Vail Symposium announces winter 2016 season, with 24 programs, 32 speakers |

Vail Symposium announces winter 2016 season, with 24 programs, 32 speakers

Daily staff report
Alana Nichols is the only female to have won gold medals at both the Summer and Winter Paralympic games. Her talk “On Sweat, Sport and Determination” will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 2.
Vail Symposium | Special to the Daily |

Vail Symposium 2016 winter schedule

Read more about these events and purchase advance tickets at


5:30 p.m. Jan 4 — Right-to-Die: Death with Dignity in Colorado, Donovan Pavilion, Vail; tickets are $25 in advance/$35 after 2 p.m. on the event day/$10 students and teachers

5:30 p.m. Jan. 6 — The 8 Laws of Change: How to be an Agent of Personal and Social Transformation, Antlers at Vail; $25/$35/$10

5:30 p.m. Jan. 14 — Learning to Fly: Lessons from the Air, Donovan Pavilion, Vail; $10 suggested donation at the door

5:30 p.m. Jan. 19 — Marketing to the Luxury Mindset, The Grand View, Lionshead; $25/$35/$10

5:30 p.m. Jan. 21 — Biking in the Backcountry: Riding Colorado 14ers, Donovan Pavilion, Vail; $10 suggested donation at the door

5:30 p.m. Jan. 25 — Stories I Tell Myself: Growing up with Hunter S. Thompson, The Grand View, Lionshead; $25/$35/$10

5:30 p.m. Jan. 28 — Stem Cells: Exploring the Research Perspective, Vail Mountain School, Vail; $25/$35/$10


5:30 p.m. Feb. 2 — On Sweat, Sport and Determination, Donovan Pavilion, Vail; $10 suggested donation at the door

5:30 p.m. Feb. 4 — Confessions of a Phone Addict, Colorado Mountain College, Edwards; $10 suggested donation at the door

5:30 p.m. Feb. 8 — No Man’s War: The Isolation of America’s Military and their Families, The Bookworm of Edwards; $35/$45/$15

5:30 p.m. Feb. 11 — Speaking Financially: The Economics of Transportation and Energy Policy with Federico Pena, location TBD; $25/$35/$10

5:30 p.m. Feb. 15 — Astrobiology &The Real Possibility of Extraterrestrial Life, location TBD; $25/$35/$10


5:30 p.m. March 3 — How Video Games are Developing the Leaders of Tomorrow, Colorado Mountain College, Edwards; $10/free for students and teachers

5:30 p.m. March 14 — Near and Shared Death Experiences: Firsthand Accounts, Causes & Effects, Arrabelle at Vail Square, Lionshead; $25/$35/$10

9:30 a.m. March 15 — Workshop: The Shared Death Experience: Profound Evidence of the Afterlife, Antlers at Vail; $40/$50/$15

4:30 p.m. March 15 — Workshop: Engaging Your Free Will, Antlers at Vail; $40/$50/$15

5:30 p.m. March 21 — Out of Body Experiences, Arrabelle at Vail Square, Lionshead; $25/$35/$10

9:30 a.m. March 22 — Workshop: Path for Multi-Dimensional Awareness and Inner Growth, Colorado Mountain College, Edwards; $35/$15 for students and teachers

4:30 p.m. March 22 — Workshop: Out of Body Experiences Practice Using the Monroe Institute Method, Colorado Mountain College, Edwards; $35/$15 for students and teachers

5:30 p.m. March 24 — Inside the Iran Nuclear Deal: A Panel Discussion, location TBD; $25/$35/$10

5:30 p.m. March 28 — The Exoconscious Human, Arrabelle at Vail Square, Lionshead; $25/$35/$10

9:30 a.m. March 29 — Workshop: The Exoconscious Human: Awakening and Applying ET Consciousness, location TBD; $40/$15 for students and teachers

The Vail Symposium’s 2016 winter season begins Monday, Jan. 4, and will continue through Tuesday, March 29, with 24 programs and more than 32 speakers, including discussions on current geopolitical issues, health and wellness, consciousness and adventure topics.

“This summer, we saw a 31 percent increase in attendance when compared to the previous summer,” said Rohn Robbins, chairman of the Vail Symposium board of directors. “We asked what people wanted to see this winter, and they answered by asking for more — more programs, more speakers, more topics. So that is exactly what we are giving them.”

Community members, previous speakers and the Vail Symposium program committee, as well as the organization’s board and staff, provided input to compile the programs that will be presented this winter. The events on the schedule have been grouped by topic.

“The programs this season are extremely high-level,” said Dale Mosier, chairman of the program committee. “We worked hard to bring the very best speakers to discuss very important and ground-breaking topics. I think those who are familiar with our seasons in the past will be pleased, and I think many of the programs will reach an entirely new audience for the Symposium.”

Hot Topics

Hot Topics programs include discussions on geopolitical, current-event or hot-button issues within the modern political climate. The series represents the flagship programming of the organization since its inception in 1971. In 2016, the Vail Symposium will host nine Hot Topics programs.

The series begins with three panelists of different backgrounds and opinions discussing right-to-die legislation in Colorado on Monday, Jan. 4, followed by author Stephan Schwartz discussing how individuals can become agents of personal and social transformation on Wednesday, Jan. 6.

