Vail Symposium unveils winter 2015 programs |

Vail Symposium unveils winter 2015 programs

John O’Neill
Special to the Daily
Heather Hansen will perform a live art demonstration at Perfect Pairings 2.0, the Vail Symposium’s winter fundraiser, on Feb. 14.

Vail Symposium winter schedule

Dec. 28: “The Truth About Fracking,” with Jim Martin, Dan Grossman, Jonathan Moyer

Dec. 30: “Speaking Financially Part I,” with Phil Town

Jan. 8: “The Patient Consumer: Navigating the Waters of Regenerative Medicine,” with Dr. Howe, Dr. Karli, Dr. Centeno

Jan. 15: “Source to Sea on the Colorado River” with Zak Podmore

Jan. 22: “Hindsight of Marijuana Legislation” with Sanho Tree, Brian Vicente, Gina Carbone, Ben Cort

Jan. 29: “On a Single Breath: Freediving” with James Nestor

Feb. 5: “The Spirit of Wilderness” with Jon Turk

Feb. 14: “Perfect Pairings 2.0” Winter Fundraiser with Heather Hansen

Feb. 26: “Summit life,” with Dr. Jon Kedrowski

March 2: “Global Hot Spots” with Christopher Hill

March 5: “Your Body, Your Image” with Caroline Heldmen, Danica Lo, Seher Ali, Caroline Heldmen

March 12: “Nonviolent Conflict Resolution” with Erica Chenoweth

March 16: “Map of Heaven,” with Dr. Eben Alexander

March 17: “Dr. Eben Alexander Workshop”

March 23: “Surviving Consciousness” with Julie Beischel

March 24: “Dr. Julie Beischel Workshop”

March 30: “Choosing Joy After Tragic Loss” with Jeff Olsen

April 9: “Speaking Financially Part III” with Esther George

Tickets go on sale Nov. 10 . For more information and full program descriptions, visit

The Vail Symposium begins its season on Dec. 18 with a panel to discuss the economic and environmental impacts of fracking in western Colorado and in the nation. The fracking program opens a season that will tackle difficult geopolitical issues, along with presenting a variety of adventure, financial and consciousness programs.

“This winter is going to be an awesome showcase of what the Vail Symposium does for the Vail Valley community and visitors — provide educational, thought-provoking programs from very reputable speakers at an affordable cost,” said Tracey Flower, the Vail Symposium’s executive director. “The lineup is as strong as it is diverse.”

The programs presented by the Vail Symposium are a product of work done by the Symposium staff, the program committee and committee chair Dale Mosier, as well as the board. Additionally, the Symposium took many suggestions from supporters and previous attendees.

“I am very pleased with the programs and also the speakers that will be leading each event,” said Mosier. “On topics of finance we have Esther George, president of the Kansas City Fed. On fracking we have heads from the Environment Defense Fund and the Environmental Protection Agency. Ambassador Christopher Hill will talk about global hot spots. On marijuana we have Sanho Tree, of the Institute for Policy Studies, and the author of Amendment 64, Brian Vicente. The programs and the speakers are very high caliber.”

The programs are broken into series.

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In addition to the fracking program, the Symposium will also host panels on regenerative medicine (Jan. 8), marijuana (Jan. 22) and body image (March 5).

The fracking program will feature Dan Grossman, of the EDF, who opposes fracking, and Jim Martin, formerly of the EPA, who endorses it. Jonathan Moyer, of the Korbel School at the University of Denver’s Pardee Center for International Futures will act as a neutral data projectionist using forecasting software developed by the Pardee Center to illustrate how particular approaches to fracking could impact communities.

On regenerative medicine, three doctors will discuss how advances in stem cell therapy are shaping the way health professionals approach particular ailments. Dr. Maynard Howe, of Stemedica is among the first to receive approval from the FDA to initiate stem cell clinical research in the United States for several neurological trials. Dr. David Karli, of the Steadman Clinic, is among the first to launch a new bone marrow derived stem cell injection program for patients with arthritic conditions, and he will explain how his findings can be broadened to other ailments. Dr. Christopher Centeno has an extensive background using cultured adult stem cells to treat orthopedic injury.

