October 14, 2017 | Florida Theatre

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We, The People, are the thinkers, makers, doers and dreamers. We are the pacifists and the renegades, the mob and the masses.

We are the inheritors of the past and the hope for the future. Ours is the sweat that builds great cities, the blood that secures freedom, and the strength of spirit that seeks life, liberty and justice for all.

We refuse to be defined—we define ourselves. Whether born here, brought here, or drawn here by America’s bright promise, we come to the table of democracy as equals. We possess the same unalienable rights. We are a multitude of voices bearing witness to experiences that are different and unique, finding power in our diversity and common purpose in the struggle to build a more perfect union.

We, The People, control our destiny.

Find your place in We.

Because you belong. And we have work to do.

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SPEAKERS

  • Cynthia Barnett
    Cynthia Barnett
    Rain: A History for Stormy Times
  • Brenda T. Bradley, Ph.D.
    Brenda T. Bradley, Ph.D.
    No Prescription Necessary: How to Make Food Your Medicine
  • Amy Donofrio
    Amy Donofrio
    At-Risk or At-Hope? How We Label Youth Matters
  • Shari Duval
    Shari Duval
    A New Leash on Life for American Veterans
  • Manal Fakhoury, Pharm.D.
    Manal Fakhoury, Pharm.D.
    Defining and Defeating the Opioid Crisis
  • Melanie Flores
    Melanie Flores
    Can You Learn Engineering in Kindergarten?
  • Ellen Freidin
    Ellen Freidin
    Florida Citizens Win Redistricting Wars!
  • Jeff Galloway
    Jeff Galloway
    Move Your Body—Turn On Your Brain!
  • Chris Hand
    Chris Hand
    Citizen: The Most Important Title in American Democracy
  • Chad Houser
    Chad Houser
    Taking Kids Out of Jail, Teaching Them To Play With Knives and Fire
  • Marc Hudson
    Marc Hudson
    Value and Invest in Nature
  • Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa
    Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa
    Healing, Opportunity, Patients, Empowerment
  • Jaimison Sloboden
    Jaimison Sloboden
    Creating People-Safe Roads
Cynthia Barnett
Rain: A History for Stormy Times

After thousands of years spent praying for rain or worshiping it—burning witches at the stake to stop rain or sacrificing small children to bring it; even trying to blast rain out of the sky with mortars meant for war—humanity has finally managed to change the rain. Only not in ways we intended. Changing rainfall patterns are some of the earliest tremors of our warming globe, with wet places getting more deluges, dry ones seared in worsening droughts. Armed with computer models looking forward, Barnett believes there is also much to learn from looking back. Too much and not enough, rain is an experience we share. Barnett argues rain’s history has much to tell us about coming together to live more ethically with water—and adapt to the stormy times ahead. 

Cynthia Barnett is an award-winning journalist who has reported on water and climate worldwide, from the Suwannee River to Singapore. Barnett has written for multiple national publications and is the author of three books on water, including the latest, Rain: A Natural and Cultural History, a finalist for the National Book Award and PEN/E.O. Wilson Award for Literary Science Writing, and named a best book of 2015 by NPR’s Science Friday, the Boston Globe, the Miami Herald and others. Her first book, Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S., won the gold medal for best nonfiction in the Florida Book Awards and was named one of the top 10 books that every Floridian should read. Her second, Blue Revolution, which calls for a new water ethic, was named by The Boston Globe as one of the top 10 U.S. science books of 2011. Barnett holds a B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in environmental history, both from the University of Florida, and spent a year studying freshwater as a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan. She lives with her husband and two teenagers in Gainesville, where she is also Environmental Journalist in Residence at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.

Brenda T. Bradley, Ph.D.
No Prescription Necessary: How to Make Food Your Medicine

Excessive weight and preventable illnesses are crippling our society. Our food supply is unsafe. Every day, people are sick and dying from preventable diseases. More than 80 million people are classified as obese and nearly 90 percent of our children can’t pass a fitness test. After struggling with her own health issues and learning about the body and what it needs to perform optimally, Bradley made the switch to a plant-based diet, a lifestyle she credits with giving her back her life, free from poor health and disease.

