Guest Speakers

The Adirondack Program is fortunate to host a growing list of devoted and distinguished guest speakers who work with the students as part of the Common Experience Seminar, and through organized program events. Students discuss and debate diverse perspectives on life, work and recreation directly with these Adirondack Park experts, most of whom live in the region and enjoy national and global reputations.
It is amazing to see the Hamilton students' intelligence, energy and enthusiasm for changing the world, and their interest in the Adirondacks as a test case for their research and education. It is always a pleasure to work with them and offer my experience to inspire their future careers.

Brian Houseal — Director, Adirondack Ecological Center

Rocci Aguirre ... coming soon!

Russell Banks is the internationally acclaimed author of eighteen works of fiction, including the novels Continental Drift, Rule of the Bone, The Book of Jamaica and Lost Memory of Skin, as well as six short story collections, most recently A Permanent Member of the Family. Two of his novels, The Sweet Hereafter and Affliction, have been adapted into award-winning films. Banks has been a PEN/Faulkner Finalist and a Pulitzer Prize Finalist. His work has received numerous other awards and has been widely translated and anthologized. Banks is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was New York State Author (2004-2008). He lives in the High Peaks of the Adirondacks and in Miami, Fla., with his wife, the poet Chase Twichell.

Gene Bazan has spent a large part of his last 30 years working with educational, environmental, civic, governmental and business organizations in the U.S. and abroad on projects, funding, and board and staff development. At Penn State, he helped create the Center for Sustainability and design the first Projects in Sustainable Living course. He was the lead consultant and author of “Saving the Farm, Saving the Farmer: Securing a Future for Agriculture in Chester County.” Since 1998 he has given numerous workshops, talks and tours in Central Pennsylvania on organic gardening . His training is in electrical engineering and economics at Union College, and in city and regional planning at Cornell University. He also run Neo-Terra, with Tania Slawecki, a green technology company focused on advancing alternatives for living in a more healthful and regenerative way.

Hallie E. Bond is currently the director of the Kelly Adirondack Center at Union College. She also served as education director and curator of the Adirondack Museum from 1983 until 2012. She is the author of numerous historical articles for scholarly and popular journals, on topics ranging from historic watercraft, the history of dogs in the Adirondacks and quilts and material culture. She lives in Long Lake, N.Y., with her husband, the novelist and boatbuilder Mason Smith.

Phil Brown is the editor of Adirondack Explorer, a nonprofit newsmagazine focused on outdoor recreation and environmental protection. He has written numerous articles on Adirondack issues and recreational outings, and is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures and 12 Short Hikes Near Lake Placid; the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks: Writings of a Pioneering Peak-Bagger, Pond-Hopper and Wilderness Preservationist; and the publisher of Adirondack Birding: 60 Great Places to Find Birds. His Lost Pond Press also has published the Adirondack suspense novels of Michael Virtanen. Phil lives in Saranac Lake and is an avid hiker, paddler, backcountry skier and rock climber.

John Davis is a wildways scout, editor, and writer now working half-time for Wildlands Network and half-time on conservation field work, particularly within New York’s Adirondack Park, where he lives. John serves on the boards of The Rewilding Institute, RESTORE: The North Woods, The Eddy Foundation, Wild Farm Alliance, Champlain Area Trails and Cougar Rewilding Foundation. In 2011, John completed Trek East, a 7600-mile muscle-powered exploration of the wilder parts of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada, in order to promote restoration and protection of an Eastern Wildway. For more on John...

Betsy Folwell is creative director of Adirondack Life magazine and author of Short Carries: Essays from Adirondack Life. Betsy has won numerous awards for her work from the Regional Publishers Association and the International Regional Magazine Association. “Peer recognition is great,” she says, “but what I love is when some stranger recalls a specific story and tells me all about his or her response to it!” She lives in Blue Mountain Lake, where she hikes, paddles, cross-country skis and enjoys living in an extremely quiet place. In 2001 she became blind, which has added new and challenging angles to her storytelling. For an interview with Betsy...

