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Inventing Self Student Testimonials

Guest Speakers who have presented for Inventing Self© inspire students with their stories of how they pursue happiness through being true to themselves.

 

Cameron Alden
Suffolk County Legislator Alden spoke about his life, including personal battles he has fought with breast cancer, decisions he made that led him toward his political career, and attributes which contribute to success in terms of career choices.

Victoria Berger
As a young child, Vicki’s family made fun of her for spending her allowance money on “old junk”.  Old photos, antique bottles, antique books too fragile to read or turn the pages! Though she was never interested in history as a student, Vicki was always drawn to antiquities, buying her first antique desk when she was still a teenager.  This interest led her to become an interior designer, focusing on antique period furnishings. Mrs. Berger had a great career through interior design, working her way up to become a corporate home décor buyer, but after 15 years, she was ready for a change.  Vicki reconnected with her passion for antiquity, and re-directed her career path, becoming a local historian. She has been an active board member of the Historical Society of Islip Hamlet since 2006, serving many of those years as President, and standing curator. Mrs. Berger has worked for the Town of Islip in the office of the Town Historian, and curated the Islip History Museum exhibits at the Islip Grange. She served as historic consultant to many organizations, and has done private commissioned work writing historic research manuscripts.  In 2011, Mrs. Berger became Program Director for the Islip Arts Council and museum, overseeing history exhibits while running large programs for the Council.  In 2016, she accepted the appointment of Executive Director of the Suffolk County Historical Society Museum. Throughout her second career as a historian, she has enjoyed providing countless lectures and has curated over 30 historic exhibits.

Scott Bronson
Scott Bronson is the manager of K-12 Programs for Brookhaven National Laboratory’s (BNL) Office of Educational Programs (OEP). Before coming to BNL, Mr. Bronson was the Education Coordinator of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Dolan DNA Learning Center. He has a strong background in developing and commercializing laboratory science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum for mid­dle school, high school, and undergraduate faculty and students. For his work in developing educational laboratory science kits, the Battelle Memorial Institute recognized Mr. Bronson as Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Inventor of the Year, 2006. In 2014, the Science Museum of Long Island named him an Outstanding Advocate for Science and Technology.  The Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology, and Inno­vation (NYSTAR), have funded his science workforce development and education initiatives. Mr. Bronson has extensive experience in several federally and privately funded national STEM teacher and student training programs. Additionally, Mr. Bronson has taught molecular biology teacher workshops in Singapore for the Singapore Ministry of Education. He has appeared on PBS for Scientific Frontiers- The Gene Hunt­ers and the award-winning documentary Race- The Power of an Illusion. Today he is developing cyber-en­abled learning technology to bring the cutting edge research of Brookhaven National Laboratory’s facilities to students and faculty.

Roxanne Browning
Life’s many paths are never without a twist. Ms. Browning had all intentions as a child of the 60’s to save the world, from what she didn’t know. Earned a BFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City that lead to a career in the ad world on Madison Avenue. She woke up in 1990…her small town of Northport, NY was rocked by how power corrupts absolutely. Roxanne ran for election to help change the system.  As the Mayor, she passed laws that have stood the test of time. A decade of politics behind her, she retired the gavel in search for a sweeter life. She tried on multiple careers and pooled the skills learned along the way to come full circle. That brought her back to the question she had as a child, how could she now help others? Chocolate… a lifelong passion of chasing the ultimate bar, led to the discovery of artisan single-origin chocolate makers in the U.S. that have a partnership with farmers in the rain forests around the world. Ultimately, a trip to the Ecuadorian Amazon rain forest where Roxanne harvested cacao and witnessed firsthand how the noble cacao pod transforms into a chocolate bar. Empowering cacao farmers to lift themselves out of poverty, they reinvest back into their plantations and communities and thus protect the rain forests. www.ExoticChocolateTasting.com was founded in January 2010. Roxanne’s mission is to bring awareness of the indigenous people that create the chocolate, the health benefits, and to demonstrate how to mindfully savor every morsel for your well being.

Erik Callender
As a child, Erik Callender would secretly buy snakes and turtles from the pet store and sneak them into his bedroom. His mother would find out when she found crickets hopping around their home. As an adult, his love for reptiles only grew stronger. Erik regularly travels to places like the Philippines, Nicaragua and Malaysia to observe wildlife. In 2006, he founded Erik's Reptile Edventures. Erik has done more than 450 educational visits, and has now focused his efforts on building a nature center in Madagascar. "Many children don't have educational opportunities and stay in a circle of poverty because they're not given the opportunity to learn," Callender said. "My vision is to have a place for the children to go to build life skills and learn." Callender formed the nonprofit, Wildlife Kids Club International, after a trip to Madagascar to raise the funds necessary to build the nature center.

Dr. Matt Christiansen
Matt Christiansen is the Science, Business, & Technology Coordinator at Islip Public Schools. He is currently the Director-at-Large for Chemistry on the Science Teachers Association of New York State Board of Directors and the Suffolk Section’s Vice Chairperson for Educational Programs. He also currently teaches at Suffolk County Community College as an adjunct in the Chemistry Department.

