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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.

2023-2024 Speakers

Devin McCourty is a former NFL player who was a safety for 13 seasons with the New England Patriots. He played in college for Rutgers and was selected by the Patriots in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Missing only five games during his Patriots career, McCourty received two Pro Bowl selections and was also a member of three Super Bowl-winning teams. McCourty also has the most postseason starts for a defensive player. Mr. McCourty announced his retirement on March 10, 2023 and plans to join "Football Night in America" as an analyst for NBC Sports. Mr. McCourty and his twin brother, Jason, are tireless advocates for sickle cell disease awareness.

Jamie H. Phinney is currently an Associate Director of College Counseling at Belmont Hill, having become a valued member of the faculty in 2022. Her responsibilities at Belmont Hill also include serving as a residential faculty member, History 2 teacher, Form VI advisor, and member of the Community Conversations/Advisory working group. Additionally, she is the head coach of Form III hockey and the faculty advisor for Special Olympics Flag Football at Belmont Hill.

With an extensive background spanning over two decades in independent schools, Mrs. Phinney has made significant contributions to the field. Her impressive career includes college counseling roles at Phillips Academy, Andover, and Salisbury School. Her educational journey took her through Deerfield, Harvard University, and the Harvard School of Education.

Before joining the Belmont Hill community, Mrs. Phinney made her mark in Andover's Admissions Office and also shared her expertise in the classroom by teaching neuroscience. However, her accomplishments don't stop there. A remarkable athlete, she proudly represented the U.S. Women’s National Ice Hockey team for nearly ten years. In that span, she became a World Champion and bronze medalist from the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. Her dedication and leadership have also extended to coaching, as she has led various Independent School varsity programs in different sports. Notably, she returned to her alma mater to serve as an assistant Ice Hockey Coach at Harvard University. Mrs. Phinney's multifaceted journey is a testament to her passion for education, athletics, and mentoring.
 

Joe Toscano

Joe Toscano is former experience design consultant for Google, an award-winning designer, author of Automating Humanity, international keynote speaker, and featured expert in Netflix's, "The Social Dilemma." In 2017, Toscano decided to step away from his role consulting for Google due to ethical concerns and then focused on bringing technology literacy to the masses. Mr. Toscano is the founder and CEO of DataGrade, a company that examines the relational risk between data transactions online.

While at Belmont Hill, Ian Connor '10 was co-captain of the varsity crew team and won the New England Championship three times, as well as the US National Championship in his final year. After graduating he attended Brown University, where he studied economics and was a member of the crew team. In 2015 he enrolled in Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI, and upon graduation was commissioned as an Ensign in the US Navy. After successfully completing Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) Training and SEAL Qualification Training, he received orders to SEAL Team 10 in Virginia Beach, VA, where he would spend the next 5 years. While assigned to SEAL Team 10, he served as a SEAL Squad Commander, Current Operations Officer, and Fire Support Officer, deploying to East and West Africa in support of Special Operations Command - Africa and Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2022, he separated from the US Navy and now resides in Chicago with his wife, Sofia. 

Dr. Richard I. Melvoin served as Belmont Hill's head of school from 1993 to 2018. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College, holding an M.A. and Ph.D. in American history from the University of Michigan. Dr. Melvoin began his education career at Deerfield Academy, with various roles spanning 14 years. He later returned to Harvard in 1988 as Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid and Lecturer in History and Literature. Following his retirement from Belmont Hill, he launched the Strategic School Leadership consultancy and also teaches at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Dr. Melvoin has been a member of the Board of Overseers at Harvard University and the Boards of Trustees of The Winsor School, the Haverford School, and the Epiphany School. He has served on the Board of Directors of The Steppingstone Foundation and Facing History and Ourselves. Dr. Melvoin also held leadership roles as Board president of the International Boys' Schools Coalition and president of The Headmasters Association. He grew up in the Reform Jewish community in Chicago and has been active in his temple, Shir Tikva in Wayland, since moving to the Boston area in 1988.

Grammy Award winner and six time Grammy nominee, Peter Rowan ’61 is a singer and songwriter with a career spanning over five decades. From his early years playing under the tutelage of Bluegrass veteran Bill Monroe, to his time in Old & In the Way and breakout as a solo musician and bandleader, Mr. Rowan has built a devoted, international fan base through a solid stream of records, collaborative projects, and constant touring.

