Champions of Change: STEM Equality for People with Disabilities

I was humbled and honored to receive this award in 2012 from President Barack Obama's White House.


On May 7 of 2012, I couldn’t even begin to describe the feeling of sitting in The White House at the ceremony honoring a few of us as President Barack Obama’s Champions of Change for leading education and employment efforts in science, technology, engineering and math for Americans with disabilities. To this day, I am incredibly humbled by this.


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How to advocate for ourselves: A panel discussion about higher education

On November 11, 2020, I had the honor of sitting on a panel with my former graduate advisor, Prof. Dean Tantillo of UC Davis, and Prof. Eric Anslyn of UT Austin. The talk was moderated by Nick Winges-Yanez. On the panel we had a wonderful and lively discussion about making college learning more accessible and inclusive to people with disabilities. Lots of insights were given which are very helpful for anyone, disabled or not, on how to kindly advocate for oneself.

The Art of Awareness: How Being Aware of our Surroundings Fosters Inclusivity in Your Business

Summary: For the annual American Craft Spirits Association conference which was held virtually in 2020, I was honored to deliver a keynote about how to make business, distilleries in particular, more inclusive, diverse, and accessible to all their customers and employees. Joining me in the discussion were my business partner, Jody Tucker of Tucker Creative, and dear friend, Maggie Campbell of Privateer Rum.

Partnership between The Dreaming Tree Wines and The Culinary Institute of America

Overview We often think of pairing wine and food, but what else can wine pair with? Dr. Hoby Wedler, adjunct faculty member at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), was asked by the CIA to innovate a closing plenary lecture of their Summit for Beverage Professionals all about wine paired with music. The result was a partnership with Dreaming Tree Wines, a creative collaboration between award-winning winemaker Sean McKenzie and musician Dave Matthews, to innovate a unique afternoon of pairing wine with music from the Dave Matthews Band songbook. Dr. Ali Bouzari of Pilot R&D was also invited to participate in the discussion. The Task The task was to create an impactful, interesting, and creative tasting experience where the tasting notes of the wines at hand would literally be told by music. This was an exciting opportunity to pair Dreaming Tree wines with music from the Dave Matthews song book. Guests were under blindfold for most of the experience. Outcomes were striking for all guests. Perhaps the most striking outcome was achieved  when the same wine was served twice but paired with a different song. The participants described the same wine completely differently depending on the music it was paired with. When art, science, and emotion intersect, amazing experiences come to life involving every sense we have at our disposal. We use eyesight to obtain 85-90% of information from our surroundings. Hoby regularly collaborates with brands like the Culinary Institute of America and The Dreaming Tree Wines to bring our four non-visual senses to the table along with eyesight to create everlasting memories and highly engaging experiences which allow guests to remember brands like The Dreaming Tree and The CIA very positively. Outcomes During this 90-minute custom experience, attendees were blindfolded and led by Dr. Wedler, McKenzie, and Dr. Ali Bouzari of Pilot R&D through a discussion and tasting of Dreaming Tree wines while listening to carefully curated music. The team created this experience to be emotive and memorable and to show participants how wine and music can pair elegantly, much like wine and food. Pairing wine with music creates an experience much like pairing wine with food where each component of the experience complements the other. This was the first ever wine and music pairing-specific event offered at The Culinary Institute of Senspoint’s expertise in custom experiences led to this pioneering partnership. “This experience changed the way I will drink wine and listen to music forever. It was that impactful.” Event Attendee “That was the most unique wine experience I’ve ever attended. I have hosted dozens and attended hundreds.” Event Attendee “I had no idea that the second Rosè was the same wine! The song made it taste absolutely different. I thought it was a white wine and definitely not a rosè.” Event Attendee “I never thought experiences could be so mind opening and game changing. Now I do. Best-ever wine tasting I’ve attended.” Event Attendee