Four days of free seminars to be held as part of Aurora Games Fan Zone  

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina to serve as keynote speaker on Wednesday, August 21

ALBANY, N.Y.; – World-class female athletes and empowerment role models will speak about their experiences in the industry and the role of women in sports during the “Conversations with Champions” series at the Albany Capital Center in Albany, NY.

The 12-part seminar and workshop series will take place over the course of four days in conjunction with the Aurora Games, the six-day, six-sport all-women’s sports and entertainment festival at the Times Union Center in Albany from August 20-25.

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who gained international attention while presiding over the sentencing of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, will serve as the keynote speaker of the series. Additional participants include multiple Olympic medalists Nadia Comaneci, Nancy Kerrigan, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Shannon Miller and Donna de Varona.

“Conversations with Champions” will be held as part of the Aurora Games Fan Zone. All sessions are free to attend. Seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

“In addition to featuring some of the world’s best female athletes, the Aurora Games is bringing leading experts in women’s sports and social issues to Albany for insightful discussions on the challenges today’s athletes face,” said Aurora Games Executive Producer Jerry Solomon. “We encourage fans to join us for what are sure to be memorable, perceptive and thoughtful conversations with some of the leading names in the industry.”

The “Conversations with Champions” schedule will include the following seminars and workshops:


“Coaching NextGen Champions” at 2 p.m.

Speaker: Margaret “Digit” Murphy, former head coach of Brown University’s women’s ice hockey program and former professional women’s hockey head coach. Murphy will discuss the highs, lows and challenges of coaching and how coaches can bring out the inner champion in female athletes.

“Girls Got Game” at 3:30 p.m.

Speakers: Erin Hamlin, a three-time luge Olympian and bronze medal winner at the 2014 Winter Games, and Kim Vandenburg, an Olympic swimming bronze medalist. Hamlin and Vandenburg will discuss the importance of getting girls into the game at a young age and keeping them inspired to compete over a career.

“Mind/Body Rebalance” at 5 p.m.

Speakers: Dr. Kate Ackerman, director of the Female Athlete Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Mara Smith, a former gymnast who helps athletes build mental skills enabling them to perform. Their talk will focus on reframing training protocols specifically for women and how mental strength and conditioning can aid athletes in handling whatever comes their way.


“Transformation” at 2 p.m.

Speaker: Sunny Stroeer, professional adventure athlete who excels on high trails and leads all-women mountain-climbing expeditions. Stroeer will talk about how she changed her career path and took on challenges that led her to becoming a record-breaking athlete on the climbing and trekking circuit.

“The Future Is Female – The Aurora Games World Champions” at 3:30 p.m.

Speakers: Aurora Games athletes (participants to be announced). Athletes will share their personal experiences of what it takes to compete, win and serve as a role model for the next generation of female athletes.

“Safety, Self-Respect and Social Justice” presented by the Times Union at 5 p.m.

Speaker: Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, of Ingham County, Michigan, who sentenced Larry Nassar in the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal. Judge Aquilina will discuss how athletes have the right to be protected from emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and how her being an empowerment advocate supports women to find their voices. 


“High Performance” at 2 p.m.

Speakers: Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Aurora Games Team Americas honorary captain and six-time Olympic medalist, and Amy Palmiero-Winters, a decorated endurance para athlete who holds multiple world records. They will speak about what it means to achieve global recognition in their fields and how young women can strive to reach their goals while overcoming adversity.

“The Gold Medal Mindset” at 3:30 p.m.

Speaker: Aurora Games gymnastics chairwoman Shannon Miller, winner of seven Olympic medals in gymnastics. Moderated by Laura Berman Fortgang, a life strategist and professional coach. Their discussion will center on how lessons learned through sports can help people through some of life’s greatest challenges.

“Power and Persuasion” at 5 p.m.

Speaker: Aurora Games Athletes Advisory Board chairwoman Donna de Varona, winner of two gold medals in swimming at the 1964 Summer Olympics and former ABC Sports commentator. She will discuss how to take advantage of the opportunities today to learn how sports, competition and training can transform one’s life, personally and professional. 


“Resilience” at 2 p.m.

Speakers: Aurora Games figure skating chairwoman Nancy Kerrigan, a two-time Olympic figure skating medalist, and motivational speaker Phaidra Knight, a member of the World Rugby Hall of Fame. Their talk will touch on the roles resilience, imagination and creativity play in reinventing oneself and how to remain successful after a champion’s professional career is over.

“Personal Best” at 3:30 p.m.

Speaker: Nadia Comaneci, Aurora Games Team World honorary captain and a five-time Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics. She will speak about what it takes to sustain high performance throughout life on and off the playing field, and how she calls on her personal source of strength to be the best.

“Business Start-up: From Idea to Launch” at 5 p.m.

Speakers: Businesswomen and entrepreneurs Lisa Delpy Neirotti, Liz Fisher, Gail Levy and Kathryn Cartini. This quartet of successful business owners will discuss how to start, test and launch an enterprise and how to secure funding and investment capital.

“Conversations with Champions” is produced and coordinated in partnership with the Center for Applied Brilliance, a thought-leadership advisory group that promotes creativity and innovation through systems-thinking solutions.

Approximately 150 world-class athletes, including Olympic medalists and national champions from around the globe, are set to compete in the Aurora Games. The event will feature competition in women’s tennis, gymnastics, basketball, figure skating, ice hockey and beach volleyball. The athletes will compete for the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Trophy, the official trophy of the Aurora Games.

Individual session tickets for the Aurora Games are on-sale now at www.Ticketmaster.com starting at just $15 and include access to the Aurora Games Fan Zone featuring music, athlete meet and greets, food and entertainment. Children may qualify for half-price tickets based on seating selection. Group sales can be reserved by contacting Carrie Berger at (617) 688-6128.

The official hotel of the Aurora Games is Hilton Albany, located approximately .2 miles from the Times Union Center at 40 Lodge Street in downtown Albany. Aurora Games guests can save on overnight stays by using code 5AGCB when securing reservations by phone at 1-866-691-1183 or online at https://bit.ly/2U2n1mC

For up-to-date information about the Aurora Games, visit AuroraGamesFestival.com or follow the Games on Twitter @AuroraGamesFest.

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