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Changing State, Federal Roles in U.S. Electric Power Sector

David Kathan ’78, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), will present “Changing State and Federal Roles in the U.S. Electric Power Sector” a noon Friday, March 11, in Robert N. Noyce ’49 Science Center, Room 2024. David Kathan holds a doctorate in public policy and management from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is an economist in the Office of Energy Policy and Innovation at FERC.

Recent developments in environmental and energy sustainability policy, along with the creation of a modern grid, are changing the relative roles and jurisdictional responsibilities of states and the federal government.

Kathan will provide examples of shifts in state and federal governance of these issues. He will focus on several recent Supreme Court cases and decisions that have the potential of further blurring the lines between state and federal jurisdiction, such as the recent FERC v. EPSA demand response decision. Kathan will discuss the implications of these blurred lines and shared responsibility for future environmental and energy policy.

Kathan joined FERC in 2002 after more than 20 years in energy consulting. At FERC, he works on market design issues, including demand response, smart grid, scarcity pricing, and resource adequacy.

Kathan has been the project lead for the commission’s annual demand response reports required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and was the FERC staff lead on the National Action Plan on Demand Response. During 2013, he was on temporary assignment to the White House Council on Environmental Quality, where he focused on federal agency demand management issues, and was responsible for the issuance of a Presidential Memorandum on federal agency energy management in December 2013.

Prior to joining FERC, Kathan was a principal at ICF Consulting, where he consulted on economic, environmental, and quantitative issues related to the electric power industry, with a focus on demand response and electric system modeling.  He has also held posts at National Economic Research Associates, Synergic Resources Corporation, and the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment.

The Department of Chemistry is hosting the free, public event.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities.  You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Celebrate Humanities Day

Grinnell College will mark Celebrate Humanities Day, a daylong series of free, public events to honor the study of the humanities, on Monday, March 14.

U.S. Rep. Jim Leach will present the keynote, "Where Politics and Morality Conjoin and Disconnect," at 7:30 p.m. in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Leach represented Iowa’s second district in the House of Representatives for 30 years and later served as chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Under his leadership, the NEH created a Bridging Cultures program designed to promote understanding and mutual respect for diverse groups within the United States and abroad. Leach is now chair in public affairs and visiting professor of law in the College of Law at the University of Iowa.

Students will perform at 4 p.m. in Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Sebring-Lewis Hall.

Student performances include:

  • "Choreography as Research" by Rosie Fuqua ’17, Ivy Kuhn ’17,  and Taylor Watts.
  • "Indo-Jazz Fusion from Banaras to New York," by Vincent Kelley ’17 and his band.

Kelley, drums and tabla, will be joined by Omri Benami ’17, piano; Tom Earnest ’17, bass; and Jacob Ziontz ’17, viola; and Assistant Professor of Music Mark Laver, saxophone.

The daylong celebration will culminate in a Pub Quiz trivia night at 9 p.m. in Lyle's Pub, in the basement of the Rosenfield Center.

This will be Grinnell College’s first Celebrate Humanities Day, which is organized by the College’s Center for the Humanities.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. The Bucksbaum Center has accessible parking at the south entrance.  You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

How Meat Changed Sex

Gabriel RosenbergGabriel Rosenberg ’03, assistant professor of women's studies at Duke University, will give a free, public lecture on the impact of industrial agriculture on human intimacy at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 9, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

In "How Meat Changed Sex: Intimacy with Animals after Industrial Reproduction," Rosenberg will explore America’s agricultural past to understand the tangled relationships between agricultural practices and the governance of human gender and sexuality.  

An accomplished scholar, Rosenberg investigates the historical and contemporary linkages among gender, sexuality, and the global food system. In particular, he studies spaces of agricultural production as important sites for the constitution and governance of intimacy – intimacy both between and among humans, animals, and plants.

Rosenberg recently published "The 4-H Harvest: Sexuality and the State in Rural America." He has received numerous honors for his work in agriculture and women's studies, including a postdoctoral fellowship with the Yale University Program in Agrarian Studies in 2012 and the Agricultural History Society Gilbert C. Fite Best Dissertation Prize in 2012.

The history department is sponsoring Rosenberg’s talk.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system.  You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Total Health from the Ground Up

Daphne MillerDr. Daphne Miller, a family physician, writer, and associate professor of family medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, will discuss “Farmacology: Total Health from the Ground Up” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 10, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

She will also lead a roundtable discussion about health professions, alternative medicine, and diet at 4 p.m.  in Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Room 152. Both events are free and open to the public.

