Dan Heath pre-event to showcase ‘thinkers’ of Utica, NY area

The Foundation’s Speaker Series pre-events have become as inspiring as the world-renowned speakers they precede. This year’s will continue to generate that pre-event buzz of featured speaker Dan Heath Thursday, Oct. 16.

We want YOU to be excited and ready for what Dan Heath will bring to our community. We’ve designed the pre-event this year around one of Heath’s famous concepts: Switch Your Thinking.

We have hand-selected 23 people in this community who have switched their thinking to make something positive happen in their own lives and in this community.

You will have the opportunity to connect one-on-one or in small groups with these innovative community thinkers during a one-hour networking pre-event from 6 to 7 p.m. (Heath’s lecture begins at 7 p.m.

Some of our community thinkers available to connect with you Oct. 16 are:

The Rev. Dr. Maria Scates and the Rev. Ursula Meier/Johnson Park Center
Decades ago, the Rev. Maria Scates happened upon Johnson Park – a drug-infested, violent, poverty-stricken area of Cornhill. She saw potential in the neighborhood, but more, the opportunity to help those who she saw as forgotten and abandoned. She fought her way through government tape, secured funding and began by renovating one home. She chased the drug dealers away with a Bible and bull horn and today, Johnson Park is a thriving save haven in the middle of a poor and drug-infested community where the formerly addicted and forgotten come for various treatments and programs.

Phil Farda/Comedy Central New York
Phil Farda wanted to two things: a career in comedy and to live in the Mohawk Valley. Those two things didn’t necessarily connect. No real comedy scene existed in the area. In a bold move, Farda quit his well-paying retail job and started a traveling comedy production company that brings comedy shows and events to various locations around Central New York.

Martin Babinec/Entrepreneur, Startup Investor & Venture Catalyst
Martin Babinec grew up in the Mohawk Valley but found success in California where he founded TriNet [NYSE:TNET], a firm providing human resources products to growing companies. He made his way back to the Mohawk Valley, attracted to the high quality of life and proximity of family. After 11 years of cross-country commuting, Babinec realized he could combine his two worlds – upstate New York and Silicon Valley. Today, Babinec is the founder of Upstate Venture Connect and StartFast Venture Accelerator, where the mission is to develop the region into one of the leaders creating start-up companies in new industries.

Eric and Rachael Hall/The Fuze Magazine
Club promoters by night, Eric and Rachael Hall found there was no local media outlet showcasing these musicians and clubs hosting them. They decided to do something about it and just months ago launched the online magazine Fuze, the only online news source in Central New York covering and highlighting local entertainment.

We’ll also feature opportunities for attendees to share their own stories via video storytelling and through a giant art piece made of post-it notes.

AND Dan Heath is so inspired by our community, he has personally sent copies of his book “Switch” to our community and the first 100 people to arrive at the event will receive a free copy.