Tiana Christoforidis
Falling in love with theatre at age 3, Tiana Christoforidis has performed Off Broadway, with the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, the New York Renaissance Faire, Lyric Theatre of New York, On Stage America (National Tours), The Lone Star Historical Drama and regionally in New York City, California, Florida and Africa.  A theatre graduate of Fordham University at Lincoln Center, she has sung in various NYC nightclubs including The Duplex and West Bank Cafe, studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, HB Studios, Circle in the Square, Farnworth and Hauer, Phil Black Studios and with choreographers including Peter Gennaro and Wayne Cilento.Tiana created Y ARTS and the Act Out Theatre School Program (acting instruction and production for students ages 3 through adult) at the Great South Bay YMCA in 1994, and is proud to be Cultural Arts Director directing and/or overseeing the acting as well as voice, dance, music, writing, Performing Arts Camps and various cultural events at the YMCA and at the YMCA Boulton Center.  For information please visit www.boultoncenter.org

Professor Toby Cumberbatch
Toby Cumberbatch has taught at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art since 1994. Based in the Electrical Engineering Department, he founded the Center for Sustainable Engineering, Art and Architecture ­ Materials, Manufacturing and Minimalism (SEA2M3) to bring students from the three schools together to develop sustainable solutions to the problems facing those in remote regions of the Developing World. Each summer a group of students from the Schools of Art, Architecture and Engineering spends at least two months in Northern Ghana, working with students and communities on the projects described. Dr. Cumberbatch is a visiting lecturer at several African universities and has strong links with communities in East and West Africa.

Bret Curlew
Brett Curlew is a researcher and also a master diver who has been diving for 25 years into Long Island History.  He has been on shipwrecks from the 1700’s thru the late 1900’s.  He has been on English Frigates, Steamers, Paddle Wheelers, War ships from World War I and II, Prohibition Rum Runners, Tug Boats, and Barges. Mr. Curlew has a B.S. in Environmental Science and Forestry in addition to a B.S. in Biology.  He was worked as an arborist since 1982 and has been teaching environmental and outdoor education since 1998.  Brett has provided programs for Nassau and Suffolk BOCES (K through 12) and college level and professional development for teachers.  Mr. Curlew has designed and taught AP environmental summer programs for Brookhaven National Laboratory since 2005.  He has been a founding partner in Hands-on Environmental since 2000, an organization which brings environmental and education programs into the classroom.  Brett is also a founding member of The Maritime Oceanological Society (MOS).  Mr. Curlew has a passion for the marine environment and has been diving since 1985 (he is a Master Diver). His interest lies in marine history, shipwrecks and the need to preserve that history.  Bret has lectured extensively and provided programs for all ages on the subject of marine history of Long Island.  He has had artifact displays and had provided lectures at the New York Aquarium at Coney Island , the Maritime Museum at Fort Schuyler, Seacliff Museum, Whaling Museum at Cold Spring Harbor, Maritime Museum at Sayville, New York State Outdoor Ed. Conference, Science Teacher’s Association of New York State, Inc. Conference for Kids Nassau BOCES and Conservation Day.

Dr. Robert Drysielski
Dr. Robert Drysielski graduated with a B.S in Sports Management, with a minor in Business from St. John’s University.  After working in the sports field for five years, he went back to school and received his Master’s degree for Secondary Education with a concentration in Social Studies from Hofstra University.  Dr. Drysielski took his first teaching job at St. Mary’s Elementary school in Manhasset where he taught 6-8th grade.  During his time there, he received his second Master’s degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from Fordham University.  After working at St. Mary’s for six years, he moved onto St. Dominic High School in Oyster Bay.  While there, he severed as a teacher, chairperson, dean and assistant principal.  In March of 2015, Dr. Drysielski received his Ed.D in Educational Administration from St. John’s University.  He is currently the K-12 Coordinator for the Social Studies Department at Islip.    

John Fiore
John's love of storytelling and myth led him to earning a Master of Science degree in English and Secondary Education, working 25 years as a literacy teacher and school administrator, and writing a variety of publications along the way. His favorite works include his book Symbolic Mythology, which explains the myths of Greece and Rome from a uniquely narrative perspective, his game World vs. Hero, which uses story structure in competitive play, and his graphic novel script Muertopia that transforms the tales of ancient Mexican lore into modern-day supernatural horror. Recently, John joined the European game company The Creativity Hub where he serves as the education specialist for the character-driven design thinking game The Extraordinaires Design Studio and as co-designer of Untold: Adventures Await, the customizable storytelling game (coming soon).

Kerry Gillick-Goldberg
Kerry Gillick-Goldberg has more than 14 years experience in business development pertaining to apparel and non-profits, as well as public relations and cause-related marketing. She is principal of New York-based KGG Enterprises, where she transformed the merchandising and sales of the One is Greater Than None (1>0) charity from handmade bracelets to a full licensed line of junior active wear, which was available at Bloomingdale’s, nationwide at independent stores and online; founded by teenage girls, the charity raises money and social awareness to help children in need. Prior to the creation of KGG, Kerry served as president and co-owner of New York-based G Squared Showroom, a $10-million junior/tween multi-line showroom, where she grew sales and developed private-level brands, collaborated with licensing agents and built a professional network of buyers from major retailers – including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters and more – and at online/catalog retailers Delia’s and Alloy – as well as smaller independent retailers. 

