Board of Directors

Mary Arpe, Founder & President

Mary has experience in educational, corporate, legal, and nonprofit sectors. A graduate of Vassar College and the University of Florida Law School, she has worked for a large state university, for IBM, and for the law firm Gelfand and Arpe, P.A., where she has been an equity partner since 1991. Mary has served in leadership roles with the United Way, the Palm Beach County Literacy Coalition, the Nelle Smith Residence for Girls, Toward a More Perfect Union, and the Palm Beach Habilitation Center. She is a graduate of Leadership Palm Beach County and has led local social justice initiatives and programs focused on diversity and inclusion.

From this experience, Mary was inspired to create Community Compact. The nonprofit originally focused on opportunities for establishing complementary partnerships between nonprofit organizations and college students. Subsequently, it created several initiatives including Gleaning Greatness, designed to provide college choice programs to high-potential high school students in rural areas of the country. Her desire to create Summer Scholars came, in part, from being a long-time summer visitor and resident at the Chautauqua Institution.

Ellen Kentner, Vice President

Ellen earned a B.A. in English from the University of Florida and worked promoting children’s books and planning authors’ appearances for Farrar, Straus & Giroux and Crown Publishers in New York City. After moving to Florida, she continued to promote education, working with schools, the Episcopal Church, Toward a More Perfect Union, and a rural branch of the Palm Beach County Library System.

Ellen initiated and coordinated civil rights attorney and author Bryan Stevenson’s first appearance in West Palm Beach in 2016 and co-facilitated the first Sacred Ground program in Southeast Florida in 2020-2021. Sacred Ground is a film and readings-based dialogue series on race, created through the Episcopal Church’s Becoming Beloved Community initiative, focused on racial healing, reconciliation and justice in our personal lives, our work, and our society.

Ellen has served on the board of Community Compact since 2011.

Debi Stewart, Secretary/Treasurer

Debi is a seasoned professional communicator with broad-range experience in public, community, and media relations. She enjoyed concurrent careers as a cultural competence/equity/anti-bias trainer and as a South Florida broadcaster. She has mobilized diverse advisory, student, parent and community groups and has worked in collaborative, cross-cultural initiatives for her previous long-time former employer, the Palm Beach County School District, as well as for a variety of community-based initiatives and organizations.

Debi earned a Masters of Ed. Leadership with an ESOL Endorsement from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, and a B.S. in Media Arts from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. Debi received certifications for diversity training and dialogue facilitation through the National Multicultural Institute in Washington, D.C., the Anti-Defamation League of South Florida, Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, Everyday Democracy, and Interaction Management Associates.

Involved with Community Compact since 2011, Debi has been invigorated by her participation with the Summer Scholars at Chautauqua program since its inception. She works closely with program participants, infusing cultural competence, anti-bias and equity content into structured and informal sessions. Debi believes that by bringing diverse, young voices to the table, and ensuring that they’re heard, our individual and collective futures will thrive!

Chris Payne, Scholar Advisor

Chris Payne attended Wilton High School in 2004 as a 14-year-old kid from the south side of Chicago via the ABC (A Better Chance) program of Wilton, CT. One of very few Black students in Wilton, he graduated as a member of the National Honor Society, president of the Wilton High School band, and a decorated football player.

Chris attended Amherst College in Amherst, MA, where he studied English and Music. After college, Chris moved back to Chicago and was under the mentorship of Will Garrett at the Kellogg School of Management.

Currently in Brooklyn, Chris leads the Audio Department for educational technology companies Nearpod and Flocabulary. He is most passionate about how storytelling can improve communities.


Beth Brockman Miller, Executive Director

Beth is grateful and excited to share Chautauqua with bright young people who will enrich and be enriched by the Chautauqua community. Her time in Chautauqua as a young person fostered her lifelong passion for peace, education, and community building. Creating her own interdisciplinary major in Peace Studies, Beth graduated from Princeton University. She cofounded the Princeton Peace Prize which recognized remarkable people and organizations working locally and nationally for peace, economic justice, and environmental justice. Beth also cofounded the PeaceWeavers, a nonprofit educational organization and community with a retreat center and organic farm in the Finger Lakes region of New York. She worked with this group for over 30 years to foster greater peace, well-being, and sustainable living for hundreds of individuals and families. During this time, Beth also helped facilitate several educational cooperatives.

Throughout her life, Chautauqua has continued to be a treasured place for connection and reflection. She and her husband moved to Chautauqua in May, 2022.