Brenda T. Bradley, Ph.D., became a certified health coach because of her passion for healthy eating and living. Determined to break free from the Standard American Diet (SAD), which is known to do more harm than good, she set out on her journey to research food, diseases, health, and fitness. After struggling with her own health goals and learning about what the body needs to perform optimally, she made the switch to a plant-based diet. She credits this diet for helping her not only to lose weight, but also to improve her overall quality of life. In 2016, she developed the 21-Day Vegan Challenge, a vegan-only food program that stresses the healing power of food and how its proper use can restore the body to a natural healthy state. Dr. Bradley’s goal is to inspire others to lead the charge for healthy eating and exercise.

Amy Donofrio
At-Risk or At-Hope? How We Label Youth Matters

As an educator and advocate, Amy Donofrio often gets the same question: How do we reach our at-risk youth? Her answer: We must start by instead viewing youth as at-HOPE. Authentic hope means believing wildly, unconditionally and (at-times) irrationally in an individual’s value and potential. As adults, we can demonstrate this belief in youth through three key actions: building relationships, investing lavishly, and empowering youth to reimagine even their missteps as platform qualifiers rather than permanent disqualifiers of their significance. 

Amy Donofrio is 10-year educator and founder of the EVAC Movement, a crusade of hope co-led by young men she met as students in her leadership class at Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, FL. In 2016, realizing their shared experiences with violence, the justice system and loss, they invited officials to class to collaborate for change. In just over one year and with no formal curriculum, training or funding, they testified at Capitol Hill and the White House, were featured on the front-page of The New York Times, contributed to President Obama’s 2016 Youth Justice Proclamation and won the national Harvard KIND Schools Challenge. Donofrio has a B.A. in English education and an M.A. in literacy education. She began her career as an English teacher in rural Appalachia, urban Cleveland and Trujillo, Peru before moving to Jacksonville in 2012.  She’s unshakeable in her belief that public schools are ground zero for bringing equity, justice, and empowerment to our most at-hope youth. Her hobbies are running, baking and avoiding thinking about being an empty nester when EVAC graduates in 2018.

Shari Duval
A New Leash on Life for American Veterans

Up to one-fifth of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress, and, tragically, because of PTSD, nearly 22 veterans commit suicide every day. When Shari Duval saw the symptoms of PTSD in her son, Brett, a civilian K9 police bomb dog handler who served in Iraq, she found a new mission in life. She put all her time and resources into helping restore the life of her son and the lives of returning combat veterans who had sacrificed so much for our freedom. She founded K9s For Warriors, a unique program providing highly trained service dogs for disabled veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disability and traumatic brain injury. To date, hundreds of veterans have received dogs and a new lease on life. Duval’s story is one of love and commitment: a mother’s love for her son, and a citizen’s commitment to the mission of respecting, honoring and saving the lives of combat veterans.

A mother and grandmother, Shari Duval has held many positions in her life, including owning her own businesses and fundraising for numerous nonprofits and various veteran causes. In 2010, Duval founded K9s For Warriors as a way to help her son Brett, who had served two tours in Iraq as a civilian dog bomb handler, cope with the scars of war. Today, K9s For Warriors is the largest and most successful service dog agency in the United States for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. In 2017, Duval’s accomplishments were recognized when she received the Pearls of Leadership EVE Award. Her husband is a professional golfer retired from the Champions Tour, and his son David is a member of the PGA Tour, and currently a broadcaster for the Golf Channel. They have four children between them and 11 grandchildren.

Manal Fakhoury, Pharm.D.
Defining and Defeating the Opioid Crisis

The opioid epidemic has been called the worst drug crisis in American history. How did we get here and what is the solution? From research, we understand addiction is a disease. It is also, for some individuals and companies, a business. Did we in the pharmaceutical industry manufacture this epidemic by misleading the public that opiates are safe and effective? As a pharmacist and mentor for prisoners, Fakhoury will offer her unique perspective on the opioid epidemic.

