Listening to Women 2024

Course #CV119
“Listening to Women” is a weekly series which recognizes women whose brilliance and fortitude have reshaped industries and who are making a difference in today’s communities. At each session, we will hear the personal stories of women, driven by a cause, with the passion and determination to have achieved success in a variety of fields.

Ringling College Museum Campus
Thursdays, 1-2:30 pm
6 Sessions: Jan. 18-Feb. 22
Gold Member: $81
Silver Member and
General Admission: $90

Speakers and Moderators:
Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Liz Walker, Dr. Linda Billings, Dr. Rangsook Yoon, Stephenie Frasher, Lisa Bechtold, Suriya Khong, Dr. Rachel Shelley, Melanie Custer, Dr. Brook Parker-Bello, Dawn Sakes, Jasmin Graham, Raven Harrison, Magrieli Rodriguez Ruiz, and Carlee Jackson Bohannon

Keeping Hope Alive

January 18
Speaker: Charlayne Hunter-Gault Interviewer: Liz Walker 

Even when we’re faced with challenging times these days, history has kept me hopeful, not least the voices of women I knew personally… like my Mother and both Grandmothers and from a history I was taught that dates back generations. Early on, in my all-Black schools, I was, as is said, properly taught. So that while I was about 5 or 6 and my first role model was a dashing white woman by the name of Brenda Starr, a short while later, in my all-Black school, I learned about Ida B. Wells, a Black journalist who was a crusader for freedom, justice, and equality. And in time, the history lessons I got—not just in school, but in my entire village—yes, it takes a village—those lessons created armor for me and keeps me keepin’ on.

Charlayne Hunter Gault

Charlayne Hunter-Gault is an Emmy award-winning journalist. She began her career at The New Yorker, becoming the first Black reporter for the Talk of the Town section, then joined The New York Times, where she established the Harlem Bureau, the first of its kind. She eventually joined PBS News Hour as its first substitute anchor and national correspondent. The author of five books, Hunter-Gault lives in Sarasota and on Martha’s Vineyard.

Liz Walker

Liz Walker is a former journalist, co-founder of a girls’ school in South Sudan, ordained minister, and the creator of a community trauma healing program being replicated across the country. She is the retired pastor of Roxbury Presbyterian Church in Boston.

Rev. Liz is the creator of Can We Talk, a community-based clinically-supported program focused on collective trauma and healing that is currently being replicated nationwide.

My People Five Decades of Writing About Black Lives by Charlayne Hunter-Gault will be for sale at the SHOP in Sarasota Art Museum. A book-signing will be held in the Historic Lobby at 2:30 pm on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024.

Why Are We Exploring and Exploiting Space? Who is “We”? And What’s the Point?

January 25
Dr. Linda Billings

More and more actors—governments and corporations—are entering the business of exploring and exploiting space, with an increasing focus on establishing a permanent human presence there. Advocates talk of creating lunar bases, Mars colonies, and orbital communities. Should they come to pass, what’s the value of these endeavors? NASA says it’s planning to establish a permanent presence on the Moon and eventually send people to Mars “for the benefit of humankind,” but NASA does not offer any details about benefits. A growing number of scholars in the social sciences and humanities are engaged in a critique of how space-faring nations and corporations are going about the business of expanding human presence in space. Linda will explore these critiques.

Linda Billings

Dr. Linda Billings is a consultant to NASA’s astrobiology and planetary defense programs at NASA headquarters. Billings earned her doctorate in mass communication from Indiana University. Her research interests include science and risk communication, social studies of science, and the history and rhetoric of science and space exploration. She is co-editor of and contributing author to Reclaiming Space: Progressive and Multicultural Perspectives on Space Exploration.

Curating Life from Seoul to Sarasota

February 1
Speaker: Dr. Rangsook Yoon Interviewer: Stephenie Frasher

Rangsook Yoon has never let boundaries limit her curiosity. She moved from Seoul, South Korea to the U.S. in 1995 to study art history. She has lived and worked in four languages, five countries, six states, and 12 cities. Yoon will discuss how she has gone from being immersed in European art to building bridges between communities and contemporary artists from around the globe. She will share her life’s journey, past exhibitions, and dreams for future ones. And she’ll talk about her vision for Sarasota Art Museum as a shared public space, open to creativity and change. Join us for a conversation between two globetrotting art professionals about cultural heritage, the power of art, and the power of community.

Following the session there will be a curator tour in Sarasota Art Museum galleries by Dr. Rangsook Yoon.

Rangsook Yoon

Dr. Rangsook Yoon joined Sarasota Art Museum as Senior Curator in December 2022. Originally from South Korea, she studied at Korea University in Seoul and the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University before becoming an art history professor. She has held multiple museum curatorial and directorial positions, published wide-ranging scholarly essays, and curated over 30 exhibitions.

Stephenie Frasher

Stephenie Frasher’s passion is art education. A docent at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. for 16 years, she is now a docent at Sarasota Art Museum and the Arts Engagement Chair for Arts Advocates. Stephenie moderates monthly art talks interviewing artists, curators, community leaders and historians. Interviewing provides an in-depth learning experience for the audience and one she looks forward to pursuing.

