Great Conversations

UNT Honors College Presents:

Great Conversations 2017

Great Conversations is a unique event benefiting the Honors College at the University of North Texas. This engaging program brings together individuals of accomplishment and skill to facilitate conversations on important, diverse, and stimulating topics, ranging from the intellectual to the lighthearted.

The event is scheduled for Tuesday, February 28, 2017, in the Apogee Stadium Clubroom at UNT (1251 S. Bonnie Brae, Denton, TX 76207) from 6:00-9:00pm. Check-in, silent auction, and a social hour for guests begins at 6:00 p.m. At 7:00 p.m, guests will be invited to begin conversations with the expert of their choice while enjoying a superb dinner. Tickets are $75.00. Parking is free.

Proceeds from the event will directly benefit Honors College students by supporting insightful and exciting programming, as well as scholarships for Honors College students.

Sponsored by:

This year, the Honors College is adding a silent auction fundraiser to the event. Items are still rolling in, but at this time our donations are valued at over $5,000. Packages for auction include “Denton Date Nights,” “Fort Worth Staycation,” “Dallas Staycation,” “Drink DFW,” and more! A couple special stand-alone items are rumored to be up for bid including Texas Motor Speedway tickets and Cowboys Football tickets.

Bidding will take place during the social hour from 6-7 p.m., but will be suspended when dinner is served. Final bidding will be open for 25 minutes when dessert is served.

Please join us for an evening of fascinating people, interesting ideas and Great Conversations!

To purchase tickets at all tables please visit Please bring your e-ticket to Great Conversations 2017!

Table 1 - SOLD OUT

Swingman: A Story of Inspiration

Marshall Allen

From birth, Marshall Allen’s life had never been easy, but it became incredibly more difficult on July 2, 2001. That was the day the captain in the Fort Worth Fire Department went for a bicycle ride in the country. The 6-foot-4 body builder, considered by many a superman, recalls that a storm the night before had left the roadway cluttered with fallen branches. As he tried to “bunny-hop” one of the limbs, he crashed into a ditch, causing his huge body to fold over his shoulders and head. Allen immediately knew that he was paralyzed. Allen was rescued from death, but he was paralyzed from the shoulders down.

This would be one more major challenge for a man who had battled against the odds all his life. When he was born in Holbrook, Ariz., in 1957, his Anglo mother turned him over to a Catholic adoption agency. The first two families that adopted him brought him back. Despite his troubles in school with other students and faculty, Allen succeeded and became the first black firefighter in Salt Lake County. He joined the Fort Worth Fire Department in 1979, and for years he was a swingman, a person who rotates from station to station.

His heroic story is beautifully told in the book, Swingman: What a Difference a Decade Makes, by Alexandra Allred, and in a moving documentary by award-winning filmmaker Mark Birnbaum. It’s an incredible story of struggle and triumph.

Table 2 - Cancelled

Can't We All Just Get a Longneck? "Local Control" and the Evolving Relationship Between Home Rule Cities and the State of Texas

Sara Bagheri

Sara is a self-described townie, having moved with her family to Denton from Arlington in 1996. Following graduation from Denton Ryan High School, she spent 7 years furthering her education, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Juris Doctorate from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.

Sara and her husband, California-native Chris, decided to head back to Denton when it came time to begin their professional careers in 2008. Her husband is a proud Peterbilt employee for the past 6 years. She is currently in private law practice and has been honored by her peers for the past four years as a Rising Star in the field of Business Law by Texas Super Lawyers. Since returning to Denton, Sara has kept busy by helping start the Denton Community Market, coordinating volunteers for Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans, graduating from the Denton County Master Gardener class, and serving on a variety of City of Denton Committees.

Following a lively campaign run on a shoestring budget, Sara received one of the greatest privileges of her 34-year life in May 2016 when she was elected to serve as an at-large council member for the City of Denton. Her campaign was run on a promise of better, more open and more transparent government. She continues to work toward that ideal today.

