Featured Speakers

Gunnar Shaffer, Founder of Agrowponics, Power Systems Engineer at Southwest Power Pool

Gunnar Shaffer is the Founder and CEO of Agrowponics, a company specializing in sustainable farming and gardening technologies.  He is also a Power Systems Engineer at Southwest Power Pool near Little Rock, Arkansas.  Gunnar earned his B.Sc. Engineering in Renewable Energy from John Brown University in 2014 and went on to obtain his M.Sc. Renewable Energy specializing in Energy Storage at Universität Oldenburg, Germany, Spring 2016, completing his Master’s thesis at the United Nations in Geneva.  Gunnar has developed international leadership skills that have led to many rewarding life experiences.  He has an enormous drive and passion to study renewable energy, energy storage, and urban farming methodologies in the hopes that we can solve global environmental, economic, social and engineering challenges.  Gunnar has traveled to 30 Countries and lived in four.  As an engineer, he is constantly looking for solutions to problems wherever he travels: from the farms of Arkansas to the rice patties of Cambodia to the universities of China to the United Nations to the electrical grid of West Africa and Southwest Power Pool and Agrowponics.  A 6th-generation crop and cattle farmer raised in Friendship, Arkansas, Gunnar brought Agrowponics to life when he carefully crafted the business’s first products while in the University research lab.

Amy Brady, Editor-in-Chief, Chicago Review of Books

“Imagining Climate Change Through Fiction”

Amy Brady is the Deputy Publisher of Guernica magazine and the Editor-in-Chief of the Chicago Review of Books, where she also writes a monthly column called “Burning Worlds,” exploring how contemporary fiction addresses issues of climate change.  Brady’s writing has also appeared in O, the Oprah magazineSlateThe Los Angeles TimesThe New Republic, The Village Voicethe Dallas Morning NewsPacific StandardMcSweeney’sLiterary Hub, and other places.  She is the co-editor of the anthology, House on Fire: Dispatches from a Climate-Changed World, forthcoming 2021 from Catapult.  Brady received her PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has won awards from the National Science Foundation, the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers Conference, the Center for Research Libraries, and various academic organizations.  She is a recipient of a CLIR/Mellon Library of Congress Research Fellowship.  Brady hails from Topeka, Kansas, and lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Tshering Yangzom, Bhutan Foundation

Ms. Tshering Yangzom, ’10 KKG, is a Communication and Program Manager for the Bhutan Foundation in Washington, DC.  Tshering earned her BS degree in Biology from Westminster College in 2010, and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Public Health at The George Washington University.  She has worked in the Histology Department at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in Thimphu, Bhutan and as a journalist at the Bhutan Times, a national newspaper.  At Westminster College, she was actively involved with the Missouri School for the Deaf and the NGO Reading is Fun (RIF).  Tshering later spent four years in McLean, VA at the Madeira School.  While living in the Washington, DC area, she has also volunteered at local hospitals and interned on Capitol Hill and with the Center for Teaching Peace.

Betsy Sharp Lynch, Attorney and Philanthropist

Betsy Lynch portrait

“Non-linear Paths for the Nonconformist”

Betsy Lynch, ’12 ΚΑΘ, is originally from Sikeston, Missouri. She graduated from Westminster College in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in Business and received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2005. She began her legal career as a law clerk for the Honorable Robert L. Trout, an Associate Circuit Judge in Jackson County, Missouri and currently runs her own law practice representing small businesses and their owners in the areas of Business Law, Debtor-Creditor Rights and Bankruptcy Law. In recognition of her legal achievements, she’s been named Best of the Bar by the Kansas City Business Journal, a Rising Star by Super Lawyers magazine, and for her volunteer service in the Kansas City community, she was named a Rising Star of Philanthropy by the Independent magazine and NonProfit Connect. She has served on the Council for the Young Lawyers Section of the Missouri Bar Association, the Board of Directors for the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri, the City of Kansas City’s Fairness in City Contracts board, the Board of Directors for the Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City, and the Board of Directors for the Kansas City Bankruptcy Bar Association. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Foundation and is the Chairman of the Board for Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph. She lives in the Plaza area of Kansas City, Missouri with her husband and 3 children.

