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September 12, 2023 | 12:00 - 1:15 PM | JMU Ice House - Room 117

Nutrition and Cancer Risk

Presenter: Robin Atwood

Robin Atwood is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who works at Sentara RMH Hahn Cancer Center. Nutrition can be a powerful tool to improve health and reduce the risk of many diseases, including cancer. “With the vast amount of ongoing nutrition research being conducted, I am always learning something new to pass on to my patients,” Robin notes. “Each patient presents his/her own puzzle made up of many pieces, and it’s fun to try to ‘solve’ each puzzle.” As a board-certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition, Robin is passionate about providing nutrition counseling to those touched by cancer and providing education on lifestyle factors, including nutrition for reducing risk of secondary and new cancers.

September 26, 2023 | 12:00 - 1:15 PM | JMU Ice House - Room 117

The Powerful Connection Tool You May Be Overlooking

Presenter: Elizabeth Cottrell

Connecting with others is one of life’s four essential connections, and recent research by Dr. Brené Brown, the Heart Math Institute and others has confirmed that we humans are, indeed, “wired for connection.” So in the spirit of “everything old becomes new again,” Elizabeth will be sharing her belief in the power of a heartspoken note or letter, along with the principles of her recently published book HEARTSPOKEN: How to Write Notes that Connect, Comfort, Encourage, and Inspire. Elizabeth’s circuitous career has taken her from published leprosy researcher to stayat- home mother, to community activist and leader, to ham radio operator, to freelance writer/editor and blogger at In 2016, she was elected the first female board chair of First Bank/First National Corporation in its 100+ year history, and she is still one of the few female board chairs in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Elizabeth is a writer, editor, and blogger at and author of the award-winningHEARTSPOKEN: How to Write Notes that Connect, Comfort, Encourage, and Inspire published in 2022 by Koehler Books. Above all, she is a connector and encourager whose expertise and passion for note writing is coming at just the right time to a world made keenly aware by pandemic that we humans are hardwired for connection.

October 10, 2023 | 12:00 - 1:15 PM | JMU Ice House - Room 117

The Creation of Shenandoah National Park

Presenters: Donna Knight and Bill Henry

Donna will talk about the mountain people; how they lived and how they were forced off their land.  

Bill Henry is the founder and president of the Blue Ridge Heritage Project, and he is responsible for the chimneys in each county commemorating the families that lost their land and homes.

Donna is a “hollar” girl! She was raised in Beldor just outside of Elkton, right at the foot of the mountain. Donna was related to just about everybody back there. Beldor was originally part of what was slated to be taken to create the Park, but they ran out of money. 

Donna became interested in the displacement of the mountain people in my early 20’s when she was working at Skyland Lodge and saw books about it in the gift shop. But she really didn’t follow through on it until she attended a meeting of the Children of Shenandoah about ten years ago. Her great grandmother had left the mountains before any of this happened. Her passion now is to tell the story of the displaced people and give them the dignity and respect that was taken from them.  Donna currently lives in Elkton with her husband and son.

October 24, 2023 | 12:00 -1:15 PM | JMU Ice House - Room 117

Winning the Normal: The Forgotten Origins of JMU

Presenter:  E. K. Knappenberger

Local Historian, E. K. Knappenberger will explore the origins of James Madison University starting in 1870 until 1920. This special talk will reveal the long-forgotten and sometimes uncomfortable truths about how our great institution came to be. From sordid corruption of Reconstruction politicians to the high-minded idealism of radical preachers, discover the past that has been left out of the official histories. E. K. Knappenberger has lectured on special topics of local and historical interest around the Valley, and is the author of several books. His 2018 graduate thesis examined the origins and historiography of Eastern Mennonite University, and his upcoming work focuses on the ideology of education in the Valley from 1740 -1940. Knappenberger holds an MA in Religion from Eastern Mennonite Seminary, a BA of Arts and Sciences from Whatcom Community College.

November 14, 2023 | 12:00 -1:15 PM | JMU Ice House - Room 117

Harrisonburg/Rockingham Living Wage Campaign

Presenter:  Ramona Sanders

In September 2018, Ramona and her neighbor, Christi Hoover Seidel, Executive Director of Bridge of Hope, took the reins of the steering committee for the Harrisonburg Rockingham Living Wage Campaign, a project of Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. HRLWC recognizes and honors employers that pay living wages. The campaign was launched on Labor Day, 2019 with 6 employers. Ramona and Janet Harvey now have a total of eighty-nine employers that covers 5,417 employees. Ramona Sanders resides in Harrisonburg with her husband, Emeritus Professor of mathematics, Bill Sanders. She is a retired loan technician with the USDA, Farmers Home Administration. A native of West Virginia, she worked there until being transferred by the USDA to Harrisonburg in 1994. She attended West Virginia State College in Institute, West Virginia. She is the mother of one daughter, Lesli, and has three grandchildren living in Williamsburg.

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