Born in the Boston area to Guatemalan parents, Jennifer De Leon is the author of the novel Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From and the essay collection White Space: Essays on Culture, Race, and Writing (winner of the Juniper Prize and published by UMass Press in 2021). She is also the editor of the anthology, “Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education,” (winner of the International Latino Book Award. Her short story, “Home Movie,”was the 2015 One City, One Story pick as part of the Boston Book Festival, and her stories and essays have appeared in over a dozen literary magazines and anthologies. Ms. De Leon is a winner of the 2016 Walter Dean Myers Grant, awarded by We Need Diverse Books, and named a 2020 Latinx Trailblazer by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

After a decade teaching in Boston Public Schools, Ms De Leon is now Associate Professor of English at Framingham State University, and instructor in the Creative Writing and Literature Graduate Program at Harvard University.

In 2022 she founded Story Bridge, a program that brings people together from all walks of life to shape, share, and hear each other’s unique stories. Her latest young adult novel, Borderless, was published in April, 2023. Also on the way are two children’s picture books—So Many Gifts, and a biography of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Rigoberta Menchú.

Dr. Karan Thakur is an award winning healthcare administrator, public speaker, opinion writer and policy expert on healthcare based out of New Delhi. With over fifteen years of experience in varied roles, Karan specializes in hospital operations, project management, healthcare policy, public-private partnerships, human resource management and team building. In 2022, Dr. Thakur was chosen as the Eisenhower Fellowships Global Fellow, where his project is to study the impact of climate change on healthcare, decarbonisation and building resilience in healthcare institutions.

Dr. Thakur is this year's Kageyama-Hunt Lecture Series speaker. 

David Wallace-Wells is currently a columnist and staff writer at The New York Times, where he writes a weekly newsletter on climate change, technology and the future of the planet. He’s also written widely on the Covid-19 pandemic, bringing vital reporting and analysis to the science and policy coverage. He was previously the Deputy Editor at New York magazine, where he wrote a column on climate change, and where his viral cover story “The Uninhabitable Earth” was met with widespread acclaim, paving the way for his book. Formerly the Deputy Editor of The Paris Review, and a National Fellow at the New America Foundation, he was the co-host of the podcast 2038, which interrogated predictions about the next two decades.

Jerry Craft is the distinguished author-illustrator renowned for his works, including the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novels, "New Kid," and its companion literary masterpiece, "Class Act." It is worth noting that "New Kid" holds a remarkable place in history as the first literary work to receive the prestigious Newbery Medal, The Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers' Literature. In his most recent literary endeavor, "School Trip," Mr. Craft aspires to imbue young minds and their families with a deep appreciation for globetrotting and the celebration of diverse cultures. His journey in the realm of art and literature began with the acquisition of a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the esteemed School of Visual Arts, and he currently resides in the picturesque state of Florida.

As the Head of Education and Heritage at the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR), Alex Maws '89 champions and evaluates Holocaust educational programmes across the UK. He is also the producer and host of the AJR’s Kindertransport podcast. He is a member of the UK delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and regularly trains teachers and policy makers internationally on issues relating to the Holocaust and antisemitism. Prior to joining the AJR in 2017, he worked for the Holocaust Educational Trust and Facing History & Ourselves and also taught Sociology at Leyton Sixth Form College in East London. Mr. Maws earned an MA in Social Justice & Education from the UCL Institute of Education and a BA in Political Science from the University of Michigan.

Previous Speakers

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Previous Speakers

Ibram X. Kendi
Lt. Daniel McDonald
Arshay Cooper
Field Yates
Jessica Lahey
Brandord Marsalis
Mark Chandler
Joani Geltman
Caroline Randall Williams
Dr. Michael Thompson
Greg Dayton
Peter Flaherty
Rabbi Marc Baker
Alison Crowther
Kenya Barris
Michael G. Thompson
Dr. Lee M. Levison
Rich Newton
David Brooks
Taswell Papier
Olympians Tokyo 2020
Mayor Ruthanne Fuller
Imari Paris Jeffries
Julie Nicoletti
Chris Herren
Dr. Noubar Afeyan
Stephen Kinzer
Dr. Shinya Yamanaka
Poet Regie Gibson at Belmont Hill for a week of poetry
Visiting Speaker Lisa Monaco

Speaker Program