Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf


Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (born Chris Jackson in March 1969 in Gulfport, MS) was a record-setting All-American shooting guard at Louisiana State before being drafted #3 overall by the Denver Nuggets in 1990 after his sophomore year. He was recognized during his college career as an athlete who had used the discipline and focus of basketball to successfully battle Tourette Syndrome. He was named the USBWA National Freshman of the Year in 1989 and won the SEC Player of the Year award twice (1989 & 1990). His initial years as a NBA professional player were challenging as he struggled with identity issues on and off the court. Initially inspired by the Autobiography of Malcolm X and later by Muslim friends and mentors in Denver he converted to Islam in March 1993. He credits the serenity and stability of his religious conversion to his subsequent athletic improvements (for example coming within a shot of breaking the NBA’s free throw record by hitting 206 of 215 shots in 93-94. His highlights with the Denver Nuggets included participating in the 1993 Slam Dunk Contest, winning the Most Improved Player Award in that same year, and scoring a career-high 51 points against the Utah Jazz on December 7, 1995.

However, at the peak of his career, Abdul-Rauf became the center of controversy around the league when he refused to stand for the National Anthem. His reasons for doing so, was he felt that the flag was a symbol of oppression and tyranny and therefore, standing up for the flag went against his religion as a Muslim. He was subsequently suspended from the NBA and l though he was shortly reinstated his starting role was diminished and he never returned to his former prominence as a Denver Nugget.

After his tenure with the Nuggets, he played 106 games with the Sacramento Kings over two seasons. His last season in the NBA was played with the Vancouver Grizzlies during the 2000-2001 season. He averaged 6.5 points and 1.9 assists a game in 41 games with the team that season.

After playing nine seasons in the league with three different teams, he went overseas and continued  playing professional basketball with teams in Turkey, Russia, Italy, Greece, Saudi Arabia, and Kyoto Hannaryz in Japan.

After his departure from the NBA and professional basketball Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf continues to train NBA players, college athletes and high school prospects. Mahmoud recently participated in Ice Cubes BIG3 Basketball League in the top 5 highest scores where his team “Three Headed Monsters” finished 2nd in the leagues first Championship game. He remains active in the Islamic, black and general community where he participates in events, programs, interviews, speaking engagements and basketball camps infusing religious principles and disciplines in achieving sports and life skills.

Julia Angwin



Julia Angwin is an award-winning investigative journalist at the independent news organization ProPublica.

From 2000 to 2013, she was a reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where she led a privacy investigative team that was a Finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting in 2011 and won a Gerald Loeb Award in 2010. Her book, Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance, was published by Times Books in 2014.

In 2003, she was on a team of reporters at The Wall Street Journal that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for coverage of corporate corruption. She is also the author of “Stealing MySpace: The Battle to Control the Most Popular Website in America” (Random House, March 2009).

She earned a B.A. in mathematics from the University of Chicago, and an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University.

John A. Allison


Dr. John Allison is an Executive in Residence at the Wake Forest School of Business. He is a member of the Cato Institute’s Board of Directors and Chairman of the Executive Advisory Council of the Cato Institute’s Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives. Allison was president and CEO of the Cato Institute from October 2012 to April 2015. Prior to joining Cato, Allison was chairman and CEO of BB&T Corporation, the 10th-largest financial services holding company headquartered in the United States. During his tenure as CEO from 1989 to 2008, BB&T grew from $4.5 billion to $152 billion in assets. He was recognized by the Harvard Business Review as one of the top 100 most successful CEOs in the world over the last decade.

Allison has received the Corning Award for Distinguished Leadership, been inducted into the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Banker. He is the author of The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why Pure Capitalism Is the World Economy’s Only Hopeand The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why the Future of Business Depends on the Return to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. In addition, he is a former Distinguished Professor of Practice at Wake Forest University School of Business, and serves on the Board of Visitors at the business schools at Wake Forest, Duke, and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Allison is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He received his master’s degree in management from Duke University and is also a graduate of the Stonier Graduate School of Banking. Allison is the recipient of six honorary doctorate degrees.

Colleen Flaherty


Colleen Flaherty, Reporter, covers faculty issues for Inside Higher Ed. Prior to joining the publication in 2012, Colleen was military editor at the Killeen Daily Herald, outside Fort Hood, Texas. Before that, she covered government and land use issues for the Greenwich Time and Hersam Acorn Newspapers in her home state of Connecticut. After graduating from McGill University in Montreal in 2005 with a degree in English literature, Colleen taught English and English as a second language in public schools in the Bronx, N.Y. She earned her M.S.Ed. from City University of New York Lehman College in 2008 as part of the New York City Teaching Fellows program.

