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2020 Contemplative Practices for Higher Education Conference -   March 5-7, 2020 - The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center - Roanoke, Virginia
2020 Contemplative Practices for Higher Education Conference -   March 5-7, 2020 - The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center - Roanoke, Virginia



photo of speaker Carrie Newcomer
conversational, introspective songwriting that celebrates and savors the ordinary, yet sacred, moments of our lives

"To my mind — a writer's mind — Carrie Newcomer is much more than a musician. She's a poet, storyteller, snake-charmer, good neighbor, friend and lover, minister of the wide-eyed gospel of hope and grace. All this, and she comes with a voice that declares, 'Sit down here a minute and listen.' Who could ask for more?" — Barbara Kingsolver, Author, The Poisonwood Bible

"Carrie Newcomer - a great gift to humanity. Her music - a great gift to our souls." — Jill Bolte Taylor, Author, My Stroke of Insight

"I love Carrie Newcomer. She writes and sings about what is most personal to her and in doing so she speaks to the wider world. Her song 'Geodes' will make you catch your breath with its wisdom and beauty." — Mary Chapin Carpenter

Carrie Newcomer is a songwriter, recording artist, performer, and educator. She has been described as a "prairie mystic" by the Boston Globe and, "asks all the right questions," by Rolling Stone, "a voice as rich as Godiva chocolate." by The Austin Statesman, and, "She's the kind of artist whose music makes you stop, think and then say, 'that is so true.'" by The Dallas Morning News. Recent appearances on PBS's Religion and Ethics and the National Award Winning Krista Tippett's On Being, have focused on her use of creative art-form as a spiritual/mindfulness practice, her work in social/ environmental justice, interfaith dialogue, progressive spirituality and as a champion for a new political conversation.

She has toured with Alison Krauss in Europe and the United States. Nickel Creek recorded Newcomer's song, "I Should've Known Better," on their Grammy-winning album, This Side. In the fall of 2009 and 2011 Newcomer was a cultural ambassador to India, invited by the American Embassy of India. In October 2011, she released her interfaith collaborative benefit album, Everything is Everywhere, with world master of the Indian Sarod, Amjad Ali Khan. In June 2012 Carrie Newcomer traveled to Kenya, Africa, performing in schools, hospitals, spiritual communities and AIDS hospitals. In 2013 Carrie visited organizations dedicated to nonviolent conflict resolution through the arts and the empowerment of women in the Middle East. Huffington Post Religion Community listed her song, "Holy as the Day is Spent," as one of the best spiritual songs of 2012. She was listed as one of "the 50 most influential folk musicians of the past 50 years" by Chicago's WFMT. Boston's WBEZ listed her as one of the most influential folk artists of the last 25 years.

Her newest release is The Beautiful Not Yet (Available Light Records, September 2016). Other Available Light recordings include A Permeable Life and Everything is Everywhere. Newcomer also has 14 nationally releases on the Concord/Rounder Records including; The Geography of Light, The Gathering of Spirits and Before and After. In 2014 Newcomer also released her first companion book, A Permeable Life: Poems and Essays. Over half the songs on The Beautiful Not Yet were created for a spoken word/music collaboration with Parker J. Palmer entitled, What We Need is Here: Hope, Hard Times and Human Possibility.

Newcomer's first theatrical production, Betty's Diner: The Musical, was produced as part of the Purdue University 2015/2016 theatrical season to rave reviews and a totally sold out run. The music for Betty's Diner: The Musical was written in collaboration with Richard K. Thomas and arranged by Gary Walters. Other recent collaborations with influential authors, scientists and theologians, include; Jill Bolte Taylor, Phillip Gulley, Scott Russell Sanders and Rabbi Sandy Sasso.

photo of speaker Mitchell Ratner, Ph.D., is the founder and senior teacher of the Still Water Mindfulness Practice Center, a network of meditation groups in the Washington, DC, area. His teaching and publications focus on developing mindfulness meditation as a nourishing and joyful spiritual path. He believes that as one develops stillness and self-knowledge, the energy of mindfulness enters naturally into one's work, one's relationships, and one's responses to the inevitable difficulties and challenges of life.

Mitchell became a committed practitioner of mindfulness in 1989 after a short stay in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand helped him alter his habitual ways of thinking. Shortly thereafter he became a student of Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, attracted by Thich Nhat Hanh's calm and penetrating presence, social activism, and teachings on mindfulness in everyday life.

In 2001 Thich Nhat Hanh invited Mitchell to receive the Dharmacharya (Meditation Teacher) transmission and encouraged him to teach mindfulness more widely and to cultivate communities of practice.

Mitchell holds graduate degrees in sociology and social anthropology. He researched and evaluated social programs for government agencies and non-profits from 1981 until he became a full-time Dharma teacher in 2005.

photo of speaker Dr. Margaret (Peggy) Plews-Ogan is the Brodie Professor of Medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. She is former Chief of the Division of General Medicine, Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine. She did her training at Harvard Medical school and her Internal Medicine residency at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Her research began in the area of patient safety, medical error, coping with mistakes. This led to research on how people cope positively with adversity, and ultimately to research in the area of wisdom—how wisdom is gained in the wake of difficult experience. She is currently working on how wisdom might be fostered in clinician training programs. She has also done research on the effects of mindfulness on symptoms such as chronic pain and palpitations, and is currently working on how mindfulness, positive emotion and wisdom may be protective of burnout. She founded the Center for Appreciative Practice at UVA, a center dedicated to fostering positive emotion in the workplace, and has recently developed the "Be Wise" program—a health-system initiative to address stress, burnout and professionalism at UVA. She is the author of three books—1) Appreciative Practices in Health Care, 2) Choosing Wisdom (with an accompanying Public television documentary), and 3) Wisdom Leadership: Leading positive Change in the Academic Health Sciences Center.

photo of speaker Booker brings her heart and wisdom to the intersection of Dharma + Embodied Wisdom + Activism. She shares her expertise nationally as a guest lecturer at conferences, universities, and Dharma centers, on expanding our vision around culturally responsive teaching, and changing the paradigm of self and community care.

She has spoken at Mind & Life Institute's International Symposium, Contemplative Minds in Higher Education, Mindfulness in America, and Omega Institute's Mindfulness in Education conferences, along with other pioneers in the mindfulness field such as Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dr. Daniel Siegel, Linda Lantieri, and His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Booker has been a featured speaker and facilitator at the Fetzer Institute, Vassar and Pitzer Colleges, as well as with the Peace Corps and Teacher's College at Columbia University, and the Contemplative Sciences Center at the University of Virginia.

She began sharing practice with vulnerable populations in 2005, and was a senior teacher and Director of Teacher Trainings with Lineage Project, where she worked with incarcerated and vulnerable youth for ten years. During this time, she also facilitated a mindfulness and cognitive-based therapy intervention on Riker's Island from 2009-2011, a partnership between New York University and the National Institute of Health.

She is a co-founder of the Yoga Service Council at Omega Institute and the Meditation Working Group of Occupy Wall Street. Booker is a co-author of Best Practices for Yoga in a Criminal Justice Setting, a contributor to Georgetown Law's Center on Poverty and Inequality's report: Gender & Trauma—Somatic Interventions for Girls in Juvenile Justice, YOGA: The Secret of Life, and Sharon Salzberg's book Happiness at Work. She is a graduate of Spirit Rock's Mindful Yoga and Meditation training (2012), Community Dharma Leaders' Training (2017), and will complete Spirit Rock's four year Retreat Teacher Training in 2020.

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