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Famous Actor, Former Disney Executive, U.S. State Department Career Foreign Service Officer and Organization Leader of a Former First Lady to Converge On DeFuniak Springs for 2016 Florida Chautauqua Assembly Jan. 28-31
DeFuniak Springs, FL…Numerous prominent speakers, including Jerry (“The Beave”) Mathers of “Leave It To Beaver” will converge on the small, rural community of DeFuniak Springs for the 2016 Florida Chautauqua Assembly themed “A Journey into America: ‘Life Since Leave It To Beaver.’” The 4-day educational program for families begins Thursday, January 28 and lasts until Sunday, January 31.
Mathers has agreed to be the featured keynote speaker on Friday, January 29 and will address an audience of approximately 850 people to set the tone of the program. Breakout sessions, performances and exhibits will follow and last through Sunday, all relating to life in America since “Leave It To Beaver’s” original run concluded in 1963.
Former Disney executive Pamela Landwirth will discuss “How Happiness Inspires Hope at Give Kids The World Village” in Kissimmee, Florida where she serves as president of the 79-acres whimsical resort for children with life-threatening illnesses whose dream is to meet Mickey Mouse or to visit Central Florida’s many theme parks. Landwirth has been involved with Give Kids The World since 1992 and was appointed President in 1995. In this role she is responsible for the operations of the Village and all strategic advancement initiatives for the organization. Prior to joining the Village team, Landwirth had an extensive background in resort operations management, human resource development, and project planning from her 16 years with the Walt Disney World Company. Her various roles within Disney allowed her to be active in a wide range of areas including Casting, the Disney University, Parks, Resorts, and Attractions Sales and to serve on numerous initiatives including the “I Have an Idea” Committee, instructing the “Disney Approach to People Management” and “Disney Approach to Quality Service,” and serving on the opening task forces for nine hotel and attraction openings. In 1992 Landwirth accepted an assignment to help oversee the opening activities and training for all resort Cast Members at Disneyland Paris. After leaving Disney in 1993, Landwirth was a consultant to the President and CEO of Hard Rock Café in all areas of human resources, organizational development, and strategic planning. She was the liaison between Walt Disney World and Junior Achievement for five years and served on Disney’s Operation: Community and VoluntEar Boards. Pamela has served on numerous nonprofit boards and currently sits on the Executive Advisory Board for Something mAAgic Foundation and the University of Central Florida Nonprofit Advisory Board. Landwirth speaks on Friday, January 29 following Mather’s presentation at Walton High School.
Foreign Career Officer of the U.S. State Department Gregory Garland is traveling to DeFuniak Springs from the U.S. Embassy in Guinea-Bissau (West Africa) to interpret Mark Twain for two breakout sessions of the Assembly titled “Mark Twain’s Civil War.” Garland’s more recent State Department assignments include the Office of the Secretary of Defense; Research Fellow, the National Defense Intelligence College; and Media and Outreach Coordinator in State’s Bureau of African Affairs. He has also served in Mozambique, Angola, Guinea, Mexico, Poland, and on the staffs of the former Board for International Broadcasting and the Jacksonville, Florida, International Relations and Marketing Commission. Garland has spoken and written widely on U.S.-African relations and public diplomacy, including a book manuscript tentatively titled, “Why They Like Us.”
Annette Wise of Plains, Georgia and leader of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter’s Butterfly Trail program will lead Saturday’s Assembly program as keynote speaker with a discussion about the former first lady’s efforts to save the dwindling monarch butterfly population and American migration route. Wise is also the coordinator of the Plains (GA) Chautauqua and oversees numerous education programs to teach students throughout the nation about the life of the 39th president in Plains, Georgia at the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site. Wise founded the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail and co-authored a book with the former first Lady. She will speak in the main sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church.
The Florida Chautauqua Assembly is orchestrated by the Florida Chautauqua Association in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, a non-profit organization which has revived the original assemblies which lasted from 1885 to 1927. Most of the Historic District of DeFuniak Springs is comprised mostly of a campus built in 1885 for the assemblies which was once gated. The multi-week event featured such notable speakers at Governor William McKinley of Ohio, Clara Barton, and William Jennings Bryan.
Today’s assemblies are annual 4-day educational programs for families featuring famous or notable keynote speakers, educational breakout sessions, performance teas, evening dinner performances and exhibits relating to an annual theme. The 2016 theme is “A Journey into America: Life Since ‘Leave It To Beaver’” featuring a presentation by actor Jerry (aka “The Beave”) Mathers of “Leave It To Beaver.”
Free exhibits begin Friday, January 29 on Circle Drive in DeFuniak Springs and include a Civil War Camp, Florida Frontiersmen Settlement Camp, Florida Forest Service/Florida Fish & Wildlife Indoor Nature Trail, Tin Can Tourists Vintage Camper Show, Chautauqua Cruisers Antique Car Show, Chautauqua Porcelain Artists Show and Sale, Art Galleries, Sidewalk Theater performances by the Seaside Repertory Theater (sponsored by the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation’s “All Kinds of Art”), Home Depot Kids Clinic, and more. Details at http://www.FloridaChautauquaAssembly.org.
Ticket prices vary to all sessions, performances, dinners and teas. To order tickets or a Passport (money-saving book of tickets) for $150, call (850) 892-7613 during normal business hours.