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Confirmed Presenters and Panelists
(alphabetical by last name)
Presenter and Panelist
Mary Jo Adams
Mary-Jo Adams has been the executive director of the Finca Vigía Foundation since its formation in 2004. The mission of the organization is to
work collaboratively with Cuban professionals to restore and preserve Ernest Hemingway’s home, Finca Vigía, and
all its irreplaceable contents including a 9,000 book personal library, thousands of letters and photographs,
textiles, art, his yacht Pilar, and everything else the artist valued. Hemingway lived in Cuba for the last 22
years of his life. His home is a treasure trove full of his most beloved possessions.
Ms. Adams lives in Boston Massachusetts but makes quarterly trips to Cuba to oversee both phases of
the project: the architectural preservation and document conservation. In her role as executive director, she
serves as a liaison between the Cuban and US governments as well as the various US and Cuban entities involved with
the project – the Northeast Document Conservation Center, the Social Science Research Council, the John F. Kennedy
Library and Museum, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation on the US side and the Consejo Nacional de
Patrimonio Cultural in Havana.
Ms. Adams has a Bachelors degree in Spanish from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, a
Certificate in Political Science from the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá Colómbia, and a Masters in Education
from Boston University.
Ms. Adams readily admits that she is neither a Hemingway scholar, a preservation architect, nor a
document conservator. However she is fluent in Spanish, loves Hemingway, possesses a keen sense of adventure, and
recognizes the importance of this project. She says, “I consider our work in Cuba representative of a small
diplomatic bridge between the two nations – hopefully a harbinger of better times.”
Since 1997, Mavis has covered US policy toward
Cuba, cultivating congressional, organizational and grassroots support for the LAWG coalition's efforts to end the US embargo on Cuba. She also works on US policy toward
Venezuela and other issues. Prior to her work with LAWG, Mavis was the Program Director for International Travel
Seminars at the Center for Global Education at Augsburg College, Minneapolis, where she worked since
During part of her time with the Center for
Global Education, Mavis lived in El Salvador from 1988-1990, where she founded and coordinated the Center's El
Salvador educational programs. A mid-westerner, Mavis received her Master's degree from Hamline University in
St. Paul, Minnesota, where she focused her studies on international development. Mavis presented at our Learn About Cuba seminar.
Ansara (unable to attend)
Merri Ansara is director and founder of Common Ground.
She traveled and worked in Cuba beginning in 1969 as a journalist, translator, urban planner and teacher. She
has a master’s degree in Public Administration and Regional Planning and is a former college Academic Advisor.
Merri is responsible for program development and planning at Common Ground. Merri was a contributor to Learn About Cuba seminar.
Dick Cluster is the author of History of Havana along with the novels Return to Sender, Repulse Monkey and Obligations of
He landed in Havana’s José Martí airport for the first
time in 1969 and has been fascinated by the city ever since. He has explored it for many years on foot, by
bicycle, city bus, tour bus, camel bus, car and other means. He is a translator of Cuban literature and teaches courses on Cuban history, culture, and
politics at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. Dick presented at our Learn About Cuba seminar.
Tracey Eaton lived and worked in Havana for almost five years from 2000 to 2005 covering Cuba's current events
and writing cultural articles as the Havana bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News. He is one of the first and
few American journalists allowed to live and work in
His Cuba blog,
Along the Malecon, is a cultural resource that captures the essence of life and
entertainment in Cuba today.
metropolitan editor for the Houston Chronicle before joining Flagler College in 2007 in Saint Augustine Florida.
Tracey holds a master’s degree in journalism from Temple University and has conducted journalism workshops in
Guatemala, Bolivia and Nicaragua. He has been a guest speaker at numerous conferences in the US, South America
and even in Cuba.
Tracey has been a
journalist for 27 years and has covered guerrilla uprisings, war and natural disasters. He has written about
everything from Taliban fighters in Afghanistan to surfers in
His stories have
appeared in more than 65 US, Canadian and Mexican newspapers including the Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia
Inquirer, Miami Herald and Los Angeles Daily News. He contributes to the New York Times' online Cuba page and to
the Cuba News newsletter.
Cathryn is the photographer/author of Havana Revisited, An Architectural Heritage. She first visited Havana in 2003 with a
group of American artists. She was fascinated by the architecture of Havana and its history.
