KentPresents – A Festival of Ideas

KentPresents is the incredible brainchild of co-founders Donna and Ben Rosen. This three-day event is in its fourth year of bringing prominent speakers and guests from around the country to share ideas and thoughts on a multitude of important topics. Read on for our quick Q+A with the Rosens on everything you need to know about KentPresents!

Is what you envisioned the event being in 2014 what it is today, or has it evolved into a different model?

KentPresents has turned out to be exactly what we had hoped when we thought: “Let’s create a world-class ideas festival to northwestern Connecticut that draws scores of distinguished speakers hundreds of guests from around the country. And at the same time, let’s donate the profits to local organizations that serve people in need.”

What was the motivation to start KentPresents?

Our mission has to create and disseminate ideas that deal with the major issues of our time — global, intellectual, cultural. Today, we do that in over 40 sessions over three days in the summer. Our byword? “Ideas work better when shared.”
Photo by Randy O’Rourke

What can people expect when they attend a session? 

Attendees meet, see, and hear the best and brightest in our society in over 40 sessions. They encounter each other in an intimate school campus within one of the beautiful, bucolic settings in New England.
Photo by Randy O’Rourke

Favorite part of the three-day festival for you?

We expect our guests to be impressed by the many big names we attract to KentPresents. But one of our most gratifying experiences is when guests attend a session about a topic new to them that is conducted by a speaker they’ve never heard of and they tell us, “That is the most exciting and stimulating hour I’ve spent in memory.”
Photo by Randy O’Rourke

The panel topics are ALL amazing – how do you select them?

We’ve spent our lifetimes preparing for this event. Both Donna and I have had rich and varied lives of achievement in many fields. These, in turn, have created relationships that help us recruit the outstanding speaker rosters that are the hallmark of KentPresents.
For more information and to keep up-to-date with events, click here!


We went to check it out…
Sadly, with our busy schedules, we were only able to make it to one talk and one evening reception. What an amazing and enlightening 3 days it must have been for those lucky enough to do the whole thing! But, within the 2.5 hours we spent at KentPresents, we felt infinitely smarter (perhaps it was the rubbing shoulders with all those great minds!) or at least inspired to think bigger and broader.
Which brings us to the talk we attended, “Psychedelics: How to change your mind” with Michael Pollan in conversation with Corby Kummer discussing his research into LSD. Having heard how some psychedelics can help improve certain conditions, he decided to delve deeper and had some interesting stories and insights on the topic. Things to ponder!
Post brain stimulation: mingling and networking!
A nice rosé on a perfect summer’s night
And the food was divine (especially those cheesy balls).
We ran into people we knew…Nancy Novogrod and her husband John Novogrod!

And we met new people like producer and host Jim Zirin

And Jeh Johnson, former United States Secretary of Homeland Security – we felt safe…;) and Kristen Clarke, President of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, another impressive KentPresents speaker.

We watched Ben and Donna Rosen mingle with speakers and guests…

And soaked up our scholarly surroundings at the breathtaking Kent School.

Until next year KentPresents! 😉 Cheers!

Words: Bev/Photos: Lora Karam and Randy O’Rourke (noted above)

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