Amanda Shapiro is a Chicago-based marketing executive and stand-up comic. Her son, Alan, is 8 and in the process of discovering the Harry Potter books for the first time. Her daughter, Amelie, is 2 and still has no idea how to pronounce her own name. Her husband, Scott, is her biggest supporter and has been the oldest person in attendance at Lollapalooza for the last 12 years.
Charles Lief became the 7th president of Naropa University in 2012, and has been an active member of the Naropa Community since its founding in 1974 – as lawyer, member, and chair of the Board of Trustees. He has led some of the country’s most innovative and successful organizations providing integrated social enterprises and social services, including the Greyston Foundation, the AIDS HMO Amida Care, and the Hartland Group, which together provided essential housing, health care, and employment to thousands of low-income people in the Northeast. He has served in leadership capacities on the boards of the Social Enterprise Alliance, Lion’s Roar Magazine, Bridge House, the Intervale Center, the Vermont Community Loan Fund, the New York State Governor’s task force on AIDS, and many others.
He earned a BA from Brandeis University and a JD from the University of Colorado School of Law. Under his leadership Naropa University, established on a model that infuses contemplative pedagogy and compassion training across the curriculum, has developed strategic partnerships to deepen its impact on its students and on the world by offering bachelor and master degrees. Naropa’s Graduate School of Counseling Psychology matriculates more Master’s level counseling psychologists than any other university in Colorado. Naropa also offers certificates and professional development credentials including Mindfulness Instructor training, compassion training, chaplaincy, and most recently through the creation of the Naropa Center for Psychedelic Studies.
Chuck’s TEDxBoulder talk focuses on the emerging ecosystem of natural medicines (psychedelics) as increasingly proven vehicles to address the mental health crisis, and the intersection of therapeutic use with the millennia of sacred uses by indigenous societies around the globe. His wife Judy Lief is an internationally known Buddhist teacher and author.
Christine Rohacz is living in Boulder, Colorado where she settled after finishing her MBA at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business. She has years of experience as a software engineer and most recently began her journey in entrepreneurship. She is always chasing opportunities to create a positive impact on the world around her. When she is not building software or companies, Christine is most likely to be found trail running, rock climbing, or mountain biking for hours on end in the mountains of Colorado.
Darren Kramer is a professional trombonist, composer, educator, music producer and motivational speaker who has performed throughout the world as trombonist with diverse artists Matchbox Twenty, Garth Brooks, Marc Anthony, Tom Jones, Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, and Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies with Mercer Ellington. Kramer is a prolific composer having recorded six original CDs and has arranged over 400 songs which feature Grammy Award-winning artists such as Michael Brecker and Jerry Hey. Kramer grew up in a musical family in Colorado, graduated from University of Miami, and is an XO Brass Artist and Ableton Certified Trainer who now creatively combines live acoustic instruments with music technology. Kramer shares his vast knowledge from 40 years of extensive performing and teaching experience via his innovative group ElektroHornz — an ultramodern multimedia experience of excellence & innovation — as well as his music and wellness podcast Sonic Tonic Experience.
Jill Adler Grano is a dedicated advocate for equitable housing in Boulder, Colorado. She believes that housing is a human right and has fought for safe, attainable housing in her role on Boulder's City Council, as the Director of Community Affairs for Congressman Joe Neguse, and as one of Boulder’s Housing Commissioners. Beyond policymaking, she took a hands-on approach by volunteering at the Boulder Homeless Shelter and serving on the Board of Zoning Adjustment.
Grano's academic pursuits reflect her commitment to housing affordability, with her master's thesis exploring challenges and opportunities related to housing affordability in Boulder, showcasing her determination to find practical solutions to this pressing issue.
In addition to her public service and academic endeavors, Grano's involvement in various organizations and initiatives, including her work to support and protect manufactured homeowners and her role in the Sierra Club Political Committee, demonstrates her multi-faceted approach to promoting equitable housing. Her impact extends beyond housing, as she has also been an advocate for small businesses, regenerative agriculture, and an active member of numerous community organizations, highlighting her dedication to the overall well-being of Boulder.
Lee Steinke is a seasoned professional who strives to rise to the challenges of innovation. As the Chief Operating Officer of CisLunar Industries and in prior and concurrent roles in aerospace, defense, and energy, Steinke has dedicated her career to driving transformative change. She has made significant contributions to these various sectors, leveraging innovation in both the pursuit and accommodation of change during her two decades as a scientist, engineering leader, business executive, and advisor. She has also benefited from the privilege of working with and learning from many creative minds.
Steinke's academic background includes an MBA from The Wharton School at UPenn, an MS in Geology and Geophysics from Yale, and a BA with Distinction in Geology and Classics from UNC-Chapel Hill. Her extensive educational journey further reinforces her expertise and underscores her commitment to fostering innovation as a leader.
In addition to her industrial work and multidisciplinary education, Steinke has had a successful artistic career. The breadth of her background and experience expands her ability to draw parallels, recognize patterns, and apply lessons learned, even while she is still a beginner in something new. Innovation is, by its nature, always changing, and those skills are an advantage in iteratively reorienting to new circumstances and new paradigms along the path of progress.
