Vail Symposium announces its winter program lineup |

Vail Symposium announces its winter program lineup

Tracey Flower
Special to the Daily
Local mountaineer Jon Kedrowski will join some of his fellow mountain climbers in leading a snowshoe hike and panel discussion in Beaver Creek on Feb. 6.
Special to the Daily |

The Vail Symposium’s winter programming season debuts in a few short weeks with a series of programs that will explain the intricacies of international banking and finance, debate the myths and realities of GMOs, teach you how to perform well even in the middle of a crisis and much more.

“We literally have something for everyone this winter,” said Symposium President Alby Segall. “From fireside talks at The Grand View with David Rubenstein, Gary Hart and Barney Frank to a snowshoe hike and panel discussion with some of the world’s most accomplished mountaineers to debates about some of the most pertinent issues of our time. Tickets are available now, and we’re offering a discount for early reservations, so book in advance. I expect a sold-out season.”

The Vail Symposium is a grassroots, non-profit organization that has been part of the life and history of Vail since 1971. The Symposium’s mission is to provide educational programs for the Vail Valley community that are thought-provoking, diverse and affordable. These programs give the community the opportunity to think about issues outside our immediate surroundings, as well as reflect on local concerns. This season’s lineup reflects that mission and the organization’s commitment to growing and changing with the community it serves.

Hot Topics

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The Symposium’s most recognizable series, Hot Topics, features panel discussions, debates and experts who speak about of-the-moment topics and issues that are relevant to our community and the world.

The Symposium’s season and this series begin on Dec. 28 with a talk about international finance by founder and CEO of the Carlyle Group, David Rubenstein. This program is presented as an intimate fireside chat between Richard Bard and Rubenstein; Bard will interview Rubenstein, and together they will help the audience unravel the mystery of international banking and finance.

The Hot Topics series continues with another fireside conversation on Jan. 23, this one between Rohn Robbins, Vail Symposium board chair, and former U.S. Senator Gary Hart. The two will discuss Homeland Security in the 21st Century.

“The opportunity to meet with Senator Hart and have him share his insights is one not to be missed,” said Robbins. “This program, along with the rest of our winter lineup, promises to be both entertaining and enlightening. I hope that you will join us.”

Barney Frank joins the lineup for a conversation about the past, present and future of the Dodd/Frank Wall Street Reform bill on Feb. 13 and on Feb. 20, the Hot Topics come closer to home when three marketing experts convene to talking about marketing Colorado.

The series concludes with back-to-back debates moderated by Robbins about a couple of the biggest topics in the news today. First, on March 4, Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, will debate the role teacher unions are playing and should play in education reform.

Then, on March 13, GMO (genetically modified organism) experts Jeffery Smith and Gregory Stock will debate the myths and realities of GMOs, ultimately answering questions like: Are foods made with GMOs safe for you and your family? And how should these foods be labeled?

“I will have the privilege of moderating The Truth About GMOs and The Future of Education this winter,” said Robbins. “While the topic of education reform is particularly timely, especially in light of failed Amendment 66, the issue of GMOs is one that is burgeoning and promises to be an increasing presence in all of our lives.”

Living At Your Peak

The programs in the Symposium’s Living At Your Peak series cover topics relating to both traditional health and wellness issues and cutting-edge ideas, theories and practices in the areas of alternative medicine and consciousness.

“The Living At Your Peak series is a sort of window looking out at the future of medicine,” said Adam Katzen, Symposium program director. “Our goal is to educate Vail locals and visitors on revolutionary approaches to restoring, maintaining and optimizing health. From meditation to stem cell treatments and acupuncture to hormone replacement, if there’s an approach that can help people live better, more active and fulfilling lives, we want to talk about it.”

Future of stem cells

In keeping with those goals, the series debuts on Jan. 10 with “Stem Cells: The Future of Medicine is Now.” In this panel discussion, doctors Scott Brandt, Stan Jones and Kristen Comella, and Colorado State Representative Diana DeGette will engage in a discussion about the history and future of stem cell therapies.

“I believe that stem cells are the future of medicine,” said Katzen. “I believe they will be to this generation what antibiotics were to previous generations. Instead of just treating symptoms, stem cells help your body fix the root cause of your problems naturally. That’s why we are excited to bring in a panel of experts to talk about how this breakthrough treatment is completely changing the healthcare landscape.”

This series will also teach participants about how studying near-death experiences can help us live more fully and passionately with “Life After Life” with Dr. Raymond Moody on Jan. 30 and “Proof of Heaven” with Dr. Eben Alexander on March 20.

Unlimited Adventure

The Symposium’s most affordable — and arguably most loved — series, Unlimited Adventure, features intrepid explorers who aim not only to share their stories, but to also incite action.

“The Unlimited Adventure series isn’t just about bringing explorers to Vail to tantalize us with stories of epic adventures and incredible journeys,” said Katzen. “That’s a part of it, but the series is so much more. For instance, this winter we are bringing together a legendary group of mountaineers to share their stories and explain what climbing the world’s highest peaks can teach us about overcoming adversity (Feb. 6). In another program, snowboard mountaineer Stephen Koch will show us how to overcome fear and perform at your peak in the midst of chaos and catastrophe (Feb. 28). Adventure is a big part of these programs, but the series is also about living life and being the best version of ourselves.”


It is part of the mission of the Vail Symposium to keep programs affordable for the community; one of the ways the organization accomplishes that is through fundraising events. This winter two events give attendees the opportunity to learn a little, have some fun and support the Symposium along the way.

First up is a poker tournament on Jan. 17. Poker expert John Vorhaus will be on hand to give advice and talk a little about poker strategy.

Then, on Feb. 15, enjoy Perfect Pairings with a couple master sommeliers. Jay Fletcher and Sean Razee, two of the world’s 135 master sommeliers, will pair wine with food catered by Big Delicious Catering. They’ll also be on hand to answer questions following a screening of the documentary “SOMM.”

Go to for a complete list of events and event dates, times, locations, and program descriptions. Tickets to all events can also be purchased online. New this season: reserve your tickets in advance (before 2 p.m. on the day of the event) and receive $10 off the door price. Call 970-476-0954 for more information.

Tracey Flower is the development, marketing and administration officer for the Vail Symposium. She can be reached at

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