Continuing Verso Studios’ education initiative, the Fairfield County-based organization LiveGirl will co-host a nine-week Leadership Lab for high school girls, grades 9-12, at The Westport Library. Sessions start on October 3 and run each Monday through December 14. The program is free, with pre-registration required.

Founded in 2014, LiveGirl is a Connecticut-based nonprofit organization that strives to build confident, inclusive leaders. Its mission is “to prepare the next generation of diverse, brave female leaders with the skills, community, and connections so that all girls may thrive and make a positive impact on the world. LiveGirl’s vision is to contribute to a world free from both gender and racial inequality.”

Utilizing the state-of-the-art Verso Studios media facilities at the Library, the LiveGirl Leadership Lab will focus on creative arts empowerment, multimedia expression, and training. Participants will foster their storytelling skills and be exposed to multiple creative channels such as video, music, and podcast production.

“Our girls have stories to tell that are worth hearing about,” said LiveGirl Program Director Shamare Holmes. “Partnering with Verso introduces LiveGirl’s Leadership Lab participants to practical media channels they can navigate to share their narratives in ways that are relative to the culture. This opportunity will also provide transferable skills that can help further their cause throughout high school, college, and/or the workplace. Our girls are truly looking forward to finding their ‘Lab Language.’”

“As an organization committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion, as well as engaging the next generation, I’m beyond excited that Verso Studios is partnering with LiveGirl,” Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer said. “We envisioned that Verso Studios user base would be limitless in multimedia training and learning. This Leadership Lab represents Verso and the Westport Library team executing on that vision to deliver a program we think will be of great value to the community.”

This Leadership Lab will feature frequent Verso Studios collaborator and patron Sheneta Walker, who will serve in a mentor capacity to the group.

Register for the LiveGirl collaboration with The Westport Library by clicking here. While the program is free, spots are limited.

Thomas Henske stands at the Verso Studios mixing board with Westport Library Sound Studios Manager Travis Bell. (Photo credit: Jerri Graham)
Tom Henske (right) in Verso Studios with Westport Library Sound Studios Manager Travis Bell. (Photo credit: Jerri Graham)

A financial advisor for 27 years and Westport resident for 20 years, Tom Henske knows his way around his field and his town. It was thinking about the two in tandem that brought him to a realization that has set him on a new path — and launched his latest endeavor.

“Westport is an affluent community,” said Henske, “and my concern was that the shoemakers’ kids were not going to have the right shoes! I needed to teach my kids about money, or at least get them thinking about it. I went looking for material to teach my son and there was nothing out there. It only took me years and years later, but finally, with the help of The Westport Library, we were able to create this amazing project together.”

That project is Total Cents, a 12-part Verso Studios Community Partnership Podcast that delivers advice and discussion points on financial literacy for teens. Each episode tackles key concepts in digestible 6- to 12-minute segments. Season One topics include insurance, money safety, legal documents, investing, saving, spending, the value of a dollar, and charitable giving.

[Related: Total Cents Podcast, Season One]

“It’s really a health and wellness podcast when you think about it,” Henske said. “One of the most important things for your kids to learn before they go to college is learning the basic jargon around money terms. If they don’t, they will be forever behind. They’ll start their first job out of college and won’t enroll in a retirement plan or get the right type of health insurance. All these are habits that need to be learned and practiced.

“The people who are financially successful have good habits, just like anything in life — it could be good eating habits, good exercising habits — it’s just having good money habits.”

Each podcast is reinforced by funny and topical TikTok videos appealing to teens, conversation guides for parents, and anecdotes from Henske’s forthcoming book (It Makes Total Cents: 12 Conversations to Change Your Child’s Future).

Henske acknowledges that the series has some stealth teaching components that may end up helping parents realize their own financial futures while they educate the next generation. He hopes grown-up conversations around money can help galvanize and advance other generational discussion on other potentially difficult topics.

