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Westina Matthews, Ph.D

Dancing from the Inside Out: Grace-Filled Reflections on Growing Older


Westina Matthews, PhD.

For over 35 years, Westina Matthews has turned her passion and creativity into realities for so many in the community at large. An accomplished author, corporate strategic advisor, and much sought after public speaker, she has received numerous honors for her achievements in the boardroom and her commitment to community service. 

Westina is a retired managing director with broad experience in business development, education, community relations, and philanthropy. At Merrill Lynch, she led an entrepreneurial initiative, facilitating $4 billion in financing and new client assets by linking community relations and organizations to products and services offered by company. She was the first woman and person of color to be elected a trustee of the Merrill Lynch Foundation. 

Upon her retirement, Westina was one of sixteen fellows selected for the prestigious fellowship at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. She then joined the Jackie Robinson Foundation for four years as vice president, chief program officer. Committed to leadership by example, Westina has served on over 30 not-for-profit organizations, colleges and universities, including the International Women’s Forum, the Women’s Forum of New York (past president), and The Executive Leadership Council.

Westina has found a way to connect with others through her writings, lectures, speaking, and teaching. A prolific writer, she is the author of Dancing from the Inside Out: Grace-Filled Reflections on Growing Older (2019); and contributed one of the 21 hilarious (but true) stories in the award-winning Sisters! Bonded by Love and Laughter (2021). Westina is now co-editing a new book Soul Food: Contemplative Living and Leadership that will be released in Fall 2023. 

Westina earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in education at the University of Dayton, Ph.D. in education at the University of Chicago, and served as a postdoctoral research fellow at both Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. 

After living and writing in New York City for more than 30 years, Westina is now writing along the banks of the Wilmington River in Savannah, GA. 


                                                                   SATURDAY SPEAKERS


Are You a Spectator or Do You Want to be a Player?

Tommy Aaron - Pro Golfer

Tommy Aaron was born in Gainesville, Georgia and began playing golf at age 12.   He won two Georgia Amateur titles, two Southeastern Amateur events and two Georgia Open crowns, despite not having a golf course in his hometown.  He is the only golfer to have one championships in high school and college and at the amateur and professional levels.

Aaron attended the University of Florida, where he played for the Florida Gators men's golf team from 1956 to 1959.  He was a member of the Gators' 1956 Southeastern Conference (SEC) championship team, and won the individual SEC championship in 1957 and 1958.  He was a member of the 1959 Walker Cup team, and won the Western Amateur in 1960. He was recognized as an All-American in 1958 and 1959.  Aaron graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1960, and was later inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great."  

Aaron turned pro in 1960. His first professional victory came at the 1969 Canadian Open.  The following year he gained his first PGA Tour victory at the Atlanta Classic. In 1972, he won the Trophée Lancôme in France. Aaron's best money year was 1972, when he finished in ninth place on the PGA Tour money list. 

Aaron won the Masters Tournament in 1973, which was his one major championship. He also finished in the top ten at the Masters from 1967 to 1970. His only other top ten major championship finishes came at the PGA Championship in 1965 and 1972. In 2000, he made the cut at the Masters at the age of 63, breaking a record previously held by Gary Player

Aaron played for the U.S. team in the Ryder Cup in 1969 and 1973, and had a record of one win, one tie and four losses.  In the 1980s and 1990s, Aaron played on the Senior PGA Tour.  He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1980, and the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame in 1989. 

Aaron has always called Gainesville home and continues to be an active, participating member of our community.  He’s often seen at Chattahoochee Golf Course encouraging and assisting young golfers.  One of the major streets at the golf course was named after him when he was a star golfer at the University of Florida and it was a dirt road at the time.


Dr. David Westphal

“Mining the Gold from your Golden Years”

Dave Westfall, MD

Dr. Westfall was born in Ithaca, NY but grew up in Gainesville, FL where his father was a biology professor at the U of Florida. In high school he earned his Eagle Scout badge. He attended Davidson College and the University of Florida, graduating from the University of Florida College of Medicine in 1972. He completed 3 years of specialty training in Family Medicine in Newport News, Virginia, followed by 3 years of service in the Navy in Pensacola. He was in private practice in Gainesville, GA from 1978-1994, during which time he helped start the Good News Clinics where he continues to volunteer. He was recruited by NGHS in 1995 to create and manage a network of primary care practices in the region. As Vice President of Medical Affairs he was the first “physician executive” for the organization and served in that role until 2005. In 2006 he was appointed District 2 public health director by the Georgia Department of Public Health with responsibility for the 13 counties in NE Georgia. He earned his MPH degree from Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health in 2009 and served as an adjunct professor in that program for 10 years. At the end of 2016 he retired from the Department of Public Health at age 70 and spent 7 months of 2017 completing a 2200 mile through hike of the Appalachian Trail, observing first-hand the health benefits of physical exercise and immersion in Nature.


Dr. Cynthia Park, LPC, PhD

“What’s The Story Behind the Story We Tell Ourseslves And The World?”

Rev. Cynthia Park, PhD, LPC

Dr. Park is an Episcopal priest, a licensed therapist, and a Semitic philologist. With the exception of attending a local community college as an adult with four small children, the bulk of her academic career happened after the age of 45, once she was a grandmother. She defended her doctoral dissertation at 60. As much as she imagines that she came “late” to her life’s work, the truth is that she came to it precisely when she was prepared for it.

