2014 Speakers

Screenshot 2014-09-29 09.28.28

Don McPherson

Former Syracuse University quarterback Don McPherson led the Orange to an undefeated season in 1987 and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting that year. McPherson addresses bullying’s growing impact as a workplace issue and in fueling a general incivility permeates much of modern day communications.

In 1994, after retiring from a professional career that included stints with the Philadelphia Eagles and Houston Oilers of the NFL and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Ottawa Rough-Riders of the Canadian Football League, McPherson turned his efforts to the issue of”men’s violence against women,” as director of Sport in Society’s Mentors in Violence Prevention Program, taking over for the program’s founder, Jackson Katz. He emerged as a national leader and advocate for the prevention of sexual and domestic violence, and has spent the last two decades conducted workshops and lectures for more than 250 college campuses, community organizations and national sports and violence prevention organizations.

McPherson has twice testified before the United States Congress and has worked closely with the U.S. Departments of Education and Defense on issues of sexual violence in education and the military, respectively.  He has provided commentary on numerous national news programs and was featured in O Magazine and appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show.  Don also created and hosted “Training for Life” on MSG Varsity, a life skills TV show that examined a myriad of social issues and sports. In 2012, Training for Life’s episode on “Sports Parenting” was nominated for an Emmy Award.



Svante Myrick

Ithaca mayor Svante Myrick addresses his experiences in city government and politics, which began with his election to the Ithaca Common Council when he was 20 years old and still an undergraduate student at Cornell University. Four years later, in 2012, he drew national attention when he was sworn in as Ithaca’s youngest mayor and the first person of color to hold that office.

Myrick grew up in a family that struggled through poverty and homelessness. He graduated from Sherburne-Earlville Public Schools in 2005 and Cornell University in 2009.

Upon his election as mayor in 2012, he led a successful effort to overhaul city government and close a $3 million budget deficit. He also championed and passed a series of economic development reforms in the city, which has led the state in job creation in 22 of the 24 months he has been in office. Ithaca today has the lowest unemployment rate in New York State.

Myrick has also undertaken efforts to move city government into the internet age by overhauling its web presence and by embracing the use of social media as a tool to improve public engagement. “While Svante Myrick’s personal story is one of enormous triumph against all odds, he would be the first to tell you that he is not a self-made man – that it was support from the community that got him where he is today,” said Cindy Sutton, the Cazenovia Forum’s President. “We look forward to hearing how his life experiences are driving his efforts to expand community engagement in Ithaca while meeting the challenges of delivering good government.”


“Inequality for All” Documentary 

“Inequality for All,” directed by Jacob Kornbluth and narrated by former Secretary of LaborRobert Reich, looks at the nation’s widening economic gap and the disappearance of the middle class. The film has received positive reviews for its presentation of big economic ideas and how they relate to ordinary people. But it has also generated a great deal of controversy.



Rick Francona

Rick Francona is a media analyst on the Middle East, appearing on CNN, NBC News, Today Show, MSNBC, and others. He also writes articles for MSNBC, the Council on Foreign Relations, and his blog, “Middle East Perspectives.” He is a retired U.S. Air Force intelligence officer, having served in Vietnam, Middle East and the Balkans as well as at the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.

The author of, “Ally to Adversary – An Eyewitness Account of Iraq’s Fall from Grace,” Francona served as the first Air Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria until 1995. In 1995 and 1996, he served in northern Iraq with the Central Intelligence Agency. In 1997 and 1998, he was assigned to the Department of Defense counter terrorism branch, and led a special operations team in Bosnia that captured five indicted war criminals.

Francona has a B.A. in government and Arabic and an M.A. in international relations. His decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star, and nine Air Medals, as well as campaign awards for service in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and the Balkans. He was awarded the Central Intelligence Agency Seal Bronze Medallion for his service with that agency.

%d bloggers like this: