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Discussion Group Leader Profiles



Great Decisions group leaders for the 2023 season pause for a photo after their organizational meeting in January.


2024 Great Decisions Leaders

 

Stuart Angus:  Honors graduate in Engineering, University of Toronto.  Worked in the leadership of Private and Public Engineering/Construction companies in Canada and abroad.   Firms were multi-disciplined with an emphasis on water, wastewater, roads and highways, and solid waste.  Participated in Ontario Premier’s Advisory Council, providing advice directly to the premier on a variety of issues. Participated on the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, an organization dedicated to providing advice to the Canadian Government. Has participated on Great Decisions for a number of years.


Joan Benz: Joan Ryder Benz holds a PhD in neurochemistry from the University of Chicago and MD from the University of Iowa. Her career spanned the range from primary care to clinical research, and included faculty positions at several medical schools. She actively engaged in Phase 2-4 pharmaceutical studies for a variety of new medications including antidepressants, antihypertensives, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. She has volunteered at two Naples area health clinics since moving to Naples in 2003. She has two sons and enjoys skiing, dancing, yoga and pickleball, and has been a participant in Great Decisions since 2018.


Dave Brown:  Graduate of Case Western Reserve University with BSME and partial MBA from John Hopkins University & University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.  He has spent 30 years in marketing and international management positions for Swedish and US industrial manufacturing businesses.  This included bi-weekly visits to Western Europe, restructuring a French business, managing a licensee in Japan, purchasing a business in Germany and building a factory in India. Over the last 18 years he started and built an online custom furniture business. He has been a Great Decisions participant since 2017 and assumed a leadership role in 2020.


Steve Feldhaus:  Graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Stanford Law School.  Clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Retired in 2005 as a senior partner after 33 years with the international law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski, where he led practices in the areas of tax, corporate, and high net worth, working in the firm’s Houston, London, and Washington D.C. offices, responsible for negotiating, structuring, and implementing complex transactions representing individual and corporate clients in Eastern and Western Europe, Russia, China, the Middle East, Africa, India, Australia, and South and North America. Continues to represent clients around the world as a solo practitioner. Previously a shareholder, director, and general counsel of Stratfor.  Previously secretary of the Pelican Bay Foundation and a leader on its legal committee. In Great Decisions for nine years.


Bill Feldman:  Graduated from William Patterson University and New Jersey Institute of Technology where he majored in Philosophy and Computer Science respectfully.  He is a veteran who served in the US Navy from 1969-73. Bill’s work career was in Information Technology.  He worked at Crum and Forster Insurance, GE and CompuCom Systems. Bill managed long-term client service engagements at BMW, GE, GM, NBS, Pfizer, Zurich, etc.  His interests include reading (especially history and politics), current affairs, tennis, hiking, biking, travel (Europe, Asia, South America), and cooking.  He has been a member of Great Decisions since 2014.


John Ferriter:  Received an undergraduate degree from Queens College, University of the City of New York, an LL.B from the School of Law, Fordham University, and an MPA from the JFK School of Government, Harvard University. He joined the U.S. Department of State and served in Washington DC, France and several African countries, retiring after 28 years. He then worked at the International Energy Agency in Paris as the Deputy Executive Director for 10 years.  He has been a Great Decisions participant since 2011 and assumed a leadership role in 2015. 


Francisco Figueroa:  Holds a PhD in Systems Engineering from Texas Tech University, an MS in Systems Management from USC, and an MS in Astronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology. Was an officer in the US Air Force Space Program, then joined Lockheed Martin from which he retired as Vice President. A certified public accountant, Francisco founded a CPA firm and strategic planning consulting company following retirement from Lockheed. He has traveled extensively, including all 50 states and 108 countries. Francisco has been a Great Decisions moderator since 2005.


Joyce Fletcher:  Holds an MSW degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has worked in various clinical, not for profit, and corporate social work roles. As an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Regional Manager for two different large insurance and managed care companies, she created and led management training on employee performance in a number of corporations. Since moving to Naples in 1997 and retirement from NCH, she has traveled, especially in many European countries, been active with the League of Women Voters of Collier County and the Naples Botanical Garden. She has participated in Great Decisions for eight years. 