As for Henske’s experience at Verso Studios, the longtime financial advisor and first-time podcaster said that “it was daunting for me at first to walk into the recording studio, which looks like NASA mission control. But the beauty of working with The Westport Library on this project is that Verso Studios made it really easy for me. They coached me along the way. What makes this project so special is that it’s not just one person; it’s collaborative. The experience could not have been better.”

***

For more information on the Verso Studios Community Partnership Podcast initiative, contact verso@westportlibrary.org.

Westport’s own Dan Woog brings his popular blog “06880: Where Westport Meets the World” to life, via the Verso Studios at the Westport Library – recorded LIVE in the Trefz Forum!

The link goes live at noon, every other Monday, so you can watch Dan engage in insightful conversations with voices from around the community - discussing the stories behind the stories.

On October 4, join Dan for a conversation with a true Westporter, Jimmy Izzo. Born and raised in Westport, Jimmy graduated Staples High School in 1983 and came back to town after obtaining his degree in Political Science & Consumer Affairs from the University of Rhode Island - and stuck around to make a difference. For years Jimmy ran the Crossroads Ace Hardware Store, which was located right next to the town's famous Coffee 'An Donut Shop. He has been involved in numerous town commissions and nonprofits, including the Westport Youth Commission, Longshore Men's Golf Association, Westport Tuition Grants Advisory, and has served 5 terms as a Westport Representative Town Member (RTM). Currently, Jimmy sits on the States Attorney Community Relations Board and Westport's Wassell Lane Housing Board.

Tune in here on Monday, 10/4 at noon, to learn more about what makes Jimmy go!
 

Westport’s own Dan Woog brings his popular blog “06880: Where Westport Meets the World” to life, via the Verso Studios at the Westport Library – recorded LIVE in the Trefz Forum!

The link goes live at noon, every other Monday, so you can watch Dan engage in insightful conversations with voices from around the community - discussing the stories behind the stories.

On September 20, join Dan in a delightful and informative conversation with the extraordinary Bill Taibe. Not only is Taibe the Executive Chef and owner of The Whelk, Kawa Ni, Don Memo in Westport, his success has led to appearances on The Martha Stewart Show, the Today Show and Moveable Feast. He is featured in Harvest to Heat Cookbook, which highlights the relationship between the top chefs of our country and the farmers with which they work. Bill was named a James Beard-Best Chefs in America: Northeast Semi-finalist in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015. He is heavily involved in the Westport/Weston community and supports many local charities and organizations through his own personal networking and restaurant resources.

Tune in here on Monday, 9/20 at noon to listen and learn more.
 

Westport’s own Dan Woog brings his popular blog “06880: Where Westport Meets the World” to life, via the Verso Studios at the Westport Library – recorded LIVE in the Trefz Forum!

Kicking off September at noon on the 8th, please join Dan in conversation with Westport's impressive and community minded Chief of Police, Chief Foti Koskinas. He grew up in Westport and graduated from Staples High School in 1989. Koskinas holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of New Haven and is working toward a master's in business administration. Koskinas began his career as a Westport police officer in 1996. In 2016, he was promoted to chief of the department. In October of 2020, he earned the Executive Certificate in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Throughout his career, Koskinas has served as a K-9-unit handler and supervisor, member of the honor guard, member of the Southwest Regional Emergency Response Team, and the Westport Police/Fire Dive Rescue Team, and various assignments with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. In 2009, the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association awarded Koskinas its Medal of Valor for heroism for his role in rescuing a kidnapping victim from an armed murder suspect on I-95. He is the recipient of the department's Medal of Valor, four commendations, six Honorable Police Service Awards, two Lifesaving Awards, four Unit Citations, and an Investigator's Ribbon.

Please click here to watch, listen and learn more.

 

 

 

Westport’s own Dan Woog brings his popular blog “06880: Where Westport Meets the World” to life, via the Verso Studios at the Westport Library – recorded LIVE in the Trefz Forum!