Will Waldorf


Will Walldorf is an Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Wake Forest University.  He is the author of Just Politics:  Human Rights and the Foreign Policy of Great Powers (Cornell University Press), which won the 2010 International Studies Association ISSS Award for the best book on international security.  He has published on the topics of human rights, United States foreign policy, sanctions, and alliance politics in Security Studies, The European Journal of International Relations, and Political Science Quarterly.  He is also co-editor of the Oxford Companion to American Politics.  Will is currently working on three research projects.  The first explores the role of broad collective beliefs, or master narratives, in explaining patterns of forceful regime change in U.S. foreign policy from 1900-2011.  The second focuses on the conditions under which sanctions compel authoritarian regimes to democratize.  The third project assesses the ideational sources of the rise and fall of great powers.  Will received his BA from Bowdoin College and his MA and PhD in Politics from the University of Virginia.  He has held postdoctoral fellowships at Dartmouth College and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia.  He taught at Gordon College, Dartmouth College, the University of Virginia, and Auburn University before coming to Wake Forest.

Kaylan Baxter



Kaylan Baxter oversees planning and assessment in the Pro Humanitate Institute (PHI), leads university-wide assessment of efforts to enhance campus climate, and consults various campus units on matters at the intersection of assessment and social justice.


Within PHI, Kaylan leads Data Dives, a monthly series for campus and community members to actively engage ideas related to civic learning, community engagement, and social justice through interaction with museum-style exhibits of stories, charts, and graphs. She is creator and project manager of the Community Scorecard, a collaborative, action-oriented project to evaluate the equitability of representation among staff in relation to the local community. Kaylan also oversees the analysis and visualization of data associated with evaluation of each program within PHI and manages reporting responsibilities related to the Winston-Salem Community Action Coalition, an AmeriCorps-funded initiative aimed at building the capacity of local community-based organizations working to enhance economic equity in the Boston-Thurmond Neighborhood.
Kaylan holds a B.A. in economics from Wake Forest and an M.A. in education policy and social analysis from Teachers College at Columbia University. She is an affiliated researcher in the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest.

Dr. Silvia Bettez


Dr. Silvia Bettez is Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Graduate Program in Cultural Foundations at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Dr. Bettez teaches about issues of social justice in a graduate program including classes such as Teaching Social Justice and Sociology of Education. Her scholarship centralizes social justice with a focus on fostering critical community building, teaching for social justice, and promoting equity through intercultural communication and engagement. She has published articles in several journals (see CV). She is active in the American Educational Studies Association including as a former executive council member, serves on the School of Education Faculty Access & Equity Committee, and is a member and the former co-chair of the UNCG Coalition for Diverse Language Communities.

Dr. Alan Brown


Twitter: @Alando1423

Dr. Alan Brown is an Assistant Professor of English Education and the secondary education program director in the Department of Education at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Dr.Brown teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on topics such as action research, adolescent literacy, educational leadership, English methods, and young adult literature. His work includes various intersections of academics and athletics, including critical examinations of the social culture of sports in K-12 schools and engaging students in contemporary literacies based on their own extra-curricular interests. Dr. Brown is a 2016-2018 ACE Fellow with the Pro Humanitate Institute.

Sarah Brown


Twitter: @Brown_e_Points

Sarah Brown joined The Chronicle as a staff reporter in 2015 and covers a range of topics in daily news, including campus racial tensions, diversity issues, sexual assault and harassment, and state higher-education policy. Her bylines have appeared in The New York Times and a handful of community newspapers, and she occasionally does on-air interviews for TV and radio.

Brown graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a reporter and editor at the campus newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel. Her coverage of the difficulties adjunct faculty members face in the academic workplace earned awards from the American Association of University Professors and the North Carolina College Media Association.