Table 3

UNT Athletics: An Update from the Director

Wren Baker

Wren Baker was named the University of North Texas Vice President and Director of Athletics on July 29, 2016. The 37-year old Baker is widely considered one of the bright young athletics administrators in the nation, and was influential in the turnaround and development of athletics programs at Memphis and Missouri before coming to Denton. From 2013 to 2015, Baker was deputy director of athletics/external affairs at the University of Memphis. During Baker's tenure at Memphis, the Tigers secured the largest gift in the university's history, set a school record for suite sales and multi-media rights revenue, and grew Memphis' scholarship fund. Originally from Valliant, Okla., Baker earned his bachelor's degree in education from Southeastern Oklahoma State in 2001 and his master's degree in education leadership from Oklahoma State in 2003. At Oklahoma State, Baker was operations assistant for the Cowboys' men's basketball program.

After college, he became principal and athletic director for Valliant Public Schools and, at age 26, was the youngest principal in Oklahoma. From 2006 to 2011, Baker was the first athletic director at Rogers State in Claremore, Okla., where he was also the first men's basketball coach in school history. His team went 20-11 in its first season, after which Baker relinquished his coaching duties to concentrate on his administrative duties. From 2011 to 2013, Baker was athletic director at Northwest Missouri State, where he secured the largest gift in the athletic department's history. Under Baker, Northwest Missouri saw its revenues increase by 60 percent. Baker and his wife Heather have two daughters, Addisyn and Reagan.

Table 4

The British Invasion

Dave Barnett

Before Dave Barnett began pursuing an Emmy Award winning career in sports broadcasting, his goal was to become the 5th Beatle or 6th Rolling Stone. Dave will lead a discussion on how the world changed suddenly and irreversibly over the course of an hour on Feb. 9, 1964, when the Beatles' Ed Sullivan Show debut revolutionized western culture and inspired countless of imitators. (Like Dave.)

Dave Barnett is the radio voice of North Texas athletics. Barnett grew up in Denton and has been a prominent figure in Dallas area radio and television for years. He has been a radio voice for the Mavericks and TV play-by-play announcer for the San Antonio Spurs. He is best known in the Dallas area for his stint calling Rangers games on radio and TV from 2009-12.

Table 5 - SOLD OUT

Not Likely to Make a Law and Order Episode But - Why do People NOT Break the Law?

Jessica M. Craig

As a criminologist, Jessica Craig investigates different theories that seek to answer the question “Why do people break the law?” While that is an interesting question, an alternative perspective may ask why do people not break the law. In her research, Dr. Craig looks at several different factors and how they may either push us into crime or prevent us from offending. She is interested in having a dialogue with others about these protective and risk factors, potentially helping others to see there is much more to criminal behavior than just what we see on TV.

Jessica M. Craig is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of North Texas. She received her Bachelors of Science in Sociology and Psychology from Texas A&M University in 2011. She received both her Masters of Science (2013) and Ph.D. (2015) in Criminology from the University of Texas at Dallas. Dr. Craig’s research interests include investigating crime over the life course and differences in these effects by race/ethnicity and gender. For instance, she has focused on the role of key life transitions such as marriage in promoting desistance from crime and if this effect differs by gender, race, and ethnicity. She is also interested in the role of individual differences in offending; her dissertation investigated the role of several personality traits in predicting white-collar crime. Her other research projects have centered on delinquency, testing criminological theories, sentencing, and the use of advanced research methodologies. Some of her recent work has been published in Journal of Criminal Justice, Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, Crime & Delinquency, and Deviant Behavior.

Table 6 - SOLD OUT

Unfiltered Conversations on the Art of Living Divine, Wild, Free & Fulfilled.

Allison Crow, M.Ed.

Allison Crow - Irreverent priestess with a humongous heart. A modern medicine woman using deep coaching, creativity, intuition. Wild Artist.

Allison Crow, M.Ed., is an spiritual mentor, intuitive life and business coach who has been speaking, teaching and coaching in one form or another since the mid-90s. Allison's global clientele consists of soul - centered, high achievers - and often “recovering over-achievers.” They are often leaders, coaches, entrepreneurs, authors, bold artists, and even a few executives who are feeling the rub of doing life the way they were told they SHOULD... and who are ready to explore remembering who they were before they got lost - and living a created life instead of a life of obligation.

For years, Allison was a hard-lined performance and sales coach motivated by outside forces and an excruciating need for approval. Now, instead of being driven by hard goals and lifeless quotas at all costs, Allison has an unconventional practice where delicious and thought provoking conversations are more centered around taking the path with heart, listening for intuitive messages from your body and spirit, and living life from the inside out. She helps her clients overcome fears, increase their satisfaction in life and work, navigate big changes, earn more money, and live fully expressed and authentic lives.

