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2018 TEDx Oneonta Speakers

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Lauren Parsons

Talk Title: Snack on Exercise- Boost Your Brain, Body & Mood

Lauren Parsons grew up in New Zealand as the non-sporty kid who lacked all confidence in herself physically. Then as an adult, went from being a workaholic gym manager with 'no time to train' to completely shifting her paradigms around exercise. She is passionate about helping others discover the easiest and most fun way to fit exercise into their own lives.

Lauren is an award-winning Wellbeing Specialist, with 18 years’ experience in health and wellbeing. Founder of Get Fit Feel Fabulous, the Snack on Exercise movement and author of Real Food Less Fuss, and 7 Health and Fitness Myths To Overcome. Lauren is a sought-after keynote speaker and thought leader who helps people and organizations boost their health, energy, and productivity. ​

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Ricardo Sierra

Talk Title: Saving the iGen Children: Why Grandparents Might Be Our Best Chance to Solve the Digital Age Crisis

Ricardo founded the Hawk Circle Wilderness Education Summer Camp Program in 1989, then formed the nonprofit Earth Mentoring Institute in 1999, to give children and teens the benefits of a deep connection to nature. His work has included professional trainings and program development for the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council of Delaware County, the Creating Rural Opportunities Partnership After School Program, the Chatt Hill Charter School, Madrone Audubon Society, Waldorf School of Baltimore, The Berkshire Mountain Search and Rescue and many others.

His wilderness skills training and youth mentoring experience has included The Tom Brown Jr Tracking and Wilderness Survival School, John Stokes Tracking Project, The California Conservation Corps, Backcountry Trails and American Red Cross. He also has spent extensive time in wilderness and natural areas across the country, where he put the skills he teaches to the test. He lives in Cherry Valley, NY.

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Maja Kazazic

Talk Title: Genocide and Happiness: The Power of You

Maja (My-a) Kazazic is an internationally recognized motivational speaker.


Originally from former Yugoslavia, Maja’s home was destroyed by genocide that killed 250,000 people and injured millions. When she was only 16 years old, while sitting with 5 of her friends a rocket propelled grenade exploded killing all 5 of her friends. Maja was severely injured.

This event set off decades-long journey filled with obstacles Maja had to face on a daily basis. From having her leg amputated without anesthesia and surviving without food or running water to re-learning how to walk and run, and learning English by watching TV. And even though she left her home without her parents to get medical treatment, with only a teddy bear, t-shirt and rock, Maja was able to build a new life. She finished high school and college and eventually started a very successful software company whose regular clients were Fortune 500 companies. The systems, strategies, and innovative action plans she developed have helped companies significantly increase profitability and productivity.

She has taken the lessons of a life forever altered by what could have been catastrophic wounds of war and parlayed them into a vision and passion for providing the solutions and insights people and organizations need to create positive, inspired change in their personal and professional lives.

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Laverne Berry and Steve Miller

Talk Title: How to Effect Change With A Couple of Friends

Laverne Berry and Steve Miller have worked as volunteer Voter Protection lawyers in each of the past three presidential elections (2008 and 2016 in North Carolina, 2012 in Virginia). Laverne is an entertainment attorney representing independent film and TV creators, distribution companies, authors and media companies. Steve is an international business executive, based in the US and Europe, with over 25 years of experience developing and managing a broad range of businesses and educational and social justice projects.


Deborah Koetzle

Talk Title: What works? Addressing crime and drug use through community-based interventions

Deborah Koetzle is an Associate Professor and the Executive Officer of the Doctoral Program in Criminal Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice/The Graduate Center, CUNY and a fellow with the University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute.  

Her research centers around correctional rehabilitation with a focus on identifying effective interventions for offenders, problem-solving courts, risk/need assessment, and cross-cultural comparisons of prison-based programs and practices. Current projects include evaluating a specialized probation unit for the supervision of 16-24 year-olds, examining access to medically assisted treatment for criminal justice involved individuals, and providing assistance aimed at reducing prison crowding in El Salvador.  

She has served as a consultant to local, state, and federal agencies on the topic of assessment, treatment, and program fidelity within both institutional and community-based programs, and helped to develop the National Association of Drug Court Professionals’ Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards.

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Dawn Herscher

Talk Title: Words Wisely--Move them or lose them

Dawn is an award-winning speechwriter, speaker and communications director with 15 years experience supporting CEO’s, C-level executives, and Fortune 100 companies. She provides speechwriting, thought leadership, and coaching services to high profile clients, companies, foundations, and associations. Dawn specializes in helping senior executives become recognized as Thought Leaders who are influential in their industries.

