Our 2022 Assembly is cancelled due to COVID
An award winning artist, writer, and television producer for HGTV, A&E, and The History Channel, Alex Alexander relocated to the Florida panhandle 16 years ago. She now works locally as a real estate agent, specializing in Chautauqua-era homes in the DeFuniak Springs Historic District. As a regular attendee and occasional Special Studies course instructor at both the New York and Lakeside Ohio Chautauquas for over 11 years, Alex believes strongly that the Chautauqua Institution must be experienced in order to be understood. Alex is currently working on a novel, featuring a fictitious small town in Northwest Florida and the search for the possibly extinct Ivory Billed Woodpecker.
The Honorable Mayor Clayton is the whimsical storybook leader of Give Kids The World Village in Kissimmee, Florida who entertains children with life-threatening illnesses at the Village during their week-long, cost-free vacation with their immediate families. This is where the Make-A-Wish Foundation and many other wish-granting organizations send children when their wish is to meet Mickey Mouse and/or to visit all the magical theme parks central Florida has to offer. Mayor Clayton tucks children to bed each night in their whimsical homes at the Village along with his wife, Merry. He dances with children at special parties, greets families to the Village and provides special children, their siblings, parents and grandparents with happy memories away from IVs, medical treatments, surgeries and painful procedures and devastating diseases. Mayor Clayton is attending the Florida Chautauqua Assembly to teach all attendees the power of volunteering at a place like his special Village and how to give selflessly as a means to heal and strengthen our own souls. Welcome Mayor Clayton!
Tom Cloud, attorney and historian, has practiced law in Florida for four decades, primarily handling utilities, environmental, state and local government, land use and administrative matters. He has been Chairman of the Florida Environmental and Land Use Law Section and President of the Florida Municipal Attorneys Association. He is Board-certified by the Florida Bar in City, County, & Local Government Law. He has served as general and special counsel to over 100 cities and counties throughout Florida, the Florida League of Cities, the Space Coast League of Cities, and is City Attorney to the City of Wauchula, Polk City, and the City of Fort Meade, as well as General Counsel to the Utilities Commission of New Smyrna Beach. He has authored numerous articles and made presentations on Florida legal and historical topics to a variety of audiences around the country.”
Thomas Cloud, Esq.
A native of Ohio, Bruce has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theatre from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and a Juris Doctor degree from Tulane Law School in New Orleans. He worked for four years as a public defender in New Orleans. In addition to college and non-professional productions, Bruce has performed professionally in summer stock in Ohio, at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Courtyard Playhouse in New York City, New Horizons Theatre in Michigan, The REP at Seaside, and Emerald Coast Theatre Company. At Emerald Coast Theatre Company he has been seen in Bakersfield Mist, A Wrinkle in Time, and most recently in his one-man show Winston Churchill: Through the Storm. Since 2001 Bruce has also acted in area productions of The Fantasticks, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Proof, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Loot, The Homecoming, Den of Thieves, A Beach Home Companion, (which he co-wrote), Big Boys, and True West. Bruce is editor of the DeFuniak Springs Herald - Beach Breeze, and contributing editor of The Beachcomber, where he reviews books, albums, restaurants and spirits. He is also developing an international clientele for voiceover recordings.
Bruce Collier as Winston Churchill
Jan Faubel, a native of the Finger Lakes region of New York, has lived in DeFuniak Springs with her husband, Jack, since 2002. A life-long artist and an Art Educator for over 25 years, Jan earned a BA in Art Education, as well as MAs in both Humanities/Art History and English from University of West Florida. Specializing in 19th century topics ranging from the Pre-Raphaelites to Sarah Baker Milton to Willa Cather, Jan has presented numerous art history, Panhandle history, and literary lectures at local, regional, and international conferences, plus addressing the AAUW and DKG. From 2002-2005. Jan taught Art History for University of West Florida and Art History and English from 2003 to 2019 at the Northwest Florida State College Chautauqua Center in DeFuniak Springs from where she recently retired.
