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Speaker Biographies: Spring 2014

Motohiko Kato

Motohiko Kato entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1982. His overseas assignments include Japanese embassies in Singapore and Iran, and the Japanese Delegation to the OECD in Paris. After serving as Director of the Nuclear Energy Division and Director of the Second International Organization Division, he was posted to the Japanese Embassy in Afghanistan as Deputy Chief of Mission in 2004. Recently, he served as the Director of the International Cooperation Department of the National Institute for Research Advancement, a Japanese think-tank, from 2006.  He was the Minister and Head of Chancery at the Japanese Embassy in the U.S. from 2007 and served as the Deputy Chief of Mission and Consul-General at the Japanese Embassy in the Republic of the Philippines from 2010 before assuming his current position as the newly appointed Consul-General of Japan in September 2012.


Rick Guidotti

Rick Guidotti, an award-winning former fashion photographer, has spent the past fifteen years working internationally with advocacy organizations/NGOs, medical schools, universities and other educational institutions to effect a sea-change in societal attitudes towards individuals living with genetic difference; his work has been published in newspapers, magazines and journals as diverse as Elle, GQ, People, the American Journal of Medical Genetics, The Lancet, Spirituality and Health, the Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly and Life Magazine.

Rick is the founder and director of Positive Exposure, an innovative arts, education and advocacy organization, working with individuals living with genetic, physical, cognitive and behavioral difference. Positive Exposure utilizes the visual arts to significantly impact the fields of genetics, mental health and human rights.

Rick Guidotti’s photographic exhibition, Positive Exposure; The Spirit of Difference, premiered at the People’s Genome Celebration, June 2001, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in DC. and continues to exhibit in galleries, museums and public arenas internationally.

Rick Guidotti’s Positive Exposure photo and video presentation explores the social and
psychological experiences of people living with genetic, physical, cognitive and behavioral conditions of all ages and ethno-cultural heritages.  Positive Exposure provides new opportunities to see individuals living with a genetic difference first and foremost as a human being with his/her own challenges rather than as a specific diagnosis/disease entity.

Rick Guidotti and Positive Exposure continue to celebrate the richness and beauty of human diversity.


Linda Frost and Tyehimba Jess

Dr. Linda Frost has been named the founding Dean of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Honors College. She comes to UTC from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky, where she holds the positions of Director of the Honors Program and Professor of English.

At EKU, Frost oversaw the revision of the honors curriculum and was the principal investigator on a $200,000 National Science Foundation grant to create the interdisciplinary biological and physical honors science course, SEEing Science in Appalachia.

A member of the Publications Board of the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC), Frost has published a number of essays in the Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council and in 2012, she presented her work at the first international “Evoking Excellence in Higher Education” conference in Groningen, the Netherlands. Her current work-in-progress is Housing Honors, a monograph that includes the first large-scale survey of the physical structures honors occupies across the U.S.

She is the author of Never One Nation: Freaks, Savages, and Whiteness in U.S. Popular Culture, 1850-1870 (University of Minnesota Press, 2005) and Conjoined Twins in Black and White: The Lives of Millie-Christine McKoy and Daisy and Violet Hilton (University of Wisconsin Press, 2009).

She is currently President of the Southern Regional Honors Council and with John Richardson, Director of the University Honors Program at the University of Louisville, co-hosted the annual SRHC conference in Louisville in April 2013.

Frost earned her undergraduate degree in English from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and received her English from State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Frost has made numerous national and regional scholarly presentations.

“The Honors College holds great potential for more students at UTC to have an honors experience and joins the prestigious Brock Scholars program… Dr. Frost will spend the next year planning the Honors College,” said Dr. Mary Tanner, Interim Provost


Detroit native Tyehimba Jess’ first book of poetry, leadbelly, was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005.”  Professor Jess, a Cave Canem and NYU Alumni, received a 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was a 2004-5 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. Professor Jess is also a veteran of the 2000 and 2001 Green Mill Poetry Slam Team, and won a 2000 – 2001 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry, the 2001 Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a 2006 Whiting Fellowship. He has also exhibited his poetry at the 2011 TedX Nashville Conference. Tyehimba Jess is an Assistant Professor of English at College of Staten Island.