Born in Los Angeles, California, Dawn was known for her creative writing talent, and attended UCLA where she earned her degree in Psychology. Dawn has written for some of the world’s most influential venues including TEDx, the Council for the Homeless, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

2017 TEDxOneontaSpeakers

Julie Dostal

Julie is the executive director of the LEAF Council on Alcoholism and Addictions and has been with the organization since 1998. She is also the chair of the Otsego County Opiate Task Force, actively working with agencies, businesses, healthcare organizations, and individuals to help stem the tide of our current opioid epidemic. Dr. Dostal is a trusted leader and recognized authority on topics ranging from substance abuse prevention, addiction science, community coalition building, advocacy, media literacy, and problem gambling.

Outside of her daily responsibilities, Julie works tirelessly to enlighten and educate others about the complex nature of addiction. She teaches an upper level course on addiction at SUNY Oneonta in the Department of Human Ecology Department and is a New York State Master Trainer. She is a sought after speaker who frequently shares her knowledge and expertise at local, state, national and international events. 

Dr. Dostal has earned recognition and respect on the state and national stages. She was selected as a 2017 Woman of Distinction by Senator James L. Seward because of her work in the field of addiction. Julie serves as the president of the Professional Association of Council Executives and is on the board of directors of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependencies (NCADD). As a woman in long-term recovery, Julie is especially proud of her work with NCADD, which was founded by one of the first women to go public about her sobriety through the 12-step movement.
Julie’s compassion for others, undying energy, and dynamic personality are instantly visible, no matter the challenge. At the heart of her work is the encouraging message, “Addiction is a preventable, treatable disease from which people can and do recover.”

Curt Ebersole

Curt Ebersole has served as Conductor/Music Director (John P. Paynter Memorial Chair) of the Westchester Symphonic Winds since 2008. He led the Westchester Symphonic Winds in their Lincoln Center debut in March 2010, at their first national convention performance in April 2012 (Association of Concert Bands Convention, Poughkeepsie, New York), at three sold-out summer festival performances at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (Katonah, New York) in 2014-2016, and as the featured performance at the New York State Band Directors Association Winter Symposium in 2017. He retired from Northern Valley Regional High School (Old Tappan, New Jersey) in 2013 after serving as Director of Instrumental Music for 31 years. His ensembles were honored with frequent critical accolades, and his instrumental Prism Concerts became a local rite of spring. He currently serves as a member of the Music Department faculty at the Masters School, in Dobbs Ferry, New York.

He earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree and a Master of Music in Conducting degree from Northwestern University, where he studied conducting with John P. Paynter and clarinet with Larry Combs, and a Master of Fine Arts in Clarinet Performance from SUNY-Purchase, where he studied with Ben Armato.

Mr. Ebersole has served as a guest conductor and clinician for numerous county, regional, and all-state instrumental ensembles, and adult community ensembles across the nation, including performances in Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and Symphony Space, and in Las Vegas, South Korea and Australia. He is the founding coordinator of the Music Educators of Bergen County Wind Conducting Symposium. He served as a clinician at the 2009 Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, IL, and the 2015 & 2016 Temple University Wind Conducting and Teaching Workshops in Philadelphia, PA. He is a practitioner of both Positive Psychology and the Harkness Method. His performance achievements include solo and ensemble performances as both a clarinetist and basset hornist.

Mr. Ebersole was selected as the Northern Valley District Teacher of the Year in 1994 and the Bergen County Teacher of the Year in 1995. The New Jersey Music Educators Association chose him as the recipient of the 2003 New Jersey Master Music Teacher Award, and he received a Governor’s Award in Arts Education later that year. In 2009 he was the Northern Valley-Old Tappan recipient of the New Jersey Governor’s Teacher Recognition Award. He received the Distinguished Music Educator Award from Yale University in June 2011. His professional memberships include National Association for Music Education, the College Band Directors National Association, the National Band Association, the International Clarinet Association, the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, and Pi Kappa Lambda.

He is a native of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and a current resident of White Plains, New York. In addition to his busy musical life, he also enjoys riding America’s fastest and tallest roller coasters.

Emma Doyle

Emma Doyle is an innovative international speaker, mentor, coach and consultant impacting and inspiring over 100,000 tennis players and coaches over the past 20 years.  Emma’s mission is to empower more female players and coaches in all sports; aiming to inspire, improve and impact the communication, coordination and confidence of people around the world.  

