Category: Past Speakers (page 1 of 20)

Sandra Miklave & Johnathan Yates: History of the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra, Sep 19, 2018

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Sandra Miklave and Jonathan Yates will talk about the history of the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra, including an overview of the upcoming 79th season. They will also discuss the orchestra’s educational outreach programs and provide a view of its future. Sandra joined the orchestra in April 2018 as executive director. She also serves as board chair of Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk. Sandra has been a museum volunteer since 1998 and a board member since 2004. Sandra is a leader in the Norwalk community, serving as an officer or volunteer on many local educational and community organizations. She earned her B.A. in political science and economics at Manhattanville College and her master’s degree in organizational leadership at Quinnipiac University. She lives in Norwalk with her husband Matt and their three sons. Jonathan Yates, music director, Norwalk Symphony Orchestra, is a driving force in reinvigorating the relationship between the symphony and the community. He revived the popular (Not) Just For Kids educational outreach program and collaborates with local cultural, religious and civic organizations. His first performance was at the age of 23, leading the National Symphony Orchestra in a Millennium Stages Concert. The following year, he debuted at Carnegie Hall as a pianist in the Isaac Stern Chamber Music Workshop. He has led the Norwalk Youth Symphony on successful tours in this country and abroad. Jonathan received his B.A. degree from Harvard University, his M.S. degree from the State University of New York and his graduate diploma in conducting from the Juilliard School. He is music director emeritus of Camerata Notturna, a chamber orchestra in New York City, and serves on the faculty of Sarah Lawrence College.


Arranged by Bob McGroarty

Bruce Wilson:The Conversation – an antidote to fake news, Sep 12, 2108

Bruce Wilson will share with us why The Conversation is now viewed as an antidote to fake news and has become a key provider of content to help stem the decline of the U.S. media industry. Bruce is co-CEO of The Conversation, a new nonprofit news platform to counter the complete disarray undermining the ability of the public to get information from a trustworthy source since experts barely exist in newsrooms and objective journalists are a dying breed. Like most startups, The Conversation launched with a small editorial staff of seven and was largely supported by leading foundations like Ford, Gates and Sloan. Now there are 17 editors and more than 50 universities, like Michigan University and Tufts, supporting the mission. What makes it unique is the breadth and depth of its reporters, who are all leading academics with deep expertise in their area of research. In the few short years since its launch, The Conversation has worked with 1,400+ academics from top universities from coast to coast. News outlets serving liberal and conservative audiences, like The Washington Post,, the Chicago Tribune, Scientific American and The Associated Press, regularly republish articles from The Conversation, generating in excess of 9 million readers a week. Bruce has Darien roots.

Arranged by Robin Hogen

Jim Bell: Pyeongchang Games in South Korea, Sep 5, 2018

Jim Bell will discuss the historic Pyeongchang Games in South Korea, as well as the preparations for the Tokyo Summer Games in 2020 along with reflections on NBC’s long affiliation with the Olympic Games. Jim is president, NBC Olympics Production & Programming. He oversees all the day-to-day editorial production and programming aspects of NBC’s Olympics coverage of the Games, as well as the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, an International Olympic Committee, U.S. Olympic Committee and NBC partnership. He also is executive producer of Telemundo World Cup, for which he oversaw the Spanish-language network’s first-ever coverage of the event earlier this year. The Pyeongchang Winter Games marked Jim’s 12 th Olympics with NBC. He is in his second stretch with NBS Sports, as he rejoined following seven years as executive producer of the “Today Show.” Jim also has produced NBC broadcasts of the NFL, MLB and NBA and won an Emmy for the 1997 NBA finals and 1998 Wimbledon tennis. He is a 1989 cum laude graduate of Harvard, where he was an All-Ivy defensive tackle and a member of the 1987 Ivy Championship team. Jim and his wife Angelique and their four sons live in Greenwich.
Arranged by Bud Bain

Joe Holmes and the DMA Songsters, May 30, 2018

Joe Holmes and the Songsters will entertain us with their melodious music as has been the tradition
these many years.