Dr. Ryan Glazer
Born and raised in Lima, OH. Dr. Glazer graduated from Miami University in Oxford, OH with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry in 2002. He then continued onto The Ohio State University to complete his dental degree finishing in 2006. Dr. Glazer made his way to New York in summer of 2006 to start the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery program at New York Medical College/Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, NY. He completed his training in June 2010.  Dr. Glazer specializes in multiple surgical procedures including extractions, dental implants, maxillofacial trauma, and pathology. He currently is staff surgeon at the local hospital Good Samaritan in West Islip, NY. His multiple professional organizations include: American Dental Association, New York State Dental Association,  Nassau County Dental Society, American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons,  American College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and  Academy of Osseointegration.

Vincent Green
Vincent Green serves as both Director of Fine and Performing Arts and Instructional Technology Liaison for the Islip School District. In his 26 years as an educator, he has taught music in grades K-12 and served as both a Choral and Band Director in districts across New York State. Mr. Green studied Voice and Saxophone at The Crane School of Music, from which he earned a Bachelor of Music Education. He holds a Master of Science in Music Education from Western Connecticut State University and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Education Administration from SUNY New Paltz. As an educator, Mr. Green has given presentations for numerous organizations, including the New York State School Music Association and the International Society for Technology in Education. As a musician, Mr. Green has been a vocal soloist for choirs including the Pro Arts Chorale in Ridgewood, has served as conductor of the Hudson Voices, Rockland County Catholic Choir, and St Ann’s Parish Choir, and conducted a performance for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. Mr. Green has been on stage or behind-the-scenes for more than 50 stage productions. In addition to his duties as a school administrator, he serves as organist and Music Director for the Parish of St. Paul and St Ann in Rockland County NY.  He is most proud of his children, who have followed his example and become music educators, and of his wife who helped make it all happen.

Michael Guasta
Michael graduated from The Culinary Academy of Long Island in 2003 and from then on, he hit the ground running.  Michael has worked in various bakeries, hotels, country clubs and restaurants.  Michael is the CEO of Pure Sugar, Inc, and whatever your needs are, Michael can make your desserts the main focus of the event.  There is no project too small or too crazy.  He thrives on the “Think outside the box” concept.  Michael’s main focus is to make your special event personalized to you.

Daniel J. Gulizio
Dan Gulizio is the Executive Director of Peconic Baykeeper, Inc. Peconic Baykeeper is a Not-For-Profit organization dedicated to swimmable, drinkable, fishable water. Dan has worked as a planner for over 25 years and has previously served as the Deputy Director of Planning for Suffolk County, Commissioner of Planning, Environment and Land Management for the Town of Brookhaven and Commissioner of Planning and Development for the Town of Islip. He also serves as the Executive Director of The Community Planning Center, a non-profit organization committed to scientifically supported and community-based planning. Dan holds a B.A. from Colby College, a M.S. from Columbia University and a J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law.

Steven Hanania
Steve started out as a very curious young boy.  From bicycles to clocks he couldn’t resist taking them apart.   In school or at home he was always inventing some new project or toy. In 8th grade he was the only one in school to make an illuminated see through telephone. Science, art, and shop classes (metal, wood and plastics) were his favorites. After high school he went to New York Institute of Technology to study electronics engineering. After graduating from New York Institute of Technology he was hired as an electrical engineer designing instruments and electronics that keep track of planes in the sky (Air Traffic Control Systems). Later on he joined his dad in a car parts business.  While selling car parts he started his own business fixing electronics in cars and installing customized music systems in cars.   In his spare time he started making puppets and robots from car parts. He then realized that teachers and students were very interested in these inventions and ideas and he stared presenting science and robotics shows for Nassau BOCES and public schools. In 1995 he presented his own invention (Measuring Height by Ultrasound) at the New York Hall of Science Museum.  The device would measure a persons height, and then a mechanical robotic duck with eyes and mouth that moved would say the height. Steven continues to present at Makers Fairs and other venues.

Mr. Mike Hults P.E., LEED AP
Mike Hults delivered a presentation which embodies the quintessential element of Inventing Self©. Mr. Hults is employed by Cameron Engineering and Associates, LLP and the United States Army Reserve. He has been in the military since January 1993.  He served in the US Navy from 1993 to 1999.  Graduated from the Navy’s esteemed Nuclear Engineering program and served aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower as a nuclear reactor plant operator and supervisor.   He obtained his first B.S. Degree in the field of Nuclear Engineering.  He transferred to the National Guard in 1999 and was selected for enrollment into the Michigan Military Academy for Officer Commissioning.  During this time, Mr. Hults obtained his second B.S. in Engineering Management. He received his commission in 2000 and was selected to train in the Army Corp of Engineer’s Academy at Ft. Leonardwood, Missouri.  Since graduating from the academy, he served as an Engineer Officer in numerous engineering companies and finally transferred to the Army Reserve in 2001.  He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in both Kuwait and Iraq as an engineer platoon leader and upon return became the commanding officer for the 306th Engineer Company, Amityville, NY.  The 306th Engineer Co. conducted numerous humanitarian and training missions in Panama, Thailand, Mongolia, Tunisia and along the US/Mexican border.  In May of 2012, Mr. Hults again deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom with the 411th Engineer Brigade.  He served at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan as the Engineer Officer in charge of engineering operations and the Afghan Security Forces engineering Trainer/ Mentors.  Upon his return to the United States, Mr. Hults, his wife Michelle and son Hunter were featured on the NBC network show, “George to the Rescue”.  In January 2014, Mr. Hults took command of the 854th Engineer Battalion and her 1,100 Soldiers. As an electrical engineer and Partner for Cameron Engineering, he oversees 40 engineers, designers and drafters and, manages the company's most complex MEPS projects.  He has obtained his NYS Professional Engineers License and became a LEED AP.  He recently received his MS degree in Engineering Management from Missouri University with a GPA of 4.0. Currently, Mr. Hults is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and is serving as an Inspector General. He is proficient in the following engineering fields:  electrical, electronic, nuclear, civil and security. His expertise are in the following fields: alternative energy solutions (solar PV, solar thermal, geo-thermal & wind), energy analysis, electrical distribution, electronic controls, security (CCTV, bio-metrics, video analytics, intrusion detection & PLC controls), construction management and project management.

