Collin Goldbach graduated Chatham High School in 2019 and will be attending Virginia Tech, where he received a four-year ROTC scholarship. In 2010, Collin, along with his father, accompanied Collin’s grandfather at his platoon’s World War II reunion. Collin and his father interviewed veterans at the reunion, hoping to save their stories before they were lost forever. As Collin listened to the soldiers’ stories, some of which had never been told before, he was not only inspired to start a career in the Armed Forces, but also to interview younger veterans, to ensure that their stories were heard and remembered. Through these interviews, Collin discovered that even our country’s greatest heroes are human, and need to know that people are there for them.
Dan Handerhan is a self-described “traditional” guy, who shares how his transgender daughter, Tessa, changed his perspective of those who are considered different. By being true to herself, Tessa opened the hearts and minds of her family, friends, and an entire community. The heart-warming stories of Tessa’s empathy and her inclusion of others inspired him to share her story and broaden her impact.
Karen Coccari Bellas
Karen Coccari Bellas is the Owner and Creative Director at Sorriso Kitchen, a unique eatery in Chatham, New Jersey, serving a creative, farm-to-table menu of breakfast and lunch items while also supporting the special needs community. Being the Mom of a special needs child, she’s learned how to look at the gifts we’re all given in our lives through a different lens. Her son LJ inspired Karen to unlock the power of her gifts to put them to use in creating a workspace for her son where he could be a part of the community while still being respected and safe. She and her husband channeled their gifts together to open a restaurant in their town in which LJ could work. And out of that came the idea of closing it to the public one day a week to offer the restaurant up as a classroom for real-life job training for individuals with special needs.
Dr. Michael LaSusa is the Superintendent of the School District of the Chathams. He is also an avid runner who believes that running provides a path for better approaches to running a school system. Incrementalism, progress over time, the ephemerality of pain, rest, and gratitude all undergird both running and learning, and point to how educators and parents alike might look differently at their approaches to teaching and raising children.
Shannon Albarelli, Psy.D. is a Co-Founder of Qwell, New Jersey’s premier meditation and wellness studio. She helps people navigate the stressors of modern life by providing them with skills and giving perspective to generate wellness from the inside out. After losing her husband unexpectedly, Shannon discovered that just eight minutes of meditation a day is more powerful than any medication you could take. Meditation reduces anxiety, dramatically improves clarity, and energy, and is clinically proven to improve the structure of your brain. Is your well being worth eight minutes a day?