Allison moved to Denton 3 years ago with her writer husband and is a bit of a bohemian artist, macaroni and cheese devotee, and wine lover. Any given day, between connecting with clients and creating art, you can find her in blue jeans and a t-shirt and covered from head to toe in ink, paint, and dog hair from her two rescued Boxers.

Table 7

At the Grammy Awards

Richard deRosa

Rich DeRosa was nominated last year in the category of Best Instrumental Composition for "Neil", a piece dedicated to his friend and mentor Neil Slater (the director of the One O'Clock Lab Band and jazz department chair from 1981-2008). Professor DeRosa will share his experiences during the week of Grammy celebrations that include the nominee party, the interviews on Radio Row, the Gift Suite, the walk on the red carpet, the afternoon and televised evening ceremonies, and the "after" party.

Grammy-nominated composer Richard DeRosa is currently the Director of Jazz Composition and Arranging at the University of North Texas and the Artistic Director for American Jazz Venues (AJV). Since 2012 he has conducted and arranged for the prestigious WDR Big Band in Cologne, Germany, and served as the band’s chief conductor from 2014-2016.

Throughout his career, his compositions and arrangements have encompassed a vast variety of writing styles which have been heard on stages and in venues around the world, on television and in film, on and off Broadway, in videos, audio books and numerous CD recordings. “Neil”, his original work for big band garnered a 2016 Grammy nomination for “Best Instrumental Composition” and is featured on Lab 2015 recorded by the UNT One O’Clock Lab Band. In addition to his commissioned work writing and conducting and his teaching at University of North Texas, DeRosa is a published author and remains active as an adjudicator, clinician, and guest lecturer.

Table 8

Texas Native Plants for Your Garden and Landscape

Dr. Rebecca Dickstein

Becca Dickstein encourages the use of Texas native plants in Denton and plans to lead a conversation about great native plants for North Texas gardens. She will discuss practices that will invite birds, butterflies and pollinators into your landscape. She is an enthusiastic gardener, active in the Native Plant Society of Texas and writes quarterly for area newspapers on using Texas native plants.

Becca (Dr. Rebecca) Dickstein is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at UNT. She carries out molecular genetics and biochemical research on the plant-microbe interactions that lead to symbiotic nitrogen-fixing root nodules in legumes that decrease nitrogen fertilizer use. She also teaches courses on biochemistry and molecular biology. Originally from the east coast, Dr. Dickstein received her BS in Biochemistry at Penn State and her PhD, also in Biochemistry, from Johns Hopkins. After working as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Molecular Biology at Harvard, she joined the faculty of Drexel University in Philadelphia as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Dickstein moved to UNT as a tenured Associate Professor in 2000. At that time, she discovered that gardening, one of her favorite hobbies, was quite different in Texas from what she was used to. That led to her attention to the many qualities that Texas native plants and trees bring to gardening in our area.

Table 9

The New Fight for LGBT Rights

Diana Finfrock Farrar

Author Diana Finfrock Farrar had hoped her novel ‘s message of the fear, misunderstanding, and injustice that we bring to the table with regard to LGBT rights would become obsolete. Unfortunately the polarization we face today is just as divisive as ever, and the Texas Legislature has made anti-LGBT legislation one of its top priorities for the 2017 Session, which begins January 10th.

Diana’s advocacy reaches further than her informational novel, The Door of the Heart. She is an active volunteer working with several major organizations whose aim is to attain equality. Come learn how to make a difference at local, statewide, and national levels.

EQUALITY TEXAS works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration.

TEXAS COMPETES provides a place for the unified voice of the Texas business community on the clear economic case that fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people is imperative to keep Texas competitive and its economy vibrant.

THE TREVOR PROJECT is the leading nationwide organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBT young people ages 13-24. Their hotlines receive more calls from Texas than any other state; consequently, they have recently created a staff position in North Texas to better educate our citizens on the life-saving work they provide.

Diana, a financial advisor and author, is a native Texan who loves snow skiing, hiking mountains, traveling, and serving her church as an ordained deacon and elder in the Presbyterian church. She and her wife, Charlotte, were married in Canada in 2010. They live in the metroplex and share five children and three grandchildren.

Table 10

Experiencing the Extraordinary: Near-Death Experiences, After-Death Communication, and Past Life Memories

Dr. Jan Holden

Dr. Jan Holden is a Professor of Counseling in the Department of Counseling and Higher Education in UNT's College of Education.