At 70, she now focuses on stepping away from things she does not do well or enjoy and spending time working with projects she enjoys, and in which she performs passably well. Parish work is her greatest joy. She loves the stories people share, the adventures she is invited to attend with them, and any opportunity she has to work on translating an ancient text. Above all things, she loves a good story, preferably one involving a mystery, a dark secret, and a hero.


Martha T. Nesbitt Ph.D.

Life after 55: Preface or Epilogue

Martha T. Nesbitt PhD

Dr. Martha T. Nesbitt became president of Gainesville College in 1997.  She had already distinguished herself in higher education through her work in the University Systemof Georgia, The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and serving as presidents of the Georgia Association of Women in Higher Education and the American Association for Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC).

As president of Gainesville College, she presided over significant growth of the institution, the opening of a second campus in Oconee County, and the transition from a two year college to a state college offering select baccalaureate degrees. After coming to Gainesville, Martha continued her professional activities including serving on the board of the American Council on Education and chairing Visiting Teams for SACS. She also became involved in community activities, serving on several boards, chairing the Fund Drive for United Way, and serving as president of the Northeast Georgia History Center.

Her awards include the Outstanding  Woman of the Year awarded by AAWCC, President of the Year by AAWCC, the Silver Shovel Award from the Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce, Meritorious Service Award from SAS, named the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia Woman of Distinction, the Northeast Georgia Boy Scouts’ Ralph Cleveland Distinguished Citizen, and Gainesville Rotary Club’s Woman of the Year.

Even after retirement, she has remained active by serving on the Executive Committee of the Northeast Georgia Health System,and serving on the boards of Lakeview Academy and Elachee Nature Science Center. Martha hasn’t slowed down much!


Mary Demmler

Unlocking the Fear of Death: Finding Freedom to Dance Through Grief

Mary R. H. Demmler

Mary R. H. Demmler is the author of Phe and the Work of Death and maintains her website She received her bachelor's degree from Washington and Lee University and her masters from Duke University. She writes from her experiences as an Episcopal priest, having worked in churches, schools, camps, and hospitals across the country. 

Mary lives with her husband and three children on her family’s farm in Hall County, Georgia. When she isn’t writing or tending to church or farm business, she’s in the kitchen or speaking to groups and organizations. She manages their farm and serves part time at Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville as their Associate Priest for Youth. For more information on Mary or to book her to speak at your group or organization, please visit her website.

Death and grief are two experiences universal to us all yet we rarely talk about them. Often people who have lost loved ones are left alone in their grief, mostly because their friends and family are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. And what of our encounters with death and the dying? We may have experiences when a loved one dies that to us seem unexplainable. Because no one discusses such things, we remain silent and think something must be wrong with us. 

In her novel, Phe and the Work of Death, Mary R. H. Demmler explores different death experiences through the eyes of an imagined "death presence." This presence, Phe, takes the reader on a journey of discovery into the intricacies of death for both the dying and the living. Each chapter is a vignette on the death of an individual and those around them, anchored in Mary's personal experiences over her years of ministry. Over the course of the book, the reader witnesses Phe's growth in her understanding of humanity and their capacity to love, as well as her own.

Join Rev. Demmler in a conversation about how we view and experience death and grief. What have been your experiences? How might we hold healthier spaces for one another to grieve losses in our lives? Grief is a natural process and one that takes longer than our culture acknowledges. By opening room and time for one another, we can help each other safely pass through the valley of the shadow of death to find the sun still shining on the other side.


Dr.Sung Bae Lee

Cutting Edge Response to Acute Stroke in Our Community

Sung Lee, MD, MBA

Dr. Sung Bae Lee serves as the Medical Director of Neurointerventional Surgery at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center.  As a neurointerventionalist, he specializes in complex cerebrovascular disease, including stroke, atherosclerosis of the intracranial and extracranial circulation, arteriovenous malformations, dural AV fistulas and cerebral aneurysms. 

Using state-of-the-art imaging in a specially equipped angiography suite, Dr. Lee performs procedures that generally involve microcatheters (tiny tubes) to embolize (close) or recanalize (open) abnormal blood vessels of the brain and spine. This endovascular approach often eliminates the need for open surgery and may provide lifesaving options for previously untreatable lesions.  

Dr. Lee earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a Doctorate of Medicine from the Medical College of Georgia. He completed his residency in neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Lee then pursued subspecialty fellowship training in neurocritical care and stroke at the University of California, San Francisco, followed by a neurointerventioal radiology fellowship at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. As part of his professional growth, he completed an executive MBA in healthcare management from the University of Hawaii, Shidler College of Business.  Dr. Lee has been awarded the 2016 Ke Kauka Po'okela, Outstanding Hospital Based Physician of Year for the Queen’s Medical Center, Honolulu, HI and 2022 Physician of the Year Innovation Award from the Northeast Georgia Health System, Gainesville, GA.  

Dr. Lee cherishes spending time with his wife and three active children. They enjoy church activities, getting together with friends, and playing sports and just relaxing together.