Speakers

We hope you'll join us at PoCC and SDLC to see this wonderful lineup of speakers! 

General Sessions

Lisa Ling

Lisa Ling

Thursday, November 29, 8:15 AM-9:30 AM

PoCC Opening Speaker
Lisa Ling is the executive producer and host of This is Life on CNN. Lisa explores the scourge prescription pill addiction in Utah, the recent influx of women in North Dakota’s boomtown, and a town in the rural Midwest where young men aspire to be priests.
 
For five seasons prior, Ling executive produced and hosted Our America on OWN: the Oprah Winfrey Network. Lisa embedded in a Midwest town ravaged by an onslaught of heroin, got exclusive access inside an anti-gay religious movement, witnessed the manifestation of PTSD in returning veterans of war, and went undercover to investigate the under-age sex trafficking of minors in the nation’s capital. She has also profiled Americans living beneath the poverty line for the first time and people serving unimaginably lengthy prison sentences for crimes they did not commit.

As the former field correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show and contributor to ABC News' Nightline and National Geographic's Explorer, Lisa Ling has reported from dozens of countries, covering stories about gang rape in the Congo, bride burning in India, the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, and the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang in Central America, among other issues that are too often ignored.
 
Lisa got her start in journalism as a correspondent for Channel One News where she covered the civil war in Afghanistan at 21 years of age as well as stories in dozens of countries around the world. She later went on to become a co-host of ABC Daytime's hit show The View, which won its first daytime Emmy during her time at the show. 

Lisa is the co-author of Mother, Daughter, Sister, Bride: Rituals of Womanhood and Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home, which she penned with her sister, Laura.

Sponsored by Strategenius
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Luz Santana

Luz Santana

Thursday, November 29, 5:15 PM-6:30 PM
Luz Santana is the co-director of the Right Question Institute and the co-author of Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions. In the late 1980s, as a parent of children in the Lawrence, MA, public school system, she began to work with other parents as part of a drop-out prevention program. At the time, she was also traveling a path that led from her own personal experiences coming from Puerto Rico and then navigating the welfare and other public systems and continuing on to getting an associate’s degree to a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Springfield College School of Human Services. One of the founders of the Right Question Institute, she is now a nationally recognized educational innovator, facilitator, and keynote speaker in English and Spanish who has designed a wide range of participatory learning curricula in many fields, including parent involvement, adult education, social services, health care, immigrant advocacy, neighborhood organizing, and voter engagement.
Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman

Friday, November 30, 9:30-10:45 AM
Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. Under her leadership, CDF has become the nation’s strongest voice for children and families. The Children's Defense Fund’s Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.
 
Mrs. Edelman, a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, began her career in the mid-60s when, as the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, she directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi. In l968, she moved to Washington, D.C., as counsel for the Poor People's Campaign that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began organizing before his death. She founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm and the parent body of the Children's Defense Fund. For two years she served as the Director of the Center for Law and Education at Harvard University and in l973 began CDF.
 
Mrs. Edelman served on the Board of Trustees of Spelman College which she chaired from 1976 to 1987 and was the first woman elected by alumni as a member of the Yale University Corporation on which she served from 1971 to 1977. She has received over a hundred honorary degrees and many awards including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Heinz Award, and a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship. In 2000, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her writings which include: Families in Peril: An Agenda for Social Change; The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours; Guide My Feet: Meditations and Prayers on Loving and Working for Children; Stand for Children; Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors; Hold My Hand: Prayers for Building a Movement to Leave No Child Behind; I'm Your Child, God: Prayers for Our Children; I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children; and The Sea Is So Wide and My Boat Is So Small: Charting a Course for the Next Generation.
 
She is a board member of the Robin Hood Foundation and the Association to Benefit Children, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sponsored by Educator's Ally 
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Julie Lythcott-Haims

Julie Lythcott-Haims

Friday, November 30, 5:15 PM-6:30 PM
Julie Lythcott-Haims is the author of the New York Times best-selling book How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success (2015) and Real American: A Memoir (2017). She is deeply interested in what prevents people from living meaningful, fulfilling lives.
 
How to Raise an Adult emerged from Julie’s decade as Stanford University’s Dean of Freshmen, where she was known for her fierce advocacy for young adults and her fierce critique of the growing trend of parental involvement in the day-to-day lives of college students. She received the university’s Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for creating “the” atmosphere that defines the undergraduate experience, and toward the end of her tenure as dean she began speaking and writing widely on the harm of helicopter parenting. How to Raise an Adult has been published in over two dozen countries and gave rise to a TED talk that became one of the top TED Talks of 2016 with over three million views, and counting, as well as a sequel which will be out in 2019.
 
Real American details Julie’s personal battle with the low self-esteem that American racism routinely inflicts on people of color. The child of an African-American father and a white British mother, Julie shows how microaggressions in addition to blunt-force insults can puncture a person’s inner life with a thousand sharp cuts. Real American expresses also, through Julie’s path to self-acceptance, the healing power of community in overcoming the hurtful isolation of being incessantly considered “the other.”
 