For the past 30 years, she has focused her research on transpersonal experiences: those transcending the usual limits of space and/or time.

If you have had, know someone who has had, or have interest in near-death experiences during close brushes with death, experiences of communication with the deceased, and/or past life memories, come talk with Jan and others who have had such experiences and learn what extensive research on each of them has revealed.

Table 11 - SOLD OUT

The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America's First Serial Killer

Skip Hollandsworth


On December 31, 1884, an Austin servant woman named Mollie Smith was found in the back yard of her employer’s residence, her head nearly split in two by an ax and her body slashed by a knife. What would happen next was a spree of murders unlike any ever before seen in American history, as one woman after another was, in the words of one Austin citizen, “chopped to pieces.”

For more than a year, policemen, private detectives and newspaper reporters hunted for the killer, who was nicknamed the Midnight Assassin. The hunt played out like a cinematic thriller, replete with shocks, unexpected plots twists, misguided criminal investigations and explosive courtroom drama, including one murder trial that probably changed the outcome of a Texas gubernatorial race and exposed what a reporter of that time described as “the most extensive and profound scandal ever known in Austin.”

Yet the Midnight Assassin was never caught. Many people, including some of the country’s leading “alienists,” were convinced that he moved to England after his Austin murder spree and in 1888 became Jack the Ripper, murdering prostitutes in the Whitechapel area of London.

In many ways, the story of the Midnight Assassin is the American version of the Jack the Ripper tale -- an almost unbelievable Gothic tale of madness and sexual scandal, panic and paranoia, and unbelievably gruesome murder, all set in a young city that was hurtling from its sepia-toned Old West past into the country’s glittery new Gilded Age.

And at the heart of the story lays an old-fashioned mystery, one that still puzzles people today: Who was the Midnight Assassin and why did he go on such a rampage? For the first time, in Skip Hollandsworth’s The Midnight Assassin, the mystery is fully explored.

Table 12 - SOLD OUT

Devil or Angel: Mary Surratt, the first woman executed by the U.S. government

Brent M. Jones

One year before her execution as John Wilkes Booth’s accomplice, widow Mary Surratt could not have imagined her fate, and neither could anyone else. Her reputation was that of an unusually devout Christian suffering like many through the Civil War. She would never have contemplated, let alone condoned, murder. The public knew Mary Surratt as a kind Maryland tavern keeper who served both Union and Confederate soldiers impartially. However, crushing debt forced her to move to Washington and in time, meet famous actor John Wilkes Booth.

Brent M. Jones is assistant dean for recruitment and admissions (admissions director) for the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS) and the Honors College. His longstanding fascination with Mary Surratt began as a child after discovering that the Booth conspirators were all young men – except for 45-year old Mary Surratt, a seemingly unlikely conspirator. Was she guilty, or was the government’s condemnation misplaced?

Table 13 - SOLD OUT

Fighting the bite, Mosquito Wrangling in North Central Texas

James Kennedy

In early August 2002, Dr. James Kennedy’s lab collected the first mosquito populations that tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV) in north central Texas. Since that time he has monitored mosquito populations and mosquito borne diseases annually in the City of Denton, in partnership with the City of Denton and the Texas Department of State Health Services. The conversation at this table will focus on mosquito ecology, their populations and WNV and the recent concerns about the potential occurrence of ZIKA, Chikungunya and Dengue in the Dallas Fort Worth Area.

James H. Kennedy, is a Regents Professor of biological sciences and the Executive Director of the Elm Fork Education Center and Natural Heritage Museum. In addition, he is an associate director of the University of North Texas Sub-Antarctic Biocultural and Conservation program and has served as a visiting professor for the last eight years in the graduate program at the University of Magallanes in Punta Arenas, Chile. Dr. Kennedy was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Magallanes in 2009.

Dr. Kennedy’s research program focuses on five areas: Stream ecology, aquatic insect biology, biodiversity studies, the use of macroinvertebrates in the ecological risk assessment process and environmental education. Professor Kennedy has authored or coauthored over 100 publications covering various aspects of aquatic ecology, and ecotoxicology, including laboratory and field toxicity testing procedures, and simulated field studies. He is recognized internationally for his work in the use of surrogate aquatic ecosystems in the ecological risk assessment process. Much of his current research is focused in the Sub-Antarctic region of South America where he is developing long term monitoring programs using benthic macroinvertebrates to monitor biologically significant changes in rivers and streams that may be associated with global climate change. The goal of most of the laboratories projects is to develop information to aid in management decisions and conservation of freshwater ecosystems.

