Our Speakers

Rediscovering Mercy
Anne Lamott is an author, most recently of Hallelujah Anyway, and the New York Times bestsellers Help, Thanks, Wow; Small Victories; Stitches; Some Assembly Required; Grace (Eventually); Plan B; and Traveling Mercies, as well as several novels, including Imperfect Birds and Rosie.
MARK YACONELLIAuthor & Retreat Leader
The Hearth
Mark Yaconelli is the founder and executive director of The Hearth – a nonprofit that aims to cultivate compassion, heal injustice, celebrate individual expression, and build community through the creative use of personal narratives. Mark is the author of five books including his most recent, The Gift of Hard Things.
MARJORIE TRUEBLOOD-GAMBLESouthern Oregon University Director of Diversity and Inclusion
Marjorie Trueblood-Gamble is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Southern Oregon University. She works with students, staff, faculty and community members to foster inclusive communities that affirm all of their members. Marjorie sees diversity comprising of more than just race and ethnicity and has partnered with SOPride, the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force, as well as the Race Equity Coalition.
RYAN STROUDOregon Humanities
Ryan Stroud is an innovator, entrepreneur, and longtime community development activist, with twenty years of professional experience spanning the public, private, and nonprofit realms. Stepping onto the storytelling stage for the first time in 2009, he subsequently founded and directed the CommuniTalks project, facilitating restorative personal narrative workshops and live performances with veterans, people of color, and members of the disabilities community. In 2016-17 he facilitated the Oregon Humanities Conversation Project titled “Homeless in the Land of Plenty. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
ADAM DAVISOregon Humanities
Adam Davis is the executive director of Oregon Humanities, which works toward an Oregon that invites diverse perspectives, explores challenging questions, and strives for just communities. Before joining Oregon Humanities in 2013, Davis directed the Center for Civic Reflection, where he trained thousands of discussion facilitators and founded “Justice Talking,” a program for AmeriCorps and service organizations across the country. Davis leads Conversation Projects around Oregon on topics ranging from social class to community work to our relationship with the wild. He has interviewed dozens of thinkers, authors, and community builders in front of audiences across Oregon. Davis received his PhD from the University of Chicago.
FRED GREWEProvidence Hospice Chaplain
Fred Grewe is a Board Certified Chaplain (Association of Professional Chaplains) with a Doctor of Ministry Degree from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. He is also an ordained UCC minister working for Providence Hospice in Medford. Fred is the author of the book What the Dying Have Taught Me about Living, as well as several peer reviewed articles. He has presented workshops on end-of life distress at numerous national conferences and at Kinsman Conferences in Oregon. His latest book, Time to Talk about Dying is scheduled to be published this spring by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
FR. JOEL S. GARAVAGLIA-MAIORANODirector of Spiritual Life and Wellbeing at Rogue Valley Manor
Fr. Joel S. Garavaglia-Maiorano is an Anglican Priest and the Director of Spiritual Life and Wellbeing at Rogue Valley Manor in Medford, Oregon. He is the former Professor and Chair of Health at Kansas Wesleyan University and a U.S. Army veteran. Born in Detroit, Joel is an avid Tigers fan.
SELENE AITKENCenter for Nonviolent Communication
Selene Aitken is an international trainer certified with the Center for Nonviolent Communication. She has been teaching nonviolent communication since 2000. She as taught in El Salvador, Afghanistan, Syria, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and the US. Selene is a mediator certified by the State of Oregon. She was co-director and director of Peace House from 1987-1992 and has served on the board of directors of the Oregon Network for Compassionate Communication for five years.
Anna Cassilly teaches courses in mediation and prejudice reduction/diversity appreciation, as well as providing mediation, training, and facilitation services through her business, Growing Peace. Over the past 25 years Anna has been supporting people to acquire the communication skills necessary to resolve conflicts, and more importantly, prevent many from arising in the first place. With a deep conviction that world peace begins within, she emphasizes the shifts needed to live more peaceful inner lives, laying the foundation for supportive, caring interpersonal and intergroup relations.
DR. ALMA ROSA ALVAREZ Racial Equity Coalition
English Professor at Southern Oregon University
Dr. Alma Rosa Alvarez is a founding member of the Racial Equity Coalition. She is also a professor of English at Southern Oregon University. Her teaching specialties include U.S. Ethnic Literature and U.S. Modernism. In her spare time, Dr. Alvarez enjoys writing poetry.
NICTHÉ VERDUGORacial Equity Coalition
Bilingual Organizer with Unite Oregon
Nicthé Verdugo is the Bilingual Organizer with Unite Oregon in the Rogue Valley. During her time in the Rogue Valley, she has supported local initiatives around access to affordable housing, Know Your Rights trainings, and leading the All Are Welcome canvasses that encourage local businesses to stand in solidarity with our refugee communities, immigrant communities, LGBTQ communities, women, Black Lives Matter movement, among other marginalized communities. She has also been part of the Racial Equity Coalition for the past year and has supported the Racial Toolkit conversations in order to move our community closer to having difficult conversations around race; conversations that need to happen in order for change to occur.
AMY RICHARDRacial Equity Coalition
Writer and Public Relations Contractor
Amy Richard is a freelance writer and public relations contractor. Amy continues to do part-time work at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where she was the Media & Communications Manager for 17 years. In late 2015 she joined the Racial Equity Coalition and worked with its leadership and other members to create The Race Tool Kit to facilitate race conversations among groups in the community.
CANDACE YOUNGHANSRacial Equity Coalition
ONEspace for Creative Communication
A non-conforming cis-gendered white female, Candace is an ever-evolving social justice ally (meaning one who chooses to intervene). She was born into a multi-racial working class family and raised as a Buddhist in a small, predominantly Mexican American, farm-working community in Central Valley California. Arising from those roots, she considers herself, first and foremost, a Heart Warrior. As a Performance Artist and True Nature Advocate, Candace is dedicated to co-creating brave compassionate spaces for communication – for personal and collective discoveries, and dissolving identity constructs that keep us divided.