Michale Glennon is Science Director for the Adirondack Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society. Her interests lie primarily at the intersection between land use management and ecological integrity, with a number of projects ranging from explorations of the impacts of low density, exurban development on wildlife to the potential changes to Adirondack lowland boreal bird communities resulting from climate change. Michale has conducted a number of joint studies focused on residential development in an effort to understand the specific impacts on wildlife communities, in the Adirondacks and beyond. Michale serves on the advisory board of the Shingle Shanty Preserve and Research Station, the Technical Advisory Committee for the Adirondack Park Agency, and the Biodiversity Conservation Advisory Committee for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, among others.

Amy Godine is an independent scholar in Saratoga Springs, who has been writing about ethnic, labor, black, and migratory history in the Adirondack region for 25 years. A long -time contributor to Adirondack Life magazine, she is a charter Fellow of the New York History Academy, a former Hackman Fellow at the New York State Archives, and the curator of the traveling exhibition, Dreaming of Timbuctoo, about an abolitionist black farm settlement in the antebellum Adirondacks. “What I like," says Amy,” is to find the lost or unloved story that subverts the cherished narrative. Let the air in. Shake it up!”

Tony Goodwin is editor of the High Peaks Regional Trail Guide and executive director of the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society. Beginning in 1966, he has worked for Johns Brook Lodge; was a “ridge runner” and chief of the Adirondack Mountain Club’s first professional trail crew; worked for the Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee; and was manager of the Mt. Van Hoevenberg XC and Biathalon Ski Area. He has served on the Citizens Advisory Committees to the High Peaks Wilderness Unit Management Plan and the Adirondack Rail Corridor Unit Management Plan. He is a founding board member of the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates. Oh, and he was a 46er by age 11!

Ward Halverson grew up on Canada Lake in the Southern Woods section of the Adirondacks, exploring, sailing, camping and backpacking throughout the lower range. Captain Halverson was a company commander attached to the 25th Infantry Division in Afghanistan in 2005-06 and director of mental health for Detainee Operations. He is currently a child and family therapist based in Herkimer, N.Y., where, most weekends, he leads veterans on informal wilderness survival adventures in the foothills of the Adirondack. He is also a Hamilton alum, Class of ’92. For more on Ward...

Carl Heilman II is an internationally published landscape photographer, author and workshop instructor who has been living in the Adirondack Park since the mid 1970s. His photography has been published in numerous regional and international books, magazines, and calendars. His AV shows on the Adirondacks can be seen at The W!LD Center and the View. He supports a number of regional environmental organizations with his photography, and has also worked with different arts groups in the area. He loves spending time with his wife, Meg, and family, exploring the spectacular Adirondack backcountry—snowshoeing, hiking, skiing, or paddling a Hornbeck canoe. For more on Carl and his work...

Brian Houseal currently directs SUNY-ESF’s Adirondack Ecological Center (AEC), in Newcomb—a 15,000-acre research station in the center of the Adirondack Park. From 2002 to 2012 he served as executive director of the Adirondack Council. And he has extensive conservation experience throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Brian also worked for 15 years with the Nature Conservancy’s International Program, where he designed and directed the ‘Parks in Peril Program,’ which successfully protected over 65 million acres throughout Latin America. In 2012, Brian was appointed by the Obama administration to chair the USEPA National Advisory Committee on issues related to the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation. Brian and his wife are full-time residents of Westport, NY. He has great admiration for Adirondack wilderness because he can still get lost in it, and often does.

William C. (Willie) Janeway returned to the Adirondacks to become the Executive Director and leader of the Adirondack Council in May 2013, after close to six years as the Regional Director for the State Department of Environmental Conservation Hudson Valley Catskill Region. He brings close to thirty years of experience as a professional conservationist, fundraiser, administrator, coalition builder, and advocate for the environment—at such organizations as the Adirondack Mountain Club, Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission, Hudson Valley Greenway, and The Nature Conservancy. Willie is an avid hiker, skier, runner, fisherman, and Adirondack 46er. He and his wife Mary live in Keene, NY.

Jerry Jenkins ... coming soon! Jerry will serve as the plenary speaker for the Adirondack Program in Fall 2017.

