Speakers for Othering & Belonging 2017
Shakti Butler, PhD, (emcee) is Founder and President of World Trust Educational Services, a non-profit transformative educational organization. Rooted in love and justice, World Trust produces films, curricula, workshops and programs that are catalysts for institutional, structural and cultural change. Shakti is an inspirational facilitator, trainer and lecturer who is sought after by schools, universities, public and private organizations, and faith- based institutions. Dr. Butler has produced four documentaries: The Way Home; Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible; Light in the Shadows and Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity. These films form the core of World Trust’s teaching tools, and have experienced increased exposure—23 million views of one clip alone—generating national dialogue and critical thinking that is impacting institutions and communities across the country. Most recently, Dr. Butler served as diversity consultant and advisor on the Disney animated film, Zootopia, which focuses on challenging bias and systemic inequity. Shakti’s work incorporates whole body learning through stories, art, movement and dialogue. Her current film/dialogue project, Healing Justice: Cultivating a World of Belonging, is intended to popularize a national conversation about justice, responsibility and healing.
Zahra Billoo is a civil rights attorney and the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. Most recently Zahra spoke at the Women’s March on Washington and sued Donald Trump to challenge his “Muslim Ban” Executive Orders. Zahra is frequently facilitating trainings and workshops as a part of CAIR’s grassroots efforts to empower the American Muslim community and build bridges with allies on civil rights issues. She provides direct legal services for victims of law enforcement targeting and Islamophobia. Zahra has been highlighted in media outlets including the Christian Science Monitor, MSNBC, and National Public Radio. Zahra received the 2017 Human Rights Award from the Society of American Law Teachers, the 2014 Unsung Hero Award from the Nationals Lawyers Guild Bay Area, and the 2013 Trailblazer Award from the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California.
Jeff Chang is the Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University. His books include Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop, Who We Be: The Colorization of America (published in paperback in January 2016 under the new title, Who We Be: A Cultural History of Race in Post Civil Rights America). His latest, We Gon' Be Alright: Notes On Race and Resegregation, was published in September 2016. His next book will be a biography of Bruce Lee.Jeff co-founded CultureStr/ke and ColorLines. He was named by The Utne Reader as one of "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World" and by KQED as an Asian Pacific American Local Hero. He has been a USA Ford Fellow in Literature and the winner of the Asian American Literary Award.
Dr. Iva E. Carruthers is General Secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference (SDPC), an interdenominational organization within the African American faith tradition focused on justice and equity issues. SDPC is both a 501c3 and United Nations Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). As founding CEO and a trustee of SDPC, she has steered the organization as a unique, influential and esteemed network of faith based advocates and activists, clergy and lay. Former director of the Black Theology Project, Dr. Carruthers has a long history of engagement in community development initiatives and social justice ministry, fostering interdenominational and interfaith dialogue in the United States, Caribbean, South America and Africa. She is also founder of Lois House, an urban retreat center, Chicago, Illinois. She currently serves as a Life Time Trustee for the Chicago Theological Seminary and trustee for The Kwame Nkrumah Academy, Chicago; American Baptist College, Nashville; Shared Interest, New York; Bread for the World, Washington, DC. She is a member of the National African American Reparations Commission and is working on initiatives related to the U.N. Decade of People of African Descent.
Marshall Ganz is a Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He entered Harvard College in the fall of 1960, leaving a year before graduation to volunteer with the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project. He found a “calling” as an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and, in the fall of 1965, joined Cesar Chavez in his effort to unionize California farm workers. During 16 years with the United Farm Workers he gained experience in union, political, and community organizing. During the 1980s, he worked with grassroots groups to develop new organizing programs and designed innovative voter mobilization strategies for local, state, and national electoral campaigns. In 1991, in order to deepen his intellectual understanding of his work, he returned to Harvard College and, after a 28-year "leave of absence," completed his undergraduate degree in history and government. He was awarded an MPA by the Kennedy School in 1993, completed his PhD in sociology in 2000, and awarded an honorary doctorate in divinity by the Episcopal Divinity School in 2010. As senior lecturer, he teaches, researches, and writes on leadership, organization, and strategy in social movements, civic associations, and politics.
Alicia Garza is an Oakland-based organizer, writer, public speaker and freedom dreamer who is currently the Special Projects Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the nation’s leading voice for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States. Garza, along with Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors, also co-founded the Black Lives Matter network, a globally recognized organizing project that focuses on combatting anti-Black state sanctioned violence and the oppression of all Black people.
