IA Committee

Each year the conference is planned and organized by a leadership team consisting of the Conference Committee, the Youth Director, and the Registrar-Treasurer.

The Conference Committee is the governing board of the International Affairs Conference at Star Island, a nonprofit corporation (bylaws). Committee members serve for five years: three as members, one as Chair, and one as Chair Emeritus. At the end of each conference, a new member rotates on and the Chair Emeritus rotates off.

The Chair selects the theme and recruits speakers and the minister of the week. Each Committee member has a portfolio of responsibilities, including finding and recruiting program leaders and other volunteers, coordinating with Island staff to ensure a smooth week, and generally being available to attend to the needs of the conference.

Iyabo Obasanjo, Chair 2020

Iyabo Obasanjo Iyabo started coming to Star Island and IA with her son, Jimi in 2012. She has come every year since then and was introduced to Star and IA by her church, First Church UU in Dedham, Massachusetts. She recently moved to Lexington, Virginia to teach at Virginia Military Institute. Her son enjoys the IA youth program and they are both looking forward to many more years of coming to IA.

Dan Hotchkiss, Chair Emeritus

Dan HotchkissDan Hotchkiss has been coming to IA since 2005 or so, and can usually be found singing in the choir and reading on the porch. He especially appreciates the excellent speakers that IA has attracted over the years, and the thoughtful conversations throughout every day on the Island.

Dan is a Unitarian Universalist minister who consults with churches and synagogues across the continent, helping them to plan for the future, improve their organizational effectiveness, and engage with their surrounding communities. His book, Governance and Ministry, is read by leaders in a wide variety of congregations and other nonprofit organizations. Dan has been a senior consultant for the Alban Institute, ministerial settlement director for the Unitarian Universalist Association in Boston, and minister of UU congregations in New Haven and Boca Raton.

Dan lives in Middleboro, Massachusetts, where his wife Susan is music director of the UU church and activities director at the council on aging. Between them, they have four children and two grandsons.

Laura Espinosa, Committee Member

Laura EspinosaLaura first came to star Island with her family when she was 5 years old and it quickly became part of her life. She returned as a pelican and participated in the IA conference as workshop leader in the art barn and yoga studio as well as running the art auction for the last few years. She continues to “come back” whenever possible with her extended family, including her parents, her brother and his family, and her own family.

“Off Island”, Laura works as a Strategist for a marketing communications company in Salt Lake City, Utah. She lives with her husband Leo, a children’s book illustrator, and their daughter, Sofia. Her son, Ben, is in film school in CA and hopes to return to the island as a Pelican next summer.

Greg Dixon, Committee Member

Greg DixonGreg began attending Star Island conferences with his parents when he was nine years old. He spent a number of summers working on the island as a Pelican, and it was during one of those summers that he met his wife, Kyla. The two began attending IA with their young family in 2013. They fell in love with the conference’s slow pace, it’s good people, the intellectual stimulation and the wonderful children’s program.

On the mainland, Greg is a producer for National Public Radio (NPR). Currently, he works for the International Desk, supporting NPR reporters in 19 bureaus around the world. Prior to this role, he worked for the network’s flagship afternoon show, All Things Considered, for over a decade. Greg has reported for NPR around the world from war-zones, conflicts, natural disasters and, occasionally, places not in turmoil.

Greg, Kyla and their two small children live in Washington, DC.

Gretchen Donehower, Committee Member

Gretchen has been attending IA since age 6. She loves Star’s natural beauty and New England quirkiness, and IA’s spot on the calendar as THE not-to-be-missed summer gathering for her parents and siblings (including her sister, the fabulous registrar Kristin Laverty!).  Her favorite Star activities are theme talks, watching softball, and solving the problems of the world with other conferees from a rocker on the porch.

Off-island, Gretchen is a demographer at UC Berkeley helping NGOs, governments, and researchers around the world understand how population affects our economies.  She works from her home in southern Oregon, which she shares with her husband, John, and sons Jack and Bill.  The boys love the kid-freedom of Star, running around with friends for swimming, softball, exploring, and games.  John can’t always get away from his vital work as a craft brewer (hey, it is Oregon after all), but on-island can be found making breathtaking catches in the cemetery during the Pel-IA softball game.

Kristin Laverty, Registrar and Treasurer

Kristin LavertyAs Registrar/Treasurer, Kristin Laverty handles many things that make IA run smoothly, including room assignments and travel arrangements for conferees and overnight guests. A third-generation Shoaler, she began attending IA in the 1970s and is a current member of the Star Island Corporation and active on the Nominating Committee.

A highlight of her lifelong devotion to Star were the five seasons she lived and worked on the Island as the Island Registrar, from 2006-2010.

The proud Mom of a fourth-generation Shoaler, Kristin lives with her family in Plymouth, Massachusetts where she is a middle school substitute teacher and active in school and youth sports organizations.

For questions regarding registration, Kristin may be reached at kristin@internationalaffairsconference.org.

Katie Bender, Youth Program Coordinator

Katie BenderOur Youth Program in 2018 is directed by Katie Bender, who has been an early childhood educator for 14 years, the last 9 teaching kindergarten in Wellesley, Massachusetts. She is a life-long IA conferee and former Pel. Katie lives in Medfield, Massachusetts, with her husband Marc, their three children (Abby, Brooke, and Lilla), and their cats, Skippy and BooBoo. In her spare time she enjoys getting together with friends and family, and relishes the rare opportunity to curl up with a cup of tea and a new book or carve out a free moment to exercise.