John Carlos



Dr. John Carlos is a medaled USA Track and Field Hall of Fame athlete and Olympian. Competing in the 200 meters, Carlos earned the Gold in the 1967 Pan American Games, and the Bronze in the 1968 Olympics. A record setter, Dr. Carlos led San Jose State to its first NCAA championship in 1969 with victories in the 100 and 220, and as a member of the 4×110-yard relay. He also set indoor world bests in the 60-yard dash and 220-yard dash at the 1967 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

He made world history during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico, when he took to the international stage during the medal ceremony and made a speechless statement, heard and seen worldwide. Winning the 200 meter, John Carlos accepted the Bronze medal at the Olympic podium wearing black socks and no shoes to represent impoverished people who had no shoes of their own, and raised a black-gloved fist crowning a bowed head to humbly reflect the strength of the human spirit. Carlos was joined in his statement by teammate and gold medalist Tommie Smith, and both were supported by silver medalist, Australian, Peter Norman who wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge.

Thomas Cushman


Twitter: @thomas_cushman

Dr. Thomas Cushman is Deffenbaugh de Hoyos Professor in the Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College. He is the founder and director of The Freedom Project at Wellesely College, which is devoted to the promotion of freedom of expression, pluralism, and tolerance. His recent work in these areas focuses on competing value systems in university communities, in particular, the tensions and conflicts between freedom of expression, on the one hand, and diversity, equity and inclusion, on the other and how these tensions might be reduced.

Steven Diner


Dr. Steven J. Diner is a University Professor who headed Rutgers University-Newark as Chancellor from July 2002 to December 2011. Prior to serving as chancellor, Dr. Diner served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS-N) at Rutgers-Newark from 1998-2011. He is also a Professor of History. Diner recently published Universities and their Cities: Urban Higher Education in America (Johns Hopkins Press, 2017).

As chancellor,  Diner devoted himself to building Rutgers-Newark as a leading urban research university. He oversaw a substantial increase in student enrollments; and encouraged faculty to take full advantage of the opportunities for both teaching and research offered by Newark’s rich array of academic, cultural, business, legal, medical and scientific institutions and its proximity to New York City. He was responsible for establishing a new School of Public Affairs & Administration, a Division of Global Affairs, and a wide variety of new academic initiatives many of which take advantage of Rutgers-Newark’s location in the New York/northern New Jersey metropolitan area.After completing a PhD in History at the University of Chicago, he began his teaching career at the University of the District of Columbia, where he taught in and chaired the Department of Urban Studies and was the founding director of the Center for Applied Research and Urban Policy. In 1985, he went to George Mason University, where he served as Vice Provost for Academic Programs, Associate Senior Vice President, and established the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, which undertakes interdisciplinary research in cognitive science.

Dr. Diner’s publications include A City and Its Universities (1980), Housing Washington’s People (1984), and A Very Different Age: Americans of the Progressive Era (1998), as well as numerous articles and essays on the history of American higher education, urban history, and the history of public policy.

Michael B. Dougherty


Twitter: @michaelbd

Michael B. Dougherty is Senior Writer at the National Review. Previously, he was the senior correspondent at He is the founder and editor of The Slurve, a newsletter about baseball. His work has appeared in The New York Times MagazineESPN MagazineSlate and The American Conservative.

After founding The Slurve with the help of a coding friend, Michael studied Ruby on Rails, Javascript, CSS/HTML and related technologies at Fullstack Academy of Code.

Michael’s journalistic work has been published in ESPN Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, The American Conservative, Washington Monthly, The Guardian, The Washington Times and The Politico. He has chased presidential candidates in New Hampshire, democratic reformers in Egypt, and renegade financial investors. In 2009 he won a Phillips Journalism Fellowship to cover the financial crisis. He has worked in all forms of media including broadcast television, radio, and the internet.

Donna Edwards

Twitter: @DonnaFEdwards


Honorable Donna F. Edwards, U.S. Congresswoman (2008-2017) was the first African American woman elected to represent Maryland in the United States Congress.

Congresswoman Edwards was born in Yanceyville, North Carolina, grew up in a military family, and lived in every region of the country and internationally. A graduate of Thomas Stone High School in Charles County, Maryland, she earned B.A. degree from Wake Forest University, where she was one of only six black women in the class of 1980, and now serves as trustee. She completed her final year of study at the University of Salamanca, Spain, in WFU’s study-abroad program. Congresswoman Edwards was named recently as a Senior Fellow of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York School of Law. Congresswoman
Edwards trains and advises international parliamentarians and nongovernmental leaders as a consultant to the National Democratic Institute. She is the mother of one adult son, who is the light of her life.