Matt Korsky
Matt Korsky is a licensed teacher with a Bachelor Degree in Physical Education from SUNY Cortland and a Master’s Degree in Health Education from Adelphi University. Matt taught health and physical education for over 13 years in public, private and charter schools across Long Island and NYC.  In 2015, he decided to quit his career as a school teacher to pursue his passion his passion of educating others about the astounding benefits of a plant based lifestyle on a full-time basis.  Matt is also an avid ultra-marathon distance runner and triathlete and has completed 4 full Marathons, 2 Ultra-Marathons, 6 half-Ironman triathlons and 1 full Ironman triathlon.  He is also a certified yoga instructor and health coach.  He currently is a humane educator with the nonprofit organization Ethical Choices Program. 

Christen Lambert
Ms. Lambert delivered a presentation which explained the inside world of equity trading. Christen Lambert graduated with a BA in Psychology from NYU, and received an MBA with a concentration in Finance from Adelphi University.  She is an Equity Trader for WTS Proprietary Traders, LLC, which is a trading firm owned by Merrill Lynch/ Bank of America. Christen has been an equity trader for five years.  Before that, she was a Social Worker for several years (working with juvenile delinquents, hospital care, and the homeless). Christen currently holds four Securities licenses (Series 63, 7, 55 and 56), and specializes in the technical analysis style of trading.

Andy Langsam
Andy Langsam had strengths in Math and Science in high school and thus went to Carnegie-Mellon University to study Engineering.  He was interested in metals and materials.  However, soon after starting, a close family lawyer recommended he consider going to George Washington University's School of Law to become a Patent Attorney.  Patent Attorneys help to protect the inventions, ideas, art work, creativity and from being unfairly used and copied by others.  He totally enjoys his work as every day brings him something new and creative to learn about; it is about problems and peoples solutions to problems.  He has done work on medical devices, dental devices, a moon watch to show the actual phase of the moon, toys, sophisticated chemical compound/atomic weighing machine, inflatable bicycle helmets, bicycle noise maker, hospital disinfecting solutions, household products (collapsible storage containers), and more. A client he represents is currently suing the AKC for its infringing sales of a dog tracking and training device.  He represents the world’s largest costume manufacturer for Halloween products, and did work on a bleeding costume mask, the Muscle Chest, spooky sound recordings, Freddy Kruger Nightmare on Elm Street hand/glove, etc.  He loves his work and career and has been fortunate to have been elected as a Super Lawyer for 10 years in a row in New York.   He is a partner at a mid-size NYC Law Firm with many celebrity clients.  He is currently representing Brittany Spears and Justin Timberlake in a patent infringement case relating to an overhead video screen system showing action video at concerts around the US.  During his presentation, Mr. Langsam brings samples for showing what inventions he has worked on over the years. 

Noah D. Machtay, PhD
Director of the Advanced Transportation Systems Laboratory and Research Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stony Brook University. Dr. Machtay holds a Bachelors of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering from The Cooper Union, a Master’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Stony Brook University, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering also from Stony Brook University. Dr. Machtay has been a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) since 1999, a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) since 2001 (and serves as the SAE Collegiate Chapter Faculty Advisor for Stony Brook University), and is a member of the Pi Tau Sigma and Tau Beta Pi honor societies. Dr. Machtay teaches courses in system dynamics and control, finite element method, and mechatronics, and runs the Rockwell Automation Anorad Mechatronics and Manufacturing Automation Laboratories within the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stony Brook University. Dr. Machtay also works on progressive energy initiatives with the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center (AERTC) at Stony Brook University.

Neil MacDermott                           
Neil MacDermott is the Instructional Technology Coordinator for Lynbrook Schools and adjunct professor at NYIT. Before joining Lynbrook, Neil taught enrichment for gifted and talented students on Long Island at Valley Stream for 18 years and also served as the director of the Valley Stream Teacher Resource and Computer Training Center. In that capacity, he organized and facilitated training in many areas of instructional technology. He is a Senior Trainer for Intel and is certified to train in Thinkfinity, SAS Curriculum Pathways, Professor Garfile and Oracle's ThinkQuest. Neil obtained his BA in History from Stony Brook University, a Master’s Degree is Special Education from Dowling and most recently his Master’s in Educational Adminstration from the College of Saint Rose.

