M-W CARES Presenters (G-Sm)

  • Given A Second Chance – Robert Aliano, Jerry Figgiani – Given A Second Chance is a personal story about overcoming all odds. This inspiring presentation helps people make positive choices in their lives. With the help of his karate instructor Jerry Figgiani, Robert Aliano survived a life-threatening hit and run. Robert’s road to recovery has now become an inspirational message for many.
  • David Harrell – David Harrell is an actor, speaker and disability advocate who has entertained audiences from Off-Broadway houses to the Department of the Interior. He uses his hysterical comedic sensibilities, powerful stories and a crazy cast of characters from his life’s journey growing up with a disability to challenge audiences to not let circumstances peel away the core of their humanity.
  • Hey U.G.L.Y. – Unique Gifted Lovable You (HU)Devyn Rush – Rush is a singer, entertainer and songwriter who was a featured contestant on 2011 American Idol. She is a bullying prevention spokesperson for the international bullying and suicide prevention nonprofit organization HU, which features Devyn in their I AM ENOUGH self-esteem and empathy-building bullying and suicide prevention school assemblies. Rush is a living example of overcoming bullying and not feeling good enough. 
  • Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center (HHREC) – The mission of the HHREC is to enhance the teaching and learning of the lessons of the Holocaust and the right of all people to be treated with dignity and respect. We encourage students to speak up and act against all forms of bigotry and prejudice
    • Betty Knoop – Knoop was born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She was 8 years old when the Germans invaded her country. Her whole family was arrested and sent to camp Westerbork and on to Bergen Belsen concentration camp. She was liberated by the Russians and returned to Amsterdam. Her mother survived the camp, but died 3 days after she was liberated. Koop was a contemporary of Anne Frank, lived in the same neighborhood and was deported to the same concentration camp. Her presentation covers life in Amsterdam, Westerbork, Bergen Belsen concentration camp and life after liberation.
  • Hudson Valley House of Hope – Diandria Williams – The shelter provides 24-hour emergency shelter services, crisis intervention, life skills programs and counseling services. Additional services include advocacy, public education, children services, crisis hotline, non-residential support and job skill training. Their mission is to eliminate sexual assault and domestic violence through sensitive prevention, intervention and treatment.
  • Gabe Hurley – Gabe was given another chance at life. Gabe is an accomplished guitarist and a motivational speaker who strives to encourage others through his music and presentations. That’s despite Gabe’s sudden blindness, months in a brain trauma unit and having undergone 12 surgeries to have his face reconstructed from a horrific car crash, a crash that wasn’t Gabe’s fault.
  • Jewish Federation of Greater Orange CountyMichael Melasky – will discuss antisemitism to raise awareness of antisemitic incidences in Orange County. This presentation is designed to promote discussion and understanding and to help transform school cultures.
  • Donna Kaz -Donna Kaz is a leading feminist voice in the nation on how to combine activism and art. For the past 20 years she has led the touring activist troupe, Guerrilla Girls on Tour, around the world with performances and visual works addressing issues effecting women and artists of color. Early in her life she survived domestic violence at the hands of the Hollywood star, William Hurt. As an artist and early member of the #MeToo movement, she will talk about her transition from silent observer to an unapologetic activist.
  • Gary Levinson – Gary will present educational information on HIV/AIDS and give you the opportunity to hear about his experience living with HIV/AIDS. Listening to his testimony will provide participants with a personal perspective about what it was like being diagnosed with an incurable disease during a time when there was not much known about it. Questions are encouraged!
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service – The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) Speakers Bureau consists of individuals with great familiarity and strong connection with LIRS mission that can inspire audiences to walk with migrants and refugees as they seek a new beginning in the United States. 
    • Nyamal (Mal) Tutdeal – a peace advocate and educator from South Sudan, Tutdeal illuminates her personal experience as a refugee, touches upon the current worldwide migration crisis, and highlights the importance of rallying as world citizens to understand the refugee experience. A reflective discussion encourages students to think critically about the issues that refugees face upon arriving to their new home country.
  • Destiny Mabry – Mabry is a survivor, motivational speaker, actress and advocate to end domestic violence from Bronx, New York. After dealing with her own struggles with abusive relationships and sexual assault, she began sharing her story. She feels it’s important for the youth to know they have the power to be a catalyst for change within their communities, and themselves. She currently works as a Community Educator for the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, facilitating workshops to youth throughout the city.  
  • Kerry Magro – Kerry became an advocate for the disability community after coming out about having autism for the first time while attending Seton Hall University as a freshman in 2007. Since than he has spoken to break down barriers of hate and intolerance towards those with special needs.
  • Mallory’s Army Foundation – Dianne Grossman – Grossman’s 12-year-old daughter, Mallory, took her own life after being bullied. Now determined to share her daughter’s story to help raise awareness, Grossman and her family formed Mallory’s army. United together in the fight against bullying…don’t just teach kindness…BE kindness.
  • Christopher Memoli – At the age of 17, Christopher was involved in a terrible car accident that altered his life forever. He had to go through many years of rehabilitation to learn to walk again. Since then, he has created a 45-minute, narrated presentation that sends a strong message to NEVER SURRENDER no matter what obstacles are thrown at you.
  • Minding Your MindCarl Antisell – At a young age, Carl began using alcohol as a way to mask the shame and pain he felt as a result of his ongoing battle with anxiety and depression. In his recovery process, he has learned healthy, effective ways to handle his emotions, as well as life’s ups and downs. Carl believes that the feelings he struggles with are faced by young people everywhere and that the lessons he continues to learn in recovery are valuable not only for those suffering from substance abuse, but to anyone facing life’s challenges.
