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Speaker Series

Recognizing the value of disparate voices, St. David’s offers students, parents, faculty members and the local community access to a wide variety of guest speakers. We invite leaders from the community and from across the country to speak to our students and parents about real life challenges to faith, virtue and knowledge and the rewards for choosing a virtuous life.

Speaker Series

Our annual series helps ensure that our students have a well-rounded experience with direct access to some of the leading voices in our culture on major points of contemporary social debate. At St. David's we understand that we are, in fact, training tomorrow's cultural leaders. An enterprise of such importance requires that our students who are tomorrow's leaders have the opportunity to speak with, learn from, and engage the leaders of this generation. Our goal is to provide a framework that allows for students, parents and friends of St. David's to do all of this together as a learning community.

2018-19 Speakers

All events will take place at 7:00 p.m. in the St. David's School Performing Arts Center.

September 16: Teaching Economic Reasoning

The 2018-19 St. David’s Speaker Series will officially kick off on Sunday, September 16. Dr. Jim Otteson is the Executive Director of the BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism and the Thomas W. Smith Presidential Chair in Business Ethics at Wake Forest University. He has taught previously at Georgetown, Yeshiva, Alabama, Arizona, and New York Universities. When he visits St. David’s he’ll be raising the question of how to develop in school-age children a basic familiarity with economics and the ability to reason through big questions economically.

October 21: Christianity in the Age of Trump

Ross Dothan is a New York Times op-ed columnist who writes about politics, religion, moral values and higher education. His columns appear each Wednesday and Sunday. He is also a National Book Review film critic, and author of several critically acclaimed books, include Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, Grand New Party, Privilege: Harvard and the education of the Ruling Class, and To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism. Dothan is a graduate of Harvard University and has appeared on CNN, Fox News, and various other nationally syndicated programs.

November 18: The Duty of Preservation: the Dix Park Project

Kate Pearce is the Planning Supervisor for Dorothea Dix Part for the City of Raleigh. As the project director, she is responsible for the stewardship, use and future planning of the park. Prior to joining the City, she worked as both an urban planning and business management consultant. She has a bachelor's degree in economics and an MBA from Milksops College in Jackson, Mississippi, and a master's degree in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kate is a Texsippian -- part Texan, part Mississippian, but now calls Raleigh home.

Joining Kate will be Sean Malone. Sean has led cultural institutions that celebrate a deep sense of place. Before moving to Raleigh, Sean served as president and CEO of the national Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation--focusing on programmatic impact, building philanthropy, partnership development, stewarding the 1300+ acres of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West in Arizona and Taliesin in Wisconsin, and harnessing legacy in a way that meaningful enriches people's lives. Sean has a masters degree in business from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and a BFA in theatre from the University of Southern California. He was honored to be selected by the National Arts Strategies as one of "the top 100 arts/cultural leaders in America and abroad," and has earned post-professional certificates from executive education programs at the Schools of Business at Harvard University, University of Michigan, and University of Texas - Austin.

January 27: Catholics and Protestants--What Can We Learn from Each Other?

Dr. Peter Kreeft, known as one of the world's foremost experts in Christian apologetics, is a tenured professor at Boston College who teaches philosophy and theology courses. He is a regular contributor to many Christian publications and is a highly sought-after public speaker, not to mention being an avid Boston Red Sox fan. Dr. Kreeft's witty writing animates over 75 books that cover a variety of subjects from moral relativism to angels and demons to surfing. He has also taught as an adjunct professor at more than 15 other colleges and centers across the U.S. He will be speaking about his latest book, Catholics and Protestants: What Can We Learn From Each Other?

February 10: Christian Wisdom in the world of Music

Jeremy Begbie teaches systematic theology at Duke and Cambridge Universities and specializes in the interface between theology and the arts. His particular research interests are in the interplay between music and theology. He is the author of a number of books, including Voicing Creation's Praise: Towards a Theology of the Arts, Theology, Music and Time, and Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music, which won the Christianity Today 2008 Book Award in the Theology/Ethics category. Most recently, he has published Music, Modernity, and God. He has taught across the UK and North America, and delivered multimedia performance-lectures across the world, from Israel to Australia and Hong Kong.

