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State of State Reveals First Round of Speakers

In case you missed the memo, State of State is an annual conference for the Penn State community and a platform for change. This year’s conference will take place in Alumni Hall on Feb. 14, 2015. The organization aims to unite the community, promote dialogue on and off campus, and serve as a think-tank for State College ideas, both throughout the year and at the conference itself.

Though State of State’s Executive Committee already announced this year’s conference’s theme (Finding the “I Am” in “We Are”), as well as the topics for this year’s conference (engaged scholarship, mental health awareness, sexual assault awareness, and commonwealth campus culture), the speakers had been kept a secret amongst the organization’s Executive Committee. That is, until today.

This morning, State of State announced the first round of speakers for the 2015 conference on its Facebook page, and if these first eight speakers are any indication, this year’s conference will be just as engaging as the last. Here are this year’s speakers:

  • Katie Tenny, M. Ed. – Katie Tenny is a licensed counselor in the office of Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park. She also coordinates the Bystander Intervention Initiative on campus which is comprised of over 50 campus units and student organizations. Ms. Tenny earned a dual-title master’s degree from Penn State in Counselor Education and Comparative & International Education. Her areas of focus include sexual assault and domestic and dating violence prevention, as well as high risk drinking among college students.
  • Richard B. Alley – Dr. Richard Alley has travelled from Antarctica to Greenland to help learn the history of Earth’s climate, and whether the great ice sheets will fall in the ocean and flood our coasts.  With over 240 scientific publications, he has been asked to provide advice to the highest levels of government, and been recognized with numerous awards including election to the US National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society.  He hosted the recent PBS miniseries Earth: The Operators’ Manual, and has been compared to a cross between Woody Allen and Carl Sagan for his enthusiastic efforts to communicate the excitement and importance of the science to everyone.
  • Marcellus C. Taylor, M. Ed. – Marcellus C. Taylor serves the Penn State Harrisburg Community as the Coordinator of Student Activities & Fraternity/Sorority Life in the Office of Campus Life & Intercultural Affairs. He earned his Master’s of Education in Training and Development from Penn State Harrisburg. In addition to his role at Penn State Harrisburg he is an Empowerment Coach and author.
  • Dr. Ben Locke – Dr. Ben Locke is the Associate Director for Clinical Services at Penn State’s Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), the founder and Executive Director of the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) – a practice/research network of over 284 counseling centers, and an affiliate faculty member in Counseling and Clinical Psychology departments at Penn State University. Dr. Locke has over 19 years of experience in the mental health field including wilderness therapy, psychiatric hospitals, group homes, community mental health, and over a decade of of administrative experience in college counseling centers.
  • Jennifer Pencek – Jennifer Pencek serves as the Programming Coordinator of the Center for Women Students, leading the center’s outreach to Penn State students and the public on issues including sexual violence, stalking, domestic/dating violence, and more. Whether it is speaking to students inside classrooms, facilitating programs for Greek life members and others who request programming, or organizing and promoting evening programs featuring guest speakers, Pencek is passionate about advocating for all students at Penn State.
  • Barry Bram – Barry Bram is the Special Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs at Penn State and one of four people spearheading the University’s Engaged Scholarship initiative.  He has been at Penn State for 20 yeras and worked in Residence Life, Student Conduct (Judicial Affairs), and Union and Student Activities.  He is originally from Lyndhurst, Ohio, and has degrees from Miami University and The University of Vermont.
  • Khanjan Mehta – Khanjan Mehta is the Founding Director of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program and Assistant Professor of Engineering Design at Penn State. Mehta has led technology-based social ventures in Kenya, Tanzania, India, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and other countries. These ventures range from telemedicine systems and ruggedized biomedical devices to low-cost greenhouses, solar food dryers, cell phone-based social networking systems, and knowledge-sharing platforms for self-employed women.
  • Andrew Peck – Andrew Peck is the Director of the PRISM research group, Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Psychology, and a Senior Lecturer. He is involved with a number of faculty and student groups and committees, but he is best known on campus for teaching Introductory Psychology and Psychology as a Science and Profession.

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About the Author

Alicia Thomas

Alicia is a senior with majors in Print Journalism and Spanish and a minor in International Studies. Chances are that she's somewhere talking about her semester abroad or ranting about sexual assault prevention right now. She can be reached via Twitter (@aliciarthomas) or email ([email protected]).


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