After college, Congresswoman Edwards began her career at the United Nations Development Program. In addition to her service at the UN, Congresswoman Edwards worked for the Lockheed Corporation at the Goddard Space Flight Center with the Spacelab program. She earned a Juris Doctorate degree in 1989 from the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

In her distinguished career, Congresswoman Edwards worked as an attorney in private practice, clerked for a District of Columbia Superior Court Judge, and worked as a public interest lawyer. As a nonprofit executive, Congresswoman Edwards co-founded and led the National Network to End Domestic Violence, spearheading the effort to pass the Violence Against Women Act in 1994. She was the executive director of the Arca Foundation and Center for a New Democracy and was a tireless advocate for Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy non-profit organization. Congresswoman Edwards was member of the Diversity Leadership Council for the Maryland Democratic Party, and served on the board of directors for the League of Conservation Voters and Common Cause. She currently serves on the Profiles in Courage Awards Committee of the John F. Kennedy Library and Advisory Board of Rise to Run, encouraging young women in public service.

Elected in a special election in June 2008, Ms. Edwards became Maryland’s first African American woman in Congress, serving five terms. In Congress, she served on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Committee on Standards and Official Conduct, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, and the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, serving as the lead Democrat on the Subcommittee on Space. In her last term, Congresswoman Edwards was a member of the Democratic leadership team as co-chair of the House Democrat’s Steering and Policy Committee.

Her first act in Congress was to add Maryland to the Afterschool Suppers Program, ensuring student access to nutritional dinners, and to afterschool and youth development programs in schools located in low-income areas. She secured a provision in the Affordable Care Act to hold insurance companies accountable for unjustified rate increases. She was a strong advocate for investing in historically black colleges, protecting of women’s reproductive rights, and protecting the Social Security and Medicare programs. Congresswoman Edwards championed legislation to reduce opioid overdose, to ensure quality, affordable child care, to end the federal death penalty, and to provide education opportunities to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals. She was the first member of Congress to introduce a constitutional amendment to repeal the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United decision. In 2014, as chair of the Democratic women of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Edwards launched the Women’s Economic Agenda for equal pay, affordable childcare and women’s economic security.

Congresswoman Edwards ran, unsuccessfully for the United States Senate, ending her tenure in the House of Representatives in 2017. Congresswoman Edwards has spent the last couple of months on an epic road trip camping, hiking, fishing and thinking in state and national parks across the country. A progressive champion who has fought for Maryland families in both the non-profit sector and in public office, she is a role model for girls and women who dream of serving their country at the highest levels of government.

Leslie Garvin



Leslie Garvin is the Executive Director of North Carolina Campus Compact, a collaborative network of 38
colleges and universities with a shared commitment to educating engaged citizens and strengthening
communities. Garvin became the Executive Director in June 2014, after serving as the Associate Director
for over nine years. She serves as the liaison to the 10 member Executive Board comprised of
Presidents/Chancellors and builds strategic partnerships to develop and expand higher education civic
engagement. Since joining the Compact, Garvin has played a key role in starting or expanding the
network’s community service and professional development programming. She has served as Program
Director on three AmeriCorps grants that engaged hundreds of college students in community service
and for eight years she has managed grants to support MLK Day of Service activities on 180 campuses
across the Southeast. She developed the Campus Election Engagement Project – NC, the civic
engagement statewide awards program, and acts as lead coordinator for the Compact’s three major
civic engagement conferences and bi-annual network meetings, which together attract nearly 700
participants each year.

Prior to joining North Carolina Campus Compact, Garvin worked in the interfaith and community
leadership development fields in St. Louis, MO. Garvin is also a proud AmeriCorps alum. She serves on
the Board of the United Way of Greater High Point and on the Service Year Advisory Council and the
Advisory Committee on Civic Health for the Institute for Emerging Issues.

She holds two degrees from Washington University in St. Louis: a Bachelor of Arts with College Honors,
with majors in Political Science and African American Studies, and a Masters of Social Work, with a
concentration in Social and Economic Development.

Michele Gillespie



Dr. Michelle Gillespie, Dean of the College, Wake Forest University Michele Gillespie, Presidential Endowed Chair of Southern History, was appointed Dean of the College, with academic oversight for the undergraduate school of arts and sciences, on July 1, 2015. She joined the Wake Forest faculty in 1999. She was named Kahle Family Professor of History in 2003 and served as associate provost for academic initiatives from 2007-2010. In 2013, Gillespie was the first Wake Forest faculty member to be honored with an endowed Presidential chair, which recognizes and supports faculty who excel in both academic leadership and outstanding scholarship.