Miller will use her latest book, Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing, to frame her discussion of family farms. Her lecture will cover all the aspects of farming — from seed choice to soil management — that have a direct and powerful impact on health.

Bridging the traditional divide between agriculture and medicine, Miller will share lessons learned from inspiring farmers and biomedical researchers as she weaves their insights and discoveries, along with stories from her patients, into the narrative.

A practicing family physician, Miller is also a leading scholar on health ecology. Her writings in the field have been published in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Vogue, Orion Magazine, Yes! Magazine, Food and Wine, The Guardian, and Harvard Medical Magazine.

Miller has received numerous honors for her achievements in health ecology, including fellowships at the University of California San Francisco, funded by the National Institute of Health, and at the Berkeley Food Institute. She also serves on the boards of a number of non-profits, including Institute of the Golden Gate, Education Outside, Mandela Marketplace, and the Edible Schoolyard Foundation.

Sponsoring this event are the Grinnell College Office of the President; Center for Prairie Studies; Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights; Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement; Wellness Program; Chaplain’s Office; Student Environmental Committee; and the Student Government Association.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system.  You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Putting a Face on the Gallery

Colorful paper and paint flowers suspended from ceiling For many Grinnellians, on campus and off, Tilly Woodward is the face of Faulconer Gallery. Although much of the effort for running a successful gallery is tucked behind the scenes, Woodward loves the fact that she gets to know students and art lovers of all ages.

"The work I do for the Faulconer Gallery is highly satisfying," she says. "I get to work with all ages of people, and through small interactions help them feel comfortable coming to the gallery and help them engage with art through looking, talking, and creating.

As curator of academic and community outreach, Woodward enjoys helping others learn about and create art. Whether she's "blowing glitter on a truck with children in the parks, helping neuro-diverse adults create self-portraits in clay, working with school children to create large group projects focused on the ideas of beauty and tribute, or working with college classes to help them discover meaning in an artwork through close observation," she says, "they are all the best parts of my jobs."

In her own life, she has made creative engagement a daily habit over decades. She says "that discipline has created skills in seeing, painting, and the ability to create meaning for myself and others through the inspection of small things that might be overlooked in life. It's the accumulation of small things that seems so important to me in life and in art — working again and again until your understanding becomes inherent, small brush strokes adding up to create a painting."

Woodward is an accomplished artist in her own right. Her paintings have been exhibited in hundreds of galleries, museums, and community settings both in America and overseas, and she's earned two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships.

She's also recognized for her work with the community. She won the Iowa Museum Art Educator of the Year 2016 , an award from the Governor in 2006 for Excellence in Cultural Programming, and the Grinnell Prize staff fellowship to Ghana. The staff fellowship, which gave her the chance to work in book arts directly with Ghanan former child slaves, is "probably at the top" of her proudest achievements, Woodward says.

Visit the Faulconer Gallery for information about current and upcoming exhibitions and events.

Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years and Artists' Coffeehouse

A free, public screening of the documentary Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984-1992 will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 6, in Alumni Recitation Hall, Room 102.

The film focuses on Audre Lorde’s relation to the German Black Diaspora as well as her literary and political influence. It is a unique visual document about the times the author spent in Germany.

Audre Lorde tells about the development of an Afro-German movement and the origins of the anti-racist movement before and after the German reunification. It describes the beginnings of these political debates and facilitates a historical analysis and an understanding of present debates on identity and racism in Germany.

For the first time, Dagmar Schultz’s archival video and audio recordings and footage has been made available to a wide public. The film represents an important addition to the documentary A Litany for Survival: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde by Ada Gray Griffin and Michelle Parkerson, which was screened at the 45th Berlin Film Festival in 1995.

Following the film, students are encouraged to share their poetry, short stories, and other talents with the group in an Artists' Coffeehouse Showcase to honor the legacy of Lorde and her work.

Light refreshments will be served.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

The screening and coffeehouse are sponsored by the Cultural Films Committee, Intercultural Affairs, and the German, American Studies, and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies departments.

Writers@Grinnell: Stephanie Ford

Stephanie Ford '95 is next in Writers@Grinnell series.

