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Speaker Program

Belmont Hill is so fortunate to be able to offer our boys a wide array of distinguished speakers in our historic Hamilton Chapel. Through the years, our Head of School, alumni, and faculty—as well as an impressive list of guest speakers—have presented on a broad range of topics. Head of School Chapel Talks and the Parents' Council Speaker Series are made available to parents by video whenever possible. Other talks are shared publicly on occasion, but the primary audience is the internal community of faculty, staff, and the boys.

2021-2022 Speakers

Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, is a senior investigator and the L.K. Whittier Foundation Investigator in Stem Cell Biology at Gladstone Institutes. He is also a professor of anatomy at UC San Francisco, as well as a director and professor of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) at Kyoto University in Japan.

In 2012, Dr. Yamanaka was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery that adult somatic cells can be reprogrammed into pluripotent cells. In addition, he has received many awards and honors, including the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, the Wolf Prize in Medicine, the Millennium Technology Award, the Shaw Prize, the Kyoto Prize for Advanced Technology, the Gairdner International Award, the Robert Koch Award, and the March of Dimes Prize.

Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has covered more than 50 countries on five continents. His articles and books have led the Washington Post to place him “among the best in popular foreign policy storytelling.” He spent more than 20 years working for the New York Times, most of it as a foreign correspondent. After leaving the Times in 2005, he taught journalism, political science, and international relations at Northwestern University and Boston University. He is now a Senior Fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, and writes a world affairs column for The Boston Globe. 

Dr. Noubar Afeyan is founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, a company that conceives, creates, resources, and develops first-in-category bioplatform companies to transform human health and sustainability. An entrepreneur and biochemical engineer, Dr. Afeyan holds more than 100 patents and has co-founded and helped build more than 70 life science and technology startups during his 33-year career. He is co-founder and chairman of the board of Moderna, the pioneering messenger RNA vaccine company addressing the global COVID-19 pandemic, and serves on the boards of several private and public companies. He is the father of a Belmont Hill graduate ('16) and three Winsor graduates ('08, '10, and '13). This virtual event is in collaboration with Winsor and is open to members of both school communities. 

An extraordinary basketball player, Chris Herren was a celebrated star in his native Fall River, MA before graduating high school. He went on to play at Boston College and Fresno State, two seasons in the NBA – including one with his hometown team, the Boston Celtics – and seven seasons overseas before losing it all to the disease of addiction. With the unwavering support of his family and friends, Mr. Herren has been sober since August 1, 2008, and he now shares his story with the goal of making a positive difference in the lives of others. His recovery journey has been documented in the bestselling memoir, Basketball Junkie, the Emmy-nominated ESPN Films documentary, Unguarded, and in countless local, national, and international stories by The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Sports Illustrated, among others. As a public speaker he has addressed over 1 million students and community members, sparking honest discussions about substance use disorder and wellness. The Herren Project empower schools and communities to make healthy choices, while also guiding families through recovery. In 2018, he founded Herren Wellness to help people lead healthy, substance-free lives.


Gotham Chopra ’93 is an award-winning filmmaker at the forefront of the convergence of sports, science, and spirituality. As the co-founder of The Religion of Sports, a content and media company based in Los Angeles, Mr. Chopra has worked with some of the most elite athletes in the world including Tom Brady (Tom v Time), Kobe Bryant (Kobe Bryant’s Muse), Lebron James (Shut Up and Dribble), Stephen Curry (Stephen v The Game), Simone Biles (Simone v Herself), Alex Morgan, and Usain Bolt (Greatness Code) and many more to produce content that pushes the boundaries of non-fiction cinema and brings the mythos of sports to a broad audience outside of those that simply follow the games. Beyond box scores, wins and losses, and stats and sabermetrics, Mr. Chopra’s brand of sports storytelling leans into the essence of human potential, the dramatic peaks and valleys of competition and athletic achievement, and the heroic narratives that accompany both triumph and failure.

 Event to be rescheduled due to weather.

As a nationally renowned sports nutritionist and founder of Kinetic Fuel, Julie Nicoletti draws from years of experience as a registered pharmacist and certified sports nutritionist to provide personalized education and counseling to high school, collegiate and professional athletes, as well as motivated adults. She is the sports nutritionist for the NHL Boston Bruins and AHL Providence Bruins and consults with many NCAA Collegiate athletic programs, specialized camps and elite travel sports teams. Mrs. Nicoletti is a competitive athlete herself and a recent top 25 AG Ironman Finisher. At Belmont Hill she will discuss sports nutrition, supplements, and peak performance. She will address Middle School students as a group and then Upper School students grouped by winter sport. 


Imari Paris Jeffries is the Executive Director of King Boston, an organization dedicated to building a memorial, “The Embrace,” honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, and their time and work in Boston. He has also has served in executive roles at Parenting Journey, Jumpstart, Boston Rising, and Friends of The Children. He serves as a University of Massachusetts trustee and is the chair of the committee on academic and student affairs. He is a member of Governor Baker’s Black Advisory Commission and a board member of the Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers. He has a BA, MA, and MEd from UMass Boston with a focus on history and Africana and American studies and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. through UMass Boston’s Higher Education Program.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Speaker
Click here to learn more about his visit. 

