Meet Our Special Guests 

Each Curiosity Retreat in 2014 featured a range of Special Guests that presented, performed, and participated: a young opera diva, a nationally renowned chef, a phenomenal Julliard violinist, a Master Sommelier, an iconic photographer, and a Hollywood special effects producer/magician.

The list of Special Guests to join our Curiosity Retreat to be hosted June 28 to July 3, 2015 will be announced in November.

Eric Mead | Corporate Magician, Comedian, and Consultant | July 2014 Retreat

MeadHeadshotEric Mead is a performing artist who defies categorization. As an onstage travel guide, he conducts interactive tours of the fantastic–where imagination is king, laughter erupts at every turn, and everything you know about the world is called into question.
What separates Eric from his contemporaries are the larger ideas he brings into his performances. Eric insists that entertainment is the most powerful tool available for effective and meaningful communication.  His magic, his humor, his play with the audience are all aimed at sharing his unique point of view, and making deep emotional connections. “Magic, and the feelings of mystery and wonder it evokes, are rare and precious things. Mystery is great when used to amuse, to amaze and simply entertain. But I’m always trying to push it further, to see how magic can touch people, enlighten people, make them question their most basic assumptions, and feel something that changes them–that they will remember and talk about forever.”
Eric admits these are lofty goals for a variety artist, but his obvious passion combined with a laid-back and witty performing style are making fans all over the world. Eric’s television credits include shows for Comedy Central, MTV, and two appearances on Fox Family’s “Masters of Illusion.” Critics praised his scene stealing turn in the film “The Aristiocrats” with Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, John Stewart and the Smothers Brothers. Eric is also a highly sought after keynote speaker, having presented 12 times at TEDMED, 8 times at The Entertainment Gathering, and last year addressing an audience of 10,000 scientists about the “psychology of deception” to kick off the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

Rick Moonen | Chef, Restaurateur, Author | May 2014 Retreat

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Restaurateur, chef and cookbook author, Rick Moonen has been one of the country’s leading advocates for the sustainable seafood movement throughout his career. His restaurants, Rick Moonen’s RM seafood and Rx Boiler Room at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, showcase his commitment to sustainability without foregoing culinary creativity and innovation, and have been critically acclaimed by local and national press since day one. His cookbook, Fish Without a Doubt, is a practical, hands-on guide to buying, preparing and cooking a wide array of fish. Rick has been featured in Food & Wine, SAVEUR, Bon Appetit, Food Arts, USA Today, Travel + Leisure, and seen on Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate, Top Chef, Top Chef Masters, TODAY, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Dan Rather Reports, and CNN. In 2010 Rick was the runner-up on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters (season two) raising both national awareness and nearly $28,000 for Three Square Las Vegas. Rick has received numerous awards for his tireless efforts towards sustainability including Chef of the Year by the Monterey Bay Aquarium; and Humanitarian of the Year by the American Culinary Federation. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, on Instagram or

Norman Seeff | Photographer, Filmmaker | May & July 2014 Retreats

Norman SeeffNow known around the world as an iconic photographer and filmmaker, Norman Seeff began his career by qualifying as a medical doctor and working for three years in emergency medicine in Soweto, South Africa, focusing on the management of traumatic shock. In 1968, desiring to explore his passion for creative expression in all its forms, he relocated to New York and switched careers from science to the arts. Within a year and a half, Seeff established himself as a successful “rock” photographer and designer of album art and in 1971, he was offered the position of Creative Director at United Artists Records in Los Angeles. His innovative approach to collaborative arti-direction resulting in multiple Grammy nominations for graphic design. Two years later, Seeff went freelance and opened a studio on the Sunset Strip. In his evolution as a photographer of public personalities, Seeff realized that to accomplish the vitality and authenticity he was looking for in his images required nothing short of a paradigm shift in his interaction with artists and innovators. Responding to the emotional authenticity and depth of the creative communication between himself and artists, Seeff brought a film crew into a session for the first time in 1975. This session was with Ike and Tina Turner.
To date, Seeff has documented over 500 sessions with artists of many disciplines including musicians, actors, writers, directors, scientists, entrepreneurs, and politicians, and the exploration continues. Seeff’s creative interaction with renowned creators and innovators includes such luminaries as Ray Charles, Joni Mitchell, Steve Jobs, Steve Martin, John Huston, the Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash, Martin Scorsese, Billy Wilder, Bob Fosse,, Tina Turner, Alicia Keys, Sir Francis Crick, Nobel Prize winners, and hundreds of others. In 2000 Seeff returned to his sessions, but now focusing on long-form, multimedia projects exploring the dynamics of creativity. As a consequence of 35 years of research and development of creativity in action, Seef has developed a body of content exploring the roots of creativity, innovation, and optimal performance and has identified schematics describing the archetypes of the creative process that function across all creative disciplines.

