Speakers 2015


Thank you to Agnès Ames, Grant Smith and Dale Thompson who worked so diligently to make our livestream possible on event day. Kudos to you.

Lisa Abramson

LiLisa Profile Shotsa Abramson is an entrepreneur, executive coach and advocate for maternal mental health. She co-founded Mindfulness Based Achievement, the New MBA, which teaches high potential women leaders how to create sustainable success. Lisa has been featured in Fast Company, sharing 5 Ways To Lean In Without Burning Out. Over 10,000 people have taken part in her free 30 Day Meditation Challenge. Lisa graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN and lives in San Francisco with her husband and daughter. In her talk, “Let’s Talk about Postpartum Psychosis,” Lisa shares her thoughts on the stigma of postpartum mental ill health and her ideas for helping new mothers get the help they need.

Kelly Coleman

kelly colemanKelly Coleman is the executive director and co-founder of Save the Rain, a nonprofit organization committed to serving the victims of the Global Water Crisis. For the past decade, Save the Rain has helped bring clean drinking water to over a quarter of a million people in East Africa. With a deep belief in sustainability and abundance, Kelly works to empower students and service groups around the country. In her talk, “A drop of rain unlocks the door to abundance,” Kelly  shares her ideas about how to improve the lives of all children, especially the disenfranchised.

Dorothy E. Denning

Dorothy E. Denning is Distinguished Professor of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School. Prior to coming to NPS, she taught at Purdue University and Dorothy-Denning-Feb2013-headGeorgetown University, and worked in research labs at SRI International and Digital Equipment Corporation. Her teaching and research have focused on cyber security and cyber conflict. Dr. Denning is author of Information Warfare and Security and has testified before the U.S. Congress on encryption policy and cyber terrorism. She has received numerous awards and was inducted into the inaugural class of the National Cyber Security Hall of Fame. Her talk, “Open Doors and Back Doors: Why Cybercrime is a Growing Threat,” is extremely thought-provoking.

Jordan Gersh ’17


Jordan Gersh, a Santa Catalina School boarding student from Redwood City, has faced numerous challenges in her life, from being diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in 2000, to learning she was dyslexic as a young student, to surviving a near-death experience while undergoing a routine surgical procedure last year and then, most recently, facing her mother’s diagnosis of brain cancer. Yet, through each and every challenge, Jordan has seen a new door open to her, allowing her to become a better person. Jordan finds great meaning in the words of Robert H. Schuller, “Tough times never last, tough people do!” Jordan’s  insights and the lessons she has learned in her talk, “When Life Gives You Lemons,” will certainly give you pause for thought.

Gail McWilliams

View More: http://meshalimitchellphoto.pass.us/gail-mcwilliams-finalsGail McWilliams is a seasoned speaker, author, and national radio host who engages her audiences with challenge, humor and life-changing inspiration. Her courageous and gripping story of gradually losing her eyesight while having her children is the backdrop to her life-message of vision that sees no limits. Gail says, “In my darkest hour vision was birthed, and when you have vision you can see in the darkest places of life.” She is humorous, challenging, and unforgettable. Gail exudes hope, vision, and the ability to see beyond any obstacle. In her talk, “Stuck or Positioned… It’s Your Choice,” she shares her personal inspiration and motivation to help others take steps toward a high sense of purpose and toward making their their personal dreams a reality.

Christian Reilly

DReills TEDx

Christian Reilly is the Director of Santa Catalina School’s Marine Ecology Research Program. Besides teaching marine science, he is a SCUBA instructor and Instructor for Diving Rescue and First Aid for Professional Divers and is a volunteer at the Pacific Grove Hyperbaric Chamber, which treats victims of dive injuries and carbon monoxide poisoning. Dr. Reilly holds a B.S. from The Evergreen State College, an M.A. from Bodton University, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University.  He has a Whitely Fellowship for authors at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Lab as well as teacher fellowship from the Northwest Association for Biomedical Research. In his talk, “The Importance of Going Out,” Dr. Reilly shares his ideas about the way scientific education and research can and should be.

Michael Vollstedt

Michael Vollstedt grew up in a small town in Montana and then moved to California where he went on to graduate from Santa Clara University. Married for twenty-four years to a Santa Catalina School alumna and the father of three children, Michael has lived on the Monterey Peninsula for over three decades, working in the financial industry. Over the past twenty years, he has lived with a serious heart condition, which finally ended last year with a heart transplant. With the utmost positivity and enthusiasm, Michael will share his ideas about the meaning of life and death, and the miracle of modern medicine in his talk “Opening the Doors to Life.”

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