Java Joe’s going to teach us how to put a ring on it!

Joe will provide a “Buyers Guide” for Gems and Jewelry including: terminology, myths & misconceptions, scams, and tips for buying jewelry. Attendees will better understand the Jewelry trade and will have enhanced confidence when purchasing gems and jewelry. At the end of the presentation, lecture notes will be distributed.

Joseph Haber is a Graduate Gemologist and a member of the Accredited Gemologists Association. Joe sells gems, jewelry and crystals from his business, “Middle Earth Treasures.” Joe has been intimately involved in the gem and jewelry industry for over forty years and has taught classes in Gem Identification.



Pandemic! After Hours….

And a little something for the adults! Erotic beat poetry that’s guaranteed to blow your socks off… so don’t even bother wearing them.

J. Simone, dubbed the luxury car of poets for her power and performance has been seen on countless stages, from S.O.B’s in New York to the Amphitheater in Honolulu. From Toronto to Los Angeles, Seattle to Miami, she has blazed stages and changed lives. Also a media darling, she has been featured on television and in print, while gaining additional fans as a radio and Internet personality on The J. Simone Experience.

Dominating the erotica genre, as well as women’s empowerment and activist works, this revolutionary vixen is comfortable in any pair of shoes, but seems partial to 5 inch heels! This dynamic artist is a keynote speaker and teaches workshops on finding your voice through poetry, healing through art, empowerment and sensuality/sexuality.


Comparative Public Education (US vs. Scandinavia)

Amanda Siepiola is an elementary school teacher in Washington, DC. She has taught
kindergarten, first grade and second grade at Horace Mann Elementary School. She will begin her twelfth year at Horace Mann, teaching fifth grade in the fall. Ms. Siepiola graduated from Hamilton College with a B.A. in history and from American University with an M.A.T. in elementary education. She traveled to Finland through the Distinguished Fulbright Award for Teachers in 2013 to explore constructivist teaching methods and the use of elements of play in the classroom. You may check out some of her learning and thinking from that trip at:

Ms. Siepiola has also completed workshops with 4.0 Schools in New Orleans, Project Zero, Responsive Classroom, Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, and Mindful Schools. She has presented her work through DC Public Schools Professional Development workshops, at the Nordic Larp Conference, and at the Living Games Conference.

Ms. Siepiola will discuss the power of international collaboration between teachers, stemming from her experience learning from and collaborating with teachers from the Nordic countries. She will specifically focus on the discovery of role-playing and drama as a useful and engaging form of pedagogy in Finland, and how she continues to apply those tools in her school in the United States with support from and in partnership with her Nordic colleagues.


The Norii are coming! The Norii are coming!

Two of our favorite Mensans are making the trek down to Pandemic! and we’re super excited!

Lori Norris (a member of Rhode Island Mensa and current AMC Secretary) will be running a session called Ask the AMC Secretary. Have a question about the AMC, Mensa or fun events; just ask… if she doesn’t have the answer she’ll try to find out later for you. Lori has two hobbies – Mensa and her husband Ron, a fellow M she met at an RG.

And speaking of….

Ron Norris has honed his bar tending skills by serving hundreds of mango margaritas at Cape Cod Mini RG, Albany’s RechaRGe, Connecticut’s MensAutumn and Boston’s Wicked Good RG. He also tempts his wife and others with Strawberry Piña Coladas and various other imbibments.  Let’s see what he tempts us with in August! 🙂  We hear tell there might be a margarita bar.




Climate Problems? What Climate Problems? OH THOSE CLIMATE PROBLEMS.

Peter H. Hildebrand, Ph.D., is a consulting meteorologist located in the Washington DC area. Dr. Hildebrand recently retired as Director the Earth Sciences Division at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt MD. Goddard’s Earth Sciences Division is one of the largest earth and climate research laboratories in the world, and with other NASA Centers is responsible for the design and implementation of US weather and climate satellites, plus research that applies satellite data to the weather and climate impacts of human activities. Prior to coming to NASA, Hildebrand was a research scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

Dr. Hildebrand has published over 100 articles in formal publications, conference proceedings and technical reports. He obtained his B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in atmospheric sciences at the University of Chicago, and has served in the US Navy as a weather officer. Hildebrand is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society, and a member of AAAS and Sigma Xi.

Dr. Hildebrand is a frequent speaker on the Earth’s weather and climate. He will discuss the anthropogenic forcing of climate change, then briefly discuss the mechanisms that extend the impacts of the changing climate throughout Earth’s ecosystems. He will conclude with examples of simple changes in human lifestyles that could mitigate the climate problems that humans are causing.

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DC Divest!

DC Divest is the citizen-driven campaign that moved the District of Columbia government to stop investing in fossil fuel companies.

In June of this year, Washington DC announced that it divested its pension funds of oil, gas, and coal holdings. The District joined a host of other nations’ capitals that have divested from fossil fuels to morally and financially segregate themselves from the institutions causing climate change. This talk will explore the factors at play for why the U.S. capital made the decision to divest.