Stephanie Ford will read from her work and discuss writing on Thursday, March 3 as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College.  The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 8 p.m. in the Faulconer Gallery in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

Stephanie_Ford image

In addition, Ford will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at  4:15 p.m., March 3 in the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 209.

Stephanie Ford is the author of All Pilgrim (Four Way Books, 2015). Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Tin House, Boston Review, Harvard Review, and The Iowa Review. She holds a bachelor's degree in studio art from Grinnell and a masters in fine arts in creative writing from the University of Michigan; her honors include the Hopwood Award as well as fellowships from Vermont Studio Center and the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, she now lives in Los Angeles, where she has worked as a high school creative writing teacher and, most recently, as a freelance museum editor.

Grinnell a Peace Corps ‘Top School’

Grinnell College has once again earned a spot on the Peace Corps’ annual Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities list, coming in at No. 23 among small universities. Currently, eight Grinnell graduates are making a difference around the world as volunteers.

For the past four consecutive years, Grinnell has made it onto the annual list. Since the agency was created in 1961, 375 Grinnell alums have served overseas.

"The Peace Corps is a unique opportunity for college graduates to put their education into practice and become agents of change in communities around the world," Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. "Today’s graduates understand the importance of intercultural understanding and are raising their hands in record numbers to take on the challenge of international service."

Grinnellian Justin Miller ’12 is making a difference as a Peace Corps volunteer. Miller has been serving in Burkina Faso as an education volunteer since August 2014. Miller works primarily as a high school math and English teacher at local schools. Additionally, Miller is working on recording public service announcements on nutrition and sexual education topics, and will distribute the recordings to his community through Bluetooth.

For Miller, the best part about serving as an education volunteer is getting to know his students personally and teaching them American games. Looking back, it was his passion for service and trying new things that led him to Peace Corps.

"Professor Terri Geller at Grinnell once told me, ‘If you aren't doing anything to help, you're saying that you're OK with how things are.’ There’s a lot of injustice in the U.S. and the world as a whole," said Miller, who graduated with a B.A. in mathematics. "The school's strong social justice environment pushed me to try to help people."

This year’s rankings follow a 40-year high in applications for the Peace Corps in 2015.  This record-breaking number comes after the first full year that the agency implemented historic reforms allowing applicants to choose the countries and assignments they'd like to be considered for. Graduating college students are encouraged to browse open programs and apply by April 1 for assignments departing fall 2016.

Iowa-based Peace Corps recruiter Ryan Cairns, a returned volunteer who served in Bulgaria, advises Grinnell candidates.  Students who are interested in post-graduate service are encouraged to meet with Keira Wilson, assistant director of service and social innovation, in the Center for Careers, Life, and Service. Visit Peace Corp Events to learn of in-person and online opportunities to chat with a recruiter.

About the Peace Corps

The Peace Corps sends the best and brightest Americans abroad on behalf of the United States to address the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work with their community members at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions to challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development.

Through their service, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy.

Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide.

The Wish Specialist

The power of making a wish is no small thing; it gives us hope and allows us to envision something better. However, not many of us expect those wishes to be granted — that would be just a little too Disney. While there may not be any fairy godmother waiting to swoop in and make our dreams come true, Sally Webster ’08 has found a way to bring a little magic into the lives of seniors across the country by literally granting wishes for a living.

Success and Satisfaction with Non-Profit Work

Webster developed an interest in nonprofit work when she participated in a ReNew Orleans trip while at Grinnell. After the trip, she took a semester off and stayed in New Orleans for 6 months helping to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. After graduating, she continued to work with nonprofits through AmeriCorps NCCC, which solidified her interest in the nonprofit sector. Moving to Denver, she discovered Wish of a Lifetime, an organization that resonated with Webster due to her own close relationship with her grandmother.

Wish of a Lifetime is a Colorado-based organization that grants wishes to seniors who are experiencing isolation from friends, family, or the activities they once loved.

 “We try to grant really life-enriching, meaningful wishes,” says Webster. “They’re always connected to this vast personal history, to their passions and important people in their lives.”

She started working at the organization in 2010 as a wish coordinator, helping interview seniors and plan the logistics of making their wishes come true. Webster is the director of community outreach, managing external communications, social media, and the organization’s volunteers and interns.  