Table 14

10 Years as a Special Agent

Rachel Malone

From theft of pharmaceuticals to million dollar fraud cases, Rachel Malone managed and directed a variety of criminal investigations as a Special Agent for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Rachel shares stories about fugitive roundups on the US Marshal Fugitive Taskforce, and local homicide investigations. She will discuss current surveillance technology used by law enforcement; drug diversion at the Post Office - USPS employees and theft of pharmaceuticals from the mail; fraud at the VA - abuse of elderly veterans for profit and theft committed by veterans; and a driving while blind case involving a veteran who received compensation from the VA for being blind since the Vietnam war.

A native of Texas, Rachel graduated from the Texas Academy of Math and Science in 2002. Rachel earned a degree in Biology, and a degree in Criminal Justice Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Table 15 - Cancelled

Women in STEM: Breaking barriers in a field dominated by men

Crystal Marks

“Women are far less capable of a financially lucrative career than men; after all, women aren’t nearly as talented or intelligent as men!”

Disagree? So does Crystal Marks, but that mindset represents exactly the type of rural environment in which she was raised. Because of this, she has spent her years breaking down barriers in both her professional and private life, and is far too aware of the injustices women still face in the workplace. She’s passionate about speaking to girls who come from similar backgrounds and need the support of fellow successful women to assure them that there are no limits to what they can do with knowledge. Crystal believes it all starts with working hard in school and believing in yourself!

Since leaving TAMS and UNT, Crystal has worked her way up the ladder in a field dominated by men. She currently works as an Enterprise Systems Architect for the Dallas Cowboys Football Club, but has been immersed in Information Technology at various corporations in both Dallas and Chicago, breaking through the glass ceiling and gender barriers. She enjoys providing creative solutions to hundreds or thousands of people in a company and implementing best practices for technology infrastructure such as storage and networking. When there's a huge problem, she’s on the front lines digging in and figuring out the solution under pressure because she loves what she does.

Table 16

Am I The Only Sane Person in My Office?

Dr. Teresa McKinney

Dr. Teresa McKinney will deliver insight into the impact of mental health in the workforce. Poor mental health influences workplace efficiency, employee retention, and overall quality of life.

Making it "Okay to Say" increases access to services and generates a safe space within the workplace. Tending to physical and mental well-being ensures maximized organizational health.

Dr. McKinney provides oversight to UNT's counseling services, Student Health and Wellness Center, Recreation Center, and serves as the co-chair to the Denton County Behavioral Health Leadership Team.

Table 17

The Self-fulfilling Prophecy of Parental Expectations: Explicit and Implicit influences on Career Trajectories

Dr. Rachel U. Mun

How did you end up in your present career? Did parental expectations have anything to do with it? According to self-fulfilling prophecy theory, they may very well have. In this discussion, plan to reflect on your career journey and if you have children, how you may be influencing them now. Dr. Rachel Mun will discuss her research on parental expectations and the alumni of early college entrance programs, and why there is some evidence to suggest that we may be internalizing our parental expectations and fulfilling them (conscious or not).

Dr. Rachel U. Mun is Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of North Texas (concentration in Gifted and Talented). Her research interests are best described as an intersection between gifted education, mental health and immigrant issues. For the last five years, her research has focused on parental influences, social and emotional development, immigration, career decision-making and educational access for diverse populations of gifted learners.

Table 18

Inside Politics

Megan O'Brien

Do you want to know what it is really like in the different aspects of politics...what it is really like in a congressional office and in DC, on a Presidential campaign....the twists and turns of this cycle? Megan O’Brien, UNT Honors College alumna, in her current professional role will provide some insight on post-presidency life.

Megan O'Brien is an Associate at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, where she heads up the Engage public programming initiative. Megan is a proud 2006 UNT honors graduate, majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. Following graduation, she moved to Capitol Hill and started in Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's office, eventually serving as assistant scheduler. In 2010, she transitioned to the House as Congressman Michael McCaul's head scheduler. Megan was honored to serve as Governor Mitt Romney's scheduler during his 2012 bid for the White House. She is happy to be home, once again, in Texas and is coming up on her four year anniversary with the Bush Center.