Scholarship / Publications :
Professor Jess' fiction and poetry have appeared in Beyond The Frontier: African American Poetry for the Twenty-First Century; Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art; Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam; Power Lines: Ten Years of Poetry from Chicago's Guild Complex; Slam: The Art of Performance Poetry, Brilliant Corners, Ploughshares; Obsidian III: Literature in the African Diaspora; Warpland: A Journal of Black Literature and Ideas; Mosaic; Blu Magazine; American Poetry Review; Indiana Review; Nashville Review and 580 Split.


Nancy Judd

Nancy Judd of Recycle Runway strives to change the way people live on the earth through innovative exhibitions that showcase sustainable fashion designs made from trash. Her couture fashions have been sponsored by international organizations including Delta Air Lines, Toyota, Coca-Cola and Target, and one of her pieces was accepted into the Smithsonian’s permanent collection in 2011.

Environmental educator and public artist Nancy Judd installs traveling exhibitions of the Recycle Runway Collection in high traffic locations such as museums, shopping malls and airports.

Ms. Judd also creates site-specific public art, often in community workshops. In Lincoln City, on the Oregon coast, she was asked to create the Jellyfish Dress, a garment using plastic bags that brought attention to marine conservation issues. In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, she used inner tube tires in Tire-less Couture to showcase the City’s commitment to encourage citizens to drive less and use the new bicycle paths.

The purpose of the Recycle Runway garments is to capture the public’s attention and inspire people to consider the environment in their daily choices at work, home, school and in all their community activities. Nancy accomplishes this through giving engaging speeches and providing creative eco-events for adults and children in conjunction with her exhibitions, public art commissions and garment sponsorships.

Ms. Judd started Recycled Runway while working as the Recycling Coordinator for the City of Santa Fe and then as the Executive Director of the New Mexico Recycling Coalition. She recognized that art and fashion could be used to raise the environmental consciousness of the public in a fun and positive way. In 1998 Nancy co-founded the Recycle Santa Fe Art Market & Fashion Contest, a popular arts event in the international arts destination of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Drawing upon her life-long experience as an artist, she began to create recycled garments to promote this event. This led to the formation of the Recycle Runway Collection which has been exhibited internationally, and received worldwide media attention, including an article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.


(Photo: Nancy giving a TEDx talk wearing the Caution Tape Dress)

Tori McClure

Tori McClure has served as President of Spalding University in Louisville, Ky. since July, 2010. Previous to her presidency, she served as Vice President for External Relations, Enrollment Management, and Student Affairs and as Corporate General Counsel for several years. Tori earned her A.B. from Smith College where currently she serves on the Board of Trustees. She earned a Masters in Divinity from Harvard University, a Juris Doctor from the University of Louisville School of Law, and a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing from Spalding University. She was admitted to the practice of law in 1995 and is a lawyer in good standing with the Kentucky Bar Association. Professionally, Tori has worked as Chaplain at Boston City Hospital, the executive director of a shelter for homeless women, as a public policy assistant for the Mayor of Louisville, and she worked for Muhammad Ali to assist with early efforts to create the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville. Tori is best known as the first woman and first American to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She was also the first woman and first American to travel over land to the geographic South Pole, skiing 750 miles from the ice shelf to the pole. An avid mountaineer, Tori has climbed on several continents and she was the first woman to climb Lewis Nunatuck summit in Antarctica. She is a fully certified Emergency Medical Technician in both urban and wilderness areas. She is also a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) semester courses in Alaska and Kenya. She serves on the Board of Trustees for NOLS.