With a year of hindsight, a panel of experts will look at marijuana, data and the effects legalization has had in Colorado, as well as forecast what changes we might see on a national level regarding American drug policy. Panelists include: Sanho Tree, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C.; Brian Vicente, author of Amendment 64; Ben Cort, development manager at the Center for Addiction Recovery and Rehabilitation at University of Colorado; and Gina Carbone, of Smart Colorado.

The Symposium will also tackle the rarely discussed topic of body image and the negative impact the media can have on gender. The price for this program will be only $10 in advance and free to students and teachers as a service to the community. Panelists such as Caroline Heldman, of Occidental College; Danico Lo, of Epicurious; Seher Ali, of the SPARK movement; and local Dr. Jill Squyres will discuss what drives negative body image and what is being done to repair the damage.

“The panel programs are some of our most informative events,” Mosier said. “Audiences should expect diverse, balanced perspectives on these complicated issues.”

Other Hot Topics programs include an evening with Christopher Hill, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Poland, Macedonia and Korea. Hill will pick a handful of volatile areas around the globe and discuss them as well as U.S. foreign policy.

Finally, Erica Chenoweth — a resounding name to most University of Denver students — will present on nonviolent conflict resolution, looking at issues such as race inequality, police brutality and protests in America.


Brand new to this season is a three-part series of financial programs to discuss personal investment, private equity and American economic policy. Programs will be moderated by Richard Bard, former president of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank.

Phil Town, a regular speaker on the Get Motivated stage and best-selling author, will discuss how he turned a borrowed $1,000 while working as a guide on the Arkansas River into the fortune he enjoys today. He will discuss financial strategy that allows investors to increase their fortunes rapidly and radically.

Esther George, the current president of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, will discuss the role of the Federal Reserve and the state of the U.S. Economy, as well as her experience overseeing the Kansas City Fed. A third speaker is soon to be announced.


The already affordable Unlimited Adventure series programs will be a suggested $10 donation, thanks to support from the town of Vail Public Library.

Presenters include author and freediver James Nestor explaining how and why a human would dive hundreds of feet holding their breath for several minutes; Zak Podmore discussing his expedition following the Colorado River from its source to the Gulf of Mexico; Jon Turk talking about his transformation from a scientist who wrote the first environmental science textbook to a fiction writer detailing the spirit of wilderness; and local Dr. Jon Kedrowski sharing tales from his past and most recent adventures.


The Vail Symposium continues to approach health and wellness from alternative perspectives and will bring a set of panelists to discuss near-death experiences, mediums and how such experiences have allowed particular individuals to lead a life of expanded consciousness. Additionally, this year the Symposium will host workshops for a more in-depth experience.

Dr. Eben Alexander, author of “Proof of Heaven,” returns to Vail to discuss his recent research on near-death experiences. Dr. Julie Beischel, of the Windbridge Institute, will use her scientific background to explain the non-locality of consciousness, and Jeff Olsen will detail how consciousness has helped him choose a life of joy after a tragic accident that took his wife and youngest son.


Perfect Pairings 2.0 will act as both the major Vail Symposium fundraiser and a night of romantic indulgences for couples on Valentine’s Day. The night will feature a number of wine pairings with various foods, as well as cheeses and chocolates. Sommeliers will be on hand to discuss the pairings and explain how different wines and different foods match so well.

Highlighting the night will be a performance by Heather Hansen, the New Orleans and Paris-based artist and exhibitionist whose viral work has garnered millions of views online.

“The Symposium is very excited to kick off the season in December,” Flower said. “From our programs right down to our fundraiser, it is our pleasure to provide these thought-provoking opportunities of learning for everyone in Vail.”

John O’Neill is the marketing director for the Vail Symposium. Email comments about this story to

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