Table 19

How Much Control Do You Have? Genetics and what it means for your future

Dr. Pamela Padilla

Dr. Pamela Padilla, Associate Professor at UNT, is a geneticist interested in all that is relevant to heredity and health. Join Dr. Padilla to discuss how genes may or may not impact your future. She will discuss her research using genetic modeling to study how both diet and genes are central contributors to the phenotype and physiology of individuals. At the root of many human health issues is the excess of calorie intake relative to calorie expenditure. In particular, the increasing amount of dietary sugars in the human diet is contributing to the rise of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Individuals with obesity and type 2 diabetes have compromised oxygen delivery leading to health issues. She will discuss how she investigates the impact a high-sugar diet has on oxygen deprivation responses.

As a professor of Genetics she can also discuss other topics of interest related to DNA, heredity and genes.

Table 20 - SOLD OUT

Becoming a Wine Expert with the Guy who is Becoming a Wine Expert. Dentoning with the Owner, CEO, Head Dishwasher of Steve’s Wine Bar

Steve Severance

Have you ever had a dream that one day you will …..fill in the blank…. ? In that sense, Steve Severance has started on the path to his dream.

In the early days of his working life Steve was a cook and a chef in several different restaurants in Wisconsin and Minnesota while putting himself through college in pursuit of a music degree. And then, after graduating, while following his dream of playing music in Los Angeles, helped open a new restaurant in Westwood next to UCLA. There was this dream that one day he would open his own restaurant, or better yet, a cool jazz club offering great drinks, food, and fantastic music.

As life developed and his first child was on the way, he felt it was important to get out of the late hours that music and restaurants demanded and “get a real job” working 9-5. This took him down the path of sales and business development in the software industry in Southern California. Becoming one of the top sales people in his company, he was offered the opportunity to relocate to the Dallas area and run the division in this region.

After four years of living in Carrollton, Steve and his wife and kids moved to Corinth 20 years ago and found themselves enjoying the lifestyle that Denton has to offer. With the great music school here at UNT, Steve became enthralled with the opportunities to hear great performers, both young and old, perform here in the area. Also, due to his wife’s influence, he got involved in home brewing, and was thrilled to see all the great things happening with the craft beer houses and breweries in and around Denton. Still, there was a tug that there was a long-lost dream of opening a cool jazz club.

Somewhere along the path of life, Steve began to enjoy great wine. As he was traveling around the country for work and pleasure he made it a priority to visit the local wineries and wine bars whenever possible. He began to understand all the components that go into making a good wine.

Fast forward to 2016 and an opportunity presented itself for Steve to pursue a business in the world of wine. Steve’s Wine Bar is one of the fresh new places in Denton providing not only great wine, but also great beer and live music in a relaxed environment. The next few chapters have yet to be written about this move to the wine and entertainment business, but it is likely with the right plans, support, and effort, there will be more exciting news to report.

Table 21

Every Dentonite Knows to Ask Ed Soph About the Environmental Quality of Life in Denton

Ed Soph

Ed Soph and Carol, his wife, moved to Denton in 1987. As parents, they became concerned when they learned that a copper wire company, about a mile from their home, planned to smelt scrap copper, a process that produced toxic air emissions of lead.

This was the beginning of over twenty years of involvement in issues of health and safety involving the use of less-toxic herbicides in city parks, the formation of a city environmental management division, and other issues that could affect the environmental quality of life in our community.

Ed is a professor in the Jazz Studies Division of the UNT College of Music. Ed is a UNT alumnus but returned as a professor in 1987. He was recently named to the Percussive Arts Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame recognizes the industry's top leaders in percussion performance, education, and composition.

Table 22 - SOLD OUT

Yes, I Do Wear Glasses - Scott Steenson shares his stories from officiating pee-wee football on Saturday mornings to the big time spectacle of officiating NFL Football

Scott Steenson

Scott Steenson began his officiating career in Dallas, Texas, in the fall of 1978 officiating pee-wee football on Saturday mornings. He eventually worked his way into high school football on Friday nights. He joined the Southland Conference in the fall of 1983 and began officiating Division 1-AA college football and continued officiating high school football. In the spring of 1991 he joined the staff of the World League of American Football (NFL Europe) officiating professional football in Europe. In the fall of 1991, he was invited to join the officiating staff of the National Football League. In concert with Scott's NFL schedule, he continued to work the World League for two more years.