The link goes live at noon, every other Monday, so you can watch Dan engage in insightful conversations with voices from around the community - discussing the stories behind the stories.

On August 23rd, join Dan and Westport Robin Tauck, a third-generation co-owner and former CEO of Tauck Inc; an 95-year luxury travel company started by her grandfather in 1925. She is Chairman of Tourism Cares, the largest nonprofit in the travel industry whose mission is to “protect the travel experience for future generations,” Robin also serves on the World Travel and Tourism Council in London with 100 CEOs in travel worldwide.

For the past 20 years, Robin has also focused on Sustainable Tourism and raising awareness of enhancing travel’s positive impact on natural and cultural resources, and is an industry advocate for global cultural heritage protection and World Heritage Sites. She practices sustainability at home in Connecticut; and was the 2019 winner of Westport Connecticut’s Green House Award; a founding early member of the CT Electric Vehicle Club; and a member of Sustainable Westport. Robin has been a Trustee of Westport Weston Y, and on the board of Wakeman Town Farm. She was recently honored at Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame in Hartford, for her career in creating “Global Impact.”

Listen here at noon on the 23rd to watch, listen and learn more.

 

 

 

Westport’s own Dan Woog brings his popular blog “06880: Where Westport Meets the World” to life, via the Verso Studios at the Westport Library – recorded LIVE in the Trefz Forum!

The link goes live at noon, every other Monday, so you can watch Dan engage in insightful conversations with voices from around the community - discussing the stories behind the stories.

On Monday, August 9th at noon, listen to Dan's conversation with Robbie Guimond.

Robbie has lived and worked on the Saugatuck River for more than 20 years. While his early years were spent on the waterfront in Norwalk, since 1996 he’s owned and operated Bridgebrook Marina in Westport, where he lives with his wife, Taryn, and their 3 daughters. The Marina, on the banks of the Saugatuck, is an iconic old school New England boatyard. In addition, Robbie runs a landscaping firm that does a lot of work on waterfront projects such as lighthouse rehabs and small island restoration - and he also owns the Westport Paddle Club that focuses on affordable accessibility to the water, and recreation.

Not surprisingly, Robbie is a strong advocate for the Saugatuck River. In his conversation with Dan, the two will talk about the history of the river, its importance, and the future of the Cribari Bridge.

Listen here at noon on the 9th to watch, listen and learn more.

 

 

 

Westport’s own Dan Woog brings his popular blog “06880: Where Westport Meets the World” to life, via the Verso Studios at the Westport Library – recorded LIVE in the Trefz Forum!

The link goes live at noon, every other Monday, so you can watch Dan engage in insightful conversations with voices from around the community - discussing the stories behind the stories.

On Monday, July 26 at noon, listen to Dan's conversation with Annette Norton, who opened Savvy + Grace, a “local” department store in the heart of downtown Westport - the center of Main Street - in 2017.

As a child, Annette frequented Klein’s, the Remarkable Book Store, and Selective Eye while her mother shopped at Henry Lehr and Joan & David - then they enjoyed lunch at Onion Alley or Oscar’s. Annette’s personal goal, in the age of online shopping, was to bring a “mom and pop” shop back to Main Street. Annette created the first “Westport Outdoor Market” in 2019 with local crafters on the private property where her store is located. She also ran “Busking Saturdays” where local talented teens played guitar and sang on the sidewalk outside her store. Continuing in her efforts to keep Main Street connected to the community, Annette has held local charity fundraisers, including one during the 2020 holidays which incorporated personalizing donors’ names on ornaments for the Christmas tree she had put outside her store on Main Street. Owning a retail store downtown for almost 5 years has been a labor of love and adaptation. Annette is dedicated to ensuring that Westport’s downtown not only survive but thrive for her children and generations to come

Clear here at noon on the 26th to watch, listen and learn more.

