Great Conversations


Enjoy highlights of our 11th Great Conversations
that was held on May 1, 2019 at the Birchwood Manor in Whippany, NJ

Photographs by Christy Ward.

Reception, Dinner, and Conversation with Celebrated Hosts

Three hundred people met and mingled, chatted and chuckled, sipped and savored, and brought the lost art of conversation to life at our 11th annual Great Conversations. From novelists to sports champions, business leaders to tech innovators, pharma executives to scientists, guests enjoyed a unique experience talking and connecting with these talented “Great Conversationalists” from our community.

We had a stellar line-up of Conversationalists this year, specializing in: Arts, Music & Media, Business, Culinary Arts, Entrepreneurs & Tech, Healthcare & Pharma, Investments, Real Estate & Economic Development, Public Service Utility, Science & Medicine and Sports:

Arts, Music & Media

Laurie Lico Albanese
Acclaimed author of Stolen Beauty, inspired by Gustav Klimt’s iconic “golden” portrait
Bascove and Michael Avramides
Celebrated artist whose paintings of NYC bridges are in museums around the world, and her husband a visionary architect
Jay Duckworth
Props Master Designer & “Proptologist” for Shakespeare in the Park and Hamilton
Diane Herbst
Award-winning journalist for People magazine & The New York Post
Michael Hill
NJTV News Correspondent
Bruce Moran
Live Nation Entertainment – President, Latin America; concert promoter for famed recording artists U2, Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, & Coldplay
John Nye
Nye & Company Auctioneers – President & Principal Auctioneer; featured appraiser on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow
Lettie Teague
Wall Street Journal Wine Columnist; author, & three-time James Beard Award recipient


John Binder
Crum & Forster – President of Commercial Lines; World Series of Poker competitor; vocalist/guitarist for punk rock bands
Peter Dupak
JP Morgan Chase – Technical Director of Mining; avid traveler and collector of folk art from around the world
Joseph Jones
BASF Corporation – Innovation Communications Americas; former newspaper & radio reporter
Kaye Ceille
Avis Budget Group – SVP of Global Travel & Partnership Sales
Maria Castañón Moats
PwC–US & Mexico Assurance Leader; Led PwC to #1 on DiversityInc‘s list of “50 Best Companies to Work For”
Dana Peters
Mondelēz International – VP USA Operations, Biscuit & Confectionary

Culinary Arts

Nestor Bedoya
Chef Fredy’s Table Restaurant – General Manager/Owner

Entrepreneurs & Tech

Thomas Daly
Fastly – SVP of Infrastructure – building the global edge cloud platform for NY Times, Pinterest, & Alaska Airlines; co‑founder of tech start‑up, Dyn, sold to Oracle in 2016

Healthcare & Pharma

David Hering
Pfizer Vaccines – Regional President, North America
Cecilia McKenney
Quest Diagnostics – SVP & Chief Human Resources Officer
Cary Renner
Allergan – VP Sales, US General Medicine
Kevin Rigby
Pharma Executive and Consultant; former U.S. Head of Public Affairs for Novartis; former Chief of Staff for U.S. Senator Bill Bradley
Dave Tomasi
Bayer Consumer Health – SVP of Marketing; West Point graduate & former US Army Field Artillery Officer

Investments, Real Estate & Economic Development

Timothy Greiner
JLL, Commercial Real Estate & Investment Management Services – Executive Managing Director
Jose Lozano
Choose New Jersey – President & CEO; led Governor Phil Murphy’s Transition Team; former Chief of Staff for Hackensack; ROI-NJ Influencers Power List 2017 & 2018
Jeffrey Sica
Circle Squared Alternative Investments – Founder & CEO; TV personality & frequent contributor to financial publications including WSJ, Forbes and Reuters

Public Service Utility

David Daly
PSE&G – President & Chief Operating Officer

Science & Medicine

Robin Leichenko, Ph.D.
Rutgers University – Professor & Chair, Geography Department; Co-Director of Rutgers Climate Institute; expert in Climate Adaptation & Economic Geography
Donnica Moore, M.D.
Women’s health educator, advocate & media commentator; host of the popular podcast, In The Ladies’ Room with Dr. Donnica
Donald Parker, LCSW
Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic/Behavioral Health Integrative Medicine – President
Eric Whitman, M.D.
Atlantic Health System Cancer Care – Medical Director & founding Director of Atlantic Melanoma Center


Jim Spanarkel
TV Basketball Analyst for CBS Sports March Madness & the Brooklyn Nets; former pro player for the Philadelphia 76ers & Dallas Mavericks; Duke University’s MVP 1977-1979
Bruce Harper
New York Jets former running back; Jets all time kick returner.

When you register, you select your top 5 conversationalist choices. Seating assignments are first come, first serve. This popular event fills up quickly, so be sure to purchase your tickets early.

Great Sponsors of Great Conversations

We thank the following corporate sponsors for their support of Morris Arts. Click on the sponsor’s name to link to their website.

Any questions? If you have any questions, please call Gina Moran at 973-285-5115 x13 or email her at

Read about last year’s Conversationalists.