Owsley Brown III
Chair, Compassionate Schools Project
Owsley Brown III is a documentary filmmaker and social entrepreneur whose work explores and promotes cultural, spiritual and civic life. He is also closely engaged with sustainable agriculture and the beverage industry. Since 1993, Owsley has worked in the wine business and he is an active fifth-generation shareholder of Brown-Forman, his family’s international spirits and wine company.
Owsley’s films include Night Waltz, Music Makes a City, and a soon-to-be released heartfelt profile of the Holy Trinity Music School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In his native city of Louisville, he is known as host and producer of the Festival of Faiths, as a founding board member of the Kentucky School of Art, and as an advisor to Mayor Greg Fischer on his compassion initiatives. Owsley is also on the boards of the Sustainable Food Alliance, Center for Interfaith Relations, and Roxie Theater. Owsley is a graduate of the University of Virginia and serves on the advisory board of the University’s Contemplative Sciences Center.
Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky
Elected in 2010, Greg Fischer is Louisville’s 50th mayor. He has pursued three top goals for his hometown: making Louisville a city of lifelong learning and great jobs, a much healthier city, and an even more compassionate community. As a businessman and entrepreneur, he brings a data-driven approach to city government with a goal of making it more efficient and accessible — and making sure that every taxpayer dollar is wisely spent.
Greg chairs the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Metro Economies Committee, which addresses economic problems facing the nation’s cities and their citizens. He was named a 2013 “Public Official of the Year” by Governing Magazine, the only U.S. mayor to earn the distinction. Fischer is an entrepreneur who started several businesses including SerVend International and Iceberg Ventures, a private investment firm. He also co-founded bCatalyst, the first business accelerator in Louisville.
David Germano, Ph.D.
Contemplative Sciences Center and College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, University of Virginia
David Germano is a Professor of Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at the University of Virginia with a focus on philosophy and contemplation. U.Va.’s Tibetan Studies and Buddhist Studies programs are among the largest in the West. He is the founding director of the Tibetan and Himalayan Library, the Tibet Center, and SHANTI (Sciences, Humanities and the Arts Network of Technological Initiatives.)
David currently directs U.Va.’s Contemplative Sciences Center and works with each of the eleven schools at UVa to explore learning, research, and engagement initiatives regarding contemplation in their own disciplinary and professional areas, as well as new partnerships across the schools. He is currently focused on the exploration of contemplative ideas, values, and practices involving scientific methodologies and the humanities, and adaptations in diverse social sectors. K-12 education has been one of his primary areas of interest.
Donna M. Hargens, Ed.D.
Superintendent, Jefferson County Public Schools
Donna M. Hargens spent most of her educational career in the Wake County Public School System in Raleigh, North Carolina. During her 22 years there, she held a variety of positions that included interim superintendent, chief academic officer, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, area superintendent, and principal of two high schools.
As superintendent of the Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) District, Donna remains focused on raising student achievement for all students and is relentless in expecting staff to collect and analyze data to inform their decisions. Her leadership style is grounded in collaboration, and she devotes extensive time to listening to staff, parents, and community members to gain their perspectives and insights before making recommendations. Donna enjoys being a part of the thriving city of Louisville and takes great care in guiding the educational experiences of 101,000 JCPS students.
Alexis Harris, Ph.D.
Youth-Nex Center and Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Alexis Harris is a Research Assistant Professor with Youth-Nex and the Curry School of Education. While completing her doctorate in Human Development and Family Studies and a federally funded fellowship in Education Sciences, Alexis worked with Penn State’s Prevention Research Center studying strategies to promote social-emotional competence and wellbeing and to prevent the negative consequences of stress. She has implemented and evaluated school-based social-emotional learning interventions, mindfulness and yoga-based approaches, and professional development for educators.
In addition to her research experience, Alexis has developed and taught prevention and wellness-promotion curricula for children, families, and educators in school and community settings. Alexis developed CALM, a wellness-promotion program for school staff that promotes emotional and body awareness, stress management, physical wellbeing, and professional efficacy through accessible and practical contemplative practices. Alexis is located in Louisville, KY, as the local project director for the Compassionate Schools Project.
Patricia (Tish) Jennings, M.Ed., Ph.D.
Curry School of Education and Contemplative Sciences Center, University of Virginia
Tish Jennings is an Associate Professor of Education at the Curry School of Education and a member of the Directing Circle of the Contemplative Sciences Center at the University of Virginia. She is an internationally recognized leader in the field of social and emotional learning with a specific emphasis on mindfulness-based interventions for both students and teachers to promote social and emotional competence, well-being, and resilience leading to improvements in performance. She has lead several federally funded studies to test a mindfulness-based intervention for teachers.
In addition to her research experience, Tish has over 22 years of classroom teaching experience. She founded and directed an experimental school where she developed and field-tested curriculum for children from infancy through 5th grade, applying a variety of contemplative approaches including mindfulness-based and compassion-based practices.
Patrick H. Tolan, Ph.D.
Youth-Nex Center and Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Patrick Tolan is Director of Youth-Nex, the U.Va. Center to Promote Effective Youth Development, and Professor in the Curry School of Education and in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Science in the College of Medicine. Patrick is the Principal Investigator for the Compassionate Schools Project, serving as its overall director. He is an internationally respected and renowned leader in the field of sound scientific evaluation of youth development and prevention of health problems.
Patrick has influenced his field to focus on how education and health are related and can be simultaneously promoted. He has lead several large randomized control research studies of school and community based programs that have shown important effects for youth behavior, school completion, and family functioning. He led one of the largest school intervention studies of the past twenty years, a $25 million effort over 7 years. He also regularly consults with and speaks to agencies, foundations, and governments on use of evidence-based practices to guide programming. He has published 8 books and over 120 scientific articles about promoting successful youth development.