Ed Kanze is a naturalist, author, photographer, and guide. He owns and operates the Adirondack Naturalist Company, a licensed Adirondack guiding service, and has been publishing a weekly newspaper column, “All Things Natural,” since 1987. He is the author of six books, including his latest, Adirondack: Life and Wildlife in the Wild, Wild East. Ed’s essays and magazine features have appeared in Adirondack Life, Audubon, Birder’s World, Bird Watcher’s Digest, The Conservationist, Utne Reader, Wildlife Conservation, and more. He is also a contributing editor at Bird Watcher’s Digest and writes “The Wild Side” for each issue of Adirondack Explorer. For more on Ed...

Mark and Kristin Kimball founded Essex Farm in 2003. It is a year-round, free choice, draft horse-powered CSA that provides a full diet to 230 people. They also founded Essex Farm Institute in 2012. The Institute is an agricultural education and research institute that trains farmers to build resilient, diversified farms that are economically viable, socially responsible and environmentally beneficial. Mark graduated from Swarthmore College with a self-directed degree in Agricultural Science. He has been farming for 21 years and has traveled across the country and around the world in search of truly sustainable, diversified farms. Kristin graduated from Harvard University and worked as a writer and editor based in New York City before meeting Mark. Her memoir, The Dirty Life, chronicles Essex Farm’s startup year.

Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt are partners that form Cine Qua Non (CQN), a not-for-profit company dedicated to producing award-winning documentaries, media, and engagement campaigns that inform, educate, and entertain the general public about critical social issues. Previous work includes: Young Lakota (PBS Independent Lens, 2013), The Education of Shelby Knox (PBS Point of View, 2005), Live Free or Die (PBS Point of View, 2002), Fatherhood USA (PBS National, 1999), and The Abortion Pill (PBS National, 1998). Their films have won top awards at Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, Sonoma, Cine Las Americas Film Festival, Full Frame, Smithsonian Native Cinema Showcase, Red Nation Film Festival, imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, and the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Marion spent much of her childhood summers and holidays at The Mountain House, our current program site.

Dave Mason is co-leader, with Jim Herman, of the Adirondack Futures Project and continues to run the effort to track progress toward the vision that resulted from the work. In Keene, Dave worked with the local ISP to build a fiber-to-home network extending all over town. It remains unique in the Park and contributes to making Keene a vital sustainable community. Currently he and Jim are working to bring the scenario methodology to the question of how do we respond to climate change in a 25-year time frame. Dave lives in Keene with his husband, Jim Herman, in a house they slowly hammered together on vacations.

Brian Mann grew up in Alaska, where he fell in love with public radio. In 1999, Brian moved to the Adirondacks and helped launch the news bureau of North Country Public Radio (NCPR) at Paul Smiths College. He is currently the Adirondack Bureau Chief for NCPR. “I love the chemistry of water and mountains,” Brian says. “But I'm also pretty crazy about village life in the north country. It’s the kind of place where you know your neighbors.” Brian lives in Saranac Lake with wife Susan and son Nicholas. He's a frequent contributor to NPR and also writes regularly for regional magazines, including Adirondack Life and the Adirondack Explorer.

Keith McKeever ... coming soon!

Bill McKibben is an author, educator, and environmentalist. His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change. He is the founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement. A former staff writer for the New Yorker, Bill writes frequently for a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, and maintains a camp in the central Adirondacks. Bill served as the plenary speaker for the Adirondack Program in Fall 2015.

Don Mellor... rock and ice climber, teacher, writer, and guide; more coming soon!

Chris Morris is Communications Officer at Adirondack Foundation. He oversees marketing, advertising, and public relations, as well as management of Adirondack Gives, a crowdfunding website for community organizations, nonprofits, classrooms, and charities. Chris also coordinates the Youth Exchange program for the Adirondack Diversity Advisory Council, and the Emerging Leaders program of the Adirondack Nonprofit Network. Before joining the nonprofit sector, he worked as a journalist, covering community news in the North Country for North Country Public Radio, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, and several other media outlets. As a volunteer, he serves on the boards of Dewey Mountain Recreation Center in Saranac Lake, and Albany's Youth Ed-Venture & Nature Network. He spends his free time enjoying the outdoors, and he proudly loves comic books and professional wrestling. He lives in Saranac Lake with his wife and fur-babies.