A noted teacher, scholar, historian and author, Gillespie balances academic rigor with integrating community engagement into her work and her classes. In 2010, she was honored as a pioneer in the national service-learning field with North Carolina’s Robert L. Sigmon Service Learning Award. This past spring, she received Wake Forest’s Kulynych Omicron Delta Kappa Award, which recognizes an outstanding faculty member who bridges the gap between classroom and student life, for her work with history honors students on providing St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church in Winston-Salem with 30 oral histories of parishioners and a history of the church to celebrate its 75th anniversary.

Gillespie teaches courses on the American South and U.S. history. She has published two award-winning books as well as articles and book chapters, and co-edited ten collections. Her most recent book, “Katharine and R.J. Reynolds: Partners of Fortune in the Making of the New South,” presents 10 years of in-depth research on industry titan R.J. Reynolds and his progressive wife Katharine Reynolds, on whose 300 acres of property Wake Forest now stands. Gillespie earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University and a B.A. from Rice University.

Christina Greer



Dr. Christina Greer is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University – Lincoln Center (Manhattan) campus. Her research and teaching focus on American politics, black ethnic politics, urban politics, quantitative methods, Congress, New York City and New York State politics, campaigns and elections, and public opinion. Prof. Greer’s book Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream (Oxford University Press) investigates the increasingly ethnically diverse black populations in the US from Africa and the Caribbean. She finds that both ethnicity and a shared racial identity matter and also affect the policy choices and preferences for black groups. Professor Greer is currently writing her second manuscript and conducting research on the history of all African Americans who have run for the executive office in the U.S. Her research interests also include mayors and public policy in urban centers. Her previous work has compared criminal activity and political responses in Boston and Baltimore. She is the host and producer of The Aftermath with Christina Greer on Prof. Greer received her BA from Tufts University and her MA, MPhil, and PhD in Political Science from Columbia University.

Melissa Harris-Perry


Twitter: @mharrisperry
Instagram: @mharrisperry

Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University. There she is the Founding Director of the Pro Humanitate Institute and Founding Director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center.

Melissa hosted the television show “Melissa Harris-Perry” from 2012-2016 on weekend mornings on MSNBC.

She is the author of the award-winning Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, and Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America.

Harris-Perry received her B.A. degree in English from Wake Forest University and her Ph.D. degree in political science from Duke University. She also studied theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Harris-Perry previously served on the faculty of the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and Tulane University.

Alana James


Alana James graduated from Wake Forest University in 2009 with majors in Communication and Spanish, and also studied at the Schools of Business, receiving an MA in Management in 2010. An Ohio native, she fell in love with Winston-Salem as a student while volunteering and serving at community organizations as a member of Alpha Phi Omega.  She decided to remain and started her career in the nonprofit sector working for the United Way of Forsyth County for seven years.  There, she served most recently as the Director of Community-based Collaborations, leading the development of place-based strategies.  Alana is currently the Associate Director of Community Engagement for Wake Downtown and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where she works cross-functionally to coordinate engagement strategies that promote mutually beneficial community and institutional outcomes.

Cristina Jiménez


Cristina Jiménez is Executive Director & Co-founder of United We Dream (UWD). The largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country. Originally from Ecuador, Cristina came to the U.S. with her family at the age of 13, attending high school and college as an undocumented student. She has been organizing in immigrant communities for over a decade and was part of UWD’s campaign team that led to the historic victory of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012 that protects over one million young immigrants from deportation. Under Cristina’s leadership UWD has grown to a powerful network of 57 affiliates in 25 states and over 300,000 members.

Under Cristina’s leadership, UWD has grown to a powerful network of 57 affiliates in 25 states and over 300,000 members.

Cristina is one of Forbes’s 2014 “30 under 30 in Law and Policy;” was named one of “40 under 40 Young Leaders Who are Solving Problems of Today and Tomorrow” by the Chronicle of Philanthropy; and one of “50 Fearless Women” by Cosmopolitan.

She co-founded the New York State Youth Leadership Council, the Dream Mentorship Program at Queens College, was an immigration policy analyst for the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and an immigrant rights organizer at Make the Road New York. Cristina holds a Masters degree in Public Administration & Public Policy from the School of Public of Affairs at Baruch College, CUNY and graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Political Science and Business from Queens College, CUNY.