Ray Osborne, Chief of Police, May 9, 2018

Chief of Police Raymond Osborne will speak on the current law enforcement trends we are seeing in Darien, as well as new developments and trends in law enforcement in general. He was inducted as a police officer in Darien in 1983. Prior to being sworn in as Darien’s 10th chief of police in 2016, he held positions of detective, sergeant, lieutenant and captain. He is a member of the Darien Police SCUBA team, the South West Regional Response Team’s Hostage Negotiation Team and the Darien Police School Security Committee. Chief Osborne has a master’s degree in criminal justice from Iona College and currently is an adjunct faculty member at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport.


Terrie Wood will discuss key legislation passed in this latest session and also will talk about the state budget. May 16, 2018

She has served as State Representative from the 141st district (Darien and Norwalk) since 2009 and is currently ranking member on the Executive Nominations Committee and a member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee and the Human Services Committee. In 2013, she served as co-chair of the Mental Health Working Group of the Gun Violence and School Security bill passed after the Sandy Hook school massacre. She was instrumental in crafting and implementing the Mental Health portion of the bill along with her co-chair Sen. Toni Harp, now mayor of New Haven. She also served as co-chair of the MORE Commission Working Group on Special Education in 2013-2014.

Terrie is past president of the Darien Land Trust, founder and first chairman of the Darien Environmental Group, past trustee of the Darien Library, The Community Fund, an ABC Host family and current member of CT Advisory Board of The Trust for Public Land. In addition, she was co-chair of YES…DHS! a political action committee dedicated to passing a referendum to promote the building of a new high school. A former commercial/voiceover actor in New York and professional portrait photographer, she is a graduate of Rollins College with a degree in art history.

A 39-year resident of Darien and four years in Rowayton, Terrie is married to Jay Wood, a third-generation Darienite. They have three children, all graduates of Darien High School, and are EMT members of Post 53.

Terrie handed out the executive summary of the Connecticut Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth. Here is the full report:


Hon. Barbara Bellis, Superior Court Judge, to speak May 2, 2018

Hon. Barbara Bellis, a judge with the Superior Court in Bridgeport since 2003, will talk about how the court resolves civil and criminal cases on Wednesday, May 2, 2018, at the Darien Men’s Association (DMA).

Judge Bellis will explain how cases are handled from filing to disposition, the difference between civil and criminal cases, and how the court responds to self-represented individuals.

She is a graduate of Boston College and the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law.


Patrick Houlihan,
State of Play: Major League Baseball in 2018,
Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Patrick Houlihan will speak on the “State of Play: Major League baseball in 2018,” including the current state of the game and recent changes plus trends on and off the field. He is vice president and deputy general counsel in the Labor Relations Department in the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball in New York. Patrick represents the Commissioner’s Office and the 30 major league clubs in all matters involving the Major League Baseball Players Association that is the labor union representing all 40-man roster players. Patrick’s work focuses on player discipline; representative of the Commissioner’s Office and Clubs in grievance hearings; salary arbitration; player pension and welfare benefits; revenue sharing; player health and safety; drug testing; and other matters involving the interpretation and application of the collective bargaining agreement or the Major League Rules.

Before joining the Commissioner’s Office in September 2012, Patrick spent seven years as an associate with the law firm of Williams & Connolly, LLP in Washington, D.C. Patrick also was previously an adjunct professor at his alma mater, Georgetown University Law Center, where he taught a sports law course for several years.

Arranged by John Schlachtenhaufen

Damian Rossney and Billy Seales,
Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison,
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hudson Link, a privately funded non-profit corporation, organizes college degree programs in six New York State prisons. Several years ago, Sean Pica, Executive Director of this amazing program, came to give us an overview of the organization, its successes and its challenges, and his own experience in the prison education system. His presentation was followed by a very successful clothing drive for recently released program graduates.


On April 18, we will hear from two Hudson Link representatives, Damian Rossney and Billy Seales. While incarcerated, both of these men earned college degrees. Billy, in fact, earned three! They will give us an update on Hudson Link’s expansion since Sean was with us, with particular focus on new initiatives designed to assist program alumni when they come home from prison.


