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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: June 2018

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World Premieres Of Tigertron’s “Jupiter & Mars” And Astrea Media’s “Lost City Of Mer” Spotlighted At Games For Change’s XR For Change Summit

Final Day of Programming Featured Keynote Speakers Including The New York Times’ Graham Roberts, Stanford University’s Dr. Walter Greenleaf, University of Washington’s Tom Furness, and more

Press Release – (NEW YORK, NY) June 30, 2018 — The 15th Annual Games for Change Festival closed on a strong note with the return of the XR for Change Summit, formerly known as VR for Change, showcasing a range of how virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality can have a meaningful positive impact in journalism, health, education and more. Held at The New School’s Parsons School of Design, the Summit and the Immersive Arcade was curated by Ryan Seashore for Games for Change. Combining talks, breakouts, and demos, summit attendees were invited to learn about and experience new projects and discuss charting the path forward for the future of these technologies.

“The XR for Change Summit was an exceptionally fitting way to close out this year’s 15th Annual Games for Change Festival,” said Susanna Pollack, President of Games for Change. “Everything from the Immersive Arcade experiences to the presentations and talks by industry leaders and influencers provided attendees with practical applications for how the community can move forward.”

The Summit featured the following keynote presentations:

  • Graham Roberts, Director of Immersive Platforms Storytelling, The New York Times, discussed how The New York Times is using augmented reality to enhance reporting and journalism,
  • Walter Greenleaf, PhD Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University, shared how XR technology will impact and transform healthcare
  • Gaia Dempsey, Founder & CEO, 7th Future, presented a new framework of how XR technologies can empower communities to climb Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’
  • Tom Furness, Founder & Chairman of Virtual World Society and Founder of the Human Interface Technology Laboratory at the University of Washington, explored how XR technology has impacted humanity’s past, present and future,

Highlights and notable speakers from the XR for Change Summit included:

  • Games for Change, Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security, Archer’s Mark and Atlas V announced they are teaming up to launch an immersive virtual reality project, designed to raise public awareness around nuclear risk through a combination of narrative storytelling and gameplay mechanics. The project was awarded funds by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
  • The Immersive Arcade – Attendees were invited to experience some of the most innovative works in XR, including:
    • Terminal 3 by Asad J. Malik, 1RIC, Kaleidoscope, RYOT
    • Greenland Melting by Emblematic Group
    • 1000 Cut Journey by Columbia University and Stanford University
    • This is Climate Change: Fire, Famine, Feast by Participant Media and Condition One
    • The Journey by Picture This Productions and UNICEF
    • She Flies by Her Own Wings by Fovrth Studios, Oculus VR for Good and The Pride Foundation
    • Meeting a Monster by Life After Hate
    • Into the Now by RSA Films
    • Jupiter & Mars by Tigeton
    • Overview by Orbital Views
    • My Africa by Conservation International
    • HoloAnatomy by Case Western Reserve University
    • HoloTour by Microsoft
    • Lost City of Mer by Lost City of Mer LLC
    • The Hidden by International Justice Mission
  • Dan Ayoub (Microsoft Mixed Reality Education General Manager) explored why libraries are expanding their role in digital literacy is an important in democratizing education.
  • Joanna Popper (HP Global Head of Virtual Reality for Location Based Entertainment) presented Mars Home Planet and how thousands around the world are using XR to design, create and experience life on Mars.
  • Boo Aguilar (FLAGCX Head of Next Generation Experiences) and Adam Haar Horowitz (Graduate Student, MIT Media Lab) presented a few of the projects they’ve been working on with partners like IBM, HTC, United Nations and Unity to accelerate change in the way we interact with computational systems and each other, as well as other technologies to keep an eye on for the future.

Earlier this week, The Games for Change Festival featured a XR Brain Jam, the work from which was on display at the XR for Change Summit. HP was the VR technology sponsor of the XR Brain Jam and the contributing tech sponsor of The Games for Change Festival. The three day-long Festival saw over 1,100 attendees, a record high for the organization. For more information about programming from this year’s festival, please visit

Video Footage: Archived footage of the mainstage programming from the Festival’s live stream can be found on Games for Change Youtube page. Additional content can be found on BeTerrific’s Mixer channel ( and Twitch channel ( BeTerrific media is also delivered through devices and apps on Amazon Fire, AppleTV, Roku, Android and iOS and at, and other syndication channels.

