The Blue Wave Festival has assembled a stellar roster of presenters and it continues to grow! Check back for regular updates. Here is the Speaker Program brief, full details below.
Democracy is NOT a Spectator Sport
Women’s Powerful Voice for Democracy
Youth Rock the Vote
Labor - a Cornerstone of the Democratic Party
We March for Our Lives
Immigrants Strengthen Our Democracy
Fighting Hate, Teaching Tolerance, Seeking Justice
The Real World Threat of Climate Change
DEMOCRACY IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT
— The Meaning of Democracy and the Importance of Participation
SPEAKER: Bill Curry — A former Connecticut state Senator, Comptroller and Democratic nominee for Governor, Bill served as Counselor to the President in the Clinton White House, working on domestic policy, speech writing and political message. Bill also served as National Director of Freeze Voter, the political arm of the nuclear weapons freeze movement; and the President of the International Center, an organization promoting political reform and sustainable economics in the developing world. He writes for Salon and the Daily Beast, and provides political analysis for National Public Radio. He lives in Farmington. Read his bio!
SPEAKER: Mims Butterworth — If the Blue Wave Fest were to give an honorary award to a true Democracy Champion, Mims would be recognized as an activist who has practiced and defended democracy the longest. She is 100 years old, and a longtime Connecticut Democratic leader. She was the former President of the Hartford College for Women, a former member of the West Hartford Town Council, and a past PUCA Chairwoman. Mims is the author of three books that articulate how one person’s life has been centered on democracy, and the need to actively participate and defend it. Read her bio!
SPEAKER: Congressman Joe Courtney is the Democratic Representative of the U.S. House of Representatives for Connecticut’s 2nd Congressional District, serving since 2007. The district includes most of the eastern third of the state from the Connecticut River to the RI border. Joe serves on the Armed Services, Education and Workforce Committees. He has been a leading voice in the House for affordable health care and against the so-called "Cadillac tax" on high-dollar health plans. Read his bio!
WOMEN'S POWERFUL VOICE FOR DEMOCRACY
— The Importance of Women Running for Political Office in 2018 and Beyond
SPEAKER: Senator Beth Bye — CT Senator Bye (5th Senate District) is the co-founder of Politica-CT, a membership organization focused on progressive issues and electing more progressive women to the state legislature. As a legislator, her specialties are education, the environment, economic development and equal rights for all. A champion for marriage equality, she brought out the Transgender Rights Bill in the Senate, as well as the Dreamer's Bill, providing in-state tuition for undocumented students. Read her bio!
— Power to the Polls: the Importance of Women’s Role in the Electoral Process
SPEAKER: Kindra Fontes-May is an organizer for the Women's March CT and a labor organizer for the healthcare union, SEIU 1199. She is a graduate of Kenyon College, where she won the Margaret Mead award for her work in anthropology and political economy. She is a dues paying member of SEIU 1199 NE, United Steelworkers (USW), and the National Organization of Women (NOW). She is also a member of Latinas in the Resistance. Read more about Kindra and the Women’s March CT!
— The “MeToo” Day of Reckoning
SPEAKER: Christine Palm — Christine is the principal of her own business, Sexual Harassment Prevention, LLC, which provides training to the corporate, academic and non-profit workplace. She served as the former communications and women’s policy analyst for the General Assembly’s Commission on Women, Children and Seniors. Christine was the communications director of its predecessor agency, the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. She is a former newspaper reporter, high school teacher, and small business owner. Read her bio!
YOUTH ROCK THE VOTE
— Why Young Citizens Should Participate and Vote
SPEAKER: Theresa Govert — Theresa is an East Haddam resident and a former Peace Corps Volunteer. She was honored with the John F. Kennedy Peace Corps Service Award for outstanding public service in the US and abroad. Theresa was also awarded the 1) "The Future is Now Award" from the CT Women's Education and Legal Fund, 2) the University of Connecticut’s New England Scholar Award, 3) the Andrea D. LaVigne Scholarship for Advancing Diversity, and 4) the Town of East Haddam's Volunteer of the Month. Read her Bio!
— How Young Citizens Can Get Involved
SPEAKER: Nick Teeling — Nick is a college senior, studying political science at UConn. He is a leader in the UConn Young Democrats, a former intern for Senator Murphy's campaign, and currently the campaign manager for Christine Palm. Nick hails from Winsted, CT. Read his bio!
LABOR — A CORNERSTONE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
SPEAKER: Stuart Savelkoul — Stuart is the Chief of Staff for AFT Connecticut, a diverse union of more than 30,000 public and private sector employees which includes state workers, healthcare workers, public school teachers, paraeducators, and higher education faculty and staff. With a decade of experience in education and public policy, Stuart has worked in higher education administration, taught communications, and served as a union staffer. As Director of North Dakota’s AFT, he helped merge the NEA and AFT into North Dakota United, a union representing half the organized workforce in the state. Read his bio!
WE MARCH FOR OUR LIVES
— Student Activism and Leadership for Gun Safety in America
SPEAKER: Isabella Segall — Isabella is the founder of Connecticut Teens Against Gun Violence at the Wilton High School, Wilton, CT. She was the organizer of a local student rally after the Parkland High School shooting. At this rally she said, “This is not a world I want to live in—where faith is deemed a better solution than taking action, where risking your life is a daily activity, a world where buying an AR-15 rifle — a machine made for killing — is as easy as ordering the parts and assembling it at home.” Read her bio!