Kevin McEvoy
As a boy, I pored over the paintings of Rembrandt, the etchings of Albrecht Durer, the drawings of Michelangelo.  Copying what works I could find, I pushed myself to continually grow as an artist.  I loved the way that a woman continually tucked her hair behind her ear, when talking.  I loved the way that puddles on a dirty street can turned into magnificent mirrors, their reflection of blue sky like sparkling little stones of lapis lazuli, all the more glorious because they are set in grime and soot.  I loved the way that old men hunched over the counter, talking quietly at diners.  My world was the tangible world, with all the currents underneath rushing wildly, and I had to learn how to paint it. I was enrolled in the Charles Cecil Studios of Florence, Italy, one of the greatest schools of classical painting in the world.  For several years, I studied under the leading artists in Europe, and learned the centuries old crafts of drawing and oil painting.  It was here that I acquired the language of painting that I so desperately sought, and it was here that my hands finally found what they had been created for. I now live in New York, and have established a successful career in drawing and painting.  I travel all over the place, painting people’s portraits.  My paintings hang in pubs, coffee houses, homes, galleries, schools, libraries, all ranging from estates on the South Shore of Long Island, to ramshackle houses in Chile, to the coast of California.  Having taught classical drawing and painting for about ten years now, I recently became the Director of a beautiful new school of classical drawing and painting, The Reboli Atelier, and have seen our student artists quickly gain momentum.

Chris Meade
Mr. Meade's presentation focuses on how one establishes 'self' and what it means to create oneself. Chris Meade is co-founder of SportsRecruits and Lacrosserecruits, a company which helps empower athletes to pursue their dreams.  Chris manages hiring, sales, business development and customer service. Chris studied International Relations at Wesleyan University, graduating in 2005. He was selected to represent male teams on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and was an Athletic Department Liaison to the Admissions Office.  He started as an associate at Cushman & Wakefield, Inc. at their World Headquarters location in New York City. Chris learned how to canvas office buildings on Madison and Park Avenues, and then to make an endless amount of cold calls to angry receptionists and bewildered CEOs – ask him for stories of getting escorted out of office buildings by security guards. On the lacrosse field, Chris was a four-year letter winner and team captain at Wesleyan. Over that period, Wesleyan achieved the best record over a four-year span in the school’s history. Chris was the recipient of the William T. Call Award, given to the most inspiring and dedicated senior athlete. Chris was also a force to be reckoned with on the intramural soccer field and basketball court. In his spare time, Chris enjoys reading biographies, business books and Hemingway/Steinbeck. Chris spends time on hipster music blogs and also loves running in Riverside and Central Park, and getting run around the squash court by friends. Chris grew up year-round on Fire Island, where he was 1 of 300 year round-residents.

Howard Miller, D.M.D.
Howard Miller Graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 1971.  Dr. Miller then went on to Brookdale Hospital and Medical Center residency program in Pediatric Dentistry and graduated in 1973. Dr. Miller is a member of the American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and is Past President of the Suffolk County Dental Society.  He has practiced pediatric dentistry for over 30 years and is Assistant Clinical Professor in the Pediatric Dental Residency Program at Stony Brook University School of Dentistry.

Stephen G. Mitchell, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Mr. Mitchell's presentation provides us with a glimpse into the world of architecture. Stephen is a registered architect and LEED Accredited Professional with more than 29 years’ experience in architectural design, project management, and construction administration. Mr. Mitchell worked at Goshow Architects from 1992 to 2013 as the firm’s Principal in Charge of Design Operations, overseeing project staffing and management, quality assurance and quality control, and financial performance of projects. He currently is a Senior Project Manager at GRCH Architecture in Islandia, NY. While at Goshow, he has worked on a wide variety of projects including new buildings and renovations, modernization and adaptive-reuse of institutional, K-12 and higher educational facilities, government structures and college student housing. Mr. Mitchell managed the $35 million multi-phase renovation of a five-story academic building at City University of New York, Hostos Community College, in the South Bronx. He served as Senior Project Manager for the new $54 million 600 Bed Student Residence Building at State University of New York at Stony Brook, completed in the fall of 2010 and receiving LEED Gold Certification. Other recent projects include infrastructure improvements at Gilboa Dam and the Kensico Reservoir in upstate New York for the NYC DEP and security improvements at the 4 New York Metro Airports for the Port Authority of NY & NJ. Stephen is currently working on mixed use retail and residential projects in Farmingdale and Westbury as part of the growing initiative for walkable and sustainable communities in Long Island's downtown areas.

Dr. Melvyn Morris
Dr. Melvyn Morris studied biology, Marine Science and Science Education at SUNY Stony Brook, CW Post College and the University of Florida.  Starting his career as a Science Teacher at Mulligan Jr. High School at Central Islip, he then became the Science Chairman at William Floyd High School.  Dr. Morris has been an Adjunct Instructor at SUNY Stony Brook, Suffolk County Community College and Southampton College, where he also held the title of Cooperative Education Coordinator.  Mel has served as President of the SUNY Stony Brook Alumni Association, Vice President of the NYS Outdoor Education Association, and Vice President of the North Fork Audubon Society. Since 2002, Dr. Morris has been the Educational Program Administrator at Brookhaven National Laboratory.  In 2005, he started the Open Space Stewardship Program, creating a school, community, government partnership. In 2008 he was presented with the Outstanding Educator Award from School to Business Partnerships of Long Island.  In 2014, Dr. Morris was presented with the Education Leadership Award from the NYS Outdoor Education Association for the Open Space Stewardship Program.

