Thank you to all the volunteers, speakers, sponsors, and audience members who made 2022’s event a huge success!

Why should we care about bootprints on the moon? Michelle Hanlon explores the vulnerable history left in space and advocates for preserving universal peace as humans create a more robust presence in our galaxy. Michelle L.D. Hanlon is Co-Founder and President of For All Moonkind, Inc., a nonprofit corporation and the only organization in the world focused on protecting human cultural heritage in outer space. As its president, she was instrumental in the development of the recently enacted One Small Step Act in the United States. For All Moonkind is a Permanent Observer to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Michelle is the President of the National Space Society and mentor to the National Space Society Legal Fellows program. She was recently appointed to The Hague Institute for Global Justice Off-World Approach project. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Space Law, the world’s oldest law journal dedicated to the legal problems arising out of human activities in outer space. She is dedicated to building the bridge to a multiplanetary future where humans live and thrive on Earth and throughout the Universe.

Seeing the Unseen

Michael Fagans | 2022

Images are everywhere in our digital lives, and you may want to take a longer look at the images you create and consume. Photojournalist Michael Fagans shows how his camera lens reveals hidden, overlooked, and alternative perspectives. To paraphrase Hugh Brody: “The [photographer’s] mind is humanity’s most sophisticated combination of detailed knowledge and intuition. It is where direct experience and metaphor unite in a joint concern to know and use the truth.” Michael Fagans is an Assistant Professor at the School of Journalism and New Media, a working photojournalist, a documentary filmmaker, and an author. He enjoys telling people’s stories. Michael’s work has taken him to the Navajo Nation, Malawi, India, Austria, Afghanistan, Scotland, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Belize, and Guatemala. His documentary film, The Trafficked Life, helped raise over $50,000 that was donated to ten nonprofits working to combat human trafficking in California’s central valley. His documentary about David Sheffield’s autobiographical play, The Heartbreak Henry, is currently in post-production. Additionally, he has authored three books on iPhone photography with Amherst Media.

Turning to Community for Answers

Meagen Rosenthal | 2022

Dr. Meagen Rosenthal asks why? Why should researchers look to communities for answers? Because community driven research reveals unseen perspectives, which generate new lines of inquiry. She believes research beginning with and responding to community concerns will generate information that is more readily accepted by communities, as well as empower them. Dr. Meagen Rosenthal focuses on developing systems to integrate health research evidence into practice. As Co-Director of UM CREW, an externally facing research center on the University of Mississippi campus, Dr. Rosenthal uses community driven research to empower Mississippi communities. As the Interim Director of the William Magee Institute for Student Wellbeing, Dr. Rosenthal is using the practice to facilitate a strategic plan that empowers student communities to develop resiliency and maximize potential through holistic well-being.

Sitting on Top of the World

Shardé Thomas | 2022

Shardé Thomas is on a mission to save a musical genre: African American Fife and Drum. Her grandfather preserved the music before her. Though fife and drum might conjure ideas of regimented, military music, the African American genre is loose, playful, and dynamic. The genre developed in North America over centuries, spanning the period of slavery to the present day. Shardé and the Rising Stars not only preserve the tradition but continue to stretch the genre by creating greater complexity. Her talk about the music is followed by a live performance: one piece featuring the drums and another featuring the fife with drums. Sharde Thomas is the granddaughter of the late Otha Turner, a well-known and studied fife player, with a marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail. She is the heir of her grandfather’s musical legacy and serves as the lead vocalist, fife player, and manager of the Rising Stars Fife & Drum Band. Thomas is on a mission to revitalize the tradition of African American Fife and Drum music.

NFTs, Graffiti, & Sedition: How Artists Create the Future

Maria Brito | 2022

What can businesspeople and professionals learn from artists about success? Using her years of experience in the art world, where she has observed 450 artists, Brito reveals how successful artists follow trends and visualize the future. She shows how artists recognize opportunity, develop innovative ideas, galvanize community, and create meaningful products that reflect, defy, and span cultures and times. Maria Brito is a proud Latina, Venezuelan immigrant and Harvard graduate. She left a successful career as a corporate attorney in 2009 to launch and grow a seven-figure art advisory from scratch. Since then, she’s worked with some of the world’s top artists, including Chinese activist Ai Weiwei and incognito street sensation Banksy. She has curated art exhibitions on three continents and advised hip-hop moguls, Oscar® winning actors, Tony® winning producers, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and hundreds of others through her weekly blog, The Groove. Maria’s expertise has been featured in The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, VOGUE, TIME, The Economist and CNN. She is passionate about adding creative perspective and diversity to business and life. Maria recently published How Creativity Rules the World (HarperCollins, 2022).

How We Forgive

Dr. Richard Balkin | 2022

How can we forgive when the person who harmed us has no remorse? And why should we even try? Dr. Rick Balkin shares his model and measure for intrapersonal forgiveness and explains why looking beyond reconciliation or letting go of expectation is sometimes the healthier option. Rick Balkin, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, has over 95 publications and is the author of Practicing Forgiveness: A Path Toward Healing, published by Oxford University Press, which focuses on a new model and measure for working through issues of forgiveness and conflict. He began practice as a professional counselor in 1993 and moved to academe in 2003. He is the recipient of the Extended Research Award from the American Counseling Association for his research spanning nearly two decades on adolescents in crisis and counseling outcomes. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for the International Journal for the Advancement of Counseling. Additionally, Rick is a Fellow of the American Counseling Association, past president for the Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling, and former editor of the Journal of Counseling & Development, the flagship journal of the American Counseling Association.

Shining a Light on Lead in Drinking Water

Stephanie Showalter Otts

Infants are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning. Parents may not realize they are mixing formula made with lead-tainted tap water because not all tap water is adequately tested for the presence of lead. Stephanie Showalter Otts is co-leading a Mississippi-based interdisciplinary team of researchers and shares how they are addressing the issue. She also explains how the social and financial effects of lead poisoning can reverberate for decades. Stephanie Showalter Otts is an environmental attorney specializing in ocean and coastal law. As director of the federally funded Sea Grant program, she provides legal research, education, and outreach services to partners around the country to address ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes natural resources issues. Among other things, Sea Grant focuses on water resources to help the nation meet current and future challenges. Since 2018, Stephanie has been co-leading a Mississippi-based interdisciplinary team of researchers conducting community-engaged research and outreach to raise awareness of the risks of lead exposure through drinking water in Mississippi. The team’s innovative approach seeks to understand the problem by overlaying different disciplinary “lenses”: public health, civil engineering, law and policy, and population and development. The team’s research has revealed multi-faceted challenges that will require new policy and outreach approaches to address.