 

 

 

Westport’s own Dan Woog brings his popular blog “06880: Where Westport Meets the World” to life, via the Verso Studios at the Westport Library – recorded LIVE in the Trefz Forum!

The link goes live at noon, every other Monday, so you can watch Dan engage in insightful conversations with voices from around the community - discussing the stories behind the stories.

On Monday, July 12 at noon, join Dan for an inspiring conversation with Steve Ginsburg, Director of the Connecticut Region of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). 

Steve Ginsburg joined the ADL’s Connecticut regional office as director in 2015. He previously served as as Principal at Mission Measurement – a firm that works with foundations, corporations and nonprofits to predict and maximize their effectiveness and ROI (return on investment). Prior to that, he was Director of Development for ADL’s Greater Chicago/Upper Midwest Region, one of ADL’s largest offices. Mr. Ginsburg also served as Chief Legal Counsel to the Office of the Governor of the State of Illinois, and helped run the American Bar Association Rule of Law reform project in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the late 1990s. Additionally, he practiced law at Katten Muchin Rosenman and Huron Consulting Group

Clear here at noon on the 12th to watch, listen and learn more.

 

 

 

Westport’s own Dan Woog brings his popular blog “06880: Where Westport Meets the World” to life, via the Verso Studios at the Westport Library – recorded LIVE in the Trefz Forum!

The link goes live at noon, every other Monday, so you can watch Dan engage in insightful conversations with voices from around the community - discussing the stories behind the stories.

On Monday, June 28th at noon, join Dan for an inspiring conversation with Helen McAlinden, the dynamic President and CEO of Homes With Hope. Helen joined Homes with Hope in January of 2020, coming from The Connection, where she served in numerous capacities during her tenure, most recently as Director of Homeless Outreach and Development.

Helen emigrated from Ireland after high school, landing in NYC where she earned a business degree from Manhattan College and ultimately a Master’s in Social Work at Fordham University.  Helen has been instrumental in developing and creating affordable housing throughout CT over the past two decades. She has also been a member of the Women and Children’s Legislative Workgroup, and has been a presenter at both the state and national level on issues related to affordable and supportive housing. Helen brings a strong passion to her work and has been a powerful advocate for the homeless throughout her career.

Clear here at noon on the 28th to watch, listen and learn more.

 

In Times of Need

Equity, Diversity and Inclusiveness

Westport’s own Dan Woog brings his popular blog “06880: Where Westport Meets the World” to life, via the Verso Studios at the Westport Library – recorded LIVE in the Trefz Forum!

The link goes live at noon, every other Monday, to watch Dan engage in insightful conversations with voices from around the community - discussing the stories behind the stories.

On Monday, June 14th at noon, join Dan for a fascinating conversation with Westporter Trey Ellis. Ellis is an American Book Award Winning novelist, Emmy and Peabody-winning filmmaker, playwright and Professor of Screenwriting in the Graduate School of Film at Columbia University. Most recently he was an Executive Producer, interviewer and co-field director for the HBO documentary True Justice: Bryan Stevenson's Fight For Equality, and Executive Producer and interviewer for King in the Wilderness, also for HBO. Listen here at noon on the 14th.

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion

Book Recommendations for Podcast Lovers!

 

Westport’s own Dan Woog brings his popular blog “06880: Where Westport Meets the World” to life, via the Verso Studios at the Westport Library – recorded LIVE in the Trefz Forum!

The link goes live at noon, every other Monday, so you can watch Dan engage in insightful conversations with voices from around the community - discussing the stories behind the stories.

On Monday, May 31st at noon, join Dan for an honest and insightful conversation with Westporter and former Staples High School Principal, John Dodig. John, now retired, began his tenure at Staples, one of the most well-respected high schools in the country, in 2003. He continues to be dedicated to diversity, equality, education and community and will also share some thoughts on the eve of Pride Month 2021. Please go to this link at noon on the 31st.

 

 

 

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