Brockport Central School District Superintendent Dr. Lesli C. Myers has dedicated her life to the pursuit of education and is passionate about her professional work and volunteerism. Dr. Myers received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and her Master’s degree in Counseling and Human Development, both from the University of Rochester. She went on to earn a second Master’s degree in Urban Educational Administration, and a PhD in Education in Executive Leadership from St. John Fisher College. Dr. Myers has continued to emphasize the importance of education through teaching. Impressively, she was the first African-American President of the New York State School Counselors Association. Dr. Myers testified before the United States Congress; it was her testimony, in part, that resulted in a spending bill for the fiscal year 2008 that included the largest increase ever to the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program. Dr. Myers has received prestigious honors that reflect her dedication to education and her community, including the Rochester Business Journal 40 Under 40, the Saint John Fisher Distinguished Alumni Award, the Urban League of Rochester Educator Award, and the NYS Women of Distinction Award. Additionally, she was named a 2016 Athena Award finalist. With a dedication to and love for young people, Dr. Myers has designed and conducted workshops and presentations to school-age and college students. Her style is humorous, straightforward, and sincere, and she encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to use their creative abilities and talents to eliminate achievement gaps.
Dr. Judith (Judy) Pipher has been an infrared astronomer since the mid 1960s. She has been on the faculty at the University of Rochester since 1971, and a professor emerita since 2002. Still very active in research, her group has been developing passively cooled infrared cameras for space research. The Spitzer Space Telescope, launched in 2003, continues to this day to obtain impressive images of star formation regions, galaxies, and exoplanetary systems to name a few. We are hopeful that a JPL-led project, NEOCam, the Near Earth Object Camera, utilizing one of the infrared cameras we have developed, will launch in a few years to find potentially hazardous asteroids and comets before they find us! (NASA is developing plans to divert or destroy too close Near Earth Objects once they identify where they are). Judy serves on various boards, both professional and non-profit, including that of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, where she was inducted in 2007 for her work. Other awards include the Susan B. Anthony Lifetime Achievement Award.
Alyza Alix, also known by her stage name IndigoChild, is an entrepreneur, light-worker, self-published author, poet, spiritual coach, and more, with one purpose: to awaken society and raise collective consciousness. Alyza makes it a point to utilize her talents to provide the masses with new perspectives while giving them a reality check all at once. In addition to her various endeavors, Alyza spends one night a week volunteering at The Bridge Youth Empowerment Program. She also teaches leadership and communication skills to students in elementary school and high school, and adult basic skills classes for The Bridge. Why? Passion. Alyza aspires to inspire and impact everyone she meets positively. She's also a strong believer in learning lessons from her failures and turning her limiting beliefs into unlimited potential. In Alyza's free time, you can find her giving spine-chillingly accurate tarot card readings, researching ways to be more like Buddha, eating kale chips with her dog, meditating in open fields with animals, or doing more ordinary things like painting, dancing, and making music.
Selected Publications: “?” By IndigoChild (poetry book)
learner and educator
Tony Tepidino teaches at Allendale Columbia (AC) School. An innovative educator, Tony, along with his colleague Amy Oliveri, has played a significant role in supporting the TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool's independently organized TEDxYouth event since its inception. Under Tony’s leadership, this student organized and run event strives to promote idea sharing throughout the AC community, the Rochester community, and the global community. This is now a formalized class at the school.
Jody Hoffer Gittell is a professor at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management. She founded and leads the Relational Coordination Research Collaborative (RCRC), whose mission is to foster widespread development and adoption of relational coordination theory, evidence, and tools. Gittell also co-founded Relational Coordination Analytics Inc., which offers measurement, evaluation, and visualization of relational coordination networks to organizations. She received her PhD from the MIT Sloan School of Management, and taught at the Harvard Business School before joining the faculty at Brandeis. She serves on the board of the Endowment for Health, and the Academy of Management Review. She lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with her husband Ross and their daughters Rose and Grace.
Gittell has developed a theory of relational coordination, proposing that highly interdependent work is most effectively coordinated through relationships of shared goals, shared knowledge, and mutual respect, and supported by frequent, timely, accurate, and problem-solving communication. Research shows that relational coordination is associated with a wide range of positive performance outcomes, and that organizations support or undermine it through the design of their work systems. This work began in the airline industry and is now practiced and studied in a variety of industries including healthcare, education, and banking, and in many countries including the United States, Denmark, Canada, Scotland, and Pakistan.
Transforming Relationships for High Performance: The Power of Relational Coordination
High Performance Healthcare: Using the Power of Relationships to Achieve Quality, Efficiency and Resilience
community change agent
LaShunda Leslie-Smith, LMSW, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Child and Family Services from St. John Fisher College, a Master’s in Social Work from the Greater Rochester Collaborative Master of Social Work Program, and a Certificate in Non-Profit Leadership from Roberts Wesleyan College. LaShunda most recently served as the President and CEO of the Young Women’s College Prep Foundation, Inc., and is now the Executive Director of Connected Communities, a nonprofit whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty and revitalize the EMMA and Beechwood neighborhoods of Rochester. LaShunda enjoys serving as a motivational speaker, workshop presenter, and conference keynote; she has shared her story of overcoming the challenges associated with becoming a mom at the young age of 14 all over the country. Recently LaShunda was named one of the Rochester Business Journal’s 40 under 40 honorees, and an ATHENA Young Professional finalist by the Women’s Council. LaShunda is blessed to share her life’s journey with her husband Moses and their two children, Branden and Myanna.
Selected Publications:The Journey of A Teenage Mother: 16 Stories of Triumph Against the Odds
Dr. Timothy C. Summers is a hacker, professor, and consulted expert who’s been featured on Fox Business News, Canadian Television (CTV) Business News Network (BNN), Central Chinese Television (CCTV), CNBC, and NBC and in such publications as Barron’s, Modern Trader, The Charlotte Observer and the Capital Gazette. He is the CEO of Summers & Company, LLC., and his firm is a global leader behind the theory and practice of hacker cognitive psychology and the hacking mindset which enables him to understand how hackers think. Tim has spoken at numerous events for the world’s top companies, academic institutions, and governments. He is also the Founder of WikiBreach.org and the Director of Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Engagement at the University of Maryland, College Park, in the College of Information Studies (iSchool).
Mara Ahmed has lived and been educated in Belgium, Pakistan, and the United States. She has a Master’s degree in Business and Economics. For most of her life she worked in corporate finance. In 2004, Mara resigned from her job in order to devote herself to her true passion: art and film. Mara's artwork was exhibited at the Kinetic Gallery in 2008 and more recently at the Colacino Gallery in Rochester, NY. The shows were multi-media fusions of her photography, collage work, and film work. Mara’s film training began at the Visual Studies Workshop in 2006, and later continued at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Mara's first film, THE MUSLIMS I KNOW, premiered at the Dryden Theatre in 2008. It was meant to start a dialogue between American Muslims and non-Muslims. Her second film, PAKISTAN ONE ON ONE, opened at the Little Theatre in 2011. Shot entirely in Lahore, it is a broad survey of public opinion in Pakistan about issues of interest to Americans. Both films have been broadcast on PBS, shown at film festivals, and screened on college and university campuses. A THIN WALL, a documentary about the partition of India, was completed in April 2015 and has been screened in London, Dublin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Vancouver, Montreal, San Francisco, Seattle, and New York. Mara's production company is Neelum Films. She lives in Rochester, New York.