Loren Michael Mortimer is an historian specializing in Early American and Native American history. His research explores the interplay of nature, colonial expansion, and indigenous resistance in the greater Adirondack region during the American Revolutionary period. Mike is currently completing his PhD at the University of California, Davis, and he is also a Hamilton alum, class of '07.

Tom Murphy is a physics professor at University of California, San Diego, whose research focuses on testing Einstein’s General Relativity by measuring the distance between Earth and Moon to millimeter precision. As an educator, Tom has become invested in the energy challenge facing the world this century. He launched a blog called Do the Math in 2011 to explore the limits we may face in energy and resources from a physics-motivated perspective. Inevitably, the complex nature of societal-scale problems has also led to an interest in human personalities and dynamics. Murphy was an undergraduate at Georgia Tech, a graduate student at Caltech, and a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Washington before moving to San Diego, where he enjoys life with a wife, two cats, and three chickens. Tom served as the plenary speaker for the Adirondack Program in Fall 2016.

Dennis Phillips, is an attorney in Glens Falls, NY. He represents private property owners before state and local administrative agencies, including the Adirondack Park Agency and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; he works in both the trial and appellate courts on behalf of landowners. He is also a Founding Board Member for the Foundation of Land and Liberty.

Wynde Kate Reese ... coming soon!

Chris Rimmer is Executive Director of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, a non-profit wildlife conservation group based in Norwich, Vermont. He has studied Yellow Warblers on the James Bay coast of Ontario, and worked as a field biologist in Peru, Ellesmere Island, coastal Massachusetts (Manomet Bird Observatory), and Antarctica. Much of his recent work has focused on conservation research of Bicknell’s Thrush at both ends of its migratory range, from New York and New England to Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Ezra Schwartzberg is Director of Adirondack Research, a research firm focused on climate change and invasive species. Ezra is originally from Saranac Lake and spent 10 years working in academia in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. He moved back to Saranac Lake in 2012 with a goal to use his passion for research to improve regional social and environmental issues. Ezra’s work with the Intervale Lowlands Preserve in Lake Placid recently won an Environmental Excellence Award from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Tania Slawecki is a materials scientist at Penn State’s Materials Research Institute whose present work entails using microwaves to process materials used in a wide variety of applications (for significant energy and cost savings). While Director of Penn State's Center for Sustainability (2001-4) she won a PA Growing Greener grant to design and construct a living machine for wastewater treatment at Penn State, and (with dedicated student help) established the 8-acre Projects Site east of campus. The site included a biointensive mini-farm, winter-season food production, and various passive and active solar structures. She also run Neo-Terra, with Gene Bazan, a green-technology company focused on advancing alternatives for living in a more healthful and regenerative way.

Mason Smith is deeply rooted in the North Country, with his mother’s and his first wife’s family farms in St. Lawrence County, his grandparents’ summer camp at Lake Ozonia, and his father’s newspapers in Gouverneur and Canton. He is the author of three award-winning novels, including his latest, Far Alaska, which follows two North Country characters seeking a new life after the troubled events of his previous book, Towards Polaris. And he is currently at work on his fourth novel set in Sabattis Falls in the 1970s. Mason is also a boatbuilder of the Adirondack Goodboat, and lives in Long Lake, NY with his wife and Adirondack historian, Hallie Bond.

Charles Svenson is Chairman of the Board at The Nature Conservancy (Adirondack Chapter) and Senior Managing Director for Brock Capital Group in New York City. He is a lifetime trustee of Hamilton, class of '61, and has a camp in Upper Saranac Lake, NY.

