2020 JOY Speakers
Blurring the lines between chef, artist, entrepreneur and inventor, world-renowned David Burke is a leading pioneer in American cooking today. Raised in Monmouth County, NJ, he has launched dozens of innovative restaurant concepts across the country. He has authored two cookbooks and become a recognized chef on television, including appearances on NBC’s TODAY Show and two seasons on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. Burke believes that food can be described in one word: JOY. Food is a joy to prepare, to share, to gather and create and, of course, to eat. Food is what connects us around the dinner table and around the world.
David Cieri is a composer and musician who has written film scores for many of today’s most distinguished documentarians, including Ken Burns. Cieri’s film scoring work with Burns has been extensive, including The Vietnam War with Yo-Yo Ma and Trent Reznor. He has recorded nine acclaimed albums under his own name and made two records with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Yusef Komunyakaa. His music has been performed at Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center among other prestigious venues. Cieri believes that JOY has many tributaries and will explore our capacity and willingness to become “unstuck” from singular outlooks as one.
Sarah Elizabeth Charles
Sarah Elizabeth Charles is a rising vocalist/composer based in NYC. Her band, SCOPE, has been together for 10 years, releasing three albums and performing at prestigious venues including the White House and Carnegie Hall. She was the recipient of the 2019 Yale University School of Music’s Distinguished Teaching Artist Award. Leading SCOPE while working with other artists and as a teaching artist represents her goal to reflect the world around her through her compositions, collaborations and educating. Having experienced a plane of JOY and gratitude that exists in the creation and absorption of musical sound, Charles believes that through music, human beings can experience a transformative range of emotional, physical and spiritual spaces.
Ben Freeberg is a funny, money man. A healthcare venture capitalist and stand-up comedian who studied Economics at Duke University, he is also a tennis coach, a snowboarder, an expert in the ancient art of juggling Chinese Devil Sticks and a cancer survivor. Freeberg believes that you experience JOY when your reality consistently exceeds your expectations — and the answer is not to set those expectations low.
Michele Mitchell is an award-winning filmmaker and journalist best known for her work exposing crimes against humanity. As both an on-camera reporter for PBS and CNN Headline News and as a documentarian, Mitchell has worked with survivors of mass violence in Bosnia, Cambodia, Kenya, Myanmar, Rwanda and South Sudan. She studied trauma in journalism as an Ochberg Fellow at Columbia University. Her documentary, The Uncondemned, has been translated into five languages. According to Mitchell, we live in a world where 85% of us encounter “small” traumas daily. How do we re-wire ourselves after a traumatic moment or sustained experience? The way forward is through JOY.
Jason Watt is a founding partner of Smith Hospitality Group, comprising eight restaurants in two states, which include three of the most popular brands in Asbury Park. Watt has been with Smith for 21 years and has been instrumental in its evolution from a branding and marketing firm to a 30+million dollar enterprise. He is also co- founder of Fishbird, a brand and leadership development process offering a unique training culture and philosophy that supports organizations around the world through transformative breakthroughs. Watt believes that JOY is available as a choice and a declaration, not as something out there in the future to one day obtain.