Seminarians gathered in Scottsdale, Arizona, for the 2016 Annual Forum, a 3-day event featuring inspiring and educational speakers, panels and experiences.

The Seminar Annual Forum

June 5-8, 2016
The Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North
Scottsdale, Arizona


Astronaut Scott Kelly, fresh from his high-profile year on the International Space Station, and his brother, retired astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, made The Seminar their first joint speaking appearance.


On a most fascinating panel, David Bradley, Theo Padnos, along with Lawrence Wright and  Marsha Mueller discussed the stories behind Wright’s compelling 2015 New Yorker article, “Five Hostages.”        

Our speakers explored technology’s implications for the future as IBM Watson demonstrated how augmented intelligence is meeting modern-day challenges, from medicine to demographic trends to the consumer space. Above, Stephen Gold addresses the robot NAO.        

Mick Ebeling showed us how the inspiring work of his Not Impossible Labs is improving lives in ways we never imagined. Bryan Christi, Chief Correspondent of the Special Investigations Unit at National Geographic, illuminated how terrorists are exploiting the ivory trade.        

Seminarians heard from a panel of women trailblazers in sports.        

Warm Days, Stimulating Sessions
and “Way Cool” Nights Experienced
by 200 Seminarians and Guests

SEMINARIANS EXPERIENCED AN EVENT that stimulated all of our senses, starting with the visuals and sounds of the sessions, the incredible aromas and tastes of the meals, the receptions and the afterglow, the touch of The Seminar App screen, and of course, the feel of the warm Arizona days contrasted with the cool relief of the ballroom, and of course those incomparable Arizona evenings. While all of it was memorable, the time we spent in that ballroom made the most lasting impressions.

WE HEARD Captains Mark and Scott Kelly TALK ABOUT THEIR INSPIRING JOURNEY—from their beginnings as so-so students to acclaimed astronauts—who told us that tenacity, decisiveness and humor are as necessary in space as they are here on earth. The Seminar was their first joint speaking engagement since Scott Kelly returned to earth following his yearlong journey on the International Space Station.

WE LISTENED TO Theo Padnos share his unbelievable story of survival as a hostage in the Middle East, and that of Marsha Mueller, whose daughter Kayla was not as fortunate.  We learned about the selfless and tireless work of citizen David Bradley who worked to help hostages and their families reunite.

THE SEMINAR BROUGHT INTO FOCUS many of today’s most critical geopolitical issues, including the global implications of the Syrian migration crisis, with  David Miliband, the former British Foreign Secretary and CEO of the International Rescue Committee.

WE SAW FOR OURSELVES the amazing depth and breadth of IBM Watson, with its humanlike cognitive abilities and gained insights into applications with the help of NAO, the robot.

WE EXPLORED THE ENABLED PRESENT AND FUTURE via connectivity and technology with sessions on the sharing economy and the coming reality of driverless cars. Our speakers examined immigration, the global refugee crisis and of course, the upcoming election as seen through the eyes of former White House staff members, who also happen to be Seminarians. We took a closer look at a presidential campaign unlike any other in our history.

FEW WILL FORGET the dynamic presentations from Mick Ebeling, who refuses to see anything as impossible and Bryan Christi, with his startling photos about ivory trafficking in Africa.

More Highlights from the 2016 Seminar

BETTY HUDSON RECEIVED The Seminar Distinguished Service Award. Betty is a past chair of The Seminar and continues to serve on The Seminar Committee.

THE SEMINAR WELCOMED thirty-eight First-Time Seminarians from a wide variety of industries in 2016, adding new voices and fellowship throughout the annual gathering.

And about those Way Cool nights ...

SEMINARIANS WERE ENTERTAINED by the Mary McBride Band, aka The Home Tour, and learned about the band's unique concerts to nurture communities and people in challenging circumstances.

AFTERGLOW GATHERINGS featured special networking and happenings for the group—from glow golf and bocce ball to Bourbon Tasting with Beam Suntory’s Bourbon Ambassador Adam Harris.

Looking Ahead

THESE ARE JUST THE HIGHLIGHTS, shared not just to help jog memories of what makes the Seminar so special, but also for those who were not able to join us, so they might get a small taste of what they missed. 

SO MARK YOUR CALENDARS NOW and start planning for 2017. The next Seminar is at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida from June 4-7, 2017.  And, if you REALLY like to plan ahead, add La Cantera in San Antonio Texas Hill Country, June 3-6, 2017.  

 WE REALLY HOPE to see you there!


More Seminar Memories

We were graced by live entertainment from Mary McBride and her band, who underscored the power of music in her role as a cultural envoy for the U.S. State Department.   Jane Randel was recognized for chair leadership as Clay McConnell presents her with the Seminar bell.
Seminarian Craig Buchholz with autonomous vehicle session speaker Matthew Johnson-Roberson.   Seminarians Margita Thompson, Monica Talan and Aaron Martin visited with sharing-economy speaker Nicole Isaac.
Bill Heyman and First-Time Seminarian Charlotte Lambkin shared a moment.   Bob Feldman, Bob Jiminez and Jon Iwata shared thoughts after the IBM Watson session.
Brenda and Nick Ashooh got to know First-Time Seminarian Carole Casto, left.   Chris LaPlaca and speaker Tony Porter
Bourbon Tasting at The Seminar with Bourbon Ambassador Adam Harris, right.   Glow Golf anyone? Josh King and Jeremy Gaines.
Glow Bocce Ball is a new Seminar favorite.   Seminarians show their appreciation for the band.
Program Chair Clarkson Hine reviewed session highlights.   Margery Kraus, Karen Tripp, Peter Rose and Charlene Wheeless made the most of the Seminar network.
Outdoor breakfast on the beautiful grounds of the Four Seasons   Euart Glendenning of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority asked one of many questions from the audience of Seminarians.