Ninth Annual Diversity Conference Emphasizes Change

The Williston Northampton School will hold its ninth annual Diversity Conference on Thursday, January 27, 2011. The theme of this year’s event is “Be the Change You Wish to See in the World.” All students will participate in their choice of over 90 workshops led by fellow students, staff, faculty, parents, alumni, and community members on many aspects of diversity including age, ability, race, gender, political affiliation, language, religion, socio-economic status, family composition, ethnicity, sexual orientation, adoption, and more.

john kawieWorkshop presenters include former Smith College professor Sheri Lyn Schmidt of The Ethel Walker School; Bessie Jones, founder of Mothers of Color Awareness Initiative; Mark C Franczyk ’00, a financial analyst at J.P. Morgan; Lissa Pierce Bonifaz of the Massachusetts Latino political organization ¿Oíste?; Veterans Education Project; and Easthampton Police Department.

The opening keynote speaker for the event is comedian and stroke survivor John Kawie ’68. Kawie’s solo show, “Brain Freeze,” about his journey through the aftermath of a stroke, has been performed off Broadway and at theaters and hospitals throughout the country, and won Best Solo Show in the 2003 InternationalFringe Festival in New York City. Kawie writes a column called “Life At The Curb” for the American Heart Association’s magazine Stroke Connection and has numerous credits as a writer and comedian.

The conference will culminate with an afternoon performance by Jeremy Cohen of Nani Kwashi AgbeliThisWorldMusic and Nani Kwashi Agbeli of Woezo, who will offer what is sure to be a high-energy performance of west African drumming and dance that will also feature students who have spent the day in drumming and dance workshops.