Paul Flowerman:  Has an MBA from New York University, a Masters of Arts from Harvard, and a Bachelors from Princeton in the History and Philosophy of Science. He has been a Peace Corps volunteer, an international business entrepreneur, and a social entrepreneur focused on digital education at the "base of the pyramid" (S. Africa, India, and Cambodia). He was a 2018 fellow in Harvard's Advance Leadership initiative, where besides his focus on personal improvement, Paul researched opportunities to help young people (at scale) to build better lives. Paul joined Great Decisions in 2021 to debate how to help the world become a better place, and is in his first year as a Great Decisions Group Leader.


David Goldstein:  Has a J.D. from Fordham School of Law, a Master of Industrial Engineering from NYU and a Bachelor's in engineering management from Rensselaer. He was a corporate lawyer and executive, and a member of the bar in New York and New Jersey.  He is now serving as president of the Collier County Chapter of the ACLU and PFLAG Naples, and is director emeritus of the Center for Critical Thinking. He also serves on the board of the Coalition for Quality Public Education (C4QPE) and is actively involved with Americans United for the Separation of Church & State. He has been a Great Decisions group leader since 2014.


Carol H. Green:  Former newspaper senior executive, attorney and reporter. Retired as senior VP of labor relations, legal affairs and human resources from The Denver Post.  Led negotiation for management of many union labor contracts to restructure struggling newspaper operations for Post and Newsday in Long Island, as well as leading strategic corporate communications. News reporter and editor for 18 years in Shreveport, LA, Guam, and Denver. Lectured on First Amendment for U.S. Information Agency in Egypt and India. Master’s Degree Yale Law School under Ford Foundation fellowship for journalists, J.D. Univ. of Denver. World Affairs Council/Great Decisions member 6 years, member of NCWA Board of Directors. Currently a literary agent in Naples.


Bob Haffa:  Received degrees in international affairs and political science from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Georgetown University and MIT.  He followed a 24-year career in the Air Force, which included flying assignments in Vietnam, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Korea, with a second career working for Northrop Grumman, directing their corporate Analysis Center in Washington DC.  He has been a Great Decisions participant since 2013 and assumed a leadership role in 2015.


Tom Hanson:  Graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Iowa.  He has held management positions with a multinational commercial air conditioning firm before establishing his own firm in Chicago. Tom has been involved with several not-for-profit organizations during his retirement years and travels internationally with his wife, Nancy.  He has been a member of Great Decisions for over 10 years.  They became co-group leaders in 2016.


David Heiman:  University of Cincinnati (B.B.A. 1967; JD 1970).Founded the business restructuring practice of Jones Day, an international law firm, in 1984. Headed the firm’s global business practice (1992-2003) and sat on the firm’s management committee (2002-2017). He has also been active in leadership positions in numerous non-profit organizations, including the ABA, the American College of Bankruptcy (Chair, 2002 to 2005), and Hospital Albert Schweitzer in Deschappelles, Haiti (Vice Chair, 2011 to present).  He has enjoyed Great Decisions since 2018.


Marjorie Lewis:   Graduate of the University of Iowa with an MBA from Stanford.  She served in Africa and Latin America as a foreign service officer for over twenty years, both as a controller and designing computer systems.  She also worked at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria.  She has been a Great Decisions participant since 2012.


George P. Purvis: Holds BA, BS, and MBA degrees from Penn State. Worked internationally on Health and Hospital projects for 25 years, as well as on projects for The World Bank, The European Commission, United States Aid for International Development, German Aid, British Aid, the Aga Khan Foundation, and the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation.  He has participated in Great Decisions for ten years, leading the Marco Island Group for the last six years.


Jim Rater: Earned a BA degree from St. Ambrose University in Iowa and an MD degree from the University of Iowa, where he completed a Radiology Residency. Also holds an MS in Management from the University of Wisconsin.  After service as a Captain in the Army Medical Corps at Poitiers, Vienne, France, he was a Diagnostic Radiologist and held various medical staff leadership positions in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Traveled extensively, especially in Europe but also China, South America and Australia. Seasonal Naples resident since retirement. Great Decisions member since 2010.


Robert (Bob) Sanchez:   Graduate of Brown University. He is a retired Navy officer and did graduate studies at Columbia University Law School and New York University Graduate School of Business Administration. Bob's business career was in data and corporate communications as well as financial services. He currently serves as president of his university club and of the Reserve Officers Association in Naples.  He also serves as president of the Property Owners Association in Pelican Bay where he lives full time with his wife. 

Stu Schweitzer: Graduate of City College of New York, and holds a Ph.D. in economics from University of Minnesota. Following time in academia and at the Federal Reserve, Stu had a long career on Wall Street as a global economist and markets strategist. He has been a docent at the Holocaust Museum and Education Center of SW Florida, a member of Great Decisions since 2015 and a Group Leader since 2019. Stu is a member of the Board of Directors for NCWA and Chair of the Great Decisions program.

Robert S. (Rusty) Troth:  Gaduated from MIT in electrical engineering and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in political science and Russian studies. Retired from the U.S. Army following 30 years of active duty, primarily as an intelligence analyst, manager, and trainer. Lived for 12 years in Western Europe and SE Asia.  He has been a member of a Great Decisions discussion group since 2009 and group leader since 2013.


Hank Venable:  Received a BA in Journalism-Radio and Television News from the University of Oklahoma, and subsequently an MD degree from Oklahoma. Between his undergraduate and graduate studies, he served in the U.S. Army as a helicopter pilot. He trained as an anesthesiologist in Miami, Florida, and practiced in Florida and Texas, retiring in 2018. Along the way he completed a Master of Business Administration at the University of South Florida and later Master of Liberal Studies from Rice in Houston. He and his wife, Susan Krauter, MD, have participated in Great Decisions since 2019.


Mark Walchak:  Received a B.S. from Michigan State University and an MBA from Xavier University. Did graduate studies in mechanics and material science at Rutgers University. Worked as an engineer in the consumer products and pharmaceuticals industry.  Worked on anti-counterfeiting and led a multi-national team to establish an international standard for bar coding pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Was the past president of Speakers Assembly of Southwest Florida. Mark is an avid biker and travels extensively and has just completed an around the world trip with National Geographic. Joined Great Decisions in 2016.


Peter Wall:  Graduated from Dartmouth College, AB (history); Cornell University Business, MBA (finance), and Cornell University Law,  JD (tax).  He was a U.S. Army Captain serving on the intelligence staff of Gen. Abrams in Vietnam.  In NYC he was a CPA on the audit and tax staff of Price Waterhouse. For much of his working life he was a tax partner with the law firm Hale, Grant, Meyerson, O’Brien & McCormick in NYC and later, with his own law firm, in Greenwich CT.  Peter joined Great Decisions after his 2012 retirement, becoming a discussion leader in 2022.

Dean Weidner:  Earned a BA from Yale and a JD from Dickinson (now Penn State) School of Law, after which he led and developed a business law firm in Harrisburg PA, where he practiced for over 45 years, providing real estate counsel for national and regional corporations.  He also served on boards of numerous regional for-profit and nonprofit corporations, continuing that service as president of his condominium association on Marco Island. Dean and his wife have travelled to all 7 continents, learning from the people they encountered on those journeys. He joined Great Decisions in 2018, and has been part of the leadership of the Marco Island group since 2020.

Mo Winograd: Has a Master’s Degree in political science and another in criminal justice. She was executive director of the Essex County Bar Association in New Jersey for 25 years and retired in 2003, and secretary, treasurer and co-founder of Legal Services Foundation of Essex County from 1983-2018. She chaired the ACLU’s Committee on Public Education and Information for Collier County, 2008-2018, and was Vice President of the Collier County chapter of the ACLU, 2010-2018. Her experience managing and continuing to educate 3,000 attorneys enabled her to organize four Great Decisions groups in Bonita Springs of approximately 100 new registrants. She has been leading one of them since 2011. Vice Chair of the NCWA Model UN from 2014-2017, chaired Model UN in 2018 and served on the Naples Council Board of Directors from 2014-2018.

Great Decisions Chair: Stu Schweitzer

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