Mark Hijleh serves as the Provost and Professor of Music at The King's College in New York City. As an authority in the field of music and cultural studies, Hiljeh's two published books include The Music of Jesus: From Composition to Koinonia and Towards a Global Music Theory. His next book, Towards a Global Music History, is currently in production with Routledge. Hijleh has also written commentaries and book reviews for the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, and the College Music Society. An accomplished composer and conductor, Hijleh worked with the Rochester and Buffalo Philharmonic orchestras, won national first prize in the 2002 National Association of Teachers of Singing Composition competition, and wrote two feature length film scores. He appeared as a guest composer at Hertford College, Oxford, where he also lectured publicly on theology and music in the Holywell Music Room, and has a long association with arts theologian Dr. Jeremy Begbie.

Praised for her expressive playing and rich evocative tone, violist Rachel Yonan has become a presence in the music world. She has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in concert halls across the United States, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and China; and on National Public Radio and Canadian Public Radio. Her appearances include concerts at the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, Open Chamber Music at Prussia Cove, Ascoli Piceno Festival, Bay Chamber Concerts and the Rochester Chamber Music Society.

March 17: The Blessings & Curses of Secured "Rights" & Freedoms

Hugh Stevens is both a national known First Amendment and media lawyer and a versatile litigator. For more than 20 years Hugh served as general counsel to the North Carolina Press Association. In 2006, he became the second lawyer inducted into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame. he has taught at several local universities and continues to serve as general counsel to the North Carolina Press Foundation and as outside counsel to several North Carolina news organizations, including The News and Observer and WRAL-TV in Raleigh.

Justice Robert Orr grew up in Henderson, NC, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1968. From 1968-71 he served the US Army before returning to study law at the University of North Carolina Law School from which he graduated in 1974. He practiced law in Asheville, NC, from 1974-86 when Governor James Martin appointed him as judge on the NC Court of Appeals. He also served from 1992-93 on the US National Parks System Advisory Board. In 1994 he was elected to the NC Supreme Court and served on the court until he retired in 2004. Justice Orr was the founding director of the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law.

Aleta Payne is the executive director of Johnson Service Group, a community columnist for The News & Observer, and a board member of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence. She previously worked for sixteen years with the North Carolina Council of Churches. She is a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Cary and serves on the boards of several Triangle non-profit organizations.

April 7: Women in Leadership

Deborah Ross focuses her law practice on meeting the economic development, energy, utilities and infrastructure needs of businesses and government. She advises businesses and governmental agencies and legal, regulatory, and public policy landscape. Deborah represents clients before governmental agencies and permitting officials, as well as in appeals to state and federal courts. Her work includes general counsel to the Research Triangle's regional transit authority, a decade in private practice focusing on infrastructure, energy and utilities, leadership of a statewide non-profit organization and her longstanding service to the state of North Carolina as an elected representative. She also taught for more than a decade as a Senior Lecturing Fellow at Duke University School of Law and worked as an ethics consultant for the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke. She has served on the board of the NC Center for Public Policy Research and is an advisory member for the US Global Leadership Coalition. In 2014, she was recognized by the North Carolina Bar Association as a Citizen Lawyer. Deborah is a regular contributor for the Elements of Growth Blog, which provides news, information, and resources about infrastructure and economic development in the Southeast.

Carol Folt (schedule permitting) is the University of North Carolina's 11th chancellor. She came from Dartmouth College, where she was interim president in 2012-13 and served as a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences and academic leader. As a widely respected scientist, Folt and her student's pioneering work on the effects of dietary mercury and arsenic on human ecosystem health led to numerous changes in national and global policy and consumption advisories around the world. Folt graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, earning both a bachelor's degree in aquatic biology and a master's degree in biology. She received her doctorate from the University of California, Davis and undertook a postdoctoral fellowship at Michigan State University before joining the faculty at Dartmouth.

Bev Purdue (schedule permitting) served as the 73rd governor of North Carolina from 2008-13. She is the first woman to serve the state as governor. Prior to her term as governor she served as the state's Lieutenant Governor from 2000-08. Bev also served in the NC House of Representatives from 1987-91 and in the NC Senate from 1991-2001. After retiring from public service, Bev was a Resident Fellow at the Kennedy Institute of Politics at Harvard and a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Florida in Education Administration. She is currently chair and founder of digiLEARN, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to accelerating digital learning for all ages.