  • Alan Moskin – WWII concentration camp liberator – Alan Moskin, age 92 (in May), was drafted into the military service at the age of 18 and served in the United States Army during World War II (from September 1944 until August 1946). He was a member of the 66th Infantry, 71st Division, part of General George Patton’s 3rd Army. In his enormously powerful talk, Alan recounts with vivid detail, the horror of liberating a concentration camp, on that fateful day back in 1945.
  • Allison Murphy – This 2016 Monroe-Woodbury graduate will share how overcoming physical limitations has helped her strengthen her resolve to earn her high school diploma and pursue a college education. Allison has cerebral palsy, is in a wheelchair and is legally blind, but with support from her family and friends, has found the path to success.
  • Rohan Murphy – Rohan, who lost his legs at birth, started to wrestle his freshman year of high school. After a successful high school wrestling career he went on to wrestle at Penn State University. In addition to wrestling, Rohan Murphy is also an accomplished powerlifter, competing in international competitions all over the world representing the USA. Rohan’s life story is a gripping tale of adversity, dedication, and living life with a purpose.
  • PEACE OUTside Campus,The Lindsey M. Bonistall Foundation – Advocates for student safety. PEACE OUTside Campus is dedicated to the memory of ​Lindsey M. Bonistall, who was brutally raped and murdered in her off campus apartment. The mission is to promote peaceful and safe living environments in college communities. The Foundation celebrates Lindsey’s life by empowering students and families to be proactive in safeguarding themselves against crime through safety awareness and prevention practices.
  • Allyson Pereira Anti-bullying and sexting awareness advocate. When Allyson was 16 and a sophomore in a high school in northern NJ a naked picture of her went viral. Her ex boyfriend had forwarded it to everyone in his contact list and by the next week it had circulated throughout three local high schools, four middle schools, and five elementary schools. For three years Ally kept quiet and denied it. After seeing how sexting was changing other teenagers’ lives she chose to help in any way possible.
  • Prison Fellowship – Robbie Robinson, Sammy Perez  Prison Fellowship, the nation’s largest Christian nonprofit serving those impacted by crime and incarceration, will discuss advocating for criminal justice reform, family restoration and community mobilization in support of those returning home.
  • Stop DWI of Orange County
    • Ed Devitt II –  suffered severe brain trauma as the result of a car accident at age 18, overcame years of depression and addiction, and now, at 36 years old, leads a normal, productive life with virtually no residual cognitive impairment. His ordeal, despite its long-lasting repercussions, gave him a new direction in life as a public speaker and the founder of Talking Brains Initiative (TBI), a nonprofit organization devoted to removing the stigma from brain injuries, and offering support to those afflicted with them.
    • Brian Strommer – his son was killd by a drunk driver – Brian enjoyed a successful career in the US Navy, traveling the world, receiving dozens of citations and commendations, as well as dozens of medals while serving over 13 years at sea on a variety of combatant ships. He and his wife settled in Washingtonville and have four children, Brandy Leigh, Brian Thomas II, Owen Michael, and Keira Ann.
    • Karen Torres – On March 17, 2006, Karen Torres received a phone call that has forever changed her life. Her father, Patrick Mapleson, was struck and killed by a distracted driver  while working along the highway. Her story will change students’ perspective of driving forever.
  • The Purple Thread – Danielle DeZaoDanielle shares her personal experiences in an abusive relationship and how it led to the formation of  The Purple Thread, whose simple purpose is to spread positivity through people and projects that empower and inspire.
  • Tim Collins a nationally touring solo theater artist, Tim presents his highly acclaimed one-man play, TO BE HONEST. This engaging multi-character performance addresses a range of issues including: Cyberbullying, Teen Depression, Bystander Intervention, and the impact of texting and social media on friendships and intimate relationships.
  • Sandy Rubenstein –  Sandy is a teacher at the Horace Mann School in New York. She is also the child of Holocaust survivors. In 1996, her father, Joseph Horn, published his memoir, Mark It With a Stone, the fulfillment of a life-long dream. In 2008, the book was reprinted in paperback, with an introduction written by Sandy Rubenstein from the point of view of a child of survivors.
  • Safe & Sound Schools – Lisa Hamp – Lisa Hamp shares her personal story during the April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, as well as her recovery afterwards. She describes her struggle to return to a “normal’ life during the weeks, months, and years that followed. She explains what made her eventually seek counseling after eight years and a variety of hard, but powerful lessons she has learned since that tragic day.
  • Ireka Sanders – Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Army – Do you know who you are? Abusive relationships can rob you of your self identity. Ireka Sanders is a public relations specialist and a mother of four. Insurmountable circumstances troubled her youth. Mental and physical abuse, held at gun point by a family member who she was supposed to trust. How do you turn obstacles that are meant to take you away from your destiny into opportunities to fuel your empowerment and success? Keep your thoughts positive because your thought become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.
  • Gregory M. Singer – Poeartistry-Bullying Prevention Through Self Definition The Art of Defining You Gregory delivers the message that ‘Hope in Action’ is the Ultimate Bullying Prevention. Through POEARTISTRY, a performance poetry approach that combines poetry, drama, music, dance, graphic arts and technology, he seeks to convey how students/educators can change the world through their personal relationship with education.
  • Gary SmileyFDNY Rescue Paramedic – Special Operations Command, 9/11 survivor – Trapped in the collapse of the North Tower, Gary Smiley was critically injured. His story of survival and continuing his career in the FDNY reminds us that there is life after tragedy, even one as profound as that day. In spite of continuing to battle 9/11 related illness, he has spent his retirement serving as a docent at the 9/11 Memorial.