This year Scott officiated his 23rd and final season in the National Football League. His position was Field Judge and his number was 88. He worked an on-field post-season assignment every year he was eligible including 11 Wild Card games, 6 Divisional games, 4 Championship games, 2 Pro Bowls, and 2 Super Bowls - for a total of 25 on-field Post Season assignments.

He officiated in Super Bowl XXXI on January 26, 1997, a game played between the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots in the Super Dome in New Orleans, and Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2, 2014, at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, in a game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks.

Table 23

The Art of Being in the Know: We Denton Do It

Alyssa Stevenson

What should we do tonight? Where is the best show? Best pie? How about that perfect after dinner cocktail? If I’m in the mood for a greasy burger, where do I head? Lucky for you, We Denton Do It has done the searching for you, and is here to help.

Alyssa Stevenson is an owner, writer and editor for the local Denton blog, We Denton Do It. With a passion for food, art, and culture, We Denton Do It aims to keep Denton locals in the know. Over the last six years Alyssa has helped to steer the ship, growing their reach and readership - while learning about the intricacies of Denton’s most unique characters. With a focus on all things local - she’ll have tips, tricks and a top five list for just about anything you could be searching for in our fair city.

Alyssa Stevenson was a contract writer in food and recipe development before she joined the team at We Denton Do It. Now, she is a full time middle school history teacher, who manages the madness of tweens while keeping her ear to the ground for the best local spots, bites and makers. In her spare time you can find her trying out new cocktails, checking out local artists, and searching for the best dishes to recommend to friends.

Table 24

Cybersecurity and How to Protect your Connected Crock-Pot

Dr. Mark A. Thompson, Sr.

An informal talk with Dr. Mark A. Thompson, Sr., on the topic of cybersecurity with stories of lies, deception, and trickery in the world we live in. Cybersecurity is a hot topic! But just how insecure are we? With more and more data moving to the cloud, how can we protect our security and privacy amidst all of the failures that occur on a daily basis? And then, with the age of the Internet of Things (IoT) upon us, where digitally connected devices like thermostats, refrigerators and even Crock-Pots are making their way into every aspect of our lives, are we willing to sacrifice our security and privacy for the ease, convenience, and cost-effectiveness that they promise? Chances are, if it is connected to the Internet, it’s going to get hacked!

Dr. Mark A. Thompson, Sr., is currently a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UNT. He has been teaching in the computer science field for over 11 years with a special interest in cyber security. He is affiliated with the Center for Information and Computer Security (CICS) and is actively pursuing grants and research in cybersecurity. Prior to joining the ranks in academia, he worked at Bell-Northern Research, the research and development arm of Nortel Networks, for nearly 16 years on all phases of development as a senior programmer and systems architect on large, real-time telecommunications systems, focusing primarily on military and other security-based technologies.

He received his Ph.D. from Louisiana Tech University in Computational Analysis and Modeling, an interdisciplinary program in mathematics, computer science, and statistics with a focus in Cyber Security. Thompson possesses Master’s degrees in Mathematical Sciences and Business Administration from the University of Texas at Dallas and has a BS in Computer Engineering from Tulane University.

Table 25

Combatting Slavery in the Clinics: Training Healthcare Providers for the Fight Against Human Trafficking

Dr. Katy Wesley

We tend to think of slavery as something of the past. Unfortunately, it’s not. Even today, there are an estimated 20.9 million people enslaved, hundreds of thousands of whom are in the U.S. These slaves are victims of human trafficking, otherwise known as modern day slavery, and it’s one of the fastest growing and most profitable criminal industries, generating $150 billion in illegal profits per year.

Recent research states that of the survivors surveyed, 87.8% had contact with a healthcare provider while they were being trafficked, yet most providers are poorly trained in how to recognize or treat potential victims of human trafficking. To help combat this, Dr. Katy Wesley developed a training module for healthcare providers to better address human trafficking within their own clinics and hospitals.

After graduating from the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science in 2006, Dr. Katy Wesley went on to earn her Bachelor of Arts in English Creative Writing at Texas A&M University followed by her M.D. at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine. She is currently a third year resident in obstetrics and gynecology at Scott & White in Temple, Texas.