Melissa Parrott
Melissa Griffiths Parrott has been in the Environmental Education field for over 20 years.  After receiving her degree from California State University Long Beach in Film/TV/Radio, she began working ABC/Kane, producing Natural History documentary films. Her love of nature and the environment persisted and she volunteered as an educator at El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach California.  Soon she changed careers and started full time as a Naturalist for El Dorado Nature Center and an Outreach Coordinator for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.  After moving to New York in 1997 she became Director of Education, and interim Executive Director of Sweetbrier Nature Center in Smithtown.  Following her husband to Boston Massachusetts in 1999 she became Director of Environmental Education for the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  In this position she worked directly with the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the Secretary of Environmental Affairs and the Education Commissioner with incorporating environmental education and using the environment as an integrated context for learning, particularly biodiversity- into the state learning standards. She attended Harvard University for Environmental Planning and was the Massachusetts representative for groups such as Secretary's Advisory Group for Environmental Education (SAGEE), and the Environmental Council of States (ECOS).  She was a Board member for Massachusetts Environmental Education Society (MEES), Massachusetts Association of Science Teaches (MAST), State Education and Environment Roundtable (SEER), and the National Environmental Education Training Foundation (NEETF).  She successfully helped develop and implemented the Massachusetts Environmental Education Plan (MEEP) and coordinated all education aspects of Massachusetts’ Biodiversity Days for 5 years. Missing Long Island and her family, Melissa and her family returned in 2003 where she worked with Cornell Cooperative Extension implementing several environmental education programs and projects.  Melissa is now the Director of Education and Outreach for the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission and working toward her Environmental Communication Professional Certificate at Duke University.

Tobi Phillips
Tobi J. Phillips, Ed. D. (cert.) has been teaching students in grades N-12 for over 38 years. She received her B.A. from Ithaca College with a double major in Vocal Music and Anthropology. She earned three masters from Boston College: M.A., M.Ed., Masters in Special Education and Education of the Blind and Visually Impaired. She was accepted into the doctoral program at Teachers College, Columbia University where she became Ed. D. certified in Instructional Technology. Ms. Phillips holds the following certifications: Gifted Education, Early Childhood-Kindergarten, Grades 1-6 and Social Studies/English Grades 7-12, Special Education, Special Education for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Braille Transcription, Peripatology (Orientation and Mobility for the Blind), License from New York State in Archaeological Excavation. In 2001, Phillips was awarded the OMER Award for outstanding coaching of five teams (35 students) in the International Odyssey of the Mind Competition. In 2005, she received the New York Senate Liberty Award for her rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina.  Her contributing life experiences include: singer/dancer at Farrell's School of Performing Arts and performed at local cafes on Long Island; National Baton Twirling Team; National Choral Award and All-State Choir, studied British history, education, theater and architecture in London, music/dance therapist and enrichment teacher at the Dartington School of England, teacher at Perkins School For the Blind in Boston, created a "Guitar Workshop for the Blind", itinerant teacher for the New York State Commission, partner of City Light Productions- a film company specializing in corporate videos and feature films, associate producer of the internationally acclaimed film," Torn Apart", which had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 1989, corporate entertainment and event planning at Todd Street Productions, established, "Working Moms", a community support group, opened a business called "Piece-A-Cake", where she designed custom cake sculptures and hand-crafted wedding cakes, won an award at the French culinary "International Societe Culinaire Philanthropique" Cake Show, taught in the Merrick Schools, North Shore Hebrew Academy, Port Washington Schools, West Hill Day Camp Gifted Program, In 2007, Ms. Phillips patented a gifted curriculum and teaching methodology “Phillips RBM Approach (Reawakening Brilliant Minds) and founded “Village East Gifted (VEG)” .Currently, VEG has locations in both Nassau and Suffolk counties and is open seven days a week. The program offers gifted and talented students ages 2-16 over 30 enrichment classes a week during the school year and over the summer. Ms. Phillips enjoys sharing her diverse skills, interests and life experiences with her students through her teaching styles, challenging and unique curriculum ideas and her creative approach to learning.

Dr. John Potente
After finishing a Masters Degree in Medical Biology, John Potente, attended Dental School at Washington University. From then on, he continued a lifelong career as a dentist, having a particular interest in surgical procedures, grafting bone, and placing titanium dental implants in untold numbers of Long Islanders. But his fascination with the biology of nature never left him and he became one of Long Islands environmental advocates, calling for preservation of parks and preserves and the protection of Long Island's wildlife. He served on the Suffolk County environmental review board, wrote a scholastic book on "Tidal Marshes of Long Island, New York", and recently published illustrated nature poetry on the iBooks app that can be viewed on Apple computers and iPads. John has given lectures on the environment for public schools, colleges and universities, public libraries, and most major environmental organization of Long Island. His interest in the land and restoring fields and forests continues for current and future generations.  John is also a musician, and very talented pianist.

