MEET THE PRESENTERS
Matthew Sabatella, M.A. brings to life music that is woven into the fabric of the United States. As a singer, instrumentalist, recording artist, performer, speaker, and writer, he illuminates the connection between music and the story and people of the United States. He performs regularly, both as a solo artist and as the leader of the Rambling String Band. The nonprofit he founded, Ballad of America, Inc., preserves and celebrates music from America's diverse cultural history. Sabatella has been singular in his mission to share America's rich musical heritage with others, both for the sheer love of the music and for its value in inspiring people to better understand each other, the past, present, and future. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Miami and a Master of Arts in History from Florida International University.
Ata Sarajedini, Ph.D., is a professor and the Bjorn Lamborn Endowed Chair in Astrophysics at FAU. Before coming to FAU in January of 2017, he served as associate dean for natural sciences and mathematics as well as associate dean for research in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida. Before that, he was Associate Chair and Acting Chair in the Department of Astronomy. After earning his doctoral degree in astronomy at Yale in 1992, he spent seven years as a postdoctoral researcher and a Hubble Fellow at Kitt Peak National Observatory and San Francisco State University. Sarajedini spent two years at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT as an assistant professor before moving to the University of Florida in 2001. His research is focused on resolved stellar populations in Local Group galaxies. These include field stars, open and globular clusters in the Milky Way, M31, M33, the Magellanic Clouds, and the numerous nearby dwarf galaxies.
Edward Shapiro, Ph.D., earned his doctoral degree in history from Harvard University and taught American history at Seton Hall University for three decades. His books include “A Time for Healing: American Jews Since World War II" (1992); “We Are Many: Reflections on American Jewish History and Identity" (2005), “Crown Heights: Blacks, Jews, and the Brooklyn Riot of 1991" (2006), and "A Unique People in a Unique Land: Essays in American Jewish History" (2022). Shapiro has received awards and grants from the American Philosophical Society, the Oxford Center for Jewish Studies, and the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation and has lectured throughout the United States, Europe, and Israel.
Kristin Shockley, M.A. is a senior instructor in the FAU department of political science since 2007. With a background in both history and political science, she teaches a broad array of courses in the sub-fields of American government and politics, comparative politics, and international relations. Her research examines the intersections of religion and politics and politics and popular culture.
Born in New York, René Silvin, MBA grew up in Swiss boarding schools. After earning his bachelor's degree from Georgetown University in 1970 and two master's degrees in business from Cornell University in 1972, he spent 25 years in the investor-owned hospital industry. Since retiring, Silvin has published five books, including a memoir about his friendship with the late Duchess of Windsor, as well as a history of Palm Beach, Florida seen through the eyes of the famous society architect, Addison Mizner, and a coffee table book titled “Normandie: The Tragic Story of the Most Majestic Ocean Liner," which is a historical novel that brings to life the magnificent flagship of the French line, Normandie, which met its tragic end during WWII. He continues to add lecture topics, through offering well-researched, glamorous stories with historical significance, infused with personal experiences, including a history of transatlantic ocean liner travel, the history of Mar-a-Lago, and a series of presentations about the pitfalls of being too rich. Silvin serves as the chairman on the Palm Beach Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Marlene Solender is former executive in microbiology and laboratory science and chief project executive for the development of major health care information systems. As an adjunct professor in information systems she developed exceptional public speaking skills with a knack for unique presentations. In her "retirement" Solender is a music historian who shares her love of musical theater, the movies and the American Songbook with audiences on land and to cruise ship audiences around the globe. Using her unique entertainment skills, the life stories of composers, lyricists and other famous personalities are punctuated by the music of the time. She fills the room with story and song and the audience leaves the theater humming and singing!