Additional topics include marketing to the luxury mindset, technology addiction, the economics of transportation and energy policy, the real possibility of finding extraterrestrial life on neighboring planets, how video games are shaping the leaders of tomorrow, the Iran nuclear deal and how the stagnation of China’s manufacturing-based growth strategy will affect the world market.

Standout speakers in this series include Federico Pena, former mayor of Denver and former U.S. Secretary of Transportation; Harlan Bratcher, CEO of Reed Krakoff International and former CEO of Armani Exchange; Toby Usnik, international director at Christies and former executive director of public relations at The New York Times; Matt Richtel, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist; Jamie Metzl, formerly of the U.S. National Security Council; and Christopher Hill, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

Other notable speakers include Michael Singh, former national security adviser for Middle East affairs; and Robert Einhorn, who served in the U.S. Department of State as assistant secretary and special adviser for non-proliferation and arms control during the Clinton and Obama administrations; Rep. Lois Court, Dr. Charles Hamlin, Carrie Lucas, Stephan Schwartz, Laura Naviaux, John Blakely, Nick Schneider and Jonathan Fortney.

“Each topic will be discussed by an expert in that field,” Mosier said. “The speakers are high-caliber individuals. It will be an excellent opportunity for all to gather information on these important topics from notable individuals.”

Unlimited Adventure

For the first time, the Vail Symposium will host an all-female Unlimited Adventure series, presented in partnership with the town of Vail Public Library, GirlPowHER and The Women’s Foundation of Colorado.

“It was brought to our attention that the Unlimited Adventure series has been very male-dominated,” Mosier said. “This series of great female adventurers is designed to awe the audience with terrific tales of sport, exploration and adventure, while simultaneously inspiring the young girls in the audience to get outside and find their own great adventure.”

In three separate programs, the series will feature presentations by Stephanie Davis — the first woman to free solo The Diamond on Longs Peak, the second woman to free climb El Capitan in a single day and the first woman to summit all peaks in the Fitzroy Range in Patagonia; Jessica Martin, the first person to summit and descend all of the legal-to-ride 14ers in Colorado on a mountain bike; and Alana Nichols, the first woman to win gold in both the summer and winter Paralympic Games.

Living At Your Peak

The Vail Symposium will once again continue the conversation on one of medicine’s fastest evolving fields — regenerative medicine, particularly stem cells. The discussion this year will focus on the research perspective, or how scientific breakthroughs translate to meaningful treatments for chronic or life-threatening illness.

The panel will include Dr. Dennis Roop, director of The Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology; Dr. Vikas Patel, chief of orthopedic spine surgery at the University of Colorado; and Dr. William Hiatt, professor of medicine, division of cardiology and president of the Colorado Prevention Center.

Consciousness Series

Consciousness programs are curated by Vail Symposium board member Gary Gilman and have been one of the fastest-growing series with the Vail Symposium since the first consciousness programs were organized in 2013.

This year, the Vail Symposium will bring back Dr. Eben Alexander, author of the best-selling book “Proof of Heaven,” to discuss near- and shared-death experiences on a panel shared by William Peter, founder of the Shared Crossings Project, and Nancy Rynes, who explains, through her scientific training, a near-death experience. Karen Newell, co-founder of Sacred Acoustics, moderates that program.

The second Consciousness program, featuring panelists Luis Minero and Scott Taylor, explores the sensations of out-of-body experiences, which as many as one in 10 people will experience in their lifetime. The duo will discuss how brain traumas, sensory deprivation, near-death experiences, psychedelic drugs, dehydration and other effects can lead to out-of-body experiences and also how to achieve the same sensation through meditation.

The final consciousness program, led by Rebecca Hardcastle Wright, explores human consciousness as defined by explorations in space and spirituality. All three programs feature additional workshops on the days following the program.

Author Series

Juan Thompson, son of fearless outlaw journalist and writer Hunter S. Thompson, will discuss his book “Stories I Tell Myself: Growing Up with Hunter S. Thompson.” Renowned for his alcohol- and drug-fueled, charismatic and manic first-person articles, Hunter S. Thompson carved his way into American households through political exposes and novels of bizarre experience, such as “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “The Rum Diary.”

Now, his son, Juan, shares an intimate portrait of his father as a dad, writer, brother, husband and manic searching soul. It is a dangerous, complex and loving tale.

Angela Rickets is the author of “No Man’s War: The Isolation of America’s Military and Their Families,” where she shares her irreverent take on military life. Her story has resonated with thousands of military and nonmilitary families nationwide.

The war on terror is one of the only wars fought without a draft, which allows the war to endure without having a deep impact on the majority of Americans, except those who fought it and those who waited for them to return. Ricketts will detail the raw emotions and vulnerability of military families, and how a simple “thank you for your service” only broadens the lack of understanding.

“Forty-five years ago, the Vail Symposium was formed to bring people together, to explore ideas and take that collaboration out into the wider world,” Robbins said. “What we hope to offer is the view from a different perspective, the consideration of things possible, whether curing disease through new therapies, brokering world peace or summiting an impossible peak. What we intend to do is inspire.”

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