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TEDxCUNY Salon: Reflections

Viewing our past for a greater future.

November 14th, 2021

The theme for this salon is Reflections. Our daily lives have been altered— from the way we learn, to the way we show love to those dearest to us. As we leap into a better tomorrow, we must not only look back on our collective victories, but also recognize how adversity shapes the road to triumph. The process of introspection is intrinsically painful, long, and arduous, requiring much vigor and perseverance. The true power of reflection, whether occurring during moments of peace or chaos, lies in its ability to facilitate an increase in our individual agency, and thus create lasting change.


Join us as we reflect on our pasts to create a more hopeful future.   

Meet The Speakers

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Maria Olsen

Lawyer, Journalist & Author

Maria Leonard Olsen is a biracial woman whose parents were forbidden by law to marry in their home state of Maryland in the early 1960s. She is the mother of two children, a lawyer, journalist and author of several books. She leads writing/empowerment retreats for women, is the podcast host of “Becoming Your Best Version” and is a co-host of the Inside Out radio show on WPFW-fm, 89.3, in Washington, D.C.

Maria graduated from Boston College and the University of Virginia School of Law, worked at one of D.C.'s largest law firms, where she served on the Diversity Committee; served in the Clinton Administration's Justice Department; fostered newborn babies awaiting adoption; and has been on the boards of Children's National Medical Center BOV, the Catholic Coalition for Special Education, GirlsUp and the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Washington.

Mommy, Why's Your Skin So Brown? is her first children's book.  Healing for Hallie is her second children's book.  Not the Cleaver Family--The New Normal in Modern American Family, was released in November 2016.  Her latest book, 50 After 50--Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life, has been used as a vehicle to help thousands of people across the country reinvigorate their lives. 

Maxwell Louis Waterman is a New York City based educator, administrator, and  performing artist. He is the Director of the Dance Department at Science Skills Center High School for Science, Technology and the Creative Arts. Recently, Waterman was appointed Program Director of the Young Artists Program at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, and serves as an Advisory Board Member on the Martha Graham School Committee. 


Championing the integration of social-emotional learning in dance education, Waterman  authored The Elevated Conscious Curriculum (For Dancers)© in 2020, and teaches his culturally  responsive pedagogy in the Martha Graham School. He also works closely with the NYC Men Teach initiative as a Teaching Assistant Fellow.


A native of Brooklyn, NY, Waterman trained at the Ailey School and the Joffrey Ballet School.  He earned a B.S. in Dance from Long Island University-Brooklyn Campus and a M.A. in Dance  Education from the Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Program at CUNY-Hunter College. 

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Maxwell Waterman

Educator & Performance Artist

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Sadhvi Siddhali Shree

North American Jain Monk & Iraq War Veteran

Sadhvi Siddhali Shree is the first North American Jain female-monk, a US Army Iraq-war veteran, an international speaker, author, activist, and an award-winning filmmaker. Her first documentary is STOPPING TRAFFIC: The Movement to End Sex Trafficking (2017) and her second documentary is SURVIVING SEX TRAFFICKING, which will be released in March 2022. 


Driven by her deep-seated devotion to humanity, she uses her talents and skills to raise awareness about violence in the world and ways to change it. She serves as the Spiritual Director of Siddhayatan Tirth & Spiritual Retreat based near Dallas, Texas and is executive director of Stopping Traffic, a non-profit organization which supports survivors of sex trafficking. Sadhvi Siddhali Shree is passionate about social movements that focus on non-violence, human rights, gender equality, and anti-trafficking. She is currently working on a spiritual memoir.

As a former recruiter for the famed Ritz-Carlton, known for setting the Gold Standard of customer service, Bart Berkey personally interviewed hundreds and hundreds of the best and brightest. But he observed that very few of them did what “everyone knows” a good candidate should do. 

Bart’s philosophy, and the cornerstone of his book Most People Don’t, is that those few who are willing to do what others only talk about will succeed in their personal and professional life. Drawing from over thirty years of experience, he is an expert on excellence and standing out from the pack. A motivational storyteller, he engages hearts and minds through real-life stories that invite attendees to assimilate his “doing mantra” into their own experiences.

Bart was raised in Pittsburgh, graduated from Penn State University, and lives in Virginia with his wife and children. Recognized as one of the “Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing,” Bart has also held numerous global executive roles in the hospitality industry before devoting himself to teaching others how to achieve excellence.

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Bart Berkey

Motivational Storyteller

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