About Games for Change

Since 2004, Games for Change (G4C) has been empowering game creators and innovators to drive real-world change, using games that help people to learn, improve their communities, and contribute to make the world a better place. G4C partners with technology and gaming companies as well as nonprofits, foundations and government agencies, to run world class events, public arcades, design challenges and youth programs. G4C supports a global community of game developers working to use games to tackle real-world challenges, from humanitarian conflicts to climate change and education.

About Parsons School of Design

Parsons School of Design is one of the world’s leading institutions for art and design education. Based in New York but active around the world, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of art and design disciplines. Critical thinking and collaboration are at the heart of a Parsons education. Parsons graduates are leaders in their fields, with a shared commitment to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century.

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Highlights From Day 2 Of Games For Change Festival Include A Discussion On The Impact Of The World Health Organization’s ‘Gaming Disorder’ Classification, And An Exclusive First Look At Schell Games’ Hololab Champions VR

Additional Programming Featured Microsoft Xbox’s Foray Into Inclusive Hardware Design, and Keynotes by Mimi Ito, Jeffrey Burrell, Ken Perlin, and More.

Press Release – (NEW YORK, NY) June 29, 2018 — Games for Change marked the second day of their 15th annual festival with programming that focused on looking into the past decade and future of social impact games. Key themes explored included games and empathy, connected cities, VR in the classroom, transforming STEM learning, news literacy, and more.

Day 2 Highlights included:

  • a panel moderated by Jennifer McNamara (Vice President Serious Games, BreakAway Games), Kelli Dunlap (Mental Health and Games Manager, iThrive Games), Lindsay Grace (Director, American University Game Lab) and Victoria Van Voorhis (Founder and CEO, Second Avenue Learning), which discussed the World Health Organization’s proposal of including ‘gaming disorder’ in the ICD-11. Panelists addressed WHO actions and the continued critique of games and worked to equip attendees for meaningful dialog on the issue;
  • an exclusive first look at Hololab Champions VR, a game looking to assist students with learning chemistry, presented by Jesse Schell (CEO, Schell Games) and Harley Baldwin (Vice President of Design, Schell Games);
  • the team from Microsoft Xbox was on hand led a panel on industrial design for inclusivity moderated by Chris Kujawski (Senior Designer, Microsoft Device Design Team, Microsoft) featuring Richard Ellenson (CEO, Cerebral Palsy Foundation), Erin Hanley (Web Content Producer, The Geeky Gimp) and Festival attendee Andrew Pilkington. Panelists explored the concept of games as a “shared human” experience and the development process of the new game console.

Keynote presentations were given by:

  • Mimi Ito (Director, Connected Learning Lab, University of California, Irvine), who spoke to her ongoing research on interest-driven and digitally enabled learning, and describe connected learning, as a framework for how to best support learning in a digitally connected era;
  • Sam Gill (Vice President/Communities & Impact, Senior Adviser to the President, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation) and Gabriel Stricker (Vice President of Communications, Niantic, Inc.) spoke about how technology is changing our relationship to the places we live to enable more engaged communities;
  • Jeffrey Burrell (Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Riot Games), spoke to various programs and design decisions that Riot Games uses to help deliver sustainable, long-term value for players and communities around the world;
  • and Ken Perlin (Professor of Computer Science, New York University), who spoke about the future of connectivity and communication.

The Games for Change Festival continues on Saturday, June 30 with the XR for Change Summit at The New School’s Parsons School of Design.

About Games for Change

Since 2004, Games for Change (G4C) has been empowering game creators and innovators to drive real-world change, using games that help people to learn, improve their communities, and contribute to make the world a better place. G4C partners with technology and gaming companies as well as nonprofits, foundations and government agencies, to run world class events, public arcades, design challenges and youth programs. G4C supports a global community of game developers working to use games to tackle real-world challenges, from humanitarian conflicts to climate change and education.

