Category: Past Speakers (page 1 of 15)

January 18, 2017
Dave Shafer
Photographer and humorist
A Humorous Guide to Better Photography

Dave Shafer

Dave Shafer

Dave Shafer, a local photographer and internationally recognized designer of optical systems, will present “A Humorous Guide to Better Photography.”

Asked to describe his talk, Dave said, “When Snow White sent her film to be developed, she said, ‘Someday my prints will come.’ ” He noted that times have changed. Film is gone now, and we need to refresh our picture-taking skills. The most valuable asset in photography is your eye, not the camera. He will show ways to improve your photos by using some classic methods about picture composition. Many examples will include visual humor. If you have not taken any pictures since your old Brownie camera, you still can enjoy the stories in his talk.

His main claim to being a humorist is that after 51 years of marriage, he still can make his wife laugh. But that is only half of Dave’s story. He has spent the last 50 years designing camera lenses, telescopes and microscopes and now operates a one-man optical design and consulting firm. All of today’s state-of-the-art computer chips for cell phones, computers and tablets are made using a unique optical system invented by Dave 10 years ago. He has more than 125 patents for optical designs. One of his unusual telescopes went to Saturn a few years ago aboard the Cassini spacecraft. Another device took photos of the asteroid Vesta. And a spacecraft using his telescope was launched with the goal of landing on a comet. He also designed a specialized stereo-viewing device for Salvador Dali.

Arranged by Tom Lom

Dave slides are at A Humorous Guide to Better Photography

January 11, 2017
Ed “Skip” McLaughlin, and
Wyn Lydecker
Starting and Building Your Own Business

Ed McLaughlin

Ed McLaughlin

Ed McLaughlin and Wyn Lydecker will talk about becoming an entrepreneur: how to start, fund and grow the right business.

Co-authors of the book The Purpose Is Profit: The Truth about Starting and Building Your Own Business, they will discuss why distinctive competence trumps passion when starting a business. They also will talk about where to get funding without losing control and why a startup should factor profit into every business decision.

Over the years, Ed “Skip” McLaughlin founded four businesses and today runs Blue Sunsets LLC, a real estate and agent investment firm. His first business grew into an Inc. magazine 500 company that later was sold to a Fortune 100 company, where Skip became CEO of Global Workplace Business for the Americas. He was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 2001. He is a member of the Tufts Medical Center board of governors, where he founded the David E. Wazer Breast Cancer Research Fund.

Skip graduated from College of the Holy Cross and is a member of the board of trustees. He lives with his wife in Connecticut, has three adult children and is active in philanthropy.

Wyn Lydecker

Wyn Lydecker

Wyn Lydecker is founder of Upstart Business Planning and works with entrepreneurs to develop plans that answer the questions investors ask most often. Previously, she was managing director of Business Plan International in New York City and co-director of the Small Business Resource Center, Norwalk Community College. Wyn has a B.A. in economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an M.B.A. in finance and marketing from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She helped found the nonprofit At Home in Darien and serves on the board. Wyn lives in Connecticut with her husband and has two adult children.

Arranged by Tom Lom


January 4, 2017
Michael Nyenhuis
President and CEO of AmeriCares

Michael J, Nyenthuis

Michael J, Nyenthuis

Michael J. Nyenthuis, president and chief executive officer of Americares, one of the country’s foremost disaster-relief non-profit organizations, will talk about distributing $500 million a year in donated medicines and medical supplies to people around the world who otherwise would not get treatment.

Michael leads a global health and emergency response organization that increases access to medical care in more than 90 countries, including the United States, El Salvador, India, Liberia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sierra Leone and Tanzania, plus free health clinics in Connecticut. Americares helps local health workers do their job better: Through the effective use of technology, the organization helps get medicine and supplies to the right place at the right time.

Michael is a global health professional with 20 years of experience who previously served as president and chief executive officer of MAP International. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, and an M.B.A. from Emory University.

Thanks to Bob Baylis.

December 28, 2016
No Meeting
Holiday Break

We wish you a wonderful holiday!