Since the rise of the BlackLivesMatter movement, Garza has become a powerful voice in the media. Her articles and interviews have been featured in Time, Mic, The Guardian, Elle.com, Essence, Democracy Now!, and The New York Times. In addition, her work has received numerous recognitions including being named on The Root's 2016 list of 100 African American achievers and influencers, the 2016 Glamour Women of the Year Award, the 2016 Marie Claire New Guard Award, and as a Community Change Agent at the 2016 BET's Black Girls Rock Awards.
Most important, as a queer Black woman, Garza’s leadership and work challenge the misconception that only cisgender Black men encounter police and state violence. While the tragic deaths of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown were catalysts for the emergence of the BLM movement, Garza is clear: In order to truly understand how devastating and widespread this type of violence is in Black America, we must view this epidemic through of a lens of race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Professor Lisa García Bedolla is Chancellor’s Professor in UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education and Travers Department of Political Science and Principal and co-Founder of the American Majority Project Research Institute. She studies why people choose to engage politically. She has used a variety of social science methods – field observation, in-depth interviewing, survey research, field experiments, and geographic information system (GIS) – to shed light on this question. She uses the tools of social science to reveal the causes of political inequalities in the United States, considering differences across the lines of ethnorace, gender, class, geography, sexuality, et cetera. She believes an intersectional approach is critical to recognizing the complexity of contemporary U.S. politics and creating a more representative electorate.
Professor García Bedolla earned her Ph.D. in political science from Yale University and her B.A. in Latin American Studies and Comparative Literature from the University of California at Berkeley.
LaToya Ruby Frazier is a Visual Artist and TED Fellow LaToya Ruby Frazier works in photography, video, and performance art to build visual archives that address industrialism, rustbelt revitalization, environmental justice, healthcare inequity, and family and communal history. Her first book The Notion of Family received the International Center for Photography Infinity Award. Frazier has received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. Her work has been exhibited widely in the US and internationally, with solo exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, Seattle Art Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.
Masha Gessen is a journalist and the author of many books, including Perfect Rigor, Blood Matters, Ester and Ruzya, Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot, The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy, and most recently, Where the Jews Aren’t: The Sad and Absurd Story of Birobidzhan, Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Region. The previously untold story of an area once declared a Jewish homeland, Where the Jews Aren’t reveals the complex, strange, and heart-wrenching account of the dream of Birobidzhan—and the true history of Jewish people in twentieth-century Russia.
As a journalist living in Moscow, Gessen experienced the rise of Vladimir Putin firsthand. In her 2012 bestselling book The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, she gave the chilling account of how a low-level, small-minded KGB operative ascended to the Russian presidency and, in an astonishingly short time, destroyed years of progress and made his country once more a threat to her own people and to the world.
Melissa Harris-Perry is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University. There she is the Executive Director of the Pro Humanitate Institute and founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center. Melissa is Editor-at-Large at ELLE.com. She hosted the award winning television show “Melissa Harris-Perry” from 2012-2016 on weekend mornings on MSNBC.
She is the author of the award-winning Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, and Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America.Harris-Perry received her B.A. degree in English from Wake Forest University and her Ph.D. degree in political science from Duke University. She also studied theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Harris-Perry previously served on the faculty of the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and Tulane University.
Chinaka Hodge is a poet, educator playwright and screenwriter. Originally from Oakland, California, she graduated from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in May of 2006, and was honored to be the student speaker at the 17h Commencement exercise. Chinaka was a 2012 Artist in Residence at The Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin, CA. In early 2013, Hodge was a Sundance Feature Film lab Fellow for her script, 700th&Int’l. Since its early days, Chinaka has served in various capacities at Youth Speaks/The Living Word Project, the nation’s leading literary arts nonprofit. During her tenure there, Hodge served as Program Director, Associate Artistic Director, and worked directly with Youth Speaks’ core population as a teaching artist and poet mentor. Her poems, editorials, interviews and prose have been featured in Newsweek, San Francisco Magazine, Believer Magazine, PBS, NPR, CNN, CSpan, and in two seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry.
