Keynote Speakers

Click on the links for each session to view the video.

Dr. Joanne Berger-Sweeney: President, Trinity College

Headshot of Joanne Berger-SweeneyJoanne Berger-Sweeney became the 22nd president of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, in July 2014. Since that time, she has overseen several major accomplishments, including the completion of a new strategic plan; the creation of the Bantam Network mentoring program for first-year students, and the Career and Life Design Center; the introduction of a new, innovative liberal arts curriculum for the 21st century; and strengthening the relationship with the dynamic capital city that is its home by expanding Trinity’s campus footprint into downtown Hartford.

Before coming to Trinity, Dr. Berger-Sweeney served as dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University, after beginning her academic career as a member of the Wellesley College faculty. She received her undergraduate degree in psychobiology from Wellesley College, an M.P.H. in environmental health sciences from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in neurotoxicology from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Dr. Berger-Sweeney has served on many boards in the Hartford region and beyond, including Hartford HealthCare, where she chairs the Governance Committee; the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges, for which she is the past chair; and the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society (IBNS).

The Rev. Dr. Peter D. Weaver: United Methodist Church Bishop, retired

Headshot of Peter WeaverPeter D. Weaver was born in Greenville, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Grove City and the city of Pittsburgh, where his father was a Methodist pastor.  Educated at West Virginia Wesleyan College (B.A.), Drew University (M.Div.), and Boston University (Th.D.), his background in higher education has included serving on seven boards of trustees of United Methodist colleges and universities, teaching at four universities, leading campus ministries, and chairing the Western Pennsylvania Conference Committee on Higher Education. He has received four honorary degrees.

From 1971 to 1996 he served urban United Methodist Churches in Pittsburgh, which had inclusive ministries with urban youth, university students, the LGBTQ+ community, older adults, persons who were homeless, industrial workers, and corporate executives. He hosted a weekly radio program on KDKA and was a founder of Bethlehem Haven community for women who were homeless, and the city-wide “One Voice Against Racism.”

In 1996 he was elected a United Methodist Bishop, serving the 1,000-plus churches in the Philadelphia area, and later the Boston area and churches across New England. During this time, he was elected President of the global Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church, which engaged him in United Methodist missions, including educational work, around the world. He has also served as interim Bishop of Virginia.

Pete is married to Linda, and they live in Williamsburg, Virginia. Their eight daughters and thirteen grandchildren also keep him engaged in education.

Melissa Spas, Allegheny ‘03: Vice President of Religion, Chautauqua Institution

Headshot of Melissa SpasMelissa Spas serves Chautauqua Institution as Vice President for Religion.  In that role she is responsible for the strategic vision and leadership of worship, religious programming, and ecumenical and interfaith collaboration at Chautauqua. She oversees the development and expansion of a robust religion program during Chautauqua’s traditional nine-week Summer Assembly season and serves as the architect of a new year-round set of programs and partnerships to ensure that the religion pillar is a distinctive component of Chautauqua’s overall program.

Prior to joining the staff of Chautauqua Institution, she served as the acting director of Lake Institute on Faith & Giving at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and as an assistant director for Leadership Education at Duke University’s Divinity School.

A proud graduate of Allegheny College, Melissa also studied at Harvard Divinity School and North Carolina State University. She is a lay person in the United Methodist Church, and a member of Broadway UMC in Indianapolis, Indiana. She and her husband Giovanni Machado live with their toddler son Robert Orlando in Chautauqua, New York.