Alumni Speakers | Faculty Speakers | Student Speaker

Katherine Chon, Co-founder and President Emerita, Polaris Project

Katherine Chon is the co-founder and President Emerita of Polaris Project, a leading nonprofit organization combating modern slavery in the United States and Asia. Sparked by a local newspaper article describing the enslavement of women in a brothel a few miles from her Brown University apartment, Katherine has spent the last ten years creating high-impact, measurable solutions to fight human trafficking. She regularly speaks on issues related to modern slavery, social innovation, and activism and has provided strategic consulting on organizational development and nonprofit management. Katherine has been recognized with a Do Something Brick award presented by President Bill Clinton, Diane Von Furstenberg’s People’s Voice award, and Working Mother Media’s Multicultural Legacy award.  In 2010, Woman’s Day Magazine selected Katherine among the Top 50 Women Changing the World. Katherine received her Sc.B. in Psychology with Honors from Brown University, M.P.A. from Harvard Kennedy School, and completed the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She is currently researching and consulting on market-based anti-slavery interventions. (More)

Tom Gardner, Co-founder and CEO, The Motley Fool

Tom Gardner is co-founder and CEO of The Motley Fool. He founded the company with his brother, David, in 1993. The Motley Fool's mission is to help the world invest better by focusing on long-term investments in world-class businesses. The company serves more than 5 million monthly visitors at www.fool.com, provides online membership services to avid investors, and launched its third mutual fund this year. Core to The Motley Fool is a belief that all financial advice should be given with complete transparency and clear accountability.

Jill Huchital, Silicon Valley Engineer

Jill Huchital is the head of engineering for a Silicon Valley startup building a content discovery and launch platform. Until recently, she was the engineering and product director for Google.org, responsible for projects that use Google’s technology to address global challenges. She joined Google in March, 2005 as an engineering director, spearheading Google's engineering efforts for new ad formats and inventory. From 2008 until 2011, she was responsible for content management and revenue-generating features on YouTube. Prior to Google, she served as engineering director at TiVo driving updates to the TiVo Service, developed computer graphics systems and interactive TV products at SGI, and designed computer animation software at Xaos Tools. She holds an A.B. in computer science from Brown University.

Richard Morrill, President, The Teagle Foundation

Dr. Richard L. Morrill is President of the Teagle Foundation, a national nonprofit dedicated to supporting new thinking in higher education. He also continues to serve as Chancellor of the University of Richmond, a largely honorary position that he assumed in 1998 to serve as an ambassador of good will for the University following his 10-year presidency. Dr. Morrill has written and spoken widely on issues of values and ethics in liberal education and has published several articles and made numerous presentations on strategic planning and leadership for colleges and universities. He is the author of Teaching Values in College: Facilitating Ethical, Moral and Value Awareness in Students (Jossey-Bass,1980), Strategic Leadership in Academic Affairs: Clarifying the Board's Responsibilities (AGB, 2002), Strategic Leadership: Integrating Strategy and Leadership in Colleges and Universities (ACE/Praeger, 2007) and Assessing Presidential Effectiveness (AGB, 2010). Dr. Morrill received his A.B. in History from Brown University in 1961, graduating magna cum laude, his B.D. in Religious Thought in 1964 from Yale University, where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and the recipient of the Tew Prize for excellence in studies, and his Ph.D. in Religion from Duke University where he was a James B. Duke Fellow. (More

Nawal M. Nour, M.D., Founder, The African Women's Health Center

Dr. Nawal Nour actively researches the health and policy issues regarding female genital cutting (FGC).  She has spoken in numerous academic and national conferences regarding the medical management of women who have undergone this practice. With support from a 2003 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, she established the African Women's Health Center, which provides appropriate health and outreach programs to the African community in Boston; the clinic is the only center of its kind nationwide. Dr. Nour is a board certified Obstetrician/Gynecologist and the Director of the Ambulatory Obstetrics Practice and the Global Obstetrics and Gynecology Divisionat the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. She is an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School. Born in the Sudan and raised in Egypt and England, Dr. Nour came to the United States to attend Brown University, where she received an A.B. in International Relations.  She received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1994 and her MPH at Harvard School of Public Health in 1999.  (More)