She regularly hosts social practices such as ‘A Social Mourning Place’ and a series of “heartfelt conversations about emotionally charged issues in community” through her organization, ONEspace for Creative Communication. An early member of Racial Equity Coalition, she was a part of creating the first REC Race Toolkit and has facilitated these conversations in Ashland. She is an organizer of ‘Circle Up For Equity in Triangle Park’ and a volunteer mentor for the burgeoning AHS Wellness Center. She continues learning and believes in embracing the discomfort, the responsibility, the bravery and the humility that comes with being a ‘woke’ white skinned human in the 21st century.

JOANNE LESCHERCertified Trainer in Nonviolent Communication
Joanne Lescher is a certified trainer in Nonviolent Communication. Her style of facilitation is alive and engaging, making the skills she teaches accessible and easy to understand for use in real life situations. Joanne is renowned for her warmth, empathy, humor and her ability to motivate and empower the couples and individuals who work with her. Her reputation has been affectionately summarized as an “ability to tame lions”.
MARLA ESTESBridging the Divide
School of the Examined Life
Marla Estes is a long-time Ashland resident and founder of School of the Examined Life, where she teaches classes about personal psychology using film and discussion. Since the 2016 election she has partnered with Rob Schläpfer BRIDGING THE DIVIDE through talks, movies, and workshops that promote critical thinking, viewpoint diversity, and post-partisan conversations.
ROB SCHLÄPFERBridging the Divide
ReEnlight Inc.
Rob Schläpfer is a former Evangelical pastor, professor, and publisher. He created THE WEEKLY TALK to bring folks together from differing worldviews to explore important issues and promote deliberative democracy. He founded ReEnlight Inc. to rebuild spiritual and intellectual insight through science-based education.
CAROL HWOSCHINSKYAuthor and Marriage, Family, Child Counselor
Carol Hwoschinsky is a licensed Marriage, Family, Child counselor, educator, mediator, and author of the book Listening With the Heart. Carol is the former Training Director of the Compassionate Listening Project. She has trained and accompanied many delegations to Israel/Palestine since 1997 to facilitate dialogue and build relationships. She has trained and mentored Compassionate Listeners in countries recovering from war. Carol served as part of Jean Houston’s teaching staff of the School for Social Artistry and has facilitated many community dialogues.
KAY SANDBERGPresident, Global Force for Healing
Kay Sandberg, MA is Founder and President of Global Force for Healing, a nonprofit based in Ashland. She leads the Compassionate Birth Network of 15 projects collaborating with underserved grassroots communities in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Their aim is to ensure equal access to quality, respectful healthcare and education for mothers and infants, based on a woman-centered model of care. Kay is a Peace Ambassador and member of the Advisory Board of Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ACPC) and Southern Oregon Birth Connections.
ROCHELLE JAFFEDirector at Ashland Mindfulness Institute
Rochelle Jaffe, M.S. is the Director of the Ashland Mindfulness Institute and is certified by the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. She has practiced mindfulness for 30 years. Rochelle received training and began a personal practice after working at a pain clinic where she discovered the research on mindfulness and its effectiveness in reducing stress and pain while developing greater calm and balance. Rochelle leads classes, workshops and private sessions in cultivating mindfulness and self-compassion.