Manal Fakhoury, Pharm.D., is a clinical and consultant pharmacist, award-winning inspirational speaker, coach, trainer, mentor, and philanthropist.  She obtained her undergraduate and doctorate degrees from the University of Southern California, and her M.B.A. from Webster University. Fakhoury proudly serves on many local and national boards, and has been recognized with multiple professional and community awards, including Person of the Year, Pharmacist of the Year, Most Inspirational, Women of Influence, and Florida Public Relations Association’s Communicator of the Year. She is the President and CEO of Fakhoury Leadership International, a multi-generational personal development company, and has more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership experience. She is passionate about her work in the prison system, where her interactions with inmates have given her insights into solutions to the opioid epidemic that we have overlooked. Fakhoury was honored to participate in the Climb of Hope and summit Mt. Kilimanjaro in January 2014. Most importantly she takes pride in her husband and five children.

Melanie Flores
Can You Learn Engineering in Kindergarten?

When was the last time you saw a 5-year-old give a formal presentation — PowerPoint-style — about prototypes, design criteria, and learning from failure? Fueled by an improbable mixture of late night dorm memories, manufacturing startup experience, and parenthood, Melanie Flores hatched a child-friendly version of a world-famous MIT class that has received national media coverage. Her work challenges our perceptions of what is possible from children and encourages us to think differently about how we educate them. Her talk will be a dive into the mind of a kindergarten engineer; discover what happens when storytelling, imagination, and design thinking converge.

Melanie Flores enjoys creating learning experiences for people of all ages. A Jacksonville native, she graduated from MIT, worked in industry for 10 years, and was on the startup team for Corning’s optical fiber manufacturing facility in the Charlotte, NC area. She loved training new engineers and watching them grow into strong problem solvers. Seeing her own children beam with pride over their homemade contraptions, Flores set forth on a new path to blend her technical background with her ability to connect with kids, founding a kindergarten engineering design workshop that has been recognized by the National Association of Independent Schools, the American Montessori Society, MIT, the Tufts University Center for Engineering Education and Outreach, and the Boston Museum of Science. She was honored to work with the Engineering is Elementary team to pilot their Kindergarten Engineering curriculum. She is excited by opportunities to break new ground, especially when they involve children, education, and innovative partnerships. She lives in Atlanta with her husband Trinidad and their two sons, TJ and Sebastian.

Ellen Freidin
Florida Citizens Win Redistricting Wars!

Appalled by the notion that her state’s legislature had gerrymandered voting districts to favor themselves and their party, Ellen Freidin led a citizen’s initiative to amend the Florida Constitution to establish strict rules for the drawing of legislative and Congressional district lines. After four years of gathering signatures and campaigning for passage, what followed was six years of fierce litigation to enforce the amendments and to fight off four separate federal court challenges to the amendments. Gerrymandering isn’t unique to Florida. Across the country, Republicans and Democrats alike have used the practice to establish political advantage and help incumbents get re-elected. Freidin’s cautionary tale is an important example of how a determined group of citizens can thwart badly intentioned public officials and ensure that state laws are fairly drawn and fully enforced.

Ellen Freidin was born and raised in South Florida, went to public schools, and, but for four years away at college, has lived there her whole life. In the sixth grade, she won her school essay contest on “What Democracy Means to Me.” Before entering law school, she worked for four years as a political campaign manager and legislative aide. Since graduating from Law School in 1978, she has always been involved in politics—especially in developing policy to improve our state. She served on the 1998 Florida Constitution Revision Commission and was responsible for the amendment establishing equality of rights for women and men. She led the Florida Bar Gender Equality committee from 1991 to 1995. In 2006, she took up the cause of ending gerrymandering in Florida and led that effort until its successful conclusion in 2016. Freidin has been married for 50 years to Miami lawyer Philip Freidin and their two children, Allison and Jonathan, are both lawyers in Miami.

