was that the Nile-flooded limestone was easily raked apart; it was carried up to the pyramid in baskets where chemicals were added; and the contents were dumped into molds that then set within 24 hours. Professor Hobbs of MIT says this has been repeated worldwide, making this approach a fact, not a theory. Dr. Sparks is a resident of New Canaan, where he lives in retirement with his wife Michelle. They have six daughters and 10 grandchildren. He received a B.S. and M.D. from Northwestern University and an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Connecticut. He was a surgeon at the National Cancer Institute and also at NYU, UCLA and UConn, where he was both a surgeon and professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery. He has authored 79 peer-reviewed papers and more than 100 abstracts and has received $1.6 million in research grants. His background in chemistry and physics led to his interest in how the Great Pyramid was built.

Arranged by Sunil Saksena

Video of talk:

Aleksandr Troyb: “Myths about immigration rules”, December 12, 2018

Aleksandr Troyb will discuss the commonly held myths regarding immigration rules as they exist today. His talk will draw on his experience as a practicing immigration attorney advising individuals, as well as corporations, with their immigration issues. He also will discuss aspects of the “Gang of 8”immigration bill, which passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis a few years ago but never was taken up by the House, as well as the outlines of the immigration proposals being discussed by the Trump administration. Alex is an attorney practicing with the law firm of Benjamin, Gold & Troyb, P.C. in Stamford, where he advises clients on various aspects of immigration law and regulations. He is licensed to practice in Connecticut and New York courts, as well as the Federal District Court for the District of Connecticut. Alex serves as a committee co-chair of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, where he previously served as the chapter chair and member of the National Board of Governors. In addition, Alex serves as treasurer on the Executive Committee of the Fairfield County Bar Association, where he also serves as a committee co-chair.

Arranged by Sunil Saksena

Speaker video:

David McKillop:“Ten Pillars of Programming”, December 5, 2018

David McKillop will talk about “Ten Pillars of Programming.” It’s a personal look as to how nonfiction TV shows, such as reality series and documentaries, are developed inside a network. It includes insights into how to develop, nurture and grow creative teams within a traditional corporate environment. David is a seasoned American producer who has developed and delivered popular cable hits on three networks: A&E, History and Discovery. David most recently served as chief creative officer and partner of Propagate, a multiplatform production company funded by A&E Network. Prior to this, he was general manager of A&E Network, where he was instrumental in the development and production of the Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning feature documentary “Cartel Land,” cable’s most-watched nonfiction series of all time “Duck Dynasty” and the record-breaking hit series “Storage Wars.” Earlier in his career, he was vice president of production for Discovery Channel and then senior vice president at the History channel. His credits include the Emmy award-winning documentaries “Gettysburg” and “102 Minutes that Changed America.”

Arranged by Sunil Saksena

Speaker video:

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