About Parsons School of Design

Parsons School of Design is one of the world’s leading institutions for art and design education. Based in New York but active around the world, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of art and design disciplines. Critical thinking and collaboration are at the heart of a Parsons education. Parsons graduates are leaders in their fields, with a shared commitment to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century.

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2018 Utah Ethical Leadership Awards

Press Release – The fifth annual Utah Ethical Leadership Awards program is now underway to recognize and support the ethical leadership of organizations in the state of Utah. Applications are now open for these awards. All businesses, government entities, and nonprofit organizations with ethical standards are encouraged to apply. Applications close on July 30th, 2018. The application is available online by clicking the following link: Utah Ethical Leadership Award Application

Finalists will be announced after a thorough evaluation process and will be notified the beginning of August. All finalists will then be invited to an awards breakfast on September 7, 2018, where the winners will be announced. One award will be given to the winner of each of the business, government, and nonprofit categories. Finalists and awardees will receive extensive press coverage in Utah Business Magazine and other media outlets.

Governor Gary Herbert says: “The Utah Ethical Leadership Awards recognize Utah businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government entities that embody best practices in ethical behaviors. The finalists and awardees are a great representation of Utah’s principle-based ethical leadership.”

The awards are designed to recognize organizations that embody the spirit of ethical leadership exhibited by Bill Daniels, a founder of the modern cable industry and former owner of the Utah Stars. Bill Daniels believed deeply in ethics and integrity, and in the importance of absolute ethical principles, which earned him great respect throughout the business world. The awards program is sponsored by the Daniels Fund, the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative at the David Eccles School of Business, the Community Foundation of Utah, Utah Business Magazine, and the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah.

Dr. Taylor Randall, Dean of the University of Utah’s Eccles school of Business, said: “The David Eccles School of Business is dedicated to making sure our students not only get an elite business education, but also learn how to better themselves, their workplaces and the world around them through leading an ethical professional life. The Utah Ethical Leadership Awards are an outstanding forum to showcase for students and Utahans in general, the local businesses that make ethical standards a priority. The awards will serve as inspiration for years to come for the future business leaders coming out of the David Eccles School of Business.”

Alex Eaton, Chief Executive Officer of the Community Foundation of Utah says: “We look forward to receiving applications for the Utah Ethical Leadership Awards. This is such a great opportunity to recognize and celebrate leadership in Utah businesses, nonprofit organizations and government entities that embody best practices in ethical behaviors.”

Last Year’s Winners:

Business – Tink’s Superior Auto Parts
Nonprofit – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah
State/Government – Lowell Bennion Community Service Center

Apply Now.

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The Only Way Is Pup For First-Ever Thames Seal Breeding Survey

ZSL-led pupping study aims to gather further evidence of estuary’s ecological importance

Press Release – Marine biologists will be keeping their eyes peeled for new arrivals as the first-ever survey of seal pups in the Thames Estuary ‘swims’ into action via sea, land and air this coming weekend.

Led by international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London), this year’s study – running from 1-4 July – will for the first time count seal pup numbers in key colonies along the Kent and Essex coasts, shedding further light on the importance of this critical habitat for the UK’s native harbour seals (Phoca vitulina).

Conducted via a combination of aerial, shoreline and boat-based surveys, the inaugural harbour seal breeding survey will also look for impacts of a range of emerging threats to these animals – ranging from wildlife disease and pressures from coastal construction projects, to plastic pollution and inter-species competition for food/habitat.

Commenting on this year’s Thames seal survey, ZSL conservation biologist Thea Cox said: “The outer Thames Estuary has long been known as an important habitat for adult harbour seals – now, our first survey specifically of pupping in the outer Thames Estuary will hopefully also show how vital this habitat is as a breeding habitat for these charismatic marine mammals.

“Last year, we estimated populations of 1,104 harbour seals and 2,406 grey seals across the Estuary – an increase of 14% and 19% respectively against 2016’s figures. These positive findings support the idea that today’s Thames is not the same polluted, biologically dead ‘open sewer’ it was in the 1950s, but is in fact thriving with wildlife once again. There’s still a lot of work to do, however, so launching our first-ever pupping count this year should yield further invaluable evidence to support the ongoing renaissance of London’s river as a living, breathing ecosystem.”