Mickey & Emma Rose Connolly
Mickey Connolly has been a consultant and executive advisor for over 30 years, contributing to challenges ranging from leadership alignment, global workforce development, culture change, and high-stakes negotiation. He is the founder of a consulting firm based in Boulder, CO that partners with organizations around the world to improve human connection and conversation as the highest-leverage way to achieve results with less time, money, and stress.
Emma Rose Connolly, his daughter, has come to join the firm following her own work and study in the domains of psychology, political science, mental health, organizational development, and behavior change. The consultancy is a community of professionals conspiring to be agents of connection and belonging in the world, and together they have arrived at a shared conviction: the conversations are the work.
Mike Wird is an educator, entrepreneur, permaculture designer and music artist, who shares his dedication to social and environmental justice through cultural arts empowerment and regenerative practices, including natural building, permaculture design, music sound culture, and a business owner. Mike has been actively cultivating a sense of community where ever he goes for over a decade as a Hiphop Cultural Arts Ambassador & Performer, and Co-Founder of Regenerative Lifestyles, a company offering social & ecologically sound design/consult services and educational opportunities in alignment with solution based living.
Natalie Lampert is a journalist whose reporting focuses primarily on women’s health and the fertility industry. A former Fulbright scholar, she has written for The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, The Guardian, and The Washington Post, among other publications. She has a master’s degree in journalism from New York University and has received fellowships and grants from Investigative Reporters & Editors, the Logan Nonfiction program, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. She is the author of THE BIG FREEZE: A Reporter’s Personal Journey into the World of Egg Freezing and the Quest to Control Our Fertility (Random House, 2024). She lives in Boulder, Colo.
SSG Lacy McDonald
In the wise words of Dr. Maya Angelou, 'Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.' With a remarkable background of service and dedication, Lacy McDonald has shown an unwavering commitment to uplifting the youth of Denver. Having served honorably with the United States Army for 13 years as a Technical Engineer, including two deployments to Afghanistan, Lacy has exemplified the values of discipline, courage, and sacrifice.
Currently, Lacy serves as a Commissioner for Healthy Foods For Denver Kids (HFDK), Big Green DAO, and a part of the West Colfax Lampstand, advocating for the well-being and nourishment of young minds. His dedication extends beyond official duties as he volunteers full-time at Lake Middle School, where he imparts his knowledge and passion for fitness as a coach, and takes the lead in fostering the joys of gardening among the students. Through these efforts, Lacy strives to instill a sense of responsibility towards physical health and the environment by nurturing the students' minds and bodies simultaneously.
Moreover, Lacy's impact reaches even further with the establishment of Outer Haven, a nonprofit organization that provides urban education experiences through fitness, camping, gardening, and archery. By offering unique opportunities for outdoor learning, he empowers the youth to embrace nature, develop essential life skills, and broaden their horizons beyond traditional classroom settings.
Follow SSG Lacy on Twitter/X @mcdonald_ssg.
Tabor DeFore is an empowering speaker who is passionate about the advocacy of mental health, and reshaping the way society views eating disorders. Living through the process of eating disorder treatment and recovery, she has experienced first-hand the journey that comes with eating disorder recovery.
As an advocate for mental health, Tabor coordinated the Denver 2022 Walk for the National Eating Disorders Association. The walk helped to provide support, inspiration, and funding for those impacted by eating disorders. She is also a part of various mental health advocacy groups, such as the Eating Disorders Coalition.
Tabor also holds impactful personal aspects linked to the foundation of eating disorders. In 2021, Tabor was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and began the process of recovery. Having experienced the processes of recovery directly, she offers great insight and personal exposure surrounding the chosen topic.
Tabor is a sixth generation Colorado native and in her free time, enjoys spending time outdoors with her family, friends, and pets. Additionally, she is a rising senior at Colorado Early Colleges High School, and will be graduating with her Associate of Science. Tabor plans on pursuing a career in medicine.
Taft Blackhorse Jr.
Taft Blackhorse Jr. is a 70-year-old archaeologist from Shiprock, New Mexico. Taft has spent 30 years of his career delving into the mysteries of the past. Raised among Navajo Elders, esteemed Medicine Men and Women, Taft's upbringing inspired a profound connection to the cosmos and a deep appreciation for his cultural heritage. His contributions extend beyond the academic sphere, having served for six years in the Navajo Historic Preservation office and as an advisory committee member for the Chaco Canyon National Historical Park committee. An accomplished environmentalist and geoarchaeologist, Taft currently serves as the Right-Of-Way Manager for the Water/Wastewater/Natural Gas Division of the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, combining his passion for history with a commitment to environmental stewardship.
With an illustrious career that spans roles in the Navajo Division of Transportation and the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department, Taft Blackhorse Jr. is dedicated to bridging the realms of archaeology, history, and environmental sustainability. His impact can be seen in published works and presentations at Anthropological and Archaeological conferences and in the hands-on roles he has undertaken to preserve and honor the cultural heritage of the Navajo Nation.