Ed Regensburg
Ed Regensburg is a licensed, board certified professional Clinical Art Psychotherapist (ATR-BC, LCAT), an author, a noted lecturer and workshop leader, consultant, board certified hypnotherapist and an artist whose work has been featured in galleries across the country and is included in many private and corporate collections. Since 1980, Ed has studied physics, metaphysics, and quantum physics, resulting in a successful clinical psychotherapy practice and focus group moderation services for the market research industry. Mr. Regensburg designed, established and supervised clinical Art Psychotherapy programs at the North Shore University Hospital, Sagamore Children’s Center, and Pederson Krag Mental Health Center. He established the first Wellness, Education and Treatment Through The Arts Program at the North Shore Creative Rehabilitation Center. He is currently the Director of the Art Therapy Department at Family Residences & Essential Enterprises, Inc. – a department he also designed and established. Regensburg also established an exclusive private practice where he specializes in art psychotherapy, with a special focus on children and individuals with special needs. Quantum Imagery: Why Creating Art Heals Us is available on Amazon.com, Kindle.com and Smashwords.com

Jason Reilly
Jason Reilly has spent most of his life working with animals. As a teenager Jason was raised on a dairy farm and then lived in a zoo.  After high school, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served on a ship as a weather observer. Today, he runs a small business that teaches people of all ages about live animals. Jason is also currently studying accounting so to gain a better understanding of business and the world around us.

Paul Rodriguez
"Poverty and world hunger, the 911 attacks and Columbine, bullying and drug abuse, global warming and rainforest destruction, Katrina and Haiti… Everyone is affected and everyone wishes they could do something to help. Rodro is what I do.” Rodro is the split-profit book publishing company created by Paul Rodriguez to raise awareness and money for social and environmental causes. Following his passion for those causes Paul researches, writes and illustrates books that serve as an ongoing fundraising tool for related charities. In support of children’s education, the driving force behind his passion, Paul has created a series of character education programs to deliver the messages of his books. With his bachelors in fine arts from Pratt Institute in tow Paul has invested twenty years into children’s education and community service. His programs range form environmental awareness, to assisting children with autism, to the Bully Rescue Program. Paul has worked with thousands of children in both school and community settings from New York to Louisiana. From the Children’s museum in New Orleans to the Atlantis Marine World aquarium on Long Island, Paul conducts an ongoing series of programs and events that enrich the lives of the children and communities that he visits.

Donna Rosenblum
Ms. Rosenblum has been an educator for the past 29 years – first as a high school social studies teacher and then a school librarian. She is presently the Supervisor of the School Library System for Nassau BOCES. Donna is passionate about children and education and became a member of the Reason2Smile’s board in 2011 and Executive Director in 2015.  Reason2Smile is a non-profit organization on a mission to positively impact others and to encourage individuals around the world to be in service to others. They do this though education for children globally and service to organizations in developing countries that provide education, food, clothing and healthcare to orphaned and at-risk children.  Donna is constantly coming up with new ways to impact people locally and abroad. She began travelling to Mtwapa, Kenya in 2013 and visits the Jambo Jipya School annually. Donna says that Reason2Smile has filled a void that she was not cognizant existed. She is so grateful to be a part of the organization and its members. Donna resides in Merrick, NY with her husband and three children.

Craig Ruyle, P.E.
Mr. Ruyle is an Area Construction Supervisor with the New York State Department of Transportation where he has over sixteen years of experience managing large construction projects, including Segment 3 of the 9A Project, the Reconstruction of the BQE between Broadway and 25th Avenue, and the Reconstruction of the BQE between 61st Street and Broadway. Mr. Ruyle received a BCE from Georgia Tech in 1990 and an MCE from CCNY in 1996. He has been active in the Met Section Construction Group since 1997 where he has held several positions, including a term as group chair.  He served two years on the Met Section Board of Directors, one year as Vice President, and one year as President and currently chairperson of the board.  Additionally, he is a member of the Work Zone Traffic control Committee of the Transportation Research Board.

Dr. Ellen Semel
Ellen began as a special education teacher for United Cerebral Palsy.  She then became interested in reading and achieved a Master’s degree in reading from Columbia University.  Mrs. Semel then taught adult literature in Freeport and reading and special education in Bellmore.  Ellen then became interested in leadership and received a degree from Post in school wide leadership and administration.  She was an assistant principal in the South Huntington school district and principal in Massapequa.  In 2006 Mrs. Semel joined the Islip School District as Director of Curriculum and Instruction.  And has since been promoted to Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. Mrs. Semel embarked upon a quest for a Ph.D. in 2007.  You can visit her blog at https://esemelblog.wordpress.com/.

Professor Alexander Smirnov
Alex Smirnov is the Chair and Assistant Professor of the Department of Earth and Marine Sciences at Dowling College. Alex obtained his PhD in Geosciences from Stony Brook University and his diploma in Geology from Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. Before becoming a faculty member at Dowling, Alex was a postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Institute for Science in Washington, DC and at Stony Brook University. He was a part of NASA Astrobiology Institute and worked on nitrogen cycling on the early Earth. His current research interests range from environmental science to astrobiology and planetary science using a variety of laboratory and field-based methods. At Dowling, he very much enjoys teaching courses in geology, environmental science, meteorology, and astronomy. Alex prefers to spend his time outside, hiking, cycling, or traveling.