Jeff Galloway
Move Your Body—Turn On Your Brain!

Jeff Galloway wasn’t always a runner. He was once an overweight, lazy 13-year-old who hated to perform strenuous activity. But when he discovered running, its positive benefits changed his life, eventually earning him a spot at the Munich Olympics and a career teaching others his unique run/walk/run method. Galloway will share his plan and explain how walking with short jog segments turns on the brain for better memory, better learning, and new growth of brain cells, and gives each exerciser control over attitude with more energy and empowerment to face the challenges of life.

Before Jeff Galloway became “America’s Coach” and a monthly columnist for the world’s leading running publication, he was a world-class runner, Olympian, and the first winner of the Peachtree Road Race. He ran with Steve Prefontaine, Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, and Amby Burfoot when the U.S. was a leading power in distance running. More than a million runners and walkers have used his training programs successfully and he’s authored 30 books. His innovative and successful training methods for runners have reduced aches, pains, and injury risk. The Galloway Method is used worldwide, allowing average people to enjoy the unique brain and body-enhancing benefits of exercise, while carrying on life activities. Galloway has consulted with key leaders at NASA, West Point, the White House Health Club, Homeland Security, the U.S. Marines, U.S. Air Force, DOD, and numerous corporations in the United States and Canada. He has appeared on ESPN, CNN, MSNBC, and hundreds of other TV and radio stations, and is in front of a fitness audience more than 200 times a year.

Chris Hand
Citizen: The Most Important Title in American Democracy

Each of us holds the most important title in American democracy: citizen. Yet most Americans believe we are powerless to make government respond or hold public officials accountable. A 2015 Pew Charitable Trusts survey found that 74% of Americans believe that most elected officials don’t care what people like us think.  But we can make them listen—if we fully embrace our rights and responsibilities as citizens in a democracy, and use the skills of effective citizenship to make government work for us. This is not just a theory. Americans frequently prove that we can make government respond. We, the people, are the beginning and the end of our democracy—and today, more than ever, we must build and flex our citizenship muscles to fulfill that exalted status.

Chris Hand is a Jacksonville native with a long record of public, civic, and legal service in Florida. He served as speechwriter, campaign press secretary, and Senate press secretary for former U.S. Senator Bob Graham. With Senator Graham, Hand is the co-author of the recently published America, the Owner’s Manual: You Can Fight City Hall—and Win. Hand also served as Chief of Staff at the City of Jacksonville during the administration of Mayor Alvin Brown. Hand has practiced law at several Jacksonville firms. In his current practice, he helps clients anticipate challenges and opportunities with government. Hand graduated with honors from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He also graduated with honors from the Fredric G. Levin College of Law at the University of Florida. Hand is a member of the Leadership Jacksonville Class of 2014 and was recently selected for membership in Leadership Florida Class XXXVI. An enthusiastic hiker, he loves to explore Florida off the beaten path. His most passionate rooting interests are the Florida Gators, Jacksonville Jaguars and anything related to Ireland. The latter affection may explain Hand’s family demographics. Chris is lucky to live with three redheads — his wife Heather and their two children.

Chad Houser
Taking Kids Out of Jail, Teaching Them To Play With Knives and Fire

The juvenile justice industry term to describe the population they oversee is throwaway. That term becomes a scarlet letter that these kids wear on their chest. What happens when you give a throwaway opportunity, tools, resources, and hope? They begin to rise to the newfound level of expectation that is set for them. Chad Houser’s Dallas-based Cafe Momentum provides a transformative experience, through a 12-month paid post-release internship program, for young men and women coming out of juvenile detention. Building them up and helping them to succeed can rebuild communities and change generations to come. Houser’s vision is to open more Cafe Momentums across the country than Starbucks—is Jacksonville ready?