DC Divest will discuss the Fossil Fuel Divestment movement, which was born out of religious and academic institutions as a means of engaging action on the topic of climate change. However, conventional wisdom says that divesting one’s portfolio of fossil fuels means sacrificing financial return. In fact, recent research has shown otherwise. MSCI, a leading stock market analysis firm, found that conventional portfolios performed 1.2% worse than fossil-free portfolios between 2010 and 2015. The difference of 1.2% can be substantial for multi-billion dollar portfolios like DC’s public funds. Thus, the environmental and financial cases for divestment are both strong.

School to Prison Pipeline

We are pleased to welcome Gretchen Williams, LCPC (Substance Abuse Counselor for PGCPS) & Toni Perry (Deputy Director for Operations at DC Department of Corrections) who are going to speaking to us about the School to Prison pipeline… yet another presentation you won’t want to miss!

Gretchen Williams, MDiv, LCPC, is a therapist who provides substance abuse prevention and intervention to students in the alternative programs with Prince George’s County Public Schools.  She is a compassionate and empathic therapist who motivates, encourages and challenges young people to focus on improvements that lead to positive change.  Ms. Williams’ presentation will incorporate insight from her training, research and experience with urban youth.  This session will focus on the importance of prevention strategies and early intervention to help youth make better choices to prevent addiction and incarceration.

Ms. Perry will explore some of the innovative, cutting edge programming that is being used in the DC Department of Corrections and throughout the USA to stem the school to prison pipeline – programs that provide young people with realistic tools to become productive citizens who will never return once released, even if the youth enter the system.

Additional Bio Information:

Gretchen Williams Photo

Gretchen Williams, MDiv, LCPC

Ms. William’s 15 years of professional experience includes inpatient counseling to adults with mental illness and substance abuse concerns, school-based mental health and substance abuse intervention, trauma treatment of incarcerated females, and counseling to children and adolescents in the foster care system in addition to providing outpatient services to individuals, couples and families.

Ms. Williams employs a variety of techniques to guide her clients to wholeness, mental health and sobriety.  She is client-centered and also utilizes motivational interviewing in her approach with clients.  Clients know that the treatment setting is a safe place to discuss the most intimate details of their lives.

Currently, Ms. Williams’ work has surrounded providing assistance to urban youth with a significant rate of substance usage, academic challenges, behavioral problems, legal issues and family concerns.  Many teens are faced with co-occurring disorders that are fueled by undiagnosed or untreated mental illness and self-medication with drugs and alcohol.  Unresolved grief is also a major contributing factor to some of the concerns encountered by urban youth.  Genetics and environment can provide a breeding ground for substance abuse amongst adolescents.  Ms. Williams is committed to addressing these issues to lighten their load, allow them to experience personal success and prevent incarceration.

While large percentages of urban youth are successful; significant numbers encounter challenges that often prevent them from experiencing favorable outcomes.  Early exposure to drugs, sex, instability in the home and untreated mental illness are a few of the concerns that are faced on a daily basis.  Additionally, large numbers of young people have unresolved grief due to the violent death of a family member or friend.  Adolescents seek comfort or self-medicate to manage these issues.  They are typically unaware of the effects of drug usage on their brain and bodies.  Subsequently, truancy, failing grades and expulsions become the standard until they make the choice to change course.

Toni Perry photo

Toni Perry

Toni Perry has always been interested in Criminal Justice, since first reading Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood in the sixth grade.  She wanted to major in Criminal Justice in college, but instead attended Yale University where she received a BA in Psychology in 1982.  She realized her dream of immersing herself in the field at SUNY Albany where she received a MA in Criminal Justice in 1983.  She began her criminal justice career within the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, where she worked as a Correctional Counselor for one year before returning to her home in the District of Columbia.

During the last 30 years, Ms. Perry has seen major changes in the field of criminal justice and corrections, most notably advances in how mental health and trauma informed care can be utilized to reach vulnerable populations.  One area that has garnered some of the most intense re-evaluation has been how to deal with the youthful detention and prison population.  In this case, reference in not being made to “youth” who are housed in institutions for various status reasons.  Reference is being made to young men and women, sometimes as young as 14, who are being tried as adults for heinous crimes such as murder, rape and armed robbery.  With the rise in crimes by males under the age of 22, many communities are clamoring for justice with little regard for the outcome of long range incarceration for this population.

Large urban educational systems, families and communities are failing youth to such a degree that being incarcerated may be the only time in a young man’s life where he is compelled into a structured educational environment.  For example, in the District of Columbia, all inmates under the age of 18 must attend school in a special secondary education program which allows them to accelerate and “catch up” on credits so that they can graduate.  And the best part of the program is that the student “graduates” with a high school diploma of his or her home high school, just like any other student!

There are so many innovative programs that are customized for this young population to give them the discipline and motivation that have shamefully been so lacking in their young lives.  Just recently, President Obama mandated changes in how youth were housed in solitary confinement, sending shockwaves through the Federal Bureau of Prisons and institutions throughout the country.