Damian runs Hudson Link’s recently launched New Beginnings Program, which will offer Hudson Link graduates transitional housing and other assistance vital to a successful re-entry into society. Billy has been home for just 11 months and will share his very recent experience dealing with the challenges faced by all returning from prison – even those returning with a college degree.


Their talk will be followed up with another clothing drive. As you can imagine, for someone who has been wearing prison greens for years, proper civilian clothing is a must and is sorely needed. (New York, which is not atypical, gives a released inmate only $40 and a bus ticket home.) This year’s drive will take place on Wednesday, May 2. Just bring those gently worn items (suits, ties, shirts, pants, sweaters, coats, etc.) that’s been clogging up your closet to the DCA parking lot before our meeting on May 2; a Hudson Link van will be waiting to take it to the Hudson Link office in Ossining, where it will be Ossining office where it will change someone’s life. It will be much appreciated!



Ambassador Donald Gregg,
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Ambassador Donald Gregg will speak on the current administration’s challenges due to today’s situation on the Korean peninsula, its impact on neighboring U.S. allies in the Asia Pacific region and what policy options exist for the Trump administration. Donald will share his thinking on the world situation through the lens of his unique background as a top diplomat and intelligence operative.

He graduated from Williams College in 1951 and joined the CIA, where, over the next quarter century, he was assigned to East Asian countries. He was seconded to the National Security Council staff in 1979, where he was in charge of intelligence activities and Asian policy affairs. Upon his retirement from the CIA, he was awarded the Distinguished Intelligence Medal. In 1982, Gregg was asked to be national security advisor by Vice President George W. Bush, and, over six years, traveled to 65 countries. He also served as a professorial lecturer at Georgetown University, teaching a graduate level workshop entitled Force and Diplomacy. In 1989, Gregg began service as the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea. He retired from his 43-year government career in 1993.

Today, he is chairman of the Pacific Century Institute in Los Angeles and chairman emeritus of The Korea Society of New York City. He is actively working to establish normal relations with North Korea and has visited the country six times.

Arranged by Tom Lom


Heather Pech,
Life on the Run,
Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Heather Pech will speak of her experiences running marathons, particularly the recent Boston Marathon, where she won her 55-59 age bracket. Her time was better than 698 other runners in her category. She also will discuss the increased performance by American runners in international competitions and the responsibilities and satisfaction of coaching a group of Darien middle school kids who want to run – they call themselves The Blazers.

After graduation from the University of Minnesota and the Wood Tobe Coburn School, she entered the fashion retail field. Initially, she was with Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. She then joined Jones Apparel Group, culminating in serving as CEO of its Polo Jeans Company and then 9 West. She finished her business career as CEO of Nanette Lepore, a $120 million contemporary fashion designer with multiple locations here and in the U.K.

Heather was born and raised in Darien and still lives here with her three daughters. She continues to be an active runner, clocking 80 to 90 miles a week.

Arranged by Wilder Baker


Update: Heather won her age group again in 2018 Boston Marathon with a time of 3:10:15.


Andy Bramante,
Peak Performance in Teaching Science,
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Andy Bramante, a science teacher at Greenwich High School, will talk about what’s behind the incredible success of his students and how he motivates them to peak performance. Over the last 10 years, more than 30 of Andy’s students have competed in the Intel Science and Engineering Fairs, won six First Place, three Best of Category and two Grand Prize awards. Earlier this year, two of his students were semifinalists in the International Google Science Fair. One won the Grand Prize for designing a low- cost portable test for ebola and received a scholarship of $50,000. Last year, six students were selected as the Regeneron Science Talent Scholars, and two won a $100,000 scholarship. Andy received an M.S. degree in Chemistry from Fordham. Before joining Greenwich High School in 2005, he had an 18-year career as an engineer/scientist in industry and worked for several companies, including Hitachi Instruments and Perkin-Elmer. Throughout this period, he taught chemistry at the college level at Baruch and Sacred Heart universities.

Arranged by Sunil Saksena


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