For more information on ZSL’s ongoing work in the River Thames, including the opportunity to sign-up as a ‘citizen science’ conservation volunteer, please visit:

To report your marine mammal sightings, visit

ZSL’s work to conserve wildlife in the River Thames is supported by partners including Tideway – the company building London’s new ‘super sewer’.

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Mesh Omnimedia’s ‘This Business of Autism’ Now Available to Stream on Amazon Video

Acclaimed Documentary Featuring Spectrum Designs and Dr. Temple Grandin Now Available as a Full-Length Movie Download for Audiences Worldwide

Press Release – Port Washington, NY, June 28, 2018 – Spectrum Designs, amongst the largest employers of individuals with autism in New York, and Mesh Omnimedia announced that the esteemed documentary This Business of Autism is now available for the first time as a full-length download on Amazon Video. It examines the economic and societal benefits of employing young adults with autism and traces the growth of Spectrum Designs, highlights initiatives from across the country and features the world-renowned Dr. Temple Grandin.

Half of the proceeds will be donated to Spectrum Designs helping to further its mission to provide gainful employment and meaningful work opportunities to individuals with autism within a social enterprise. The documentary can be rented for $4.99 or purchased for $14.99, here.

When purchased, viewing rights don’t expire and rentals include 30 days to start watching video and 48 hours to finish once started. This Business of Autism can be viewed on compatible Fire TV, Smart TC, streaming media player, game console, mobile phone, or tablet. A trailer for the film is available here.

“By teaming with Amazon On-Demand, we are making it possible for This Business of Autism to reach the masses, inspiring them through Spectrum Designs’ story,” says filmmaker Stephen Mackey, Creative Director at Mesh Omnimedia. “Our goal is to empower individuals on the spectrum and give them a boost of confidence to pursue employment opportunities, while raising awareness among the neurotypical community about the capabilities of this population.”

In the next decade, 500,000 people on the autism spectrum will age into adulthood, and an estimated 70% to 90% of these adults will be unemployed or underemployed. This Business Of Autism addresses the positive impacts of developing profitable businesses, like Spectrum Designs. The nonprofit has identified unique traits and perspectives of its employees to grow as a social enterprise.

“We are eternally grateful to have our story told in such a beautiful and powerful film. We’re also tremendously proud of our employees and supporters who worked so hard for this recognition,” says Patrick Bardsley, Co-Founder and CEO at Spectrum Designs. “Most importantly, the film continues, and significantly adds to, the wider narrative of disability employment in America.”

The film recently premiered on the big screen at Soundview Cinemas in Port Washington, New York, as part of the Gold Coast International Film Festival to a sold-out crowd of Autism advocates, local politicians and more. Soon-to-be announced screening events will take place across the country in the coming months.

In addition to exploring the growth and success of Spectrum Designs, the film examines several other initiatives from across the country, including the following:

  • The Autism Job Club, a networking and support organization based in San Francisco, illustrates how their group has made significant progress in placing individuals on the spectrum in high-tech Silicon Valley jobs as well as other industries.
  • Mercyhurst University’s Autism Initiative (AIM) program is helping their students acquire not only the hard skills central to their degree, but also the “soft skills” critical in networking and interviewing.

Dr. Temple Grandin is joined by other high-profile figures in the film, including New York State Senator Elaine Phillips, former New York State Senator Jack Martins, Nassau County DA Madeline Singas, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, and the former California Director of Employment Development Department, Michael Bernick.

For more information on This Business of Autism, visit the film’s website here. For more information on Mesh Omnimedia, visit the website here.

About Spectrum Designs

Spectrum Designs is the largest and fastest growing non-profit of its kind that offers its customers a ‘meaningful purchase’​ by providing gainful employment and significant vocational experiences to people with disabilities. Spectrum provides businesses, corporations, community members and private clients with customized printed apparel and unsurpassed customer service. Spectrum’s goal is to raise awareness regarding the abilities and employability of these exceptional individuals, and is determined to prove that this business model is self-sustaining and replicable. For more information, visit

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Clear Purchase Explains Mojaloop Decision

Press Release – San Francisco, CA: June 28, 2018: Clear Purchase, founded by payment infrastructure expert Nick Brown, answers several questions regarding their decision of June 7th to build their secure payment system for a cashless economy in developing countries without incorporating Mojaloop, developed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The main deciding factor revolved around Mojaloop being open source, with data security concerns that could lead to widespread payment fraud.

