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The Thought Leadership Series at Lesley University welcomes guest presenters who engage members of our community and the public in conversation with those who practice the human arts, and through that exchange, encourage us all to act as catalysts for a more connected and just world.

The 2021-2022 season concluded on March 24, 2022, and next year’s season will be announced soon. Enjoy coverage and videos from a stellar season of speakers including authors, performance artists, disability advocates, and others:

  • David D'Arcangelo, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind

  • Theater maker and puppet artist Nick Lehane

  • Author Gayle Jessup White, a descendant of Thomas Jefferson and two families enslaved on his estate

  • Australian sexologist Jodi Rodgers from the Netflix docuseries “Love on the Spectrum”

  • Award-winning children’s book illustrator Ekua Holmes

  • Riverside Community Care CEO Marsha Medalie

headshot of David D'Arcangelo

Why Employment Matters for People with Disabilities

David D'Arcangelo, who leads the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, spoke about "A Quest for Independence & Inclusion," focusing on the complex obstacles that people with disabilities face in finding fulfilling work. “I really believe that it’s time to start using disability as a qualification,” he said.

Nick Lehane black and white headshot

The Mysterious Power of Puppetry

Respected and multidimensional New York-based theater maker and puppet artist Nick Lehane reflected on the history of puppetry and its ability to cross the “liminal space” between worlds and, in so doing, to ignite imagination and empath

headshot of Gayle Jessup White

A Unique Look at Monticello's Problematic Past

Gayle Jessup White, a descendant of Thomas Jefferson and two families enslaved on his estate – and the public relations and community engagement officer for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello – focused on her recently released memoir, "Reclamation.

headshot of Jodi Rodgers

Sexual Health and People With Disabilities

Australian sexologist Jodi Rodgers, who featured prominently in the Netflix docuseries “Love on the Spectrum,” spoke in a virtual forum from her native Australia. She expressed the urgency of sharing critical sexual information with young people who have developmental disabilities.

A headshot of artist Ekua Holmes.

The Art of the Book: Collage and Storytelling

Award-winning children’s book illustrator Ekua Holmes gave the 2022 Finnegan Lecture. She spoke about how she employs collage to chronicle the everyday happenstance and heroism of her hometown of Roxbury and beyond in children’s books and museum exhibitions

headshot of Marsha Medalie

Mental Health in America

Marsha Medalie, CEO of the nonprofit Riverside Community Care, took questions during a virtual forum moderated by Dr. Susan Gere, professor of Counseling and Psychology. She expressed cautious optimism about trends in behavioral health services after the  COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated systemic inequities and other shortcomings for of mental health services in the U.S.

"The Thought Leadership Series engages members of the Lesley University community and the public in conversation with those who practice these arts, and through that exchange, encourage us all to act as catalysts for a more connected and just world."
Janet L. Steinmayer, Lesley University President

Presenters from the 2021-22 Series

Presenters from the 2020-21 Series