Tara Houska is a citizen of Couchiching First Nation and a tribal attorney based in Washington, D.C. She was born and raised in International Falls, Minnesota, and was a triple major at the University of Minnesota, where she also earned her law degree. Since completing her studies, she has exclusively advocated on behalf of tribal nations at the local and federal levels. Her work has incorporated traditional knowledge and values, as Tara is a long-time student of Midewiwin. Her environmental justice efforts have ranged from grassroots organizing and media work to clerking for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Tara is a co-founder of Not Your Mascots, a non-profit committed to educating the public about the harms of stereotyping and promoting positive representation of Native Americans in the public sphere. Tara is dedicated to mino bimaadiziwin.
Sarah Kendzior is a writer, anthropologist, and critic. She is best known for her critical take on the “prestige economy”, her coverage of the 2016 election, and her academic research on authoritarian states in Central Asia. She is the author of a best-selling essay collection, The View From Flyover Country. Sarah is currently an op-ed columnist for the Globe and Mail, focusing on US politicsand the US correspondent for the Dutch news outlet De Correspondent. Previously she was an op-ed columnist for Al Jazeera English, writing about exploitation, particularly in higher education, the diminishing opportunities of America’s youth,and gentrification. She has also covered internet privacy, political repression, and how the media shapes public perception.Foreign Policy named Sarah one of “the 100 people you should be following on Twitter to make sense of global events”. In addition to working as a journalist, Sarah is a researcher and consultant. With a PhD in anthropology and an MA in Central Eurasian Studies, much of her research focuses on the authoritarian states of the former Soviet Union and how the internet affects political mobilization, self-expression, and trust.
Taeku Lee is Professor of Political Science and Law at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include Mobilizing Public Opinion (2002); Transforming Politics, Transforming America (2006), Why Americans Don't Join the Party (2011), Accountability through Public Opinion (2011), Asian American Political Participation (2011). Lee is also Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Managing Director of Asian American Decisions, and serves as Treasurer of the American Political Science Association and on the Board of Overseers of the American National Election Studies and the General Social Survey. Lee was previously Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Harvard, Robert Wood Johnson Scholar at Yale, and Fernand Braudel Senior Fellow at the European University Institute. Lee was born in South Korea, grew up in rural Malaysia, Manhattan, and suburban Detroit, and is a proud graduate of K-12 public schools, the University of Michigan (A.B.), Harvard University (M.P.P.), and the University of Chicago (Ph.D.).
Doug McAdam is The Ray Lyman Wilbur Professor of Sociology at Stanford University and the former Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He is the author or co-author of 18 books and some 90 articles in the area of political sociology, with a special emphasis on racial politics in the U.S., and the study of social movements and “contentious politics.” Among his best-known works are Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, 1930-1970, Freedom Summer (1988, Oxford University Press), which was awarded the 1990 C. Wright Mills Award, and Dynamics of Contention (2001, Cambridge University Press) with Sid Tarrow and Charles Tilly. His most recent book is Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in Postwar America (Oxford University Press, 2014). In it, he and co-author Karina Kloos, offer a detailed account of the origins of the deep political, economic and racial divisions so evident in the U.S. today. He was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003.
Tarell Alvin McCraney is best known for his acclaimed trilogy, The Brother/Sister Plays, which include The Brother Size, In the Red and Brown Water, and Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet. Other plays include Head of Passes, Choir Boy, and WigOut!
Tarell’s play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue is the basis for the film Moonlight directed by Barry Jenkins. Among its many honors, the film has won an Academy Award for Best Movie, a Golden Globe for Best Drama, Gotham Award for Best Feature, NAACP Image Award for Best Independent Film, and the Human Rights Campaign’s Visionary Arts Award. The film has also been nominated for a BAFTA Award, Independent Spirit Award, PGA Award, DGA Award, WGA Award. Tarell has also worked on TV and film projects with Playtone, HBO, and Disney.
Tarell is the recipient of a MacArthur "Genius" Grant, the Whiting Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, the Evening Standard Award, the New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award, the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, the Windham Campbell Award, and a Doris Duke Artist Award. He was the International Writer-in-Residence for the Royal Shakespeare Company from 2008-2010, and a former resident playwright at New Dramatists. He is an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and a member of Teo Castellanos/D-Projects in Miami.