Gregory L. Garland is a career Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State, currently serving as Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Bamako, Mali. His career includes postings in Africa, Mexico, Poland, and assignments in Washington with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the National Defense Intelligence College. He has also taught high school and served on the staffs of the former Board for International Broadcasting and the Northeast Florida Economic Development Commission. Greg has spoken and written widely on U.S.-African relations, American history and culture, and public diplomacy. He grew up in Lakeland, Florida, and went on to earn a B.A. from Duke University, an M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a J.D. from California Western School of Law. He is married and has two daughters.
Gregory L. Garland, JD
Jena Gilmore is the 4-H Agent for Walton County, with the University of Florida Extension Services. Jena is a resident of Holmes County and graduated with her Masters from University of Florida. Florida’s 4-H Youth Development program teaches life skills through positive youth development programming. One of these skills Jena has implemented in training her volunteers and youth is the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness can be found woven into many 4-H day camp programs, volunteer trainings, and bully prevention trainings. She and her husband Brady, along with their two daughters enjoy spending family time together outdoors and staying active.
Gabriela Leysath is the Business Service Manager for CareerSource Okaloosa Walton, CSOW, the local Workforce System. Gabriela’s main role with CSOW is to connect local employers with talented individuals and employment resources ranging from labor market information, screening and retention tools, training, State incentives, and any employment-related systems. Gabriela serves as an advocate for local businesses throughout the Okaloosa and Walton community in need of workforce expertise. Prior to employment with CareerSource Okaloosa Walton, Gabriela worked in the hospitality industry as a Sales Manager for a large Hotel Chain with resorts throughout Mexico and the Caribbean. Gabriela holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Guadalajara, Mexico, and a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management from Troy University. She currently serves as the Workforce Readiness and Diversity Director for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) local chapter since 2014 encouraging chapter involvement and activities impacting the workforce readiness arena. It is Gabriela’s passion to be part of a diverse team where people can bring the best of their qualities to the table.
Joanne Klepal, author of Natural Healing Techniques, Get Well & Stay well with Asian Bio-Energetic Therapy, is a trained Asian Bio-Energetic Therapy (ABET) practitioner, Master Practitioner & Coach of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Master Practitioner of Timeline Therapy™, Reiki Master Teacher, and an Ordained ULC Minister. She has extensive global experience in the corporate environment, Change Management and has practiced, coached, and trained ABET, Reiki, and NLP in England, India, Thailand, and the U.S. A global wanderer, traveling to more than 50 countries, she has resided in England, Southeast Asia and the U.S., and has recently made her home in the Florida panhandle. Her passion is continuing her own self-development journey while helping others on theirs. For more information about Joanne, please visit: www.liveyouryellowbrickroad.com and FB & IG: @LiveYourYBR.
Jason Leabo is the founder and owner of Florida's first lavender farm - Southern Grace Lavender Farm in Southport. Since 2018, he has planted 1,240 lavender plants on his 3.31-acre farm and produces and sells lavender-based products, including scented candles, bar soap, and lavender-infused jam and honey. Jason is passionate about establishing lavender as a major cash crop for Florida. He promotes this vision for Florida lavender by hosting educational tours of his farm for various groups and speaking at agriculture events about lavender’s potential in growing the Florida agriculture industry. Jason is a proud member of the Farmer Veterans Coalition, United States Lavender Growers Association, Florida Agritourism Association, and the Florida Farm Bureau. He is an Air Force combat veteran and served as a Security Forces Specialist in the Air Force for 11 years providing security to aircraft, guarding dignitaries, and providing security during combat missions, intelligence operations and bomb disposal activities. His duties took him to Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Guam. After being honorably discharged from the Air Force, Jason settled in the Florida Panhandle and joined the Army Reserve as a Senior Mechanic. Additionally, he works full time as an Army Reserve civilian out of the Army Reserve Center in Panama City as an administrator providing training, administration and pay services to Army reservists.