December 21, 2016
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal
Key issues facing our state and country

Senator Richard Blumenthal

Senator Richard Blumenthal

Richard Blumenthal, United States Senator for Connecticut, serving his first term, will talk about the key issues facing the state and the country.

Previously, he served five terms as Connecticut’s attorney general where his law enforcement for consumer protection, environmental stewardship, labor rights and personal privacy helped reshape the role of state attorney general’s nationwide. As attorney general he advocated for reforms in health insurance and worked to eradicate corruption in state government. He fought unfair utility rate charges and air pollution causing acid rain.

From 1977 to 1981, he served as a U.S. attorney for Connecticut. He also served in the Connecticut House of Representatives from 1984 to 1987 and the Connecticut State Senate from 1987 to 1990.

Senator Blumenthal graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal. He served in the United States Marine Corps Reserves from 1970 to 1976 and was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant.

Arranged by Bob Fiske

December 14, 2016
Jon Zagrodzky, Chairman,
Darien Board of Finance

Jon Zagrodsky

Board of Finance Chairman Jon Zagrodzky (image from Darien TV79 video)

Jon Zagrodzky, chairman of the Town of Darien Board of Finance, will summarize his comments to the December 12, 2016, State of the Town meeting.  That meeting covers key town financial issues, including the outlook for the 2018-2019 budget process, which starts in January, and the possible impact of Hartford’s difficult financial situation on the Town of Darien.

The elected seven-member Board of Finance is responsible for the town’s $130 million annual budget. Jon also serves as a member of the Darien Town and Police Pension boards and was president of the Darien Historical Society from 2011-2015. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Forman School, a Litchfield (Connecticut) high school that specializes in children with learning differences.

Jon is a managing director of Oak Hill Capital Partners and serves as chief administrative officer and chief compliance officer. He is responsible for finance, operations, human resources, administration, information technology and business planning.

Prior to joining Oak Hill, he was an associate principal and director of financial planning and analysis at McKinsey & Company.

He earned a B.A. degree in economics and romance languages from Washington & Lee University and an M.B.A. degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Arranged by Tom Lom

December 7, 2016
Sylvia Reiss
The stone walls of Connecticut

Connecticut stone wallSylvia Reiss will talk about “Our Amazing Stone Walls: What They Are and Where They Are.”

A local resident, stone wall enthusiast and historian, Sylvia will present a fascinating, educational and amusing look at these historical structures. Stone walls are the signature archaeological legacy of Darien and New England itself. They can be seen along roadsides, far into the woods, across back yards and between houses. The stone walls delineate and define northeastern America as surely as the Appian Way says Italy or the Great Wall says China.

Darien is fortunate to have within its 23.4 square-miles many miles of these walls that have for centuries characterized our town’s agrarian heritage. It is the story of millions of fieldstones, tossed, stacked and laid; of single walls, double walls capped or coped; of rare walls and mysteries that will be revealed during Sylvia’s presentation.

Sylvia Reiss is a former teacher, retired antiques dealer, past president of the Antiques Council, and tag-along historian with her husband Ken Reiss, who is the Darien Historical Society’s historian.

Arranged by Tom Haacke

November 30, 2016
Art Gottlieb
Was Hiroshima Necessary?

Art Gottlieb

Art Gottlieb

Art Gottlieb, a local historian on political and military history, will talk on whether the use of the atomic bomb was justified in order to bring the war in the Pacific to a speedier conclusion.

Art is a professional curator of naval history and Technical Director of Exhibits at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City. He has worked with veterans of all services creating exhibits accurately, illustrating the history of 20th-century warfare and has helped recover scores of artifacts from warships slated for demolition.

He coordinates with all branches of the armed services to preserve historic ships, aircraft and armor from around the world. Art also serves as a counselor and certified senior advisor in Norwalk, Conn.

He uses his professional talents to address the needs of aging veterans and their families and offers pro bono counseling services to soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

He served as an auxiliary officer of the United States Coast Guard for 17 years and, for four years, was commander of Flotilla 7-2, 1st District (Southern Region), Sector Long Island Sound North.

Arranged by Tom Lom.