Tori is the recipient of multiple international honors. Thor Heyerdahl presented her with the Peter Byrd Trophy; Tori was the first woman to be honored with this award. In Paris she was recognized along with Lance Armstrong by L’Academies des Sport for significant sporting achievement. At the Moscow International Festival of Mountaineering and Adventure Films, the French documentary “Beyond Limits – Tori Murden,” took the prize for the “Best Foreign Adventure Film,” and Dr. Yuri Aleksandrovich Senkevich awarded Tori with a Russian chalice for extraordinary achievements. Stories about Tori have appeared in more than ten books and thirty major magazines. Tori has appeared on national television shows including Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN Domestic and International, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Late Night with David Letterman, Exhale with Candice Bergen, The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, The Rosie O’Donnel Show, Inside Edition, The 34th Annual Victor Awards (Fox Sports Network), The Discovery Channel, “Storm Warnings,” “Beyond Limits – Tori Murden” French Television TF-1, The Travel Channel “World’s Most Dangerous Sporting Events,” and National Geographic, “Base Camp.”


Dr. Arthur Benjamin

Dr. Arthur Benjamin is both a professor of mathematics and a magician. He has combined his two loves to create a dynamic presentation called "Mathemagics," suitable for all audiences, where he demonstrates and explains his secrets for performing rapid mental calculations faster than a calculator. He has presented his high energy talk for thousands of groups throughout the world.

Dr. Benjamin has appeared on many television and radio programs, including: The Today Show, CNN, The Colbert Report, and National Public Radio. He has been profiled in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Scientific American, Discover Magazine, Omni Magazine, Esquire Magazine, People Magazine, Wired and Reader's Digest.

Dr. Benjamin received a standing ovation when he presented part of his show at the TED 2005 meeting. Since the talk went online, it has been viewed over four million times. Reader's Digest calls him "America's Best Math Whiz".


Kate Orff

Kate Orff is an Assistant Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she teaches graduate design studios and interdisciplinary seminars focused on sustainable development, biodiversity, and community-based change. She is the co-author of Petrochemical America (Aperture Foundation, 2012) and co-editor of Gateway: Visions for an Urban National Park (Princeton, 2011). Her essays have appeared in The Great Leap Forward, Waterfront Visions, Volume, Land Forum, and other books and journals. Kate was named one of “50 for the Future of Design” by H&G, a Dwell Magazine “Design Leader” and was featured in “Front Runners: 25 Young Designers Leading The Pack” by Azure Magazine. She lectures widely in the U.S. and abroad on the topic of urban landscape and new paradigms of thinking, collaborating and designing for the anthropocene era.

Her work has been cited in publications such as the New Yorker, the Economist, the New York Times, and New York Magazine, in addition to architecture and planning publications such as Metropolis, Dwell, Azure, Landscape Architecture Magazine, Harvard Design Magazine, LA China, and many others. She has been interviewed on National Public Radio, Queens Public TV, and the Brian Lehrer Show.

Kate is a registered landscape architect and the founding principal of SCAPE, a landscape architecture and urban design office based in Manhattan. Through her creative leadership of the firm, she explores the cultural and physical complexity of urban landscapes and their unique textures, ecologies, programs and publics. SCAPE’s projects range from a 1000 square foot pocket park in Brooklyn, NY, to a 100 acre environmental center in Greenville, SC, to a 1000 acre landfill regeneration project in Dublin, Ireland. SCAPE has exhibited work in the Museum of Modern Art, and the Seoul, Lisbon, and Hong Kong/Shenzhen Biennials.

After graduating from the University of Virginia with Distinction, Kate earned a Master in Landscape Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard. In 1996, she was a member of small research group focused on the urbanization of Pearl River Delta, led by architect Rem Koolhaas, which became the first case study in the internationally recognized Harvard Project on the City. Kate later worked for the planning and landscape architecture firm Hargreaves Associates and for OMA/AMO.


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