Larry Stone | Master Sommelier | May & July 2014 Retreats

Larry StoneLarry Stone became the first American to win the prestigious Grand Prix de Sopexa for the title of the Best International Sommelier in French Wines in Paris. After winning this momentous title within a few months of becoming America’s 9th Master Sommelier, he continued as a restaurateur and sommelier, opening the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago. He then became the General Manager and Sommelier of Charlie Trotter’s Restaurant, where he worked for several formative years. Later he became a founder and partner of Rubicon Restaurant with Drew Nieporent, Robert deNiro, Robin Williams and Francis Ford Coppola.
In 2001, Larry became a board member of Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery, and then in 2006 its General Manager. He served as the Vice-President and President of the Rutherford Dust Society during the same period. He helped found Evening Land Vineyards and became its President in 2010. From 2005 to 2012, Larry served as a Trustee of the James Beard Foundation and is since 2012 Dean of Wine Studies at the International Culinary Center in Manhattan and Campbell, CA. Larry continues to participate with the Court of Master Sommeliers as an examiner and has served on its Board of Directors.
Larry joined Huneeus Vintners in fall of 2012 in the position of Estates Director.

David Shaw | Managing Partner, Black Point Group | May 2014 Retreat

David ShawDavid Shaw is an entrepreneur and managing partner of Black Point Group with a long career of public service. He has founded, directed, invested in, and led numerous science-based companies including IDEXX, Ikaria, Sapphire Energy, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Modern Meadow, Itaconix, Physion, Direct Vet Marketing, and others. Mr. Shaw has also served on the faculty of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Governent, the advisory board of the school’s Center for Public Leadership, as the Treasurer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as chair of The Jackson Laboratory, as founding chair of the Sargasso Sea Alliance, and as a director of the National Parks Foundation. Mr. Shaw has also served as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the US-Israel Science and Technology Commission. He was named International SeaKeeper of the year in 2013.

Dr. Jill Tarter | Astronomer and Co-founder of the SETI Institute | May 2014 Retreat

Dr. Jill TarterDr. Jill Tarter is an astronomer and the co-founder of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute, former Director of the Center for SETI Research and currently holding the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute. She is one of the few researchers to have devoted her career to hunting for signs of sentient beings elsewhere, and there are few aspects of this field that have not been affected by her work. Dr. Tarter’s work in astrobiology have earned her numerous awards, including two public service medals from NASA and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Women in Aerospace. She is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the California Academy of Sciences on whose Board she serves; in 2004, Time Magazine named Dr. Tarter as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Charity Tillemann-Dick | Soprano | July 2014 Retreat