SPEAKER: Laura Sokoloski — Laura is a dedicated activist focused on the history of gun violence against kids. She was a speaker at the 2018 March for Our Lives in East Haddam. Laura hails from Colchester and is a sophomore at Colby College studying environmental science and biology. Read her bio!
SPEAKER: Tommy Murray — Tommy Murray is a graduate of the Sandy Hook Elementary School. He was 11 years old when his neighbor brutally gunned down 20 children and six educators in 2012. A Junior at Newtown High School, he has co-chaired the Jr Newtown Action Alliance Club for the last two years. Tommy has traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with Congress, deliver petitions, and attend the National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence. He has spoken at the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. and the Students March event in Dallas. Read his bio!
MUSICIAN/SPEAKER: Tyler Suarez — Tyler is the founder of ConnecticutStudents Against Gun Violence, and an organizer and speaker at the 2018 March for Our Lives (Hartford, CT). He will perform his original music at the Blue Wave Fest. Tyler is a sophomore at the University of Bridgeport. He is the nephew of Dawn Hocksprung, former principal of Sandy Hook School, whose life was taken by gun violence. Read his bio!
— Achieving Gun Safety through Citizen Activism and Legislation
SPEAKER: Po Murray — Po is the co-founder and chairwoman of the Newtown Action Alliance (NAA). NAA is an all-volunteer grassroots organization formed after the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The alliance works to bring about legislative and cultural changes that will reduce the public health crisis of gun violence. Po is the mother of four children who are graduates of Sandy Hook Elementary School. She lives in the same neighborhood as the shooter and many families of the young victims whose lives were taken at Sandy Hook tragedy. Read her bio!
SPEAKER: Jeremy Stein — Jeremy is the Executive Director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence (CAGV). The CAGV is a state-wide citizen organization that is responsible for helping Connecticut achieve the second strongest gun laws and the fifth lowest gun death rate in the nation. Jeremy is a seasoned litigator with over 20 years of experience. He served as a prosecutor with the criminal division of the Attorney General’s Office in the District of Columbia, where he handled many gun related cases, working closely with the ATF, FBI, Secret Service. Read his bio!
IMMIGRANTS STRENGTHEN OUR DEMOCRACY
— The Status of Immigration and Refugee Settlement in Connecticut
SPEAKER: Will Kneerim — Will is the Director of Education, Employment and English Language Programs for IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services) in New Haven, CT. Since 1982, IRIS has provided a new home for more than 5,000 refugees and immigrants in Connecticut. During Will’s career in international trade, he worked in Asia, Europe and Latin America. He is very proud to have helped settle 2,000 diverse refugees and asylees in the state. Read his bio!
— ICE, Deportations and Human Suffering
SPEAKER: John Lugo - John is an immigrant's rights activist with Unidad Latina en Accion (ULA) in New Haven. He lived many years as an undocumented immigrant and survived immigration prison before he became a US citizen. He went on to help found ULA in 2002. ULA’s mission is to defend labor, civil, and human rights through improving workplace equality for immigrants, protecting families from deportation, and increasing supportive immigration legislation at the city, state, and federal level. Read his bio!
FIGHTING HATE, TEACHING TOLERANCE, SEEKING JUSTICE
SPEAKER: Rev. John Selders — Rev. Dr. John L. Selders, Jr. is the founder of Moral Mondays-CT and the new Poor Peoples Campaign-CT. He is the Pastor of the Amistad UCC Church in Hartford and the Asst. Dean of Students at Trinity College. The 2018 Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is rooted in Dr. Martin Luther King's original Poor People’s Campaign that linked economic justice issues with national priorities in 1968. This statewide coalition of individuals and organizations is brought together by the power of the Black Lives Matter movement and the Moral Monday Movement of Rev. Dr. William Barber. Read his bio!
SPEAKER: Stephanie Johnson — Stephanie is the President of AFT-CT Local 5051 Federation of Technologists. She sits on the Executive Board as a Vice President of AFT-CT and chairs its Social Justice Committee. From 2014-2017, Stephanie was a Commissioner of the African American Affairs Commission for the state of Connecticut. She is a current participant in the Poor People’s Campaign. Stephanie is a Registered Sleep Technologist at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Read her bio!
THE REAL WORLD THREAT OF CLIMATE CHANGE
SPEAKER: Dr. Lori Brown — Lori Brown is the Executive Director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV). As a political voice on behalf of our environment at the state Capitol, Lori has organized multiple public education and grassroots lobbying campaigns, and works to elect pro-environment candidates across Connecticut who will address climate change. Read her bio!
SPEAKER: Martha Klein — Martha is the Chapter Chair and Communications director of the CT Sierra Club. She is an advocate for increased renewable energy and the prevention of worsening climate disruption in the state by providing education to the public, legislators, and regulators and advocating for legislation that helps CT to transition away from fossil fuel dependence to a green economy. Martha is a registered nurse with 30 years of experience with an emphasis on public health. Read her bio!
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