Barbara Malkas, Ed.D
Superintendent of Schools, North Adams Public Schools
Barbara Malkas has served as an educator for 32 years as a teacher, school administrator, district administrator, deputy superintendent, and superintendent. In each of her districts and roles, she has strived to improve the quality of education for all students, particularly those representing underserved populations. Her own experiences in education contribute to her belief that education is the key to lifelong satisfaction and meaning. She is forever grateful to those early teachers who encouraged her and assured her that it was okay to be the “smart girl” in class, even in the 1960s.
Author & Speaker
Catherine resides in Boston (her home away from home), although she was born and raised in the Dominican Republic; an island of beautiful beaches, and friendly people.
She has been reading books and writing short stories her whole life. She knew she would be a writer when she grew up; there was no doubt in her mind. “I wanted to help people and to write books; even though I did not know how I would combine those two things at the time.”
Today, an author, coach, storyteller, and content monetization strategist Catherine specializes in helping her clients to connect, embrace, write, and publish a compelling story that helps them connect with their audience and make some serious moola.
Craig is a 72-year-old 10th generation regenerative farmer who is now the Farm Manager at The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center’s (DPNC) Coogan Farm Giving Garden. Craig served 20 years in the military and is a Vietnam Vet. After military service Craig was the Clerk in Charge at the West Mystic Post office for 23 years and from there, he took over as the Farm Manager at DPNC. For years Craig and his wife Sheryl owned and operated Connecticut’s first Certified Humane farm called Footstepsfarm. As a member of the Bionutrient Food Association, Craig and his team of volunteers in the Giving Garden follow gardening practices that are Mother Earth friendly: Building soil naturally, while teaching others how to do the same. He acts a consultant to the Eastern CT Community Gardens Association, which maintains over 100 gardens in SECT. Teacher, presenter, farmer and community activist Craig says that the job he has at Coogan Farm is the most important work he has ever done.
dysFUNKcrew is a group of young professionals from Massachusetts & New York who received their undergraduate degrees from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. They first met when dancing together the college’s Dance Company. Upon graduation, they all found themselves still in the Berkshires working for local institutions such as MCLA, Berkshire Dance Theatre, Berkshire Community College, and Taconic High School. They perform WITH and FOR our community all while working full-time jobs and continuing to be mentors, teachers and familiar faces in the Berkshires. They have danced with children across the region, seniors at the council on aging, and brought their talents to The Clark Art, the National Museum of Dance, and so much more!
Hamza Farrukh is a Forbes 30 under 30 Nominee and founder of Bondh-E-Shams (The Solar Water Project), a global water charity that started during Hamza’s time at Williams College. The Solar Water Project is a bold, cost-effective, and sustainable solution to the global water crisis. His charity employs 100% renewable energy to provide 10+ years of safe water to water-scarce communities the world over, with current projects in Pakistan, Rohingya Refugee settlements and South Sudan. Hamza is an avid cricketer and loves to ski.
Kristen van Ginhoven
Founder & Artistic Director, WAM Theatre
Kristen van Ginhoven is the Artistic Director of WAM Theatre, which she co-founded in 2010. Based in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, WAM Theatre is Where Arts and Activism Meet. WAM’s vision is to create opportunity for women and girls through a mission of theatre as philanthropy. In eight years, WAM has produced thirteen mainstage productions, provided paid work for over 400 theatre professionals, and donated over $41,500 to local and global organizations taking action for women and girls in areas such as girls education, teen pregnancy prevention, sexual trafficking awareness, midwife training and more. In addition to the main stage productions and special events, WAM Theatre’s activities include a comprehensive educational outreach program and the Fresh Takes Play Reading Series. In 2017, Kristen van Ginhoven and WAM were honored by the Berkshire Theatre Critics Association as the recipient of the prestigious Larry Murray Award at the Berkshire Theatre Awards.
Professor of Arts Management
Lisa Donovan, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Fine and Performing Arts Department at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. She has broad experience working as an arts educator and administrator in a variety of arts organizations including Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Berkshire Opera Company, Barrington Stage Company, University of Massachusetts' Department of Theater, Boston University's Theater, Visual Arts and Tanglewood Institutes. She recently conducted research on increasing access to arts education in rural areas which received national recognition. She is the Principal Investigator of a National Endowment for the Arts Grant to create a blueprint for arts education in Berkshire County. She also serves as Co-Director of Berkshire Regional Arts Integration Network (BRAINworks).She was voted Best Professor in the 2017 as part of Berkshire Eagle’s Best of the Berkshires competition and was a finalist in the 2018 1Berkshire Trendsetters Award for Creative Economy Standout.
Multi-instrumentalist, singer, song leader, composer and instrument designer Mark Stewart has been heard around the world performing old and new music. Since 1998 he has recorded, toured and been Musical Director with Paul Simon. A founding member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the comic duo Polygraph Lounge with keyboard & theremin wizard Rob Schwimmer, Mark has also worked with a long list of world renowned performers including, Sting, Anthony Braxton, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Phillip Glass, Iva Bittova, Bruce Springsteen, Terry Riley, Ornette Coleman, Edie Brickell, Don Byron, Joan Baez, Hugh Masakela, Paul McCartney, Cecil Taylor, Bill Frisell, Jimmy Cliff, the Everly Brothers, Steve Gadd, Fred Frith, Alison Krauss, David Krakauer, Bobby McFerrin, David Byrne, James Taylor, The Roches, Aaron Neville, Bette Midler, and Marc Ribot. He has worked extensively with composer Elliot Goldenthal on music for films such as aMidsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, andAcross the Universe.
Author + Founder of Big Head Books
Ty Allan Jackson is a children’s book author, publisher, literacy advocate and two-time TEDx speaker. Ty travels across the country empowering children of all ages about the joy and power of reading. His books have been used by companies such as Google, The YMCA, The Boys and Girls Club, The United Way as well as numerous financial institutions and countless schools across the country inspiring children to dream big. He is also the co-founder of the Read Or Else movement, created to shine a light on the problem of illiteracy and to provide books to children in homeless shelters across America. And along with an economics professor from Northern Kentucky University he has also founded Danny Dollar Academy. A program created to educate elementary school students from low-income communities about the importance of finance and entrepreneurship through his best-selling book Danny Dollar Millionaire Extraordinaire.