Why is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation making Mojaloop Open Source?

Mojaloop has the potential to make a big difference in the global Financial Inclusion initiative. As a foundation they have no need to make a profit, focussed instead on maximizing impact, so they are happy giving it away. They also have no interest in taking on the responsibility of supporting and maintaining the code for the long term. Open Source seems the obvious way for them to proceed.

Why have you focussed so much on fraud?

All other aspects of the payment industry are manageable, with occasional issues likely to be noticed immediately and often addressed quickly with minimal if any affect on users.

This is not the case with fraud. A new payment system will have minimal if any fraud while transaction volumes remain low, until one day it becomes the target of a major attack. The damage done to everyone involved will be massive, and the likelihood of a fix to prevent further fraud will be minimal. It will then be too late and the fraud will not stop!

This is why payment fraud must be taken seriously right from the beginning by every player involved.

Would your stance change if the Mojaloop business model were changed?

The quality of Mojaloop system design and the code itself is impressive. Unfortunately they have massively underestimated the potential for fraud, with the result that Mojaloop may cause more harm than good.

Not only would we reconsider our decision if their business model were modified, we would be happy to assist them if asked.

Nick Brown said, “If Mojaloop was not open source we would have incorporated it into our system, obviously replacing the Central Directory and modifying the code to fit our specific requirements. We would also considerably enhance data security in the initial system as well as on an ongoing basis, sharing what we did with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”

The full assessment of Mojaloop written by Nick Brown can be found at:

Nick Brown is a technical expert with 30 years of experience in the payment infrastructure industry, which included the implementation of the VISA Debit Card system at VISA International. He has also been involved in writing national and international standards for data security for the financial services industry.

Clear Purchase, Inc. is part of the movement to break the poverty trap in developing countries by creating a truly cashless economy, our role being to build the payment network hub that connects everyone together to facilitate even the tiniest transactions.

For more information:

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Off The Scale: Can Forensics Save The World’s Most-Trafficked Mammal?

Pioneering project trials fingerprinting techniques to battle pangolin poaching

Press Release – FORENSIC fingerprinting techniques will now be used in the battle against illegal wildlife trade as new methods of lifting fingermarks from trafficked animals, are announced today.

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth and international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London), with support from the UK Border force, developed the technology with one particular animal in mind – the pangolin.

Pangolins – also known as scaly anteaters because of their appearance – are found throughout Asia and Africa, but their numbers are dwindling as a result of poaching for international trade.

Around 300 pangolins are poached every day, making these unusual animals the most illegally trafficked mammals in the world. Their meat is considered a delicacy in China and Vietnam, while their scales are used in traditional Asian medicine. They are also used in traditional African bush medicine. All trade in pangolin meat and scales is currently outlawed under the international CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) agreement.

This new method uses gelatine lifters with a low-adhesive gelatine layer on one side, which are used universally by forensic practitioners for lifting footwear marks, fingermarks and trace materials off various objects in criminal investigations.

In a preliminary trial, the researchers tested the usability of gelatine lifters for visualising finger marks on pangolin scales. Using 10 pangolin scales from several species, supplied by Grant Miller and Tim Luffman of UK Border Force, each scale was gripped by five participants. A gelatine lifter was applied to the scale, removed and scanned using a BVDA GLScanner system which provided 100 fingermarks (one from the front and one from the back of the scales).

The fingermarks were then graded for the presence of ridge detail on the University’s BVDA gel imaging scanner and 89 per cent of the visualised gelatine lifts examined produced clear ridge detail. This means that law enforcement agencies will, potentially, be able to use the mark to identify persons of interest who have come into contact with the scale.