Will Liner is the Urban Forestry Program Manager with the Florida Forest Service headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida. He earned a BS in Forestry from Auburn University and later studied Forest Carbon Science, Policy, and Management at Michigan State University. Will is an ISA Certified Arborist, Tree Risk Assessment Qualified and an ASBRF Registered Forester. His duties with the Florida Forest Service include managing the Urban and Community Forestry program, leading Florida’s Urban Forest Strike Team, administering the Arbor Day Foundation recognition programs in Florida, providing communities and citizens with technical assistance, and overseeing urban forestry grants and projects.
Amy Meyer is a self-published author of “Day by Day - A Creative Guide to Living Your Best Life with Clarity, Intention & Flow.” She is a photographer, a creative entrepreneur and the creator of The Soul Shine Collective. The Soul Shine Collective’s mission is to inspire others to live their best life through challenges, coursework and workshops that can be utilized in both personal and professional settings. After a series of life altering events, including having two children under two, Amy was inspired to begin her own healing and wellness journey in the ﬁght against postpartum depression and anxiety. She uses her life experiences, creativity, gift of discernment, education and inspiration to encourage others to strive for excellence and live their most authentic life. Amy helps audiences connect deeper by determining one’s own self-worth and path for success. She earned a B.A. in Communications/Public Relations in 2005 from the University of West Florida and has more than 15 years of experience developing brand messages and strategic planning for government organizations, entertainment companies and corporate business clients to help channel their vision, develop team partnerships and direct marketing plans at local, regional and national levels. Amy calls DeFuniak Springs, Florida home where she lives with her two daughters and fur babies. “Connection makes life worth living," Amy likes to say. "I believe we each have a soul purpose and that we are meant to pursue our God-given destiny to be the light while we’re here on Earth-- to be loved, to be heard and to love others." Contact information:
Bishop Miller was elected eleventh Bishop of the Diocese of Milwaukee on May 31, 2003. He was consecrated on October 18, 2003, at the Mater Christi Chapel of the Archbishop Cousins Catholic Center in Milwaukee. He graduated from Michigan State University in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in history and received his Master's of Divinity degree from the General Theological Seminary in 1984 and was ordained a deacon and a priest that year. After ordination, he served as curate at Christ Church, St. Joseph, Missouri. In 1986 he was called to serve as vicar of Christ Church, Boonville and St. Mary's, Fayette, Missouri. During his tenure there, Bishop Miller also served as chaplain at the residential alcohol and drug treatment center, and experience that helped bring pastoral care to the center of is ministry. In 1990, Bishop Miller was called as rector of Christ Church in Gordonsville, Virginia. Though he has led large parishes, Bishop Miller's early experience kindled a special and ongoing interest in working with congregations in rural areas. He served the Diocese of Virginia as a cluster revitalization officer and chaired the diocesan Commission of Congregational Development and Revitalization from 1995 to 2001. He is a certified trainer for the Church Development Institute, specializing in leading vestry retreats and revitalization consultations for congregations of all sizes. Bishop Miller met his wife Cindy in 1988 while he was serving on the religion faculty at Central Methodist College in Fayette, Missouri and she was Assistant Director of Admissions at the school. They married in 1989 and have two daughters. In 2004 Bishop Miller was awarded the Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa) by the General Theological Seminary. He served as co-chair of the Moravian-Episcopal Dialogue which drafted the full communion proposal "Finding our Delight" adopted by the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2009 and by the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church in 2010. Bishop Miller was the preacher at the service inaugurating the full communion agreement held at Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on February 10, 2011. In 2012, he was named Episcopal co-chair of the Moravian Episcopal Coordinating Committee which oversees the full communion relationship. Bishop Miller is a founding member of Bishops United Against Gun Violence. Other work for the larger Church has included membership on the Lutheran Episcopal Coordinating Committee, the House of Bishops Theology Committee, the Standing Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations., and the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music. This past Triennium he as served on The Episcopal Church’s Task Force on Marriage. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of The General Theological Seminary, St. John’s on the Lake, St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy, and President of the Board of the DeKoven Foundation for Church Work.