Since then, she has made made more than a dozen
working trips to photograph the city, in the process acquiring a broad range of contacts with outstanding
scholars and historians in both Cuba and the United States. Her collection of over 600 historic Cuban postcards
inspired her work in Havana and has her photos of Cuban architecture on exhibit at Harvard until June 1.
Jerry Guidera is U.S. Director of The Center for Cross Cultural Study, based in Amherst, MA. This academic
institution designs and implements academic programs in Spanish speaking countries. In Cuba,
CC-CS developed programs for universities and other institutions from 1996 until 2004 when President George
Bush restricted academic travel to Cuba.
Prior to joining CC-CS, Jerry was a Staff Reporter for The Wall Street Journal. He graduated from
George Washington University and holds an M.A. from American University, both in Washington, D.C. A native of
Spain, Jerry lives in Amherst with his family, but travels often (also with family) to Spain and other program
Conference Organizer note: The Cuba Academic Alliance aims to promote venues of cooperation, dialogue and understanding
between institutions of higher learning in the United States and Cuba.
Judy Jalbert turned her passion for print making and photography into a fine art photography
business in Provincetown, Massachusetts in April 2005. IONA Print Studio offers digital imaging and print making services to photographers and
artists world-wide and features prints of photographs that capture the essence of Provincetown and places like
Cuba that inspire it's artist/owner.
Jeanne is a a psychologist, writer, and Professor Emerita of Family Medicine and Community Health
at Wright State University School of Medicine in Dayton, Ohio. She holds a doctorate in
clinical psychology and a master’s in creative non-fiction writing. She has a very long history of humanitarian
work, studies and teaching.
Her most recent book Lost and Found in Cuba, documents her individual journey to Cuba in an effort to escape
a soul-deadening situation and the drone of middle age. Jeanne grabbed the raft of professional leave from
Wright University and sailed to Cuban shores, intending to conduct research on health care and the effects of
the U.S. embargo.
When her best efforts collided with the realities and possibilities of Communist Cuba, a more
personal agenda emerged—to belatedly claim her right to solo adventure and to figure out how to construct a more
Since 2000 she has focused her writing and activism efforts on Cuba
and U.S.-Cuba policy and has written a book with David Stug titled Love, Loss and Longing: the Impact of U.S. Travel
Policy on Cuban-American Families about the
effect of US Cuba policy on Cuban American families.
Sandra Levinson is Executive Director of the
Center for Cuban Studies in New York City and Director of the Center's Cuban Art Space. She graduated from the University of Iowa and did her graduate
work at Manchester University in England and Stanford University. She was the New York Editor of Ramparts
Magazine and has written for various magazines. She has traveled to Cuba more than 300 times, often as
consultant to major news organizations. Sandra presented at our Learn About Cuba seminar.
Former Judge Maria Lopez is on the Board of Directors at the Cuban Artists Fund and has hosted legal trips to Cuba. She had a television show,
"Judge Maria Lopez", which aired for two years.
Born in Havana Cuba, Lopez came to the United
States in 1961. In 1988, she was the first Latina appointed to the bench in Massachusetts and was the first Latina
to be appointed to the Massachusetts Superior Court in
John H. Pilling
John H. Pilling AIA has been an instructor at the Boston Architectural College since 1993 and was a
project architect and principal for 22 years before starting the Pilling + Smith architectural firm. His work includes numerous residential and
commercial site planning projects in the greater Boston area. In addition to his academic work, he
practices full time in metropolitan Boston.
John has traveled regularly to Cuba since 2001 to do research on its architecture and urban design.
His studios have been done with the friendship of the Faculties of Architecture at CUJAE in Havana. By
conference time, John will have just returned from the 2010 Havana Urban Desgin Charette in Cuba.
The DJ for the Cuban Dance Party on Saturday night, DJ Saoko was born and raised in the oil town of
Cabimas, Venezuela. He has been around salsa for as long as he can remember. The 1970s was the decade of the
“Salsa Boom”. Salsa was part of his daily life as an elementary school student and most everyone’s lives back
then. Salsa was playing almost everywhere: in TV shows, buses, neighbors’ houses, parties, barbecues, and the
“esquinas” (neighborhood corners). Esquinas were places where guys would often gather to hang out and to listen
and talk about salsa.
His father frequently bought some of the most popular salsa vinyls at that time, and they were
played in the house often. Those vinyls included artists such as: Federico y su Combo, Nelson y sus Estrellas,
Los Blanco, Dimension Latina, Ray Perez, Los Satelites, Fania All Stars, Latin Brothers, Ray Barreto, Angel
Canales and many more. In 1978, at the age of 8, he remembers chipping in with his sisters to buy his first
album, “ Siembra”, by Willie Colon and Ruben Blades.