Jeanne L. Narum, Principal, Learning Spaces Collaboratory

Jeanne Narum portrait
As founding principal of the Learning Spaces Collaboratory (LSC), Jeanne Narum’s professional focus since 2010 is on promoting best practices in visioning, planning, and assessing physical spaces serving 21st-century undergraduate learners and learning communities. Her leadership within the LSC reflects more than two decades engaging with academics and architects involved in integrated planning of the undergraduate learning environment—physical, intellectual, and social.  From 1989 to 2010, Narum was Director of Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL), an NSF-funded initiative to catalyze the transformation of undergraduate STEM learning environments. This was a unique opportunity to collaborate with leading agents of change from STEM disciplinary communities and from individual campuses, as well as with creative design professionals, to develop and disseminate resources that inform planning of formal and informal spaces for 21st century STEM learners.  From 2003 to 2009, with support from NITLE, Narum facilitated workshops focusing on planning technology-enhanced spaces, including information commons and classrooms. She has had leadership responsibility for over 100 PKAL/LSC facilities-related activities designed to advance awareness of how space matters to learning and of planning strategies to realize that spaces matter for a particular community.

Dr. Mary Nestor, Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Playabilities Clinic

Mary Nestor portrait

“Finding Your Vision in Your Values: An Occupational Therapist’s Perspective”

After graduating from Westminster College in 2010, Dr. Mary Nestor, ’14 ΚΑΘ, completed her Doctorate of Occupational Therapy at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. Mary has completed additional trainings and specializations including identifying, evaluating and treating Sensory Processing Disorder within children and utilizing hippotherapy (movement of a horse) as a treatment strategy. Mary currently works in a private practice pediatric clinic in the Kansas City area and has recently started her own private practice to provide occupational therapy utilizing hippotherapy at a facility outside of Kansas City.  Mary is passionate about helping her clients realize their own vision and values by engaging in everyday activities. 

Jacob Marsh, author, business owner, sustainability seeker

“The New American Dream – Vanlife, Social Entrepreneurship and the Rehabilitation from Expectation”

Jacob Marsh, ‘08 ΔΤΔ, is the founder and owner of two successful businesses.  After graduating from Westminster College in 2008 with a Bachelor’s Degree in English, he went on to start up Bite Back Bed Bug Removal in Denver, CO, pest-control company with offices more recently in Boulder, CO, and Las Vegas, NV.  The service relies solely on the use of steam instead of chemicals.  In 2017, Jacob founded Fully Human SEO, a search engine optimization company geared to small businesses.  Based on his senior thesis at Westminster, Jacob’s freshman novel, In the Weeds, is a work of narrative nonfiction detailing the main character's (and author’s) journey spanning three weeks in three ecologically oriented living communities.  The novel attempts to accord visibility to a forgotten but still very active counter-culture.  Jacob currently resides in Denver.

Noelia Young Cerna, performance poet

Noelia Young Cerna portrait
Noelia Cerna, ’09, is a Latina poet based in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  She was born in Costa Rica and immigrated to the United States at the age of seven and received a Bachelor’s degree in English from Westminster College in Missouri.  Noelia’s interest in poetry continued to grow following graduation. The Fayetteville resident eventually won the 2017 Spa City Poetry Slam in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Noelia is a reader and poetry feedback editor for Tinderbox Poetry Journal, a writing mentor for Pen America’s Prison Writing Mentorship program, the Board President of the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective and an Associate Editor with Sibling Rivalry Press.  She is currently working on a book of poems discussing the experience of being a first-generation immigrant and a book of essays about the Arkansas prison system.

Alexis Lowery, victim advocate, founder of, Mary’s House of Hope

Alexis Lowery portrait

“Building Hope, Building Homes”

Alexis Lowery is a junior at Webster University in St. Louis. She is currently working as a victim advocate at a domestic violence shelter in her county. Alexis is a co-founder of the organization Mary’s House of Hope Project. The project works to serve women and children escaping domestic violence and has since partnered with a larger agency in the county to build transitional housing, now called Mary’s House of Hope at A Safe Place. Alexis is a fierce advocate for justice and victim’s rights.