Dr Nicholas Pamment, who runs the Wildlife Crime Unit at the University of Portsmouth, said: “This is a significant breakthrough for wildlife crime investigation. Wildlife trafficking is a significant factor in the loss of habitats and species. While forensic science techniques are being used as part of the investigation process, there is a lack of research looking at ‘what works’ in the context, or within the limitations of the wildlife crime investigation and in the environments where the investigations take place.

“What we have done is to create a quick, easy and usable method for wildlife crime investigation in the field to help protect these critically endangered mammals. It is another tool that we can use to combat the poaching and trafficking of wild animals.”

Christian Plowman, Law Enforcement Advisor for ZSL, said: “This project is a great example of how multiple organisations are working together to not only develop methods that work, but to optimise the methods for use in wildlife crime investigations.

“The initial catalyst for this project were Dr Brian Chappell (University of Portsmouth) and I, both former Scotland Yard detectives, now working in conservation law enforcement for ZSL and the other in academia. This point of uniqueness underlines and enhances credibility for the project and for both organisations.”

Grant Miller, Head of the UK’s National CITES Enforcement Team, said: “We know how prized pangolins are by those engaged in wildlife crime. I am delighted that Border Force has been able to play its part in the development of this method of lifting fingermarks from pangolin scales, technology which will help bring poachers and smugglers to justice.”

The researchers have now developed gelatine lifter packs for Wildlife Rangers in Kenya and Cameroon to help in their fight against illegal poaching of pangolins. Each pack contains 10 gelatine lifters, scissors, insulating packs, evidence bags, a roller and a simple pictorial guide for the Rangers to follow. The field packs for the Kenyan wildlife service were initially provided for the examination of poached elephant ivory and dead elephants killed by poachers.

Jac Reed, Senior Specialist Forensic Technician at the University of Portsmouth, said: ““What is fundamental to this method is its application, it is easy to use and employs low-level technology. This is so important for rangers in the field who need to be able to get good quality fingermarks very quickly to ensure their own safety. It is also important for law enforcement in developing countries who may not have access to more advanced technologies and expensive forensic equipment.”

The study involved Dr Paul Smith, Jac Reed, Dr Nick Pamment and Dr Brian Chappell from the University of Portsmouth and Christian Plowman from ZSL (Zoological Society London). The researchers hope to present their findings at the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences later in the year.

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National Park Foundation Announces $500,000 Grant for Yellowstone National Park

Generous funding from Julia and George Argyros supports efforts to preserve and restore native fish populations in the park

Press Release – WASHINGTON (June 28, 2018) – As part of a multi-year effort to protect the native cutthroat trout population at Yellowstone National Park, the National Park Foundation announced today a $500,000 grant to the local philanthropic organization Yellowstone Forever for the park’s Native Fish Conservation Plan, thanks to generous funding from Julia and George Argyros.

“The Argyros family’s support exemplifies the power of philanthropy,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “Inspired by their love of fishing, Julia and George are helping to revive a once thriving native fish population that is such a critical part of the park.”

Following the introduction of nonnative lake, brown, brook, and rainbow trout species, the native cutthroat trout population has declined significantly, leading to the displacement of several cutthroat consumers such as bears, otters, ospreys, and eagles. For example, cutthroat trout numbers in Yellowstone Lake decreased about 90% from an estimated 4+ million following the introduction of predatory lake trout in the late 1980s. To restore cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake to mid-1990s levels and address the continued loss of native fish species at the park, the Native Fish Conservation Plan focuses on restoring the natural ecology, ensuring the health of native biodiversity, and enhancing sport fisheries in the park.

“This generous donation, and others over the past decade, are really making a difference,” said Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk. “The park has made progress removing nonnative fish from lakes, rivers, and streams, but we can’t stop now in our effort to restore these essential aquatic systems.”

For Julia Argyros, protecting native fish populations is close to her heart. As an avid fisher, she established a fly-fishing school for women in Sun Valley, Idaho.

“Because of my passion for fishing, I understand the importance of native species and how we can all help with their preservation,” said Julia Argyros, president of the Argyros Family Foundation. “My family and I are honored to support these critical efforts to save the cutthroat trout at Yellowstone National Park.”