Things started with him DJ’ing a few times in 2003 and 2004 at the dance club Platforms in
Providence on Salsa Sundays, as well as at some private parties. Between 2005 and 2006, he was a rotating DJ for
La Cabana night club in RI. Since 2006 to the present time he has DJ’d in events for ASOVENE (The Venezuelan
Association of New England). He DJ’d in several socials for JJ Latin Dancers from 2007 to 2009. DJ Saoko has
also DJ’d in several other salsa events, including “Salsa Live” at Showcase Live in Foxboro, MA in November
2008. Since the spring of 2008, he has been part of the regular rotation for Salsa Sundays at Platforms. Most
recently, in 2009 he has also been getting opportunities in some of the top salsa venues in Boston, such as Club
Caribe on Thursdays and Havana Club on the weekends.
Jauretsi Saizarbitoria directed her first feature documentary, East of Havana (2006), which the New
York Times described as "the real deal". Charlize Theron produced the film.
Jauretsi was born in Miami to Cuban parents who owned Centro Vasco, a Cuban institution for music
and food dating back to Havana's stomping grounds where her grandfather founded it.
She moved to New York to work for Paper Magazine throwing the finest parties downtown. She
later served as Entertainment Director for Details Magazine where she eventually jumped into the Editorial side.
She later went on to serve as Entertainment Editor for Jane Magazine while contributing to a few other respected
independents. She is now working on a coffee table book for the film and maintains a blog about Cuban affairs at
Word on the Street.
Rob Sequin is an internet entrepreneur that has been following Cuba since 1998 and started
publishing HavanaJournal.com in March of 2003. He has a broad knowledge of Cuba and has developed
the Havana Journal to serve as an information resource for Americans interested to learn more about Cuban
business, culture, politics and travel.
He currently operates dozens of other Cuba related web sites and owns nearly 3000 Cuba related domain names. He lives on Cape Cod in Massachusetts with his wife
and two daughters. Rob hosted and presented at the Learn About Cuba seminar on Cape Cod.
Schwag is the Founder and President of Caribbean Medical Transport, a humanitarian organization that delivers or coordinates
deliveries of medical supplies to Cuba. Rick lives in Lyndonville, Vermont where he previously was the
owner of a real estate agency. He has written a highly reviewed book about Cuba, “The Literacy Brigade
and other Cuban stories”, and worked and lived part time in Cuba for almost 10 years. He is an authority on Cuba
and is very experienced in getting good people to work together on creating and completing
Peter Swanson is a marine journalist who operates
the website CubaCruising.net as a hobby in anticipation of an end to the U.S. embargo of Cuba.
He grew up in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts and worked as newspaper reporter and editor in New Hampshire for
20 years before working at magazines such as Yachting and PassageMaker.
lives aboard his Morgan Out Island 41 Rio and contributes to the aforementioned magazines as well as Soundings
and others. He has an article in this month's Yachting magazine on strategies for cruising the coast of the
Dominican Republic. Peter presented at our Learn About Cuba seminar.
Galería Cubana was established by Gallery Director, Michelle Wojcik, in June 2007. Ms.
Wojcik has been studying Cuban culture, politics and economics for eight years. From 2001 to 2004 she served as
Assistant Director for the Cuba Project at the World Policy Institute in New York, NY. During her time with the
WPI, she researched the political and economic developments in US Cuba relations and facilitated dialogue among
leaders with varying perspectives on US Cuba policy.
Ms. Wojcik's position afforded her a license to spend
substantial time on the island. Captivated by Cuban art on her initial trip to Cuba in 1999, her favorite
pastime quickly became seeking out artists in markets, galleries, and in private homes and studios.
Galería Cubana brings together her passion for Cuban artwork and social
Susan Wrynn is the curator of the Ernest Hemingway Collection at the JFK Library in Boston, the world's principal center for research on the life and work of
She formerly served as the director of reprographic services for the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) and in that capacity
performed a survey of preservation needs of Hemingway's Cuba papers. The report that she wrote with another
consultant in March 2002 praised the Hemingway Museum staff for protecting and preserving the collection and
was judged "thoughtful and sensitive" by NEDCC's Cuban counterparts.
Presenter and Panelist