Dr. Britt Poulson obtained his B.A. in English at Allegheny College, his M.A. in Guidance at George Washington University, and his Ph.D. in Curriculum at Penn State University. He has taught and been a principal at the elementary, middle, high school and adult levels of public schools. He was a professor at Penn State and Florida State universities and served as Director of Curriculum for several Florida school districts. Dr. Poulson created an academic competition called the Big Bend High School Bowl in the 1970s and is currently the director of this competition sponsored by the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper. He created the Big Bend Middle School Bowl in the 1980s and created a senior citizen bowl competition that once had a statewide competition in Orlando.
Britt Poulson, Ph.D.
Carol Puckett is a native of Decatur, Alabama. She and her husband Chuck have owned Wallace Bruce’s Dream Cottage in DeFuniak Springs since 2001. She has served on the boards of statewide environmental groups in Tennessee and Alabama, the Southern Literary Trail, Scottsboro Boys Museum and Dreamweavers Children’s Theatre and Bank Street Players (Decatur). Carol was a newspaper reporter in middle Tennessee for many years and has continued to write with focus on historical topics. She authored (with Dan Carter) “Outside the Protective Circle of Humanity”, a traveling museum exhibit about the Decatur trial of the Scottsboro Boys. She wrote the young-adult educational play, Eyes On the Prize, which examined school integration in the South in the 1960’s. She has lectured throughout the Southeast on author William Bradford Huie (including for previous Florida Chautauquas), the Scottsboro Boys and the history of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). She and Chuck co-authored the play Wallace Bruce and the Chautauqua Dream and The Chautauqua Home Companion, which were presented at previous Florida Chautauquas. They also wrote the third production of Walton County’s folk musical, Grit & Grace: Letters From the Front and Charles Wesley Reflects on Advent. She has directed community theatre plays and musicals for over thirty years. She and Chuck have three daughters.
Don Rapp Ph.D. (87) is an American College of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer. He taught University Child Development, Gerontology and Creativity for 34 years. Governor Crist appointed him to his Council on Physical Fitness, and now is a member of the Florida Injury Prevention Advisory Board. Don’s life-long juggling and his regular weight lifting keep him fit. For fifteen years he has taught a better balance class for Tallahassee Premier Health and Fitness Center. Don’s book, On Balance: Mastery of Physical Balance for Life, is a practical and inspiring read. His neurological approach to balance is rare among balance instructors. Dr. Rapp is a teacher by profession, a juggler by avocation, and an instructor of balance by choice.
Don Rapp, Ph.D.
Annette is the founder of the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail based in Plains, Georgia, home of President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter. The trail is a result of Mrs. Carter’s interest in monarch butterflies and begins at the Carter’s flower garden in Plains. The trail includes hundreds of private and public gardens in the United States, Canada and Japan. Annette is also the coordinator of the Plains (GA) Chautauqua. She is past education coordinator of the Jimmy Carter Education Program for the Georgia Department of Education’s Plains Field Office and oversaw numerous education programs to teach students throughout the nation about the life of the 39th president in Plains, Georgia. She is author of the History of Plains, The Self-Guided Tour Book of Plains, Success in Reading and Writing, and The Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail: A Journey to Plains. She is also the producer of the video series “Traveling Through Time” and “From Plains to the White House and Beyond” which were developed for classroom instruction. Annette earned a Bachelor of Science degree and Masters degree from the University of Georgia and Georgia College. She and husband Lonnie live in Plains, Georgia and enjoy gardening, camping, and spending time in the Chicago area with their granddaughter.
Annette Wise, Founder, Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail.