This event has been cancelled. We hope to be able to reschedule soon.
Austin College’s annual Will Mann Richardson Lecture will bring entrepreneur and nonprofit director Nikki Silvestri to campus March 17 for an 11 a.m. lecture, “Social Fertility: What Soil Teaches Us About Collaboration,” in Hoxie Thompson Auditorium of Sherman Hall. She will then speak at an Environmental Studies presentation at noon in Wright Campus Center, Room 231, on “Breakdown, Joy, and Sustainable Women’s Leadership.” Both presentations are free and open to the public.
Silvestri is the founder and CEO of Soil and Shadow, a coaching and consulting firm that seeks to bring social and environmental entrepreneurs more impact in their work and more joy in their lives.
Describing Soil and Shadow’s basic message, Silvestri refers to soil as a metaphor for complexity and as the essence of new life. “Soil reminds us that creating nourishing conditions for the cycle of life to occur is the way to stay grounded,” she has said. Shadow, likewise, she explained, is a reminder to seek what is hidden so that it becomes an ally rather than a downfall.
As an entrepreneur and executive director of numerous nonprofit organizations over several years, Silvestri has invited thousands of leaders and hundreds of businesses and organizations into more in-depth conversations around the intersection of ecology, economy, and social equity. Her career has taken her from presentations at the White House and negotiations with the Environmental Protection Agency to intimate workshops with local businesses.
A nationally recognized thought leader and international keynote speaker, her many honors include listing as one of The Root’s 100 Most Influential African Americans, ELLE Magazine’s “Gold” Award, and OxFam America’s “Act Local, Think Global” Award. She also has been a speaker for TEDxManhattan.
She has served as executive director for several nonprofits including Green for All, where she led initiatives that placed vulnerable communities at the center of the climate fight, and People’s Grocery in Oakland, where she worked with food systems development for vulnerable communities.
Silvestri serves on the board for Greenpeace USA and is the board co-chair of the Business Alliance of Local Living Economies. She is a faculty member at the Food Business School, a branch of The Culinary Institute of America, having co-designed and taught one of its inaugural courses, “Ethical Leadership in Food Business.”
The Will Mann Richardson Lectureships and Seminars bring outstanding individuals to campus to discuss pertinent issues in economics, banking, law, and government. They were endowed by gifts from Will Mann Richardson and his wife, Gertrude Anne Windsor Richardson; his mother-in-law, Gertrude Buckley Windsor; and his children, William Windsor Richardson, John Marshall Richardson, Gertrude Windsor Richardson, and James Windsor Richardson.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 50 percent of students identifying as persons of color. The residential student body of approximately 1,300 students and more than 100 expert faculty members allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. Related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA), Austin College cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. The College, founded in 1849, is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.