Elizabeth Suda
Elizabeth Suda studied History and Art History at Williams College and Oxford University.  When she graduated in June 2005 and relocated to NYC to start a job at Coach, Inc. as a Merchandising Assistant, Elizabeth led a group project on “green” fashion and fabric and started to think about who makes the goods Americans consume and with what materials. In 2007, she founded a small reusable shopping bag company, Greensacs.com. With a desire to learn more about sustainable textile-related products, she followed her instincts to SE Asia. She found a home base in Laos where, for six months, she lived and worked with a social business that supports women who hand weave textiles. She also consulted for a non-governmental organization on the Rural Income Through Sustainable Development (RISE) Project and designed four clothing collections made from naturally dyed, hand woven textiles, which were presented at the National Handicrafts Association Fashion Shows that November. Elizabeth continues to work with Lao weavers and has founded a company called ARTICLE22, that sells fair trade handbags and jewelry on shoparticle22.com. She is also currently working on a documentary film about Project peaceBOMB, bracelets by ARTICLE 22 and village artisans recycled from Vietnam War era bombs. Traveling has been key to her conceptualization of ARTICLE 22 and design process, but when her suitcases are unpacked, Elizabeth, a New York native, is at home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

John L. Turner
John Turner worked for the Town of Brookhaven as Director of the Division of Environmental Protection.  Before this position, he served as Director of Conservation Programs for the Long Island Chapters of The Nature Conservancy and was Legislative Director of the New York State Legislative Commission on Water Resource Needs of New York State and Long Island. From 1986 to 1992 he served as Director of the Division of Natural Resources in the Suffolk County Parks Department and served as Northeastern Field Representative to Defenders of Wildlife.  John Turner is a co-founder of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society and writes on a variety of environmental issues, having authored several dozen articles and two books: "Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island" and a children's book on the water cycle entitled "Waylon's Wandering Waterdrop".   John also serves as an adjunct professor of Ornithology in the Natural Sciences Department at SUNY-Stony Brook/Southampton College and has been an interpretive specialist for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County.  

Barbara Wagner
Barbara Wagner is the Coordinator for English Language Arts and Family & Consumer Sciences for grades K-12 in the Islip School District.  Formerly, she worked as a journalist and author. She currently lives in Smithtown with her husband and three children.

Peter Walsh
Peter Walsh is the Education Director for Seatuck Environmental Association, a not for profit that works to conserve Long Island’s wildlife through education, research and policy work. In this role Peter can share his love of nature through nature-based programs for learners of all ages both in classrooms and in the field. In his spare time he is Vice President of Trips for Kids Metro New York (a not-for-profit organization that exposes children to the outdoors by taking them on mountain bike trips), a board member of the LI Partnership for After School Education and a founding member of  The Long Nature Collaborative for Kids. Peter lives in Islip with his wife and two young daughters.

Eugene Christopher Williams Jr.
Mr. Eugene Christopher Williams is a Dowling College Graduate, holding an MA in Secondary Education and a NSF NOYCE Scholar.  Mr. Williams is also a published author for research completed at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in the Journal of Biochemistry. Eugene Williams is currently a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) training specialist in the Technology Based Learning Systems department of NYIT, providing curriculum development and technology support for the educational community of NYS.  In addition, Mr. Williams is the Coordinator of the NYIT STEAMed Vehicle which brings a host of engaging activities to schools in the areas of 3D printing/Design, Circuitry and wearable electronics, Robotics, and Citizen Science. Finally, Mr. Williams serves as the Program Coordinator for the NYS Science Technology Entry Program (STEP), which aims to excite minorities and economically disadvantaged youth into the STEAM related professions by engaging them in engineering-based activities. Prior to his work at NYIT, Mr. Williams taught Living Environment, Earth Science and Forensics at Wyandanch Memorial High School. He created the Research and Forensics programs and redesigned the 9 – 12 Science curriculum. Mr Williams was appointed to the NYS Teacher Center technology dissemination network, then nominated to serve as the representative for the network on the NYS Teacher Center Technology Committee.  Mr. Williams is also a successful professional development trainer for the OWL teacher center. 

Danielle Wynn
Danielle Wynn is the Recycling Educator for the Town of Islip in the Department of Environmental Control. Danielle's main duty is to educate Islip residents about the importance of recycling and the many recycling programs Islip offers. Danielle visits schools, camps, civic associations and other organizations. Her visits consist of a presentation that teaches the residents how to be better recyclers, how the town recycles all of their curb side pick-up items, why we recycle and how recycling can be fun. Danielle's interactions with her audience is always fun. Not only do they learn something but she does as well. The Department of Environmental Control has four facilities that are available for tours. Danielle sets up the tours for all sites and is the tour guide for two of the facilities.  Danielle enjoys nature and all the seasons New York has to offer. Being a Recycling Educator provides her with the opportunity to do her part to give back to nature.

Benjamin Yao
At eleven years old, Benjamin is our youngest Inventing Self guest. Even before middle school, Benjamin was already very active in community service projects both inside and outside of school. Benjamin has been deeply involved with Kids Change the World, a global youth-led nonprofit organization that envisions a world in which young people work to combat societal issues to ensure all are blessed with the opportunities that allow them to lead productive and fulfilling lives. Benjamin has been involved with Kids Change the World's activities, including the Smile Train Read-A-Thon, Cards for Kids program, collecting books and school supplies for children, UNICEF Trick or Treat and much more. He contributes to his school's community service program every chance he gets. It makes Benjamin feel good inside when he knows his work is helping someone else in the world. Besides going to school and Kids Change the World, Benjamin enjoys reading, playing chess, and biking. Science and math are his favorite subjects in school.