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Symposium Speakers

Stephanie Teatro
Co-Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition 
April 12, 2018

Stephanie Teatro is co-director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), the state's preeminent organization working on immigration policy. Through community organizing, policy advocacy, and civic engagement, TIRRC works to empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice, defend their rights, and create an atmosphere in which they are recognized as positive contributors to the state. TIRRC also leads award-winning initiatives to bring U.S-born Tennesseans together with their new immigrant neighbors to reduce tensions, build more welcoming communities, and strengthen our multicultural democracy. A national leader in efforts to defend America's proud history of welcoming refugees, Stephanie is the co-author of the report Countering the Backlash: Strategies for Responding to Anti-Refugee and Xenophobic Activity from the New South. She is an executive committee member of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) and a board member of the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA). A Canadian by birth, Stephanie has called Nashville home since 2011.

Teatro was joined for the Symposium by a local panel which included Maurico Calvo, executive director of Latino Memphis; Karen Spencer, mobilization director of World Relief Memphis; Dr. Nabil Bayakly, director of An-Noor Muslim Community Center; and Maria Herrera ('19), a DACA student at CBU.

Shaka Senghor
Author of Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison
March 31, 2017

Shaka Senghor is a leading voice in criminal justice reform and the President and Co-Founder of #BeyondPrisons, an initiative designed to uplift the voices and experiences of those impacted by the criminal justice system. His memoir, Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison, was released in March 2016 and debuted on The New York Times Best Seller List as well as The Washington Post Best Seller List. Senghor's story has inspired thousands and serves as a powerful testament to the power of hope, compassion and unconditional love. For more information on this Speaker please visit

Chad Pregracke
Founder, Living Lands & Waters
April 21, 2016
From the Bottom Up

As the founder of America’s only “industrial strength” river clean-up organization and the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year, Chad Pregracke tells a compelling story about growing up on the Mississippi river and how his river experiences led to his unique vision to clean it up and start the internationally recognized not-for-profit, Living Lands & Waters

Sister Simone Campbell, SSS
Executive Director of NETWORK
April 16, 2015
Mend the Gaps, Heal the Divides

Sister Simone Campbell has served as executive director of NETWORK since 2004. She is a religious leader, attorney, and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change. In Washington, she lobbies on issues of peace-building, immigration reform, healthcare, and economic justice. Around the country, she is a noted speaker and educator on these public policy issues. She has received numerous awards, including a “Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award” and the "Defender of Democracy Award" from the international Parliamentarians for Global Action. 

Malik Yakini 
Founder and the Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network
March 27, 2014
Fostering a Just Food System

Malik Kenyatta Yakini is an educator and activist dedicated to identifying and alleviating the impact of racism and white privilege on the food system. He is a founder and the Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, which operates a four-acre farm in the city, and spearheaded efforts to establish the Detroit Food Policy Council, which Yakini chairs. He served on the Michigan Food Policy Council from 2008 – 2010, and on the facilitation team of Undoing Racism in the Detroit food system. He spent 11 years as Executive Director of Nsoroma Institute Public School Academy and was honored as “Administrator of the Year” in 2006 by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. He is also the CEO of Black Star Educational Management, a musician, vegan, organic gardener and father of three. He was featured in the book Blacks Living Green and the movie Urban Roots. He views the “good food revolution” as part of the larger movement for freedom, justice, and equality. He has an intense interest in contributing to the development of an international food sovereignty movement that embraces black farmers in the Americas, the Caribbean, and Africa. He is currently an Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Food and Community Fellow.

Communities Engaged in Resolving Urban Social Conflict
March 14, 2013

A distinguished panel of community organizers addressed urban social conflict with a focus on peacemaking at home, exploring a variety of ways to confront issues that threaten to divide us and create injustice. Attendees were treated to a brilliant exchange of ideas as the four local activists addressed issues regarding immigration, gang violence, racism, labor rights and other challenges. The program explored steps to bring positive change to our neighborhoods, city, county, nation, and the world. 

Panelists included (from left) Malik Shaw, Vice Principal of Pleasant View Islamic School and co-founder of the American Muslim Intercultural Network; Delvin Lane, leader of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton’s Gang Violence Prevention Team; Kyle Kordsmeier, Organizing Director of the Workers Interfaith Network; and Gabriela Benitez, coordinator of the West Tennessee’s Immigration and Refugee Coalition.

Dr. Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz
Professor Emerita of Christian Social Ethics and Theology Drew University Theological School
March 15, 2012
Compassion and Solidarity: Struggling for Justice, Building Peace

A native of La Habana Cuba, Dr. Isasi-Diaz received her early education from the nuns of the Order of St. Ursula, where she developed a concern for the poor and oppressed. She became a political refugee in the US in 1960, entered a convent and earned a B.A. in European History from The College of New Rochelle in New York. In 1967, she began work as a missionary in Lima, Peru, an experience she says marked her for life. After teaching high school in Louisiana and Spain, she became enthralled with the women's movement during the 1970s, focusing on oppression in churches, religion and theology, and in the interconnection of sexism, ethnic prejudice-racism, and economic oppression-classism. Dr. Isasi-Diaz received a Master of Divinity Degree at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and later completed a PhD with a concentration in Christian Ethics. She describes herself as an activist-theologian and writes extensively on Mujerista Theology, a feminist theological movement developed from the perspective of Latinas in the USA.

