Featured plenary speakers confirmed for the 2016 conference include:
Tavis Smiley – Keynote Speaker
From his celebrated conversations with world figures to his work to inspire the next generation of leaders, Tavis Smiley — broadcaster, author, publisher, advocate, and philanthropist — has emerged as an outstanding voice for change. Smiley is currently the host of the late-
night television talk showTavis Smiley on PBS, as well as The Tavis Smiley Show from Public Radio International (PRI).
In addition to his radio and television work, Smiley has written 18 books. His memoir, What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America, became a New York Times best seller, and the book he edited, Covenant with Black America, became the first nonfiction book by a Black-owned publisher to reach #1 on The New York Times Best Sellers list.
In the New York Times best seller, The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, Smiley and his co-author Dr. Cornel West challenge all Americans to re-examine their assumptions about poverty in America — what it really is and how to eradicate it.
His most recent text national best seller is Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year. In the book, Smiley recounts the little known story of the denunciations by the press, rejection from the president, dismissal by the country’s Black elite and militant youth, assaults on his character, ideology and political tactics --- all of which MLK had to rise above in the final year of his life in order to lead and address the racism, poverty and militarism that threatens, even still, to destroy our democracy.
Dr. Erica Chenoweth
Dr. Chenoweth is Professor & Associate Dean for Research at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and an Associate Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO). An internationally recognized authority on political violence and its alternatives, Foreign Policy magazine ranked her among he Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2013 for her efforts to promote
the empirical study of civil resistance. Chenoweth received the 2014 Karl Deutsch Award, which the International Studies Association gives annually to the scholar under the age of 40 who has made the greatest impact on the field of international politics or peace research.
Rev. Mike Kinman
Rev. Mike Kinman is the provost of Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, MO. For several years he served as executive director of Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation in St. Louis, MO. He was the 2008 recipient of the John Hines Preaching Award from Virginia Theological Seminary. Previously, Mike served as the priest for the Episcopal Campus Ministry community at Washington University in St. Louis, where he traveled with students to Sudan and Ghana where they worked with the Anglican Church and an NGO specializing in capacity building, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS prevention, respectively. He is vice-chair of the Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns, and a member of the Diocese of Missouri's Companion Relationship Committee.
Ms. Soetoro-Ng is currently an Assistant Faculty Specialist at the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace & Conflict Resolution, based in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she teaches courses on Peace Education; the History of Peace Movements, and Leadership for Social Change. She also oversees externships for undergraduates who are majoring or minoring in Peace Studies and coordinates the Institute's community and global service learning programs.
Soetoro-Ng was an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Teacher Education at the University of Hawai'i College of She authored a children's book published in 2011, Ladder to the Moon, that was inspired by her mother, Ann Dunham, and her daughter, Suhaila.
Rev. F. Willis Johnson
F. Willis Johnson currently leads as senior minister of Wellspring Church in Ferguson, Missouri, where thousands have been influenced by his prophetic, faith-filled reflections and strategies on social justice and racial understanding. Johnson captured national attention for his leadership in August 2014 after Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, shot and killed in Ferguson.
Trained in education and nonprofit management, he has served in volunteer and paid leadership positions for multiple nonprofit organizations. He counsels bishops, General Board agencies, annual conferences, and local churches across the country. Additionally, Johnson is an adjunct professor at Eden Seminary and chairs Ferguson’s Human Rights Commission.