Women With Purpose—Ensuring Our Childrens’ Future

February 8
Speakers: Lisa Bechtold, Suriya Khong, Dr. Rachel Shelley Moderator: Melanie Custer 

Four women raised in different parts of the country and in different cultures have come together to create opportunity for deserving students in Sarasota County. Rachel Shelley, Suriya Khong, Melanie Custer, and Lisa Bechtold are women with the passion, and vision to provide mentoring, post-secondary education and hope for over 400 current students in our community. In this session, they will talk about their childhoods, their educational journeys, and what made them choose this path to ensure a great future for so many children. One of the stories you will have to hear to believe….and you still might not believe it after you hear it told.

Lisa Bechtold, Executive Director of Take Stock in Children, Sarasota County, has had the honor of providing scholarships, mentors, and hope to deserving students for 23 years. Lisa has a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the University of Florida. After several years working with youth in detention centers, Lisa found that a mentor and a path to post-secondary education could be the cure for students in need of hope.

Suriya Khong

Suriya Khong, Vice President of Teen Initiatives for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto counties, oversees a range of youth programs focused on leadership, service, entrepreneurship, and career development. With degrees in child psychology, sociology, and a juris doctorate from the University of Minnesota, she advocates for youth leadership and amplifies youth voices in legal settings, clubs, and the community.

Dr. Rachel Shelley

Dr. Rachel Shelley became principal of Booker High School in 2011 after decades as a professional educator. In that capacity, she has brought her personal experiences growing up in Sarasota’s low-income housing, coupled with her passion and understanding, to inspire and guide students facing similar challenges. Rachel works tirelessly to instill belief in her 1,300 students, encouraging them to aim higher and pursue bright futures. She’s earned multiple Principal of the Year awards and is the recipient of the key to the city of Sarasota.

Melanie Custer

Melanie Custer, Director of Operations of Take Stock in Children, Sarasota County, joined the company in 2014 with 20-plus years of management experience. She has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from University of Pennsylvania on an Army ROTC scholarship. Following active duty service as an Army Transportation and Logistics Officer, she became a management consultant with KPMG Consulting. As a first-generation American, attending college on a full scholarship, Melanie is passionate about providing opportunities for students.

Freedom is An Inside Job

February 15
Co-presenters: Dr. Brook Parker-Bello and Dawn Sakes

In this session the profound effects of shame in combating human trafficking and violence will be discussed. Brook will share from her own life (with questions from Dawn) and with history about the circle of shame and its affects on her life as a woman, a woman of color, and a survivor. She will break down how shame relates to all facets of life and builds a bridge of empathy for all human beings to experience.

Brook Bello

Dr. Brook Parker-Bello is an author, thought leader, justice advocate, techie, and survivor champion against human trafficking. She is also the founding CEO Emeritus of More Too Life, Inc., an anti-human trafficking organization providing direct victim care, and in 19 years, has rescued over 10,000 victims. She is the founder of a new mental healthcare tech startup called VR Eval that was selected to participate in the Techstars Founder Catalyst Program. Her new book, Shame Undone, came out in October 2023 and has been optioned for a motion picture.

Dawn Sakes

Dawn Sakes, Executive Director of More Too Life, Inc., has made strong connections with community leaders and was identified as a subject matter expert to expand services for unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness in Sarasota County. Dawn received a certificate of merit from the Sarasota Police Department for her work with homeless youth and has served on numerous local and state committees. She has been instrumental in the passage of key legislation relating to Medicaid buy-in for children, supportive employment, and autism treatment.

Beyond White Sharks and White Men

February 22
Speakers: Jasmin Graham, Raven Harrison, Magrieli Rodriguez Ruiz
Moderator: Carlee Jackson Bohannon 

This session features a panel discussion with women of color in shark sciences, highlighting their journeys in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and the current state of affairs in marine STEM, particularly shark science. They will take a deep dive into representation: how far the marine STEM fields have come, how far they still have to go, and how to get there. Along the way, we’ll learn about the importance of sharks and their relatives and how inclusive conservation can help protect sharks and shift public perception from fear to fascination.

Jasmin Graham

Jasmin Graham is a shark scientist and environmental educator who specializes in elasmobranch (shark and ray) ecology and evolution. Jasmin is the President and CEO of Minorities in Shark Sciences (MISS), an organization dedicated to ensuring that equitable representation of historically-excluded minority groups and communities from the Global South in shark and marine science, is the norm rather than the exception.

Raven Harrison

Raven Harrison graduated from Florida Southern College in May 2023 with majors in marine biology and biotechnology. She currently works as a conservation educator at Walt Disney’s Animal Kingdom and plans to pursue a doctorate to study the microbiome of elasmobranchs. Raven wants to help more women of color pursue careers in the fields of conservation and marine biology.

Magrieli Rodriguez Ruiz

Magrieli Rodriguez Ruiz is a non-traditional undergraduate student at State College of Florida. She’s currently pursuing a marine biology and ecology degree and will continue her studies at University of South Florida. Magrieli is an active member of Minorities in Shark Sciences (MISS), looking to break barriers in the science community, and is an intern at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium with the Sea Turtle Conservation & Research Program.

Carlee Jackson Bohannon

Carlee Jackson Bohannon, Director of Communications of Minorities in Shark Science (MISS), is a shark and sea turtle scientist with a master’s degree in marine biology from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) (FL) and has worked with the NSU shark tagging program researching the effects of provisioning tourism on nurse sharks in Belize. Her interests lie in how different human activities and urban development affect sharks and their habitats. Carlee received the 2022 Justice in Equity, Diversity & Inclusion award from the Florida Marine Science Educators Association.

Sponsors of Listening to Women

Harms Family Endowment
Morgan Stanley

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