After 17 years as an award-winning chef, Chad Houser sold his partnership in Parigi Restaurant to devote his full attention to the role of Executive Director of Café Momentum, a Dallas-based restaurant and culinary training facility he describes as “taking kids out of jail and teaching them to play with knives and fire.” The nonprofit restaurant has been featured on numerous media outlets and was named Eater Dallas’s 2015 “Restaurant of the Year.” Houser’s passion to teach life, social, and employment skills to Dallas’s most at-risk youth has earned him national recognition, including being named one of Good Magazine’s “Good 100,” individuals at the cutting edge of creative impact across the globe. In the community, Houser has previously served as president of the board of directors for Dallas Farmers Market Friends and as vice chair of the El Centro Exes Association (Houser received his culinary training at El Centro) where he is also a member of the El Centro College Food and Hospitality Institute “Hall of Fame.”

Marc Hudson
Value and Invest in Nature

Nature’s incredible ability to provide plentiful water, filter pollutants, and protect us from floods and other weather-related events is declining. In the next 30 years Florida is expected to grow by more than 12 million people; we will max out our aquifer, and sea-level rise will flood many of our coastal and inland waterways. Meanwhile the caretakers of our environment, rural people, are suffering, with rural poverty 6% greater than urban areas, and a 5% decline in rural jobs since 2008. One answer to our ecological and economic decline is to create an eco-utility: a utility service provider, conservation agency, and economic development program. Hudson argues that an eco-utility would preserve our outdoor environment, put rural people to work restoring and improving our green infrastructure, and be financed by customers paying directly for clean water and storm water protection, often at rates cheaper than a traditional “gray infrastructure” utility.

Marc Hudson is a conservationist with a passion for issues of rural economic justice. He has preserved tens of thousands of acres of farms and natural areas from development in New York, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, all the while working in depressed rural economic areas with scores of foresters, farmers, and ranchers. In the course of his regular conservation work he utilized dozens of incentive and market-based conservation programs to save wild places and family farms. He is a Kinship Conservation Fellow for market-based conservation strategies. He was a co-founder of Groundwork Jacksonville, an environmental justice nonprofit focused on Jacksonville’s urban core. He is currently the Land Protection Director at the North Florida Land Trust, a conservation nonprofit in Jacksonville, and in that role he directs their land preservation programs and strategies.

Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa
Healing, Opportunity, Patients, Empowerment

In 1987, at the age of 19, Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa literally jumped the border fence between Mexico and Baja California in order to find work as a migrant worker. Today, he is a world-renowned neurosurgeon who works to change the world by building bridges within institutions and countries through education, patient care and research. The values he learned as a boy in Mexicali—those of hard work, resilience, and perseverance in the face of long odds—are the same principles that inform his work as a brain surgeon, scientist, professor, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. In his talk, “Dr. Q” shares his personal story, as well as his conviction that anything you can imagine can be achieved as long as you believe in yourself and your ability to make a difference.

Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, MD, is chair of the Department of Neurologic Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Florida, where he holds the William J. and Charles H. Mayo Professorship. Dr. Quiñones-Hinojosa earned his B.A. in psychology at the University of California–Berkeley and his MD at Harvard Medical School. He completed a residency in neurosurgery and a postdoctoral fellowship in developmental and stem cell biology at the University of California, San Francisco. His clinical interests are surgical treatment of primary and metastatic brain tumors; he also leads NIH-funded research to cure brain cancer. He has written numerous peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, edited neurosurgical texts and published his memoir, “Becoming Dr. Q.” Recently, Disney announced that this inspirational life story about his journey from migrant farm worker to neurosurgeon is going to be featured in a movie. Dr. Quiñones-Hinojosa has received countless awards, honors, and honorary degrees. In 2015, Forbes Magazine recognized him as one of Mexico’s most brilliant minds. In addition to his research and clinical practice, Dr. Quiñones-Hinojosa is co-founder and president of the non-profit foundation, Mission: BRAIN, Bridging Resources and Advancing International Neurosurgery.

