Slow Swimming Club, 26th July – Guest Speakers

Dr. Anthony Williams

Anthony is an Internal Medicine and Pediatrics (Med-Peds) Hospitalist who practices in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is an Associate Program Director of the Med-Peds residency program at the University of Minnesota and an Associate Director at The Center for the Art of Medicine “CFAM”. He is passionate about mentorship, creative writing, and the power of narrative expression to cultivate resilience in medicine.

Anthony will speak about: The COVID-19 pandemic and widespread racial unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s murder have both been catalysts for change. However, these events have also intensified the “minority tax” that professionals from traditionally underrepresented groups pay. This “tax” manifests in a trifold manner: 1) the direct experience of racism, prejudice, implicit bias, and lack of mentorship in a professional/academic space. 2) Extra responsibilities (diversity initiatives, mentorship, committee work, etc…) that are uncompensated and not valued on par with traditional metrics of success. 3) Lateral energy expenditure in our personal lives as we grapple with personal trauma and the tragedies directly affecting our communities and families.

Anthony’s profile, Regions Hospital  Information on The Center for the Art of Medicine (CFAM)  Information on University of Minnesota Med-Peds 

Battalion Chief David Morkal

Chief Morkal is a 30+ year veteran with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). Promoted to Lieutenant the week after the World Trade Center attacks, Chief Morkal has taken every opportunity to study leadership and enhance his leadership knowledge. He is a graduate of the FDNY’s Fire Officers Management Institute (FOMI), Advanced Leadership Course (ALC), and West Point Combating Terrorism Leadership Program.

Chief Morkal worked most of his career in Manhattan as he rose through the ranks and worked as the Chief in Charge of Probationary Firefighter School for 2 years. He is currently one of the Deputy Incident Commanders of the FDNY Incident Management Team and has deployed with the team for multiple hurricanes, floods, storms and wildland fires.

He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre and prior to joining the Fire Department worked in technical theater across the country.  Born in London, England, he lived in California, New Hampshire, Texas and Michigan before settling in Indiana as an Air Force brat when he was 10.  Although Indiana has a special place in his heart, he now calls New York home. He has lived north of New York City, for the past 26 years with his wife of 35 years and has two adult children.

He is currently the Executive Officer to the Chief of the Department for the FDNY.


Mara Menzies

Mara is a performance storyteller, drawing on her rich, dual Kenyan/Scottish cultural heritage, to create worlds that explore contemporary issues through legend, myth and fantasy. Her show Blood and Gold was nominated for the CATS award and will be published as a novel in October 2021. She tours the world sharing her many stories, working with communities for social change and celebrating the gifts that stories bring. She is also the founder of Mbegani Rising, a community-based organisation in her grandmothers village in Kenya that uses stories, arts and culture as a tool for social transformation.

Mara will discuss her experiences of working alongside the Mbegani community, using stories to build dreams and finding ways to recognise and celebrate the numerous skills/talents and cultural expertise that already exists in the community.  She will explore the challenges, the unexpected treasures she has found along the way and the vision that they are working towards where stories are central.

Mara’s website   Mara’s Twitter page.   More about Mara.

Sita Brand

Sita is a mindfulness practitioner, Buddhist Chaplain and professional storyteller. She is passionate about myths and folktales and what they can teach us in modern life. Sita has trained with storyteller and author Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  She is the Founder & Artistic Director of Settle Stories. Her life is devoted to the Arts and the power of story. Sita offers participants guided meditation and calm, creative instruction to lead them on a journey of self-discovery. She welcomes people of every background and is able to create a safe space in which we can all think and reflect.

Sita Brand will speak about: How working in prisons has taught me about the power of compassion, meditation and story to change lives.

Sita’s website,    More about Sita.

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