As the co-owner of Aerial Arts of Rochester since 2010, William brings an innovative style and approach to teaching that allows people of all ages, levels, and abilities to do what is known as “cirque fitness.” In addition to instructing, he is a performer and coordinator for the UP! State Cirque Troupe, providing entertainment at corporate functions, fundraisers, and special events all across Western NY. In his younger years, William was introduced to fitness through training in the field of martial arts, earning his black belt by age eleven. As a result of his talent, he was afforded the opportunity to teach martial arts for the next ten years, training tournament champions alongside recreational students. Throughout college William focused on sports medicine, attaining a comprehensive understanding of human physiology and anatomy. He has been able to help many athletes and aerialists avoid injuries and succeed in their training. Prior to opening Aerial Arts of Rochester, William was a professional photographer and digital editor for the New York Times Magazine. He has been able to use his multi-media experience to contribute to the professionalism of the Aerial Arts brand. When transitioning back to his roots in the health and fitness industry, William trained under Olympic athlete Christine VanLoo, Cirque Du Soliel artist Ann Stimmel, and at many circus arts training schools across the U.S., including the reputable New England Center of Circus Arts. Through education, he continues to inspire others to follow their dreams of running away with the circus.
Mary Lupien is a passionate community activist. She’s never satisfied with the status quo. After leaving a lucrative career in IT to work at a soup kitchen, Mary’s eyes were opened to the injustices that exist in our world and in our community. Mary is currently a substitute teacher in city schools by day, and by night she fights for climate justice with Mothers Out Front and is involved in politics with a goal to work towards a better Rochester. She lives with her husband, daughter, and stepdaughter in Beechwood, where they co-house as part of the Little Flower Community.
Luke Sanders is an undergraduate mathematics student at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Utica New York. Luke has synesthesia, a condition which enables him to perceive his senses and cognitive processes in a non-traditional and interconnected way. Namely, his sees letters, numbers, and music as explicit images and colors. Luke believes that it is no coincidence that he is pursuing mathematics; he uses his condition as a tool to aid him in his studies by relying on visual interactions between the images he sees. How can such unusual perspectives of problems be applied to the traditional learning process to benefit students? Would occasionally deviating from the more normal methods of teaching, learning, and applying knowledge be helpful for everyone? From the discovery of his condition after 19 years to the use of synesthesia in his studies, Luke hopes his experiences can raise important questions about unusual methods of thinking and problem solving in society today, and how we can apply the obscure techniques that he and others with similar ideas use in the educational and professional worlds.
Eight Beat Measure
Hailing from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Eight Beat Measure is the original all-male a cappella group on campus. Eight Beat Measure began in 1987 as the RIT Men’s Octet. Originally faculty-lead and formed as an extension to the RIT Singers, the group quickly expanded their horizons and branched into the world of contemporary a cappella, changing their name to Eight Beat Measure to reflect the new attitude, and expanding from only eight members. The group currently sings hip-hop to rock and Celtic to pop, so there is something for everyone in their repertoire. They have traveled to Boston, Long Island, Connecticut, Michigan, North Carolina, and everywhere in between. With a new look, a new CD, and a new attitude, Eight Beat continues to raise the heat for their audience. Be prepared for the future of Eight Beat Measure!
Jake Gellis is a 32-year-old Long Island native who currently lives in the Corning, NY area. He is a union factory worker of twelve years and a small business owner. Jake has also spent nearly 20 years as a “street dancer,” learning, performing, and teaching multiple genres of dance. He is internationally recognized for his popping, which involves movements like “the robot” and “waving.” Although he has performed in front of thousands of people both live and on television, this will be his first speaking engagement, and he believes it will be the most important and most fun time he has ever spent on a stage! He will be bringing his personal version of illusion to the stage – “flipping reality” – and reinforcing the importance of having fun in our everyday lives.
Since 2010, the Rochester Ukulele Orchestra has played numerous shows around town at events including XRIJF and Fringe. Their seven-member lineup covers a wide range of musical styles, from Eastern European folk, Broadway and Yiddish theater tunes, to Tin Pan Alley classics, classical, pop, Christmas carols, and Jewish liturgical songs.