Jaimison Sloboden
Creating People-Safe Roads

It’s no accident that Jacksonville and the State of Florida are at the top of every list of the worst places in America for pedestrian and bicycle fatalities. There are three main reasons for this: the design of our public spaces has been completely focused on the automobile; our laws for pedestrian crossings “criminalize” walking; and, culturally, walking and bicycling are looked down upon. As a traffic engineer that grew up and moved here from Minnesota, Jaimison Sloboden has lived and experienced what a walkable environment can and should be, and the contrasts to Florida are remarkable. 

Jaimison Sloboden is a transportation practice leader for Michael Baker International in Jacksonville charged with providing transportation services locally and in the State of Florida. His 24 years of experience in a wide range of transportation projects give him a unique perspective on how a system should be built to balance mobility, sustainability, and livability objectives while meeting the needs of stakeholders. Starting with the early Smart Growth initiatives, Sloboden was involved in pilot projects to transform areas and corridors into more “complete streets.” As a traffic engineer, Sloboden has had a strong affinity with multi-disciplinary planning environments, working closely with urban designers, architects, energy consultants and market research firms. Sloboden has been a resident of Northeast Florida for 10 years. Originally from Minnesota, he attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI, and has a B.S. in civil engineering. He and his wife Lori have two young children, Grace and Rhys.

PERFORMERS

  • Nicolle Guerra
    Nicolle Guerra
  • Arjola Miruku
    Arjola Miruku
  • University of North Florida Chamber Singers
    University of North Florida Chamber Singers
Nicolle Guerra

The sound that is “GUERRA” emerges from the musical collaboration between vocalist Nicolle Guerra and bassist Ariel DLP. Smooth, funky, soulful, and powerful, GUERRA combines two worlds of influences propelled by a love for the grooves and rhythms of Cuba, New York City, and Miami. Powerhouse vocals from Nicolle ‘Nikki’ Guerra combine her deep Cuban roots in Miami, with her time in New York City and Spain, blending genres and cultures while remaining true to her mission to instill a message of empowerment in her songs. Nicolle works extensively with survivors of human trafficking and others in recovery from trauma, using music to heal and motivate. Cuban musician Ariel DLP is an eclectic multicultural bassist and songwriter who is greatly influenced by early rock ‘n’ roll, the blues, and Cuban Son. Ariel has played with a wide variety of musicians in the New York and Miami scenes, in addition to the Southwest Virginia region, where both Nicolle and Ariel tour with Dave Eggar and HOLLER JAKE.

Arjola Miruku

Arjola Miruku is a nationally certified teacher of music, and she has held positions as instructor in musicology and class piano and been on the Preparatory Division faculty at Texas Christian University. She also has held an adjunct professor of piano position at Texas Wesleyan University and directed her own private studio in Winter Park, FL; Fort Worth, Colleyville and Southlake, TX; and now in Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beach. A native of Albania, Miruku is currently thrilled to make her residence in Jacksonville and is pursuing her passion to run PLAY Academy of Arts (playaoa.com), a holistic approach to artistic training. Alongside her teaching positions, Miruku enjoys an active performing career specializing in solo and duo piano music.

University of North Florida Chamber Singers

In recent years, UNF singers have worked with internationally acclaimed guest conductors and clinicians including Simon Carrington, Chanticleer, Bob Chilcott, Simon Halsey, Joey Martin, Gene Peterson, Eugene Rogers, Sandra Snow, and Eric Whitacre. The ensembles have performed with the Yuval Ron Ensemble, at the 2013 State American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA) Conference, the 2014 Southern Division ACDA Convention, with the Royal Philharmonic in 2009, and frequently with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. Aside from regional performances, the UNF chamber singers have performed internationally in Italy, Portugal, and South Africa, and are headed to the American Celebration of Music in the Baltics in the spring of 2018. In all of their endeavors, members of the UNF choral ensembles work to deeply understand the music they sing and the cultures from which it comes. Singers perform with the highest artistic standards and find tremendous joy in making the music come alive. Dr. Cara Tasher, Director of Choral Studies at the University of North Florida, has led the UNF Chamber Singers since 2006.