Featured Speakers

Imani Perry

Imani Perry is the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies and faculty associate in the Program in Law and Public Affairs and Gender and Sexuality Studies at Princeton, Perry has written and taught on a number of topics regarding race and African American culture. Using methods of discussion and analysis from various fields of study—including law, literary and cultural studies, music, and the social sciences—Perry’s work often focuses on multifaceted issues such as the influence of race on law, literature and music.

In her work, Perry has taken on complicated and timely issues. In her 2011 book, More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States, for example, Perry discusses the ongoing intersection of race and politics in America.

In addition to More Beautiful, More Terrible, Perry is the author of Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop and May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem, a cultural history of the black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” In 2018 Perry published a biography of Lorraine Hansberry, Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant Life of Lorraine Hansberry and Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation. Her most recent book: Breathe, a Letter to My Sons was released on September 17th.  

Perry has published numerous articles in the areas of law, cultural studies and African American Studies. She also wrote the notes and introduction to the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Narrative of Sojourner Truth.

Perry received a bachelor’s degree from Yale University. From there, she went on to obtain both her J.D. from Harvard Law School and a Ph.D in the history of American civilization from Harvard University.


Stacey Miller

Associate Provost for Inclusion and Retention
Representation and Access Keynote Speaker

Stacey A. Miller, Ed.D., joined Valparaiso University in 2015 as assistant provost for inclusion. Associate Provost Miller works closely with students, faculty, staff, and community members to advance diversity and equity as core values of Valparaiso University and as central to its educational mission.

In 2010, Associate Provost Miller co-founded the Consortium for Inclusion and Equity (CIE) LLC, a small firm that specializes in integrated diversity education and consulting, where she served as the managing partner. Associate Provost Miller has gained national recognition for her affirmative recruitment of a diverse staff and for her development and implementation of educational trainings and workshops on diversity and inclusion. She is sought out for her knowledge in collegiate residential settings, as well as secondary and elementary education. Associate Provost Miller also serves as a board of trustee for the International Institute for Restorative Practices Graduate School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


Russell Kirby

Ally-ship Keynote Speaker

For nearly two decades, Russ Kirby, M.Div, has worked with racial justice-related initiatives and programs in higher education, corporate management, and church communities across the country. His particular research interest focuses on leadership in churches undergoing racial change.

Russ holds a B.A. in Religion from Pepperdine University, and an M.Div. (Multicultural Ministries- African-American Church Studies) from Fuller Theological Seminary.  Russ also undertook a three-year doctoral fellowship through Fuller’s DePree Leadership Center.

Russ is on the board of First Unitarian Church of Dallas, where he serves on the Racial Equity Task Force; Russ also chaired the Education Committee for Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) DFW,

  Involved in multimedia and performance art since his youth, Russ was a founding member of Pepperdine’s Multicultural Theatre Project. In addition to writing and performing music for television and commercials, he is a spoken word artist and performed in three college tours and regularly at The Comedy Store in Hollywood.

After ten years in ministry and higher education, Russ transitioned into the corporate sector in 2012. He has been married to his wife Miranda for sixteen years, and together they have four sons: Aidan, Caulen, Jordan, and Cameron.


Rev. John E. Jackson, Sr.

Justice, Faith, & Forgiveness Keynote Speaker

A native of Chicago, Illinois, Reverend Jackson received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Divinity degrees from Loyola University and McCormick Theological Seminary, respectively, in Chicago. Under the leadership of the Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., Reverend Jackson served as the Associate Pastor to Men’s Ministries and the Pre-Marital Counseling Program at the dynamic Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC).

A native of Chicago, Reverend Jackson received his bachelor of science and master of divinity degrees from Loyola University and McCormick Theological Seminary, respectively, in Chicago. Under the leadership of the Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., Reverend Jackson served as the associate pastor to men’s ministries and the Pre-Marital Counseling Program at the dynamic Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC). In this capacity, Reverend Jackson not only provided pastoral leadership to the various men’s ministries of TUCC, but he also facilitated a weekly men’s Bible class and organized the quarterly men’s worship service. Reverend Jackson also developed the annual men’s prayer breakfast into an annual men’s conference, providing opportunities for workshops, lectures, and worship to more than 500 brothers-in-Christ each year.

In 2004, Reverend John E. Jackson Sr. was called to serve as senior pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Gary, Indiana. Since its first worship service the second Sunday in October 2004, Trinity UCC-Gary has been consistently growing. In order to accommodate the ever-expanding ministries, Trinity UCC-Gary completed construction of their new sanctuary for worship and held their first worship service in the new edifice on Oct. 5, 2008. It is located at 1276 West 20th Avenue in the city of Gary. Trinity UCC-Gary is a congregation that believes in both arms of the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Vertical arms stretch toward heaven to receive Holy Ghost power to reach out into the community through the Horizontal arms and do the work of Jesus Christ. The motto of Trinity UCC-Gary is “We are not just another church but we are a culturally conscious Christ centered church committed to the community!”