John and Pat Thaxton are both licensed New York State guides and Adirondack 46ers, fully insured and rarin’ to go! They own and operate Adirondack Birding Tours, Inc. and are members of the American Birding Association and the New York State Ornithological Association. For The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State, 2000-2005, John and Pat covered 25 atlasing blocks, including most of the Adirondack High Peaks. They lead annual trips for the Great Adirondack Birding Celebration and the Adirondack Birding Festival. John has published 5 books, contributes many feature articles to such periodicals as Birder’s World, Nature Photographer, and The New York Times, and he lectures extensively. John also writes the Birdwatch column for Adirondack Explorer. Pat served as Laboratory Director at Long Island College Hospital in New York City and as the Laboratory Manager at Elizabethtown Community Hospital in the Adirondacks. She served as President of the High Peaks Audubon Society and currently serves on the board of Northern New York Audubon (along with John) and as chairperson of its Membership and Finance Committees.

Philip Terrie is an Adirondack and environmental historian, professor emeritus of American Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University, and author of several books on regional history, including Contested Terrain: A New History of Nature and People in the Adirondacks. He often contributes articles to the Adirondack Explorer, and is an active board member of Protect the Adirondacks!. His camp is in Long Lake, NY.

David Thomas-Train has lived in Keene Valley, NY since 1981, and has been an educator for over 35 years. He is the Coordinator of The Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine, a grassroots organization dedicated to the restoration of the fire tower and trail on that mountain, and to its use as an environmental education site. He has been chair and/or Conservation Coordinator of the Keene Valley Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club for over 20 years, and a mapping consultant for the Adirondack Mountain Club and National Geographic Society map series on the Adirondacks. He also leads canoeing, hiking, and ski trips in the Adirondacks, incorporating environmental education into these activities for various organizations, including the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, Adirondack Mountain Club, Adirondack Ski Touring Council, Adirondack Trail Improvement Society,  Champlain Area Trails, and Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks. And he continues to volunteer for numerous Adirondack scientific and advocacy groups, as well as contribute his time to fundraising, invasive species tracking, loon surveys, and mammal tracking.

Chase Twichell has published seven books of poetry, the most recent of which is Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New & Selected Poems, which won both the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the Balcones Poetry Prize. She is also the translator, with Tony K. Stewart, of The Lover of God by Rabindranath Tagore and co-editor, with Robin Behn, of The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach, which has been in print for 25 years. Her work has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, as well as a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She and her husband, the novelist Russell Banks, split their time between the Adirondack Mountains and Miami.

John Warren is a writer and historian living in the Adirondacks. He is the founder and editor of both the Adirondack Almanack and The New York History Blog, and is on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute. John has worked in media for 30 years including in print, documentary film, radio, and online. His weekly Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report airs across the Adirondack North Country Region, including on the North Country Public Radio network. John is also the author of several regional histories.

Ross Whaley served as second President of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), and is former Chair of the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). He also served as Director of Economics Research for the US Forest Service, bringing over 30 years of experience as a university teacher, researcher, and administrator to these positions. Currently, Ross is Senior Advisor to the Adirondack Landowners Association. He has been a consultant to or member of several state, national, and international commissions devoted to natural resource and environmental issues. In recognition of these activities he was awarded the Pinchot Medallion for Conservation and the Professional Conservationist Award, among others.

David Winchell is a Citizen Participation Specialist with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Region 5, which covers the eastern three-quarters of the Adirondack Park. He oversees public outreach, public participation, and media relations related to DEC regional programs. He also works with local governments, local and regional tourism offices, and NGOs to promote outdoor recreation on State lands and to educate users on how to recreate in a manner that is safe, enjoyable, and has minimal impact on the natural resources of the Adirondacks. He maintains the Adirondack Backcountry Information web pages, updating them weekly. The web pages average more than 90,000 visits annually. David began his DEC career in 1987 and transferred to Ray Brook in 1989.  He has worked as a Fish & Wildlife Technician and an Environmental Program Specialist before starting in his current position in 2001.  He earned a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY.

Don Wynn is an award-winning painter, who has been a Visiting Artist at several American universities and institutions, including Skidmore, Yale, and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1978 he became the first living artist to be given a solo exhibition at the Adirondack Museum, and in 1995 the Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired one of his oils for its Twentieth Century Collection (the first Adirondack resident artist so honored since Rockwell Kent). In addition to his long exhibition history, Don's work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Art News, Arts, The New Yorker, Art International, and many other publications.

Contact Information

Janelle A. Schwartz, Ph.D.

General Director
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