Featured Speakers Series

The Exeter for Educator's Featured Speaker Series is open to all Summer Conference participants.

Check back for further details on the Featured Speaker Series times and locations.

Paul Harding, Author
Paul Harding's novel Tinkers won the 2010 Pulitzer prize. He is the author of other novels This Other Eden and Enon. Paul is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, was a fiction fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Harvard University, and Grinnell College. He is the director of the MFA program in Creative Writing and Literature at Stony Brook University.
Safia Elhillo, Author and Poet
Sudanese by way of Washington, D.C., Safia Elhillo is the author of award-winning work including The January Children (the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets and an Arab American Book Award) and Home Is Not a Country (Coretta Scott King Book Award Author Honor), as well as the national bestseller Girls That Never Die. Elhillo’s work appears in Poetry Magazine, Callaloo, and The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-day series, and in anthologies including The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop and The Penguin Book of Migration Literature. Her fellowships include a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, Cave Canem, and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. Elhillo received the 2015 Brunel International African Poetry Prize, and was listed in Forbes Africa’s 2018 “30 Under 30.”
Phillip B. Williams, Author and Poet

Author of the debut novel Ours, and the collection Mutiny, Phillip B. Williams is a winner of the 2022 American Book Award. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Review, Callaloo, Kenyon Review, The New Republic, The New Yorker, and others. He is the recipient of a 2020 creative writing grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a 2017 Whiting Award, and a 2013 Ruth Lilly Fellowship. He serves as a faculty member at Randolph College’s low-res MFA.

Ben Sollee, Musician and Environmental Advocate

Over the last two decades, Kentuckian Ben Sollee has distinguished himself as multi-faceted creative, blurring the lines between music, tech, and activism. A graduate of the University of Louisville School of Music, he holds a BFA in cello performance. Since his debut record in 2008, Mr. Sollee has released 6 studio records and nearly 10 EPs garnering praise from the New York Times and NPR. His music has been featured in tv shows such as Weeds and Parenthood. In addition, Sollee has a growing career as a composer for film, tv, and interactive media earning an Emmy Award in 2018 for his score on the ABC special Base Ballet. Beyond music, Mr. Sollee is known for his social and environmental advocacy working with organizations like Oxfam America, The Nature Conservancy, and Canopy KY to protect people and the land. He currently lives in Louisville, KY with his wife and three children.

Aida Conroy, Educator

Aida graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 2009. After graduating from Columbia University she joined Teach for America in her hometown of Chicago. Aida taught English and History at the Noble Academy, a Harkness-based public charter school in Chicago, for four years. There she created the curriculum that supported 9th grade students as they transitioned to Harkness learning. She was the inaugural Internal Harkness Mentor responsible for coaching and supporting 9-12th grade teachers as they implemented Harkness in their classrooms across disciples. Since 2019 she has worked with districts and states to improve outcomes for students as an advisor and facilitator of adult learning. She is now the Senior Director of Teaching and Learning at Panorama Education. In her presentation, Harkness is Not a One Time Event, Aida Conroy will share reflections on using the Harkness pedagogy in public schools. This talk will share concrete strategies for teachers and administrators seeking to embed Harkness into their classroom or their school. Attendees will leave with a Harkness 101 toolkit with embedded resources from across disciplines.