November 23, 2016
No Meeting
Thanksgiving Break

We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

November 16, 2016
Frederic Chiu
Renowned Concert Pianist

Frederic Chiu

Frederic Chiu

Frederic Chiu will talk about his life as a pianist. His intriguing piano-playing and teaching springs from a diverse set of experiences and interests that include his Asian/American/European background and his musical training that he has combined with an early and ongoing exploration of artificial intelligences and human psychology, especially the body-mind-hearts connection.

With over 25 CDs, his repertoire includes the complete works of Prokofiev and popular classics of Chopin, Liszt, Mendelssohn and Rossini. His work has been recognized by Stereo Review, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

Chiu has toured Europe and the United States appearing with world renowned orchestras in prestigious halls such as the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and the Koi and Suntory Halls in Tokyo.

His most recent releases are entitled “Distant Voices” and “Hymns & Dervishes.” On his 50th birthday he hopes to have completed performances in 50 of the United States.

Arranged by Tom Lom

A brief video of Chiu playing the piano can be seen by clicking on the image below.



November 9, 2016
Dr. Arash Salardini
Assistant Professor of Neurology
Yale Medical School

Dr. Arash Salardini

Dr. Arash Salardini

Dr. Arash Salardini, Assistant Professor Of Neurology, Yale Medical School and co-director, Yale Memory Clinic, will talk about dementia, the degree to which it is preventable or reversible, and the results of the latest Alzheimer’s research, including the use of brain imaging to study the disease.

He is currently the associate leader of the clinical core of the Alzheimer Disease Research Center at Yale where he sees patients who have problems with thinking, understanding, learning and remembering due to neurodegenerative and other neurological causes. His work has been widely published both in the United States and internationally. He is editor of the text book The Hospital Neurology Book to be published this year by McGraw-Hill.

Dr. Salardini received his medical degree in 1999 from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia where he developed his interest in neurology. In 2007, he began a two year fellowship in movement disorder at Yale, and then completed a residency at the University of Florida under the noted neurologist Dr. Kenneth Heilman. He returned to Yale to complete a two year fellowship in behavioral neurology and neuropsychiatry under the nationally prominent research neurologist Dr. Stephen Strittmatter.

November 2, 2016
Tom Molito, Author
Mickey Mantle: Inside and Outside the Lines


Tom Molito will talk about his book, Mickey Mantle: Inside and Outside the Lines, that was written for baseball lovers and Mantle fans. Archival newspaper articles, websites and more than 35 books on Mantle are used to weave the most complete, unique look at an American icon. The book recalls never-before-told stories: from Park Avenue to Las Vegas to Cooperstown; from television shoots to concerts and Mickey’s restaurant on Central Park West.

This year is the 60th anniversary of Mantle’s Triple Crown season, which many baseball experts consider one of the best seasons ever for a ball player. Although baseball fans who experienced that season are decreasing in number, Mickey Mantle is more popular than ever. The value of his memorabilia is second to none. He remains respected and admired for the redemptive quality of his life.

Mickey Mantle and Tom Molito

Mickey Mantle and Tom Molito

Molito collaborated with the highly respected baseball historian Harold “Doc” Friend. The late Mr. Friend wrote for Bleacher Report (CBS) and uncovered previously unknown facts about Mantle’s career – such as Mickey hitting the facade in Yankee Stadium three times, not the reported twice. An entire chapter updates Mantle’s career with present-day statistical measures and comes to the indisputable conclusion that “Mickey Mantle was even better than we thought!”

Tom lives in New Canaan with his wife Kathleen. They have three adult children, four grandchildren and will soon celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. A graduate of Iona College and a U.S. Army veteran, Tom served in senior marketing positions at both Nestle and UST Inc. where he founded and was president of a wholly owned subsidiary, Cabin Fever Entertainment. He met Mickey Mantle as a result of Cabin Fever’s award winning production of the 500 Home Run Club. Tom’s relationship with Mickey Mantle developed into a friendship and eventually the book that is available at leading booksellers.

Tom has served on the boards of The Country Music Association and Family Services of Westchester. He was very involved in the Children’s Program at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. His talk will include an exhibit featuring Mickey Mantle by various artists.

Arranged by Alex Garnett

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