Ruthanne Fuller is the 31st Mayor of the City of Newton and the first woman Mayor in Newton’s history. She was sworn into office on January 1, 2018. Mayor Fuller first served as an Alderman-at-Large from Ward 7 in 2010. A graduate of Brown University and Harvard Business School, she has over two decades of experience as a strategic planner for non-profit organizations and businesses, including WGBH. As a parent of three graduates, Mark ’06, Chris ’06, and David ’09, Mayor Fuller was an active volunteer at Belmont Hill serving for many years on the Board of Trustees and chairing the Committee on Trustees. Her husband, Joe, is an alumnus from the Class of 1975.

Benny Wanger '15 (Baseball - Team Israel), Alexander Richards '14 (Crew - Team USA), Andrew Reed '10 (Crew - Team USA), and Dara Alizadeh '11 (Crew - Team Bermuda) participated in the Summer 2020 Tokyo Olympics (held in the summer of 2021).  

Taswell Papier was appointed as judge of the Western Cape High Court in 2017 after having worked as an attorney in private practice for almost thirty years. He practiced for his own account for 17 years before joining ENSafrica as director for 13 years. Papier was president of the Cape Law Society for two terms and has chaired the Cape Law Society’s Pro Bono Committee and the Law Society of South Africa’s Pro Bono Committee. As an attorney he won numerous awards for outstanding service and contribution to human rights. Judge Papier holds qualifications from the University of the Western Cape, the University of Cape Town, and Harvard University.

Click here to learn more about Judge Papier's visit. 

David Brooks is a political and cultural commentator who writes for The New York Times. He has worked as a film critic for The Washington Times, a reporter and later op-ed editor for The Wall Street Journal, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard from its inception, a contributing editor at Newsweek, and The Atlantic Monthly, and a commentator on NPR and the PBS NewsHour.

Rich Newton '07 attended Colby College on an ROTC Scholarship and was commissioned as an Infantry Officer in the Army in 2011. He served as a Special Forces Officer until 2021, when he left active duty to pursue an MBA at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. While in the Army, Mr. Newton deployed to Afghanistan, Eastern Europe, and the Arabian Peninsula.

Veterans Day Speaker


Click here to learn more about his visit. 

Dr. Lee M. Levison was formerly the Headmaster at the Collegiate School for Boys in New York City (2006-2020) and Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, CT. Before that he was a Dean of Faculty at Noble and Greenough School. A graduate of Amherst College, where he played football, Dr. Levison also coached at Dartmouth, Harvard, and Trinity. He earned his doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Cum Laude Speaker
Click here to learn more about his visit.

Dr. Thompson is a consultant, author, and psychologist specializing in children and families. He is the supervising psychologist for the Belmont Hill School and has worked in more than 700 schools across the United States, as well as in international schools in Central America, Europe, Africa and Asia. His book credits include the New York Times best-selling title Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys. His other titles include Speaking of Boys: Answers to the Most-Asked Questions about Raising Sons, Best/Friends Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children, Mom, They’re Teasing Me: Helping Your Child Solve Social Problems, The Pressured Child: Helping Your Child Achieve Success in School and Life, It’s a Boy!: Understanding Your Son’s Development from Birth to Eighteen, and Homesick and Happy: How Time Away form Parents Can Help a Child Grow. 

Kenya Barris is the creator of ABC’s Emmy-nominated series Black-ish, which is based on his own life. The show has won a Peabody Award and an AFI Award and has held NAACP’s title of Best Comedy Series for four consecutive years. After premiering the hit spinoff series, Grown-ish he has since announced his upcoming series Besties and Bewitched. In 2017 he was awarded the Humanitas Prize as well as the Outstanding Writing NAACP Image Award in 2016 and 2017. 

After 9/11, stories from survivors surfaced about the mysterious man wearing the red bandana. When Alison Crowther read an article about the hero in the New York Times, she knew that man was her son, 24-year-old Welles Crowther. He had carried a red handkerchief since he was a boy. Her son worked as an equities trader in the World Trade Center and was also a volunteer firefighter. The Red Bandanna: A Life. A Choice. A Legacy, the New York Times bestseller by Tom Rinaldi was Belmont Hill’s all-school read this summer. It tells the story of Welles Crowther, whose actions on 9/11 offer a lasting lesson on character, calling and courage. His bravery and heroism on 9/11 will never be forgotten. Mrs. Crowther and her late husband, Jeff are the co-founders of the Red Bandanna Project, a social and emotional learning curricula for students of all ages.

Rabbi Marc Baker is the President and CEO of Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) and has spent most of his life in Greater Boston’s Jewish community. An organizational leader and educator, Rabbi Baker served as Head of School at Gann Academy, Greater Boston’s pluralistic Jewish high school, for 11 years prior to joining CJP. For the past several years he served as scholar-in-residence for CJP’s Cynthia and Leon Shulman Acharai Leadership Program. Rabbi Baker attended Phillips Academy Andover and received his bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Yale University. In his visit to Belmont Hill, he will talk about the Jewish High Holy Days Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Click here to learn more about Rabbi Baker's visit to Belmont Hill.

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Speaker Program