Rev. Patrick Ryan, SJ
Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society, Fordham University
March 15, 2011
Peacemakers: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim 

A Jesuit and native of New York City, Father Ryan has held his current position at Fordham since 2009. Previously, he was Fordham's Vice President for University Mission and Ministry (2005-2009). In 1964, he began a long career as a teacher and academic administrator in West Africa, where he has spent 26 years. After ordination in 1968, he completed a doctorate at Harvard University in the comparative history of religion, specializing in Arabic and Islamic studies. For 15 years he taught in this area in Ghanaian universities. He also taught for briefer periods at Fordham and at the Gregorian University in Rome. From 1999-2005, he was the first President of Loyola Jesuit College, a high school in Nigeria's federal capital, Abuja.  Upon assuming his new post as The Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society in 2009, Fr. Ryan's work has focused on fostering dialogue between and among Jewish, Islamic, and Christian scholars. He is the author of three books and numerous articles, some recently appearing in America and Commonweal publications.

Joan Chittister, OSB
Co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women
April 15, 2010
Women, War, and Peacemaking

Joan Chittister, OSB, is an internationally acclaimed writer and lecturer who has held positions of religious leadership among women in the Catholic Church for over 30 years, including serving 12 years as prioress of her Benedictine community in Erie, PA. She holds a doctorate from Penn State University, as well as 12 honorary doctorates. In the past decade alone she received the Award of Excellence from the Religion Communicators Council, the National Indie Excellence Book Award, the Hans Kung Award and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Penn State University. Sister Joan was named a Top Spiritual Leader of 2009 by the White Wing Report, and has been recognized by the Notre Dame Alumni Association with the Women's Award of Achievement, plus an award for Furthering the Cause of Women in the Church from U.S. Catholic Magazine. She has been sought out as a guest commentator and panelist for NBC, PBS and the BBC, and writes a regular column, "From Where I Stand," in the National Catholic Reporter. Sister Joan participated in the Parliament of the World's Religions, Melbourne, Australia; Women, Faith and Development Summit to End Global Poverty also in Melbourne; the Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders, International; and served on the TED prize-sponsored Council of Sages, an interfaith group working on developing a Charter for Compassion to be shared worldwide with all faith organizations.

Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE
Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute; UN Messenger of Peace
March 19, 2009
Reason for Hope

Dr. Jane Goodall travels more than 300 days per year, inspiring audiences with fascinating stories about her pioneering work with chimpanzees; information about the education, conservation and development programs of the Jane Goodall Institute; and her reasons for hope that we can save threatened species, the planet, and ultimately ourselves. Dr. Goodall’s lecture is an unforgettable experience. She transports audiences to Africa with stories of the chimpanzees she has known and who are still observed today at the Gombe National Park in Tanzania. She emphasizes the importance of the Jane Goodall Institute’s innovative community-centered conservation projects in Africa and the global Roots & Shoots environmental and humanitarian youth network, which engages young people from preschool to college as they take positive action in their communities and beyond. A United Nations Messenger of Peace, Dr. Goodall also discusses why she is still hopeful about the future, and encourages her audiences to recognize their ability to effect change. Her frequent reminder: “Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.”

Bryan Massingale
Associate Professor of Theology, Marquette University
April 10, 2008
Dr. Martin Luther King's Vision & Practice: His Legacy, Present Struggles and Future Hopes

An Associate Professor at Marquette University, Rev. Massingale is a Catholic moral theologian with a focus on liberation theologies and African American religious ethics. A prolific writer, he has authored numerous articles, book chapters, and book reviews for publications such as Theological Studies, New Theology Review, Philosophy and Theology, Origins, U.S. Catholic, and Catholic Peace Voice. Recent work applies Catholic social thought to the issues of affirmative action, racial reconciliation, terrorism, and the challenge of peacemaking. He has also authored an award-winning column for the Catholic Press examining contemporary social issues from a faith perspective. Fr. Massingale was also the writer of a document for Catholic Charities USA – Poverty and Racism: Overlapping Threats to the Common Good. He is on the Board of Directors of the Catholic Theological Society of America and a consultant to the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops.

Dr. Jeanette Rodriguez
Chair, Department of Theology, Seattle University
March 29, 2007
Welcoming the Stranger: The Promise and the Challenge

Dr. Jeanette Rodriguez, Chair of Theology and Religious Studies at Seattle University, also serves as the Vice Chair of the National Council of Pax Christi, USA. An outstanding Hispanic/Latina Liberation theologian, she holds three advanced degrees including a PhD from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. A prolific writer and tireless advocate for marginalized people, she spreads her message of peace through nonviolence.

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Auxilary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit; Founding President of Pax Christi, USA
March 30, 2006
A Spirituality of Peacemaking in a Time of Terror

Bishop Gumbleton is a long-time peace and justice activist. Like Dr. Vanderhaar, Bishop Gumbleton has a long history with Pax Christi, the International Catholic Peace Movement. He was a founding President of Pax Christi USA. Both he and Dr. Vanderhaar were Pax Christi Ambassadors of Peace. As a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he served on the committee that produced the influential peace pastoral letter "The Challenge of Peace" (1983). He has traveled widely in the cause of peace and justice, including to Iraq as part of a Voices in the Wilderness delegation, to Columbia with the Columbia Support Network, Afghanistan with the Global Exchange Delegation with Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. He has participated in civil disobedience, fasts, and vigils for a variety of peace and justice causes. He has served as a Bishop since 1968, and continues to pastor in inner city Detroit at St. Leo Church. In word and deed, Bishop Gumbleton has acted for peace with justice.