Kumi Naidoo is currently serving as Launch Executive Director to the African Civil Society Initiative, an ambitious and evolving new initiative seeking to unite civil society across the continent around the issues of corruption, inequality, shrinking democratic space, climate change, poverty and gender equality. Formerly Executive Director for Greenpeace International, Kumi has served as Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Board Chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAAP) and President of the Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA). Kumi now serves as Board member for 350.org and the Global Greengrants Fund and as an ambassador to the Southern African Faith Communities Environmental Institute (SAFCEI). Kumi has campaigned on issues ranging from apartheid at the age of 15, to adult education and violence against women.
john a. powell is the Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, which brings together researchers and scholars, community partners, strategic communicators, and policymakers to identify and eliminate the barriers to an inclusive, just, and sustainable society and to create transformative change toward a more equitable world. john is a Professor of Law and Professor of African American Studies and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley and holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion. john is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights and civil liberties and a wide range of issues including race, structural racialization, ethnicity, housing, poverty, and democracy.
Ravi K. Perry, a native of Toledo, Ohio, holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Brown University, each in political science. Dr. Perry is Associate Professor of Political Science at Virginia Commonwealth University.
An expert on Black politics, minority representation, urban politics, American public policy, and LGBT candidates of color, Dr. Perry is the editor of 21st Century Urban Race Politics: Representing Minorities as Universal Interests, a book that discusses the efforts of African American, Latino and Asian mayors to represent the interests of minorities in historically White cities in the United States. His second book, entitled Black Mayors, White Majorities: The Balancing Act of Racial Politics, focuses on the challenges Black mayors face in representing Black interests in majority White, medium‐sized cities in the state of Ohio. His third book, published with his mother, is The Little Rock Crisis: What Desegregation Politics Says About Us. In it, Perry and Perry frame the story of the Little Rock 1957 desegregation crisis through the lens of memory. Over time, those memories – individual and collective – have motivated Little Rockians for social and political action and engagement.
Tarso Luis Ramos has been researching the U.S. Right for over two decades, contributing numerous articles and reports on Christian Right, anti-immigrant, anti-labor, and anti-environmental movements and campaigns. Under his leadership, PRA has launched several new initiatives, on subjects including the export of U.S.-style homophobic campaigns abroad, the spread of Islamophobia, and the Right’s investment in redefining religious liberty to assert a right to discriminate. Ramos previously served as founding director of Western States Center’s racial justice program. Throughout the 1990s, Tarso worked in various western states to counteract anti-gay campaigns, right-wing militias, and other organized threats to social justice. As director of the Wise Use Public Exposure Project in the mid-’90s, he monitored the Right’s anti-union and anti-environmental campaigns.
Rashad Robinson is the Executive Director of Color Of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. As a force driven by over one million members, Color Of Change moves decision makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people, and all people. Rashad has developed winning strategies to change the rules of many fields affecting Black people’s lives: employment and the economy, voting and politics, news and entertainment, criminal justice. He has appeared in hundreds of media outlets including ABC, CNN, MSNBC, BET, NPR, The New York Times and Huffington Post. He was a 2015 EBONY Magazine "Power 100" honoree, and on “The Root 100” for the last six years. Fast Company named Color Of Change the 6th Most Innovative Company in the world (2015), and the Stanford Social Innovation Review profiled its strategies for “pursuing the fight for racial justice at Internet speed” in both online and offline venues.
Jeffrey D. Sachs is a world-renowned professor of economics, leader in sustainable development, senior UN advisor, bestselling author, and syndicated columnist whose monthly newspaper columns appear in more than 100 countries.
Professor Sachs served as the Director of the Earth Institute from 2002 to 2016. He was appointed University Professor at Columbia University in 2016, and also serves as Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Sustainable Development Goals, and previously advised both UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria. Sachs is Director of both the Center for Sustainable Development, and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network under the auspices of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Prior to joining Columbia, Sachs spent over twenty years as a professor at Harvard University, most recently as the Galen L. Stone Professor of International Trade. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Sachs received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard.
Saskia Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and Chair, The Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University. She is the author of several books and the recipient of diverse awards and mentions, ranging from multiple doctor honoris causa to named lectures and being selected for various honors lists. Her newest book is Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy (Harvard University Press 2014).
Zephyr Teachout is a law professor, author, and political activist. Her book Corruption in America explores the deep meaning of corruption in American history. She ran for Governor of New York and Congress, and is very involved in local rural organising. She is currently working on a book about monopolies.