Adam Kadlac


Adam Kadlac received his B.A. in philosophy and history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Virginia.  He specializes in ethics and political philosophy and is particularly interested in questions surrounding the moral status of human persons and democratic theory.  Before coming to Wake Forest, Adam held teaching appointments at the University of Virginia and the University of Tennessee.

Rogan Kersh



Rogan Kersh received his B.A. from Wake Forest in 1986, and returned as provost and professor of political science in July 2012.  In this role he oversees the University’s academic mission and programs on the Reynolda Campus, working closely with President Hatch, the academic deans, and faculty and administrative colleagues to support and enhance research, teaching, and graduate and undergraduate programs of the College of Arts and Sciences as well as Wake Forest’s Schools of Business, Divinity and Law.  He also coordinates academic programming with the administration of the School of Medicine.  Prior to arriving at WFU, Kersh was associate dean of NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service, where he was professor of public policy.

Kersh has published two books, on American political history and on health policy, and his Debating American Government (with James Morone) will be published in January 2013 by Oxford University Press.  He has published over 50 academic articles, and does frequent media commentary on U.S. politics.  He has been a Mellon Fellow in the Humanities, a Luce Scholar, a Robert Wood Johnson Fellow, and is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.  In 15 years’ teaching at Yale, Syracuse, and NYU he has won four university-wide teaching awards.  Kersh received his Ph.D. in political science from Yale in 1996, and has professional experience in the U.S. Congress, the British Parliament, and at think tanks in Tokyo and Washington, DC.

John B. King Jr.


Twitter: @JohnBKing


John B. King Jr. is the president and CEO of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to identify and close opportunity and achievement gaps, from preschool through college. King served as the U.S. Secretary of Education from 2016 to 2017 as a member of President Barack Obama’s administration. In tapping him to lead the U.S. Department of Education, President Obama called King “an exceptionally talented educator,” citing his commitment to “preparing every child for success” and his lifelong dedication to education as a teacher, principal, and leader of schools and school systems.

Before becoming education secretary and beginning in January 2015, King carried out the duties of the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education, overseeing all policies and programs related to P-12 education, English learners, special education, and innovation. In this role, King also oversaw the agency’s operations. King joined the department following his tenure as the first African American and Puerto Rican to serve as New York State Education Commissioner, a post he held from 2011 to 2015.

King began his career in education as a high school social studies teacher in Puerto Rico and Boston, Mass., and as a middle school principal.

King’s life story is an extraordinary testament to the transformative power of education. Both of King’s parents were career New York City public school educators, whose example serves as an enduring inspiration. Both of King’s parents passed away from illness by the time he was 12 years old. He credits New York City public school teachers — particularly educators at P.S. 276 in Canarsie and Mark Twain Junior High School in Coney Island — for saving his life by providing him with rich and engaging educational experiences and by giving him hope for the future.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in government from Harvard University, a J.D. from Yale Law School, as well as a Master of Arts in the teaching of social studies and a doctorate in education from Teachers College at Columbia University. King lives in Takoma Park, Md., with his wife (a former kindergarten and first-grade teacher) and his two daughters, who attend local public schools.

Jacob T Levy


Twitter: @jtlevy

Dr. Jacob T. Levy is Tomlinson Professor of Political Theory, Professor of Political Science, and associated faculty in the Department of Philosophy at McGill University.  He is the coordinator of McGill’s Research Group on Constitutional Studies and Montreal’s Groupe de Recherche Interuniversitaire en Philosophie Politique, and the founding director of McGill’s Yan P. Lin Centre for the Study of Freedom and Global Orders in the Ancient and Modern Worlds. His areas of research include liberal and constitutional theory, federalism and local self-government, multiculturalism and nationalism, freedom of association, and the history of political thought, especially centered on the eighteenth century and Montesquieu.

He is the author of The Multiculturalism of Fear (OUP 2000) and Rationalism, Pluralism, and Freedom (OUP 2014), and editor or coeditor of Colonialism and Its Legacies, Nomos LV: Federalism and Subsidiarity, and the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Classics in Contemporary Political Theory.   He serves on the editorial boards of The Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, Political Studies, and Publius: The Journal of Federalism. He is a member of the Board of Advisors and a Senior Fellow at the Niskanen Center. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Brown University, an M.A. and Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University, and an LL.M. from the University of Chicago Law School. His writing on contemporary questions has been published in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Australian, Slate (France), The Chronicle of Higher Education, Reason,  The Boston Review, and The New Republic online.

