Eric Cesal


Eric J. Cesal is a designer, writer, and noted post-disaster expert, having led on-the-ground reconstruction programs after the Haiti earthquake, the Great East Japan Tsunami, and Superstorm Sandy.  Cesal’s formal training is as an architect, with international development, economics and foreign policy among his areas of expertise.

Cesal has been called “Architecture’s First Responder” by The Daily Beast for his work leading Architecture for Humanity’s post-disaster programs from 2010 to 2014.  He has been interviewed widely on the subjects of disaster and resilience by publications such as The New Yorker, Architectural Record, Architect Magazine, Foreign Policy Magazine and Monocle.  He has served as a juror for various design awards and frequently lectures globally on disaster reconstruction and resilience.

Cesal is also widely known for his book, “Down Detour Road, An Architect in Search of Practice” (MIT Press, 2010) which sought to connect architecture’s chronic economic misfortunes with it’s failure to prioritize urgent social issues. Cesal is currently working on a new book about how foreign and economic policies of the developed nations incite and aggravate the conditions that lead to catastrophic disasters.

Cesal holds advanced degrees in Architecture and Construction Management, as well as an M.B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis.  He currently works as the Special Projects Director for the Curry Stone Design Prize, an annual prize awarded each year to honor innovative projects that use design to address pressing social justice issues.  There, he also co-hosts Social Design Insights, a weekly podcast with the leading voices of the Social Design movement.


Hannah Drake


Hannah Drake is an artist-advocate with an inspirational message, is the lead artist for Project HEAL (Health Equity Art Learning), which uses arts and culture engagement to help communities discover creative new ways to identify their health priorities and to develop a healthy equity action lan for maximum impact. A writer and performer, Drake is currently working in the Smoketown neighborhood of Louisville. Project HEAL is the signature program of IDEAS xLab, a nonprofit that is driving large-scale social change by training artists to become a unique force of social entrepreneurs in the health sector.

Drake will participate in a panel discussion following King's remarks.

Tom Eblen


Metro/state columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader. He was the Herald-Leader's managing editor from 1998 to 2008. A graduate of Western Kentucky University, he was editor of the College Heights Herald. Tom Eblen teaches journalism ethics at the University of Kentucky and has been a frequent writing/editing coach at The Mountains Workshops.

Eblen will moderate a panel discussion following King's remarks.

Phil Kraemer


Chellgren Endowed Chair for Undergraduate Excellence and a Professor of Psychology at the University of Kentucky (UK). Phil Kraemer previously served as Chair of the Psychology Department, Dean of Undergraduate Studies, and Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education. His current research interests involve issues pertinent to cognitive science with a focus on the psychology of ideas, the cognitive foundations of innovation, and the nature of virtual world psychology. 

Kraemer will participate in a panel discussion following King's remarks.

Claude Stephens

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Claude Stephens is the Facilitator of Outreach and Regenerative Design at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest.  He has more than 30 years of experience in informal education supported by a foundation in ecology. Claude takes a natural systems approach to exploring regenerative and restorative thinking focused on healthy community solutions. He heads the Bernheim Children at Play Initiative which pioneers healthy outdoor play strategies that connect people with nature. 

Alice Gray Stites

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Alice Gray Stites is Chief Curator and Museum Director of 21c Museum. With more than 70,500 square feet of exhibition space, 21c Museum is North America’s first multi-venue museum dedicated solely to collecting and exhibiting art of the 21st century. Stites curates site-specific installations, rotating exhibitions, and a range of cultural programming at all 21c Museum Hotels, now in seven cities. Under Alice’s leadership, 21c collaborates on arts initiatives with artists and cultural organizations worldwide including North Carolina Museum of Art, MASS MoCA, Crocker Art Museum, The Barnes Foundation, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Creative Capital Foundation, Creative Time, and others. 21c has presented more than 100 exhibitions. Drawing from a collection of nearly 3,000 works, augmented by loans from artists and arts institutions, recent curated exhibitions include Cuba Now!; Alter Ego: A Decade of Work by Anthony Goicolea; Hybridity: The New Frontier; Aftermath: Witnessing War, Countenancing Compassion; Seeing Now; Wild Card: The Art of Michael Combs; Dis-semblance: Projecting and Perceiving Identity; Albano Alfonso: Self-Portrait as Light; Pop Stars! Popular Culture and Contemporary Art; Labor&Materials, Fallen Fruit: The Practices of Everyday Life; The Future is Female; and Truth or Dare: A Reality Show.

Prior to joining 21c, Stites was director of artwithoutwalls, a non-profit, non-collecting public arts organization, and served as adjunct curator of contemporary art at the Speed Art Museum. Stites serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Louisville, and advises both the University of Kentucky Art Museum and the University of Arkansas’ Department of Art. She has lectured at universities and conferences, including Art Basel Conversations, Leaders in Software and Art, TEDx Stockholm, the University of Louisville, the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts, and has served on selection committees for ArtPrize, PULSE art fairs in New York and Miami, and the Moving Image Award. Stites graduated magna cum laude from the University of Virginia, and holds an M.A. from Columbia University.