Indigenous Knowledge and Interconnected Societies: Speaker Series Continues on May 6 and May 20

The Mount Madonna School (MMS) public speaker series based on the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) continues in May with two events, “The Aloha+ Challenge: Hawaii’s Bold Sail Plan For Leading the Way Toward Meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” featuring Usha Kilpatrick, on May 6, and “Design for Equity: Disrupting Systemic Inequality Through Innovation in Education,” featuring Ryan Oliver on May 20. Both events begin at 7:00pm.

“Even before the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, Hawaii launched the Aloha+ Challenge, which as an unprecedented statewide commitment to achieve six interconnected sustainability goals, making it the first state in the nation to commit to achieving 100% renewable energy as well as a zero-emission and carbon neutral economy by 2045,” commented Kilpatrick, a 1989 MMS alumna.

“The Aloha + Challenge is now recognized worldwide as a model locally driven framework to implement the UN SDGs, which can be scaled to support place-based implementation of the global agenda,” she continued. “Why is Hawai’i the unlikely leader in the drive to meet the UN SDGs? Its culture is kind, diversity matters, and the power of science and technology is rooted in indigenous knowledge.”

Kilpatrick’s lecture corresponds to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals. The SDGs are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” The SDGs were set in 2015 by the UN General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030.

Then on May 20, executive director of the BUILD.org Bay Area/Los Angeles region, Ryan Oliver, a 1994 MMS graduate, will offer an experiential seminar that cuts across multiple SDGs, and most directly relates to Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, Infrastructure, and Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities.

“We’ll participate in a quick experiential dive into these topics through the Human-Centered Design approach BUILD.org uses in our work in the Bay Area and nationally,” shared Oliver. “Participants are asked to engage actively in a rapid design experience related to education and equity, reflecting on what it would take to redesign systems and habits in our own lives to achieve a more equitable and interconnected society.”

All of the events in the Mount Madonna School’s Sustainable Development Goals speaker series are offered via Zoom. Tickets are available by donation, and can be ordered via the seminar series website, sdgspeakerseries.org.

“MMS is committed to building awareness about global challenges and educating our students to become caring and discerning global citizens,” commented Mount Madonna Head of School Ann Goewert. “The Sustainable Development Goals Speaker Series introduces our students and community to alumni and friends who are engaged in advocating for change and solutions to pressing global issues.”

Some of the lectures will be moderated by MMS students. Students and the audience will participate in meaningful conversations with guest presenters, most of whom are Mount Madonna alumni.

Usha Kilpatrick (’89) currently serves as the Hawai’i Program Director for The Healy Foundation, which builds community and supports the environment and youth by awarding grants and scholarships in Oregon and Hawaii. Prior to joining The Healy Foundation, Kilpatrick practiced law and then co-founded and served as the director of Kona Pacific Public Charter School.

For more than 25 years, Ryan Oliver has worked to build upon and apply many of the innovative practices he learned at Mount Madonna School to transform systems of education that sustain inequality and restrict creativity and innovation. His current role as Executive Director for the BUILD.org Bay Area/LA region gives him a platform to unleash the creative genius in all young people regardless of zip code and is core to his life’s purpose.

“The MMS alumni speaker series has given many of our high school students the opportunity to explore and reflect on some of the most pressing issues facing our world,” commented Director of Upper School Shannon Kelly. “Through their research, class discussions, and conversations with the SDG guest speakers, they have gained insight into the issues we face but more importantly into the solutions. I hope these conversations inspire them to pursue careers that actively engage in creative and innovative solutions to the world’s problems.”

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Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communication,

Nestled among the redwoods on 375 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.