Sonja Brookins Santelises, Chief Academic Officer, Baltimore City Public Schools

Since she began her post as Chief Academic Officer for Baltimore City Public Schools in 2010, Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises has focused on setting academic priorities for City Schools to bolster the achievement of students across all schools. Dr. Santelises came to City Schools from Boston, where she most recently served as the Assistant Superintendent for Pilot Schools, a network of 23 schools with broad autonomy and a track record of improving the achievement of low-income students, particularly students of color. Prior to joining Boston Public Schools, Dr. Santelises lectured on urban education for two years at Harvard University, spent six years as a senior associate with Focus on Results Inc, and served as executive director of the New York City Algebra Project. Santelises began her career as director of professional development and teacher placement with Teach for America, New York. She holds an A.B. from Brown University, M.A. in Education Administration from Columbia University and an Ed.D. in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University. (More)

Brad Simpson, Independent Film Producer, Colorforce

Brad Simpson is a film producer and partner in Colorforce, which  is responsible for The Wimpy Kid franchise, One Day, and Hunger GamesHe began his career as an executive and producer at the New York independent production company Killer Films, where he co-produced Far From Heaven, which was nominated for four Academy Awards and three Golden Globes, and served as an Associate Producer on the acclaimed Boys Don’t Cry, for which Hillary Swank won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actress. While working at Killer Films, Simpson was also an executive on a series of acclaimed independent films including Velvet Goldmine, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Happiness, and One Hour Photo. Simpson also serves on the Board of Directors of the education charity 826LA. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Modern Culture and Media from Brown University.  (More)

Ari Matusiak

Ari Matusiak serves as the director of private sector engagement and executive director of the White House Business Council, managing the Administration’s interaction with the business community. In that role, he helps ensure that entrepreneurs, small business owners and corporate and financial leaders alike inform and participate in the Administration’s efforts to spur job creation and promote long-term economic competitiveness. He is the co-founder and former chairman of Young Invincibles, a national organization dedicated to improving economic opportunities for 18 to 34 year olds. Prior to moving to Washington, Ari was vice president for strategy and community impact at The Rhode Island Foundation, one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the country. While in Rhode Island, Ari also directed HousingWorks RI, a statewide affordable housing coalition and campaign. He graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University with an A.B. in Political Science and cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was also a Public Interest Law Scholar.

Brown Faculty Speakers

Amanda Anderson, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities and English

Prof. Amanda Anderson is a literary scholar and theorist who has written on nineteenth-century literature and culture, as well as on contemporary debates in the humanities. She is the director of an interdisciplinary summer institute, The School of Criticism and Theory, which is currently hosted by Cornell University. Prior to joining the Brown faculty in 2012, she taught at Johns Hopkins, where she served as chair of the Department of English from 2003-2009. Dr. Anderson’s research addresses broad questions of intellectual history, disciplinary formation, and the relation of art and politics. She is the author of The Way We Argue Now: A Study in the Cultures of Theory (2006), The Powers of Distance: Cosmopolitanism and the Cultivation of Detachment (2001), and Tainted Souls and Painted Faces: The Rhetoric of Fallenness in Victorian Culture (1993).

Philip Gruppuso, M.D., Associate Dean for Medical Education

Dr. Philip A. Gruppuso, M.D., is currently Professor of Pediatrics, Professor of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry (Research) and Associate Dean for Medical Education at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. An undergraduate of Union College in Schenectady, NY (Fine Arts/Music), and the recipient of a medical degree from the University of Rochester, Dr. Gruppuso went on to complete his residency training in pediatrics at the Brown program of the Rhode Island Hospital. Dr. Gruppuso has been a lecturer and course director for medical biochemistry since 1989 and has been involved in graduate education for more than fifteen years. He is the recipient of an NIH Special Emphasis Research Career Award and the author of over one hundred original research articles, review articles and textbook chapters. Through his years in academic medicine, Dr. Gruppuso has maintained his interest in music as an active jazz and blues pianist in and around Providence, RI. (More)

Student Speakers

Our Student Challenge Event Winner:

Ria Mirchandani ’15

Ria Mirchandani has a modest biography in comparison to those you just read (but it hopefully won’t remain that way for long). She is a sophomore from Mumbai, India, and is currently comfortably confused as to what her concentration may be. She has spent her time at Brown soaking in the open curriculum by taking classes in departments ranging from Literary Arts to Engineering to Archeology, and has even designed her own course with friends. Though she is uncertain as to which career path her life should take, she is certain that she wants to travel, especially to places of historical significance and great hot chocolate. Some of her interests include tie-dying t-shirts, writing, performing magic tricks, calorie counting and rediscovering music from her father’s generation. She hopes to eventually solve the conflict between India and Pakistan, and figure out a way for humans to synthesize their own food through a form of photosynthesis.

Our Student Challenge identified and selected one Brown student to join the TEDx line-up.