The Argyros family’s donation is part of the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks. To date, this comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of America’s treasured national parks has raised more than $500 million in private donations from individuals, foundations, and companies.

“Private philanthropy moves this much-needed preservation project forward,” said Al Baldwin, chairman of the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks. “Thanks to partners like the Argyros family, Yellowstone’s work to protect one of the country’s most important fisheries continues.”


Julia Argyros, along with her husband George, have long been respected pillars of the Orange County, California, business and philanthropic communities, donating time, wisdom and money to causes that are close to their hearts, including health care, education, conservation, high-risk and high-need children, and the arts. Julia Argyros is a passionate philanthropist who has been widely recognized for her dedication to volunteerism and community service. She also established a fly-fishing school for women in Sun Valley, Idaho, and is credentialed in elementary, speech therapy and hard-of-hearing education. Julia and George have been married for 56 years and have three grown children and nine wonderful grandchildren. Their commitment to family is as strong as their belief in the importance of giving back to their community and making a difference in the future of Orange County.


Celebrating 50 years, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and ENGAGE the next generation of park stewards. In 2016, commemorating the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, a comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at

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The Ride Foundation’s Second Annual Gala Event Dance For Freedom To Benefit Leading Organizations Combatting Human Trafficking Cast And Journey Out

Louis Van Amstel and Anna Trebunskaya to Headline Live Ballroom Dance Show

Award-Winning Actress / Activist Julia Ormond is Special Guest and Presenter

Dancing with the Stars’ Carrie Ann Inaba to Receive Artistic Integrity Award

Saturday, September 29, 2018 at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, CA

Press Release – Los Angeles, CA – June 27, 2018 – RIDE Foundation (Robyn & Italo Dance Events), formed by Pro-Am ballroom dance partners, Robyn Shreiber and Italo Elgueta, has announced that its 2nd annual gala event, DANCE FOR FREEDOM, will benefit two of Los Angeles’ leading organizations who are dedicated to fighting human trafficking – CAST (Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking), and Journey Out. RIDE was established in 2016 to create one-of-a-kind dance events for difference-making charities, encompassing humane and ecological causes and featuring the talents of compassionate stars of the dance world. Dance For Freedom will be held at 6PM, at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, with a program featuring top dance and vocal performances produced by Tony Award-winning producer Scott Mauro.

“We are thrilled to have both CAST and Journey Out as the beneficiaries of our 2nd annual gala event,” say Robyn and Italo in a joint statement. “CAST CEO Kay Buck, and Journey Out Executive Director Dr. Stephany Powell, are two incredible women whose tireless work and unwavering advocacy has saved the lives of many women, children and men. We both had learned so much from Kay and Stephany about this horrendous crime, and had the opportunity to experience the work that both organizations do to fight human trafficking. We are truly honored to honor them with the RIDE Champion Award,” they add.

“Survivors of human trafficking are some of the most resilient individuals I have ever met- resilience that is strengthened by healing arts programs. Trafficked from over 59 countries to Los Angeles, CAST uses dance and music therapy modalities to bring healing and rehabilitation to survivors, and helps them build a community among each other. Dance is one of the unique languages that everyone can speak at our shelter, and demonstrates the extraordinary power of dance to support survivors in their journeys to heal and rebuild their lives, ” says Kay Buck. “There is so much more critical work that must be done to stop human trafficking, and help those who have been victimized. We are incredibly grateful to Robyn, Italo and everyone at the RIDE Foundation for choosing CAST as a beneficiary of Dance for Freedom,” she adds.

“Journey Out provides girls and women the critical tools and support necessary to help them break free from commercial sexual exploitation and to rebuild their lives,” says Dr. Stephany Powell. “Each individual we help, is one step forward in ending the sexual exploitation and trafficking of girls and women. We are grateful to the RIDE Foundation for supporting our mission and choosing Journey Out as a beneficiary of Dance For Freedom.”