Julie is a graduate of Stanford University, Harvard Law School, and California College of the Arts. 

Sponsored by Carney, Sandoe & Associates
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Christian Picciolini

Christian Picciolini

Friday, November 30, 2:30 PM-4:00 PM
SDLC Keynote
Please note that Christian Picciolini will speak for the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) only. PoCC attendees will not be permitted to attend.

Christian Picciolini is an award-winning television producer, a public speaker, author, peace advocate, and a former violent extremist. After leaving the hate movement he helped create during his youth in the 1980s and 90s, he began the painstaking process of making amends and rebuilding his life. Christian earned a degree in international relations from DePaul University and launched Goldmill Group, a digital media and counter-extremism consulting firm. In 2016, he won an Emmy Award for directing and producing an anti-hate advertising campaign aimed at helping people disengage from violence-based extremist groups. Christian’s life since leaving the white-supremacist movement over two decades ago has been dedicated to helping others overcome hate through such organizations as Life After Hate and ExitUSA. He now leads the Free Radicals Project, a global extremism prevention and disengagement platform, helping people exit hate movements and other violent ideologies. He has spoken all over the world, including on the TEDx stage, sharing his unique and extensive knowledge, teaching all who are willing to learn about building greater peace through empathy and compassion. Christian’s involvement in, and exit from, the early American white power skinhead movement is chronicled in his memoir WHITE AMERICAN YOUTH: My Descent into America’s Most Violent Hate Movement—and How I Got Out (Hachette, 2018).

Marc Lamont Hill

Marc Lamont Hill

Saturday, December 1, 11:30 AM-12:45 PM

PoCC Closing Speaker
Marc Lamont Hill is the host of BET News, a political contributor for CNN, and the Steve Charles Professor of Media, Cities, and Solutions at Temple University. An award-winning journalist, Hill has received numerous awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, GLAAD, and the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Ebony Magazine has named him one of America’s 100 most influential Black leaders.

Hill is the author or co-author of four books: the award-winning Beats, Rhymes, and Classroom Life: Hip-Hop Pedagogy and the Politics of Identity; The Classroom and the Cell: Conversations on Black life in America; the New York Times bestseller Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on The Vulnerable from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond; and Gentrifier.

Featured Speaker Sessions

Savinay Chandrasekhar

Savinay Chandrasekhar

Thursday, November 29, 3:45-4:45 PM
Executive director of Minds Matter Denver, Savinay Chandrasekhar is responsible for its mentoring program's success in getting low-income high school students into college with scholarships. He’s also involved with the Luminary Learning Network, an innovation zone of four "innovation" schools within Denver Public Schools that formed an independent organization to gain more autonomy and flexibility in serving their students. Chandrasekhar says he lives to promote equity and eliminate poverty through peace, love, and compassion.
 
Shakil  Choudhury

Shakil Choudhury

Friday, November 30, 11:15 AM-12:15 PM
Shakil Choudhury is an award-winning educator with almost 25 years’ experience in the field of diversity, equity, and community organizing. His personal and professional journey includes teaching across four continents, suffering one emotional burnout in his early thirties, and spending a childhood in small town Canada pretending he was white. Co-founder of Anima Leadership, he has trained senior leaders across sectors and developed measurement tools for organizations to improve their diversity outcomes. Internationally, Choudury has led peacebuilding projects for communities in conflict, specifically in Europe and South America. His book Deep Diversity: Overcoming Us vs. Them is a practical, scientific, and compassionate approach to tackling systemic discrimination.
Maaza  Mengiste

Maaza Mengiste

Thursday, November 29, 10:30-11:30 AM
Maaza Mengiste is a novelist and essayist whose work examines the individual lives at stake during migration, war, and exile, and considers the intersections of photography and violence. Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, her critically acclaimed debut novel, was selected by The Guardian as one of the 10 best contemporary African books and was named one of the best books of 2010 by The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe, and other publications.
 
Set in Ethiopia in the 1970s, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze revisits the last days of the Ethiopian monarchy and the brutal beginnings of the Derg, the socialist military junta that replaced it. The story focuses on the Hailu family as they struggle to make difficult choices within a political climate that grows increasingly complex and dangerous. Kirkus calls Beneath the Lion’s Gaze “an arresting, powerful novel that works on both personal and political levels.”
 
A recipient of a 2018 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Mengiste is a Fulbright Scholar, a Puterbaugh Fellow, and a Runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, The Guardian, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, BBC Radio, and Lettre International, among other places.
 
Mengiste was also a writer on the documentary films The Invisible City: Kakuma, about a refugee camp in the middle of the Turkana desert in Kenya that has become the region’s fastest-growing community; and Girl Rising, which tells the stories of nine girls from developing nations around the world overcoming obstacles to education and security. Girl Rising, which features the voices of Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, and Cate Blanchett, is part of the Girl Rising project, a global action campaign for girls’ education and empowerment.
 
Mengiste was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and lived in Nigeria and Kenya before moving to the United States. She currently serves on the boards of Words Without Borders and Warscapes, and lectures on creative writing at Princeton. Her highly anticipated second novel, The Shadow King, is forthcoming.