“It’s been really fulfilling working here,” Webster says. “Some of the wishes are just incredible. We reunited two Holocaust survivors this past summer in Israel, a man and his cousin. And to hear about his perspective on life after the unimaginable things he’s been through — it was amazing.”

Wish Fulfillment for the Elderly

The organization recently fulfilled the wish of one of Grinnell’s oldest alumni, Louise Goodwin McKlveen ’35, who dreamed of throwing the first pitch for the Minnesota Twins. In the weeks before her wish was granted, she excitedly did exercises to increase her arm strength in preparation for the big occasion.

“We have a lot of anecdotal evidence that isolated seniors become more involved in their communities after having a lifelong wish granted,” Webster says. They often begin volunteering, joining social clubs and re-engaging with past passions, and learning to view the last decades of their lives as “productive, involved, and exciting.” But the organization has an even larger goal in mind.

“The intention is really to change the way people view and value seniors in their everyday lives,” says Webster. “There is going to be a huge demographic shift over the next couple of decades and there will be a large elderly population. Getting people to engage with seniors and getting seniors to engage in their communities is the difference between a dependent population and one that is still contributing to society.” From their humble beginnings fulfilling only a handful of wishes annually, Wish of a Lifetime now grants more than 200 wishes each year.

Webster can vouch for the personal value of interacting with seniors and learning from their life experiences. “After working here for 5 years, I have a lot more perspective on the personal challenges in my life,” she says. “I’ve listened to the incredible obstacles these people have faced. They’ve overcome so much that my problems seem manageable in comparison!”

For more information or to nominate a senior citizen in your community, visit Wish of a Lifetime.


Charity Made Easy

If you use social media, chances are you’ve heard of “slacktivism.” It’s social media activism, such as when someone signs an online petition or participates in something like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness. These actions require little effort and can help make people aware of issues in the world, but these slacktivists are often criticized for not actually doing anything to help the cause they are touting.

Tab for a Cause, co-founded by Kevin Jennison ’12, takes advantage of the ease of slacktivism while ensuring that users’ actions actually make a difference. By installing a program on your browser so that every new tab you open donates money to charity, Tab for a Cause allows users to raise money for causes they care about simply by going about their normal Internet-browsing activities. Since its inception, Tab for a Cause has raised over $175,000 for various charities.

Tab for a Cause sponsors several nonprofit organizations. Users get the opportunity to learn about organizations they may never have heard of before and to choose where their money goes — all with just the click of a button.

“The idea materialized when YouTube first started showing advertisements,” says Jennison. “I realized how massive the Internet advertising market is. In founding Tab for a Cause, we sought to redirect a fraction of the money in online advertising toward a good cause.”

Rising to the Challenge

At Grinnell, Jennison was a biology major, but learning the ins and outs of software engineering and marketing has “been a blast” for him. “More than anything, Grinnell encouraged me to be unafraid to learn new things,” he says. “I took to jumping into projects that were initially intimidating, and eventually starting this business was one of those projects.”

Tab for a Cause launched during Jennison’s senior year at Grinnell. To help the product take off, he messaged friends on Facebook, hung posters in the College bathrooms, and emailed family members. Soon, he and his partner took to the Internet to spread the word. Communities like Nerdfighteria and crowdfunding sites like Project for Awesome took Tab for a Cause from a few thousand members to tens of thousands over the course of just 18 months.

“The biggest challenge,” Jennison says, “has been learning to steady what can be an emotional roller coaster ride. I’ve learned to celebrate small victories and confront difficulties, but to take both with a grain of salt.”

Looking to the Future

To continue the organization’s growth and popularity, Jennison and his partner encourage sharing among friends and classmates by “holding competitions to see which colleges or high schools can raise the most for charity in a certain period of time.”

Through the development of Tab for a Cause, Jennison has learned the importance of sharing ideas with the people around him. “Early on, every time we talked to someone about Tab for a Cause we came away with a plethora of new ideas,” he says. “This feedback guided our product before we even built it and saved us from tragic mistakes.”

Moving forward, the team at Tab for a Cause is working more and more closely with charity partners in order to give users a personal connection with the projects they donate to. They have also recently launched Goodblock, a free Chrome adblocker that shows users beautiful ads that earn money for charity every time they are viewed.

Jennison’s final word of advice for Grinnellians with big ideas: “Do it. Dive in and get your hands dirty. At worst, you’ll learn a ton, and at best, you’ll succeed in realizing your idea.”