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Guest Speakers

Laurel Springs students benefit from our series of online symposia, called “Meetings with Remarkable Men and Women.” These exclusive live events feature inspiring stories from celebrated leaders in their fields.  Past symposia guests have included an astronaut, an award-winning documentary film director, a South Pole explorer, and an environmental activist.  During the symposia, students can ask questions, offer comments, and engage in discussions with peers and experts.  Post-event discussion boards allow students to participate in virtual conversations that connect the speakers’ presentations to curricular topics.

We have enjoyed an amazing set of speakers for our “Meetings with Remarkable Men & Women” series, including the following individuals:

Ted Turner is a philanthropist and businessman who is chairman of the United Nations Foundation, co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, and chairman of the Turner Foundation.  After a lifetime of accomplishments in advertising, cable television, and professional sports, Turner is dedicated to his applying his entrepreneurial acumen, sharp business skills, and leadership qualities to his personal passions of environmental initiatives and philanthropy to make the world a better place.

Dr. Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu served as the first Romanian astronaut.  During his symposium, he discussed his space mission with Russian Cosmonaut Leonid Popov, which included work on scientific experiments in the fields of astrophysics, space radiation, space technology, space medicine and biology.  Dr. Prunariu is Chairman of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and is President of the European chapter of the Association of Space Explorers.

Marion Stoddart is a community leader committed to positive social and environmental change.  She discussed her successful efforts to fight pollution in New Hampshire’s Nashua River during the 1960s; this river is now thriving and healthy as part of a protected ecosystem.  Stoddart has received many awards, including the United Nations Environmental Programme’s Global 500 Award, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Award, and a presidential commendation.  A documentary film about her work, The Work of 1000, was released in 2010.

Christina Stevens is an author and film director.  Her symposium topic dealt with the documentary film she is creating about the kingdom of Bhutan and its Gross National Happiness project.   Stevens’ work  has won many awards.  She is a board member of ECO (Earth Communications Office), and a media consultant for Greenpeace and the American Council for Renewable Energy.  For over twenty years Christina has served on the Special Projects Committee of the Directors’ Guild of America.

Lily Venizelos is a vanguard of the wildlife conservation movement. Venizelos created MEDASSET (Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles) the only conservation organization dealing exclusively with sea turtles in the Mediterranean. This symposium explored the plight of endangered sea turtles, and Mrs. Venizelos’ efforts to lobby corporations, governments and tourists to help ensure the survival of their species. Mrs. Venizelos is a member of the Marine Turtle Specialist Group and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Mary Maranville and Laurel Springs alumna Madison Stevens led a joint symposium about Antarctica.  Mary Maranville has served as an environmental educator with a focus on agricultural management and land stewardship.  She participated in the 2041 Leadership on the Edge Program and Expedition to Antarctica.  Madison Stevens traveled to Antarctica in March 2011 as part of the Inspire Antarctic Expedition. Maranville and Stevens hosted a virtual expedition to Antarctica, and discussed the 2041 Treaty, which protects Antarctica against government and commercial development and mining until the year 2041. Students learned about the continent’s natural resources, wildlife and climate.

Dr. Linda Brent, Ph.D., is a behavioral primatologist with over 25 years of experience working with chimpanzees. She is the President, Director, and Founder of Chimp Haven, The National Chimpanzee Sanctuary.  She conducted behavioral research at Gombe National Park in Tanzania on wild infant chimpanzee development. Karen Allen is the National Advancement Director of Chimp Haven, and has spent her career advocating for animal ethics and cultural sensitivity in conservation. She is a member of the Advisory Board to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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