Charlotte Llewellen-Williams



Dr. Charlotte Lewellen Williams DrPH, MPH is Associate Professor of Public Health and Director of the Center on Community Philanthropy (The Center) at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. The Center is dedicated to expanding the knowledge, tools, and practice of community-spawned and community-driven philanthropy.

As a champion of building communities into places where all people can thrive, Williams leads The Center’s work in Arkansas and the region that lift up community philanthropy as a powerful influence for turning communities toward positive change. Williams is responsible for launching the Center in its core work areas of Leadership, Scholarship/Research and Convening. She develops and manages key Center projects that focus on building community based solutions and programs dedicated to eliminating disparities and promoting social justice. She has developed and teaches a course on community philanthropy for graduate students at the University Of Arkansas Clinton School Of Public Service.

Williams has co-authored a book entitled “Passing the Torch; Planning for the Next Generation of Leaders in Public Service. The book features an analysis of succession planning across a variety of nonprofit organizations and examines what will motivate the next generation of public servants. The book is due in stores fall 2016.

As a community and civic leader, Williams serves on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Chancellor’s Committee on Race and Ethnicity. She is also an advisory board member of Circles USA. She holds an adjunct faculty appointment in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Office of Global Health and is Associate Faculty with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Institute on Race and Ethnicity.

A business administration graduate from Howard University, Washington, D.C., Williams earned her Doctoral Degree in Public Health and her Master’s degree in Public Health from the UAMS College of Public Health. In her academic research experience, she has extensively studied and published papers in several peer reviewed journals including Academic Medicine, the Journal of Communication and the Journal of Nonprofit Management and Leadership.

Zerlina Maxwell



Zerlina Maxwell is the Director of Progressive Programming at SiriusXM. She was formerly the Director of Progressive Media for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. She worked in the campaign’s press shop pitching coverage to progressive media outlets and curating daily messaging for online influencers. She also acted as a campaign spokesperson for the Presidential Debates.

She is currently TV political analyst, speaker, and writer for a variety of national media outlets. Her writing focused on national politics, candidates, and specific policy and culture issues including race, feminism, domestic violence, sexual assault, victim blaming and gender inequality.

Zerlina has consulted with the United States Department of State to promote the use of social media by students in the West Bank and is a frequent speaker at colleges, universities, and organizations about rape culture and feminism. She was profiled in

the New York Times as a top political twitter voice to follow during the 2012 election season. She was also selected by TIME as having one of the best Twitter feeds in 2014. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Daily News, The Washington Post, JET Magazine, Marie Claire Magazine,,,,, and in other mainstream media outlets. She is also a weekly guest and fill in host for Make It Plain with Mark Thompson on Sirius XM Progress and democratic commentator on Fox News and MSNBC. Zerlina Maxwell speaks about about feminism, rape culture, race, diversity, breaking through in social media, blogging and politics.

In 2015, Zerlina was one of five journalists invited to travel on Air Force One with President Obama on his trip to Selma for the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Also, in 2016, Zerlina joined pop superstar Lady Gaga on stage at the 88th annual Academy Awards as part of a special performance of her nominated smash, Til’ It Happens to You from the film The Hunting Ground.

Ibtihaj Muhammad

Twitter: @ibtihajmuhammad

Ibtihaj Muhammad is a member of the United States Fencing Team. She is the first Muslim woman to represent the United States in international competition.

Muhammad began fencing sabre at the age of 17. She quickly developed in the weapon, receiving a scholarship from the prestigious Duke University where she was a 3-time All American and Junior Olympic Champion. After graduating from Duke with an International Relations and African Studies double major, Muhammad decided to pursue fencing full time.

She is currently ranked 2nd in the U.S. and has ranked as high as number 11 in the world. Muhammad’s career highlights include World Champion (Team, 2014), 4-time Senior World Medalist and 3-time USA National Champion. In February 2012, Muhammad was called upon by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to serve on the U.S. Department of State’s Council to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports. As a sports ambassador, Muhammad engages audiences in the United States and overseas to elevate the global conversation on sports as a means of empowerment. She aims to inspire youth and increase the number of women and girls who are involved in sports.