She is a Tennis Australia High Performance Coach with a strong background as a touring professional, assisting female players reach career rankings inside top 120 WTA.  Emma now travels the world as a professional speaker specializing in facilitating people to maximize and live their potential using tennis as the vehicle.  An expert communicator and workplace coach, Emma incorporates a range of skills in hands-on, fun and tailored programs to suit the needs of a

wide range of audiences. Emma is also the Director of ACE Coach, which provides coach education to players, parents, clubs, schools and coaches around the world. 

Emma’s pioneering approach to communication and coaching encourages deeper longer-term thinking about the self, and provides individuals with the tools to better understand how they use their language to bring out the best in themselves, enrich their own lives, as well as engage and empower others. 

Dean Roberts

Dean was born in 1939 Expelled from school in 1956 Joined the Navy in 1957 Spent the next 40 yrs having 2 kids, 3 wives , building and operating Greenleafdollhouses.com Reading , writing , traveling , staying fit , learning how to control my head and playing way to much poker So now the plan is to wright and help people see and Actualize the meany possibilities Of life 

Bill Berthel

As a Core Energy Leadership Coach Bill enjoys working with people who seek higher levels of awareness and consciousness in leadership roles. Development in their relationships with others, their organizations, their work and their life’s passions are his clients objectives and outcomes. Both personal and professional relationship development is an area of coaching that Bill cherishes and specializes in. 


"My approach with coaching is that I am a guide and witness, an observer. I am not here to project my bias or judgement whatsoever but rather assist my clients towards their highest potential and consciousness. Increasing my client’s awareness of their own energies, language use, thinking preferences and emotions leads my clients to their own clarity. Achievements through clear goal setting, creating accountability and recognizing opportunities are then possible. Considering myself a hybrid of Leadership and Relationship coach has me working at my highest potential by coaching others in how they treat themselves and show up and relate to anyone and anything in their lives, especially the people they lead and influence".


Bill has worked in various leadership positions in manufacturing for many years, more recently as the Human Resource Director for an artist material manufacturing company. This type of work has provided great a varied coaching, training and leadership opportunities and experiences over the years for Bill. His B.S. degree in Psychology and Certification with The International Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) organization has provided the tools and credentials as a professional coach.


Bill is a human, a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a colleague, a volunteer and a friend. These are the identifiers that hold the most meaning to Bill as he knows that there are no more important “things” in our lives than the relationships we have.

Certified Professional Coach, Founder of B2Coaching Associate Coach with Emergent

Ashok Melotra

Dr. Ashok Kumar Malhotra is Emeritus Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York College at Oneonta. He is the winner of a dozen prestigious awards such as Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, East West Center Distinguished Alumni Award (USA), University of Hawaii Distinguished Alumni Award (USA), Gullands NRI Excellence Award (UK), Jewel of India Gold Award (India), Spiritual Leadership Award (USA), Bharat Excellence Award (India) and others. He has published 14 books on Indian, Chinese, Western and Comparative Philosophy along with two volumes of Children’s Stories. He was a consultant for the Warner Brothers “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues,” TV Series.

Dr. Malhotra is one of the founding members of the SUNY Oneonta Philosophy Department. He is also the founder of the Yoga and Meditation Society through which he invited more than 25 scholars/practitioners from various parts of the world. His  20 video interviews of these scholars are available on the YouTube under: “Ashok Malhotra in Discussion.”  To recognize individuals who have performed outstanding community service locally, nationally or globally, he established four SEVA (Compassionate Service) Awards for the faculty and students at SUNY Oneonta as well as at the East West Center and University of Hawaii. Furthermore, he is the founder/president of the Ninash Foundation (www.ninash.org), a charity that has built 6 schools for more than 1600 female and minority children of India. In 2016, the Ninash Foundation adopted a seventh school with 280 tribal children from Sagbara in Gujarat bordering Maharashtra. To recognize his charitable work for the underprivileged children of India, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Sohail Zandi & Sara Ebert

Sohail Zandi and Sara Elbert helm Brushland Eating House, an intimate eatery in the heart of bucolic Bovina, a tiny hamlet in New York’s western Catskill Mountains. Setting off on the road less traveled, the pair headed north out of New York City as a way to simplify life and homestead, ahead of the ever-growing exodus from city centers to the green hills of endless potential. Focused on cooking dishes that evoke warm childhood memories while honoring regional produce and protein, Sohail and Sara maintain that their dining room should be welcoming to neighbors, weekend guests and weary travelers alike. 

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