2019 Featured Speakers

Dr. Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr. is a scholar who speaks to the black and blue in America. His most well-known books, Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul, and In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America, take a wide look at black communities and reveal complexities, vulnerabilities, and opportunities for hope. Hope that is, in one of his favorite quotes from W.E.B Du Bois, “not hopeless, but a bit unhopeful.” Other muses include James Baldwin, Malcolm X, and Bobby “Blue” Bland. In addition to his readings of early American philosophers and contemporary political scientists, Glaude turns to African American literature in his writing and teaching for insight into African American political life, religious thought, gender and class.

He is chair of the Department of African American Studies, a program he first became involved with shaping as a doctoral candidate in Religion at Princeton. He is the current president of the American Academy of Religion. His books on religion and philosophy include African American Religion: A Very Short Introduction and Exodus! Religion, Race and Nation in Early 19th Century Black America, which was awarded the Modern Language Association’s William Sanders Scarborough Book Prize. Glaude is also the author of two edited volumes, and many influential articles about religion for academic journals. He has also written for the likes of The New York Times and The Huffington Post.

Known to be a convener of conversations and debates, Glaude takes care to engage fellow citizens of all ages and backgrounds – from young activists, to fellow academics, journalists and commentators, and followers on Twitter in dialogue about the course of the nation. His scholarship and his sense of himself as a public intellectual are driven by a commitment to think carefully with others in public. Accordingly, his writing and ideas are cited and shared widely.

Currently Glaude is at work on a book about James Baldwin, tentatively titled James Baldwin’s America, 1963-1972. Of Baldwin, Glaude writes, “Baldwin’s writing does not bear witness to the glory of America. It reveals the country’s sins, and the illusion of innocence that blinds us to the reality of others. Baldwin’s vision then requires a confrontation with history (with slavery, Jim Crow segregation, with whiteness) to overcome its hold on us. Not to posit the greatness of America, but to establish the ground upon which to imagine the country anew.” Democracy in Black has been described in similar terms. Bill Moyers says the book “breathes with prophetic fire,” recently writing, “Democracy in Black is rich in history and bold in opinion, and inconvenient truths leap from every page.”

Some like to describe Glaude as the quintessential Morehouse man, having left his home in Moss Point, Mississippi at age 16 to begin studies at the HBCU. He holds a master’s degree in African American Studies from Temple University, and a Ph.D. in Religion from Princeton University. He began his teaching career at Bowdoin College. He has been a visiting scholar at Amherst College and Harvard. In 2011 he delivered Harvard’s Du Bois lectures. In 2015 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Colgate University, delivering commencement remarks titled, “Turning Our Backs.” He is a columnist for Time Magazine and regularly provides commentary on radio and television news programs like Democracy Now!, Morning Joe, and the 11th Hour. He hosts the podcast AAS 21, recorded at Princeton University in Stanhope Hall, the African American Studies department’s home.

Dr. SimonMary Aihiokhai

Dr. SimonMary Aihiokhai is a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, province of Nigeria North-West. He is an assistant professor of systematic theology at the University of Portland. His research explores issues dealing with religion and identity, interfaith dialogue, comparative theology, and expressions of Christianity in the global context.

Dr. Dwight N. Hopkins

Dr. Dwight N. Hopkins is the Alexander Campbell Professor of Theology at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He initiated and managed a 14-country network to think about the practices of building healthy communities and healthy individuals in communities. With representatives from Hawaii, Fiji, Australia, Japan, India, England, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Cuba, Jamaica, Brazil, and the USA, the network forged learning about neighbors through neighbors sharing their cultures. Indeed, in international transactions of business, politics, and religions, one of the greatest challenges is lack of cultural understanding. Restated, cultures facilitate harmony and balance for the purpose of another world is possible in emerging markets. A higher vision and transcendent values glue the global together spiritually with wealth management..

Ms. Keri Gray

Keri Gray is the Director for the Rising Leaders Initiatives at US Business Leadership Network. In her work, Keri manages the Rising Leaders Mentoring Program and the Rising Leadership Academy for over 300 college students and recent graduates with disabilities who are interested in working in the private sector. These programs collaborate with over 70 companies and provide professional guidance so that students are equipped with knowledge and skills to transition from school to work. Additionally, Keri explores disability conversations with college students so that they are prepared to navigate how social topics impact their professional career and networks.

Ms. Deneine Powell

As the Executive Director for Groundwork Milwaukee, Deneine leads the daily operations and provides strategic direction to Groundwork Milwaukee. Under her leadership, Groundwork has launched several successful initiatives to promote green infrastructure workforce development programming and to expand the base of volunteers actively engaged in the stewardship of our local green spaces. She comes to Groundwork with over 15 years of consulting and nonprofit leadership experience, most recently as principal consultant of the Lilly & Hampton, a small business and resource development consulting firm. Before founding Lilly & Hampton, Powell worked for several nonprofit groups, including UW Parkside’s Small Business Development Center, Milwaukee Community Service Corps, and the Center for Self-Sufficiency. In addition, Powell has experience mobilizing grassroots advocates, formulating public policy, partnering with public agencies and developing programs.