Award-winning Actress and anti-human trafficking activist Julia Ormond will serve as presenter at the event. Ormond, who earned accolades for her performances in Legends of the Fall, The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons, Sabrina and Temple Grandin, is the first and former UNODC Goodwill Ambassador Against Trafficking and Slavery, and is the Founder of Alliance to Stop Slavery and End Trafficking. Julia has traveled the world assessing solutions and challenges of human trafficking and has appeared as an expert witness before the US Congress and the United Nations. For this advocacy work, she received the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award and Women for Women International’s Peace Award.

This year, RIDE will present Carrie Ann Inaba with its inaugural Artistic Integrity Award. The RIDE Artistic Integrity Award celebrates members of the entertainment industry for their outstanding professional accomplishments in dance and choreography, and for their heartfelt humanity that has made a difference for a multitude of worthy causes. Inaba, a veteran choreographer most recognized as a judge on ABC’s Emmy Award-winning “Dancing with the Stars,” as well as for her work on such popular series as “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” is a spokesperson and advocate for many causes, including Drea’s Dream, a national program that raises funds for dance therapy for pediatric cancer patients, as well as The Animal Project Foundation and Best Friends Animal Shelter, for which she serves as a celebrity ambassador.

In 2017, RIDE held its inaugural gala event, Dance for Africa. The star-studded event raised funds for the African Wildlife Foundation, whose mission is to ensure that wildlife and wild lands thrive in a modern Africa.

Tickets to Dance For Freedom can be purchased online at

About RIDE Foundation:

RIDE (Robyn & Italo Dance Events) is a 501c3 non-profit organization created by Pro-Am ballroom couple Robyn Shreiber and Italo Elgueta. RIDE’s mission is to create one-of-a-kind dance events for difference-making charities. RIDE is Robyn and Italo’s creation and their way to give back by combining their complementary business and dance backgrounds for a greater cause.

For more information, please log onto

About CAST:

The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) is a Los Angeles–based nonprofit organization that is working to put an end to modern slavery and human trafficking through comprehensive, life-changing services to survivors and a platform to advocate for groundbreaking policies and legislation. Over the past two decades, CAST has supported thousands of survivors through every phase of their journey to freedom from counseling, to legal resources, to housing, educational and leadership training and mentorship. Through these programs, CAST has helped empower survivors to overcome their traumatic pasts and become leading voices in shaping policy and public awareness to ultimately put an end to the fastest growing criminal enterprise of the 21st century.

By connecting survivors across the country, through CAST’s Advisory Caucus and National Survivor Network, the organization supports and encourages survivors to realize their own leadership qualities and to value their insight not just as survivors, but as experts in the human trafficking field. The depth of CAST’s work has not only changed the lives of those impacted by human trafficking, but it has positioned CAST as an organization leading the charge to help finally put an end to this epidemic.

CAST is one of the pioneers of the US anti-trafficking movement. The organization was founded by Dr. Kathryn McMahon, the Thai CDC and a group of community activists, in response to the discovery of 72 Thai workers that had been kept for seven years in slavery and debt bondage in Los Angeles County. Led by celebrated human rights activist Kay Buck, CAST’s immeasurable contribution to survivors of human trafficking has been recognized by President Obama, who honored CAST with the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons in 2014.

About Journey Out:

Journey Out is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit leading the fight for the freedom and survival of all those whose lives have been destroyed by sex trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation.

Our mission is to help victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking leave a life of abuse and violence, overcome their fears, and empower them to reach their full potential and achieve their goals.

We provide a multi-faceted support system for those who make the difficult journey out of an existence of abuse and violence. We provide the critical tools and support necessary for women to help them break free from commercial sexual exploitation and rebuild their lives. And, to ensure younger women and girls never enter the life, we provide diversion programs focused on knowledge and empowerment.

Every person Journey Out has served is not only an individual success story, but also an illustration of the contribution we make to the fabric of our communities, and to the fast-growing movement to end sexual exploitation. Journey Out Programs and Services include: Drop-In Center Programming; Prostitution Diversion Program – Alternative to Incarceration; Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Prevention and Intervention Programs; Direct Street Outreach; Community & Agency Education/Training; and First Responder Crisis Response Team.

Journey Out is committed to meeting the ongoing challenges of helping victims of commercial sexual exploitation leave a life of abuse and violence, overcome their fears and empower them to reach their potential and achieve their goals.

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