charity-sunshine-tilleman-dick-220x220Charity Tillemann-Dick is an American-born soprano and a recipient of two double lung transplants. Charity has performed across the United States, Europe, and Asia in venues as diverse as the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City; The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC; Severance Hall in Cleveland, Ohio; Il Giardino Di Boboli in Florence, Italy; the National Palace of the Arts in Budapest, Hungary; the Tel Aviv Opera House in Israel; the American Embassy in Beijing, China; the United Nations in New York; and National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol. She has collaborated and performed with noted conductors and musicians including Eva Marton, Bruno Rigacci, Joela Jones, Marvin Hamlisch, Bono, Zoltan Kocis, Joan Dornemann, and former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Some of her operatic roles have included Titania in A Mid Summer’s Night Dream, Gilda in Rigoletto, Violetta in La Traviata, and Ophelia in Ophelia Forever. Charity has also performed for numerous presidents, prime ministers, members of Congress, and world dignitaries.
After receiving a diagnosis of Idiopathic Pulmonary Hypertension in 2004, Charity served as the national spokesperson for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association, working to raise awareness, increase federal research funding, expand stem cell research, and promote preventative and alternative medicine. In September of 2009, Charity received a double lung transplant at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. After complications from rejection, Charity received a second double lung transplant in January 2012.
Since receiving her first transplant, Charity has shared her amazing story and vocal talents at numerous conferences, musical performance, and events. Charity has been featured on CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CBS This Morning, Glamour magazine,,, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal Health Blog, The Washington Post, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Sunday Times (London). Her performances have been broadcast around the world on CNN, CBS, BBC, FOX, MSNBC, PBS, C-SPAN and NPR.

Michael Weber | Founder, MindLab; Founder, Deceptive Practices | May & July 2014 Retreats

Michael WeberMichael Weber inhabits a unique position in the world of the professional wonder-worker. He holds Masters and Doctorate degrees yet he has never let his formal education interfere with his lifelong interest in mystery. His familiarity and facility with forbidden knowledge has permitted him access to worlds of experts and experiences which remain well-hidden from the general public. Widely respected for both his problem-solving  and story telling abilities, Weber’s work can be seen in dozens of plays and feature films including Forest Gump, Angels in America, The Fountain, Serpent and the Rainbow, The Affair of the Necklace, The Parent Trap, The Illusionist, Top Dog Underdog, The Prestige, A Year of Magical Thinking and Ocean’s 13. Weber served as consultant, collaborator and director of the From the Dark, a 70 minute live interactive magic show which took place in total darkness, from start to finish. The recent run at Toronto’s prestigious Luminato Festival resulted in sold-out shows and rave reviews.

Weber and his co-conspirator Ricky Jay founded the consulting company Deceptive Practices which provides “Arcane Knowledge On a Need-To-Know Basis” to film, theater and television. Weber has worked with writers and directors ranging from Errol Morris, Wes Craven and Martin Scorsese to George Wolfe, Christopher Nolan, and Robert Zemeckis.

Charles Yang | Violinist | May & July 2014 Retreats

Tin TypeDescribed by the Boston Globe as one who “plays classical violin with the charisma of a rock star,” Juilliard graduate Charles Yang began his violin studies with his mother in Austin, Texas, and has since studied with world-renowned pedagogues Kurt Sassmanshaus, Paul Kantor, Brian Lewis and Glenn Dicterow. He has performed as a soloist with orchestras and in recitals in the United States, Europe, Brazil, Russia, China, and Taiwan, and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. On June 9th of 2005, the Mayor of Austin presented Mr. Yang with his own “Charles Yang Day”. Mr. Yang has been a frequent guest on the Emmy Award winning PBS show From the Top, and has also been heard on National Public Radio in Washington, DC and Boston.
Not only confined to classical violin, Mr. Yang’s improvisational crossover abilities as a violinist, vocalist, and guitarist have led him to performances with a variety of artists in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Long Center, Highline Ballroom, David Rubinstein Atrium, Ars Nova, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Forbidden City in Beijing among others. Recent engagements include a concert at the United Nations, an appearance alongside ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro at the fifth E.G. Conference in Monterey, California, a performance with Guitarhero and Rockband creator, Eran Egozy at The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, duet with renowned dancer marcelo gomes at the joyce theater and as soloist with the Orchestra of St. Lukes in New York City. He has recently returned from a series of concerts and master classes in Sao Paulo, Brazil. His career has been followed by various news media including The New York Times, The New York Post, Playbill, The Boston Globe, Fortissimo, The Austin-American Statesman, Shenzhen Daily, The Strad, Dallas Daily, Cincinnati Enquirer, and Juilliard Journal.