Sylvia Oberle


Sylvia Oberle has lived in Winston-Salem since 1978, and retired in May 2016 after 10 years as executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County.  During her tenure at Habitat Forsyth, the affiliate became one of the first Habitat affiliates in the country to adopt the neighborhood revitalization approach to broadening housing and community development solutions.  Before coming to Habitat, Sylvia was founding director of the Center for Community Safety at Winston-Salem State University.  She is a nationally recognized leader in developing effective partnerships to strengthen and stabilize communities.  She is a former city editor of the Winston-Salem Journal and was also senior vice president of Fyock & Associates, a communications consulting firm.

She is currently working as a Senior Fellow for Wake Forest University helping to identify and facilitate ways for the university to work more closely with neighborhood residents to revitalize the nearby Boston-Thurmond neighborhood.  

Sylvia received the 2016 Community Award from the Winston-Salem Foundation in recognition of her leading work in community issues.  She also received an ECHO Award at the Foundation’s community luncheon, the first person to receive both awards.  She is a recipient of the Attorney General’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Partnerships for Community Safety from the U.S. Department of Justice and the James A. McMillan Award from the NAACP.

She is a native of Knoxville, Tenn., and received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She is married to Terry Oberle, retired sports editor of the Winston-Salem Journal, and is the mother of two children, Virginia, 25, and the late Andrew Lane.

James Otteson

Twitter: @jroii

Dr. James Otteson  Is executive director of the Eudaimonia Institute. Dr. Otteson joined Wake Forest in the Fall of 2013 as Executive Director of The BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism and Teaching Professor of Political Economy. In 2015, Dr. Otteson was named the Thomas W. Smith Presidential Chair in Business Ethics and in 2016 he was named a Professor of Economics. Before coming to Wake Forest, Dr. Otteson was joint professor of philosophy and economics, and philosophy department chair, at Yeshiva University. He has taught previously at New York University, Georgetown University, and the University of Alabama. He also serves currently as a Research Professor in the Freedom Center and in the Philosophy Department at the University of Arizona, and he is a Senior Scholar at the Fund for American Studies in Washington, DC. Dr. Otteson’s scholarship focuses on political economy, political philosophy, history and philosophy of economics, and eighteenth-century moral and political thought. He is an expert on Adam Smith, on the moral foundations of capitalism, and on the comparative evaluation of competing systems of political economy.

Dr. Anthony S. Parent Jr.



Dr. Anthony Parent (PhD, UCLA) is Professor of History and American Ethnic Studies. He teaches American, African and World History. His scholarly focus areas are African America, Colonial America, and the History of Sexuality. His current research includes the transformation of Virginia Slave society, a history of slave rebellion, and narrative and memory of African-American service during the American Revolution. He serves on the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) Advisory Board and is assisting the museum in its interpretation of rooms where Harriet Jacobs lived. Parent is author of Foul Means: The Formation of a Slave Society in Virginia, 1660-1740Where Harriet Jacobs Lived,” and “Verses for Reel (Real): Corn Shucking Songs and Public Poetics”; and he co-authored Old Dominion New Commonwealth: A History of Virginia, 1607-2007. Most recently, he is coeditor of Historical Trauma and American Indian and African American Resilience.

James Perry

James Perry is president and CEO of the Winston-Salem Urban League. Perry leads a near 20 person team across the North Carolina Triad, advocating for civil rights, employment opportunities, affordable housing, health and wellness, voting rights, food security and more. Before taking charge of the Urban League, Perry served for 10 years as the the Chief Executive Officer of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center.  Perry led the Center through hurricane Katrina, the most disastrous hurricane to make landfall in America. Under his leadership, the Center won more than half a billion dollars for victims of discrimination across Louisiana.

Perry founded the Mississippi Gulf Coast Fair Housing Center, testified before Congress eight times and has served on dozens of local, state and national boards and commissions. He currently serves on the National Fair Housing Alliance Board of Directors. Perry is a political science graduate of the University of New Orleans and a graduate of the Loyola University School of Law. Perry, and his wife Melissa Harris-Perry, are raising two daughters in Winston-Salem, NC.

Dr. Christina Tsoules Soriano


Dr. Christina Tsoules Soriano is an associate professor of dance at Wake Forest University and the newly appointed director of the dance program. At Wake, she regularly teaches Improvisation, Dance Composition, Modern Dance technique and a course she co-teaches with chemistry colleague Rebecca Alexander entitled Movement and the Molecular.  Christina received her MFA in dance from Smith College and has danced for many inspiring choreographers, including Alexandra Beller and Heidi Henderson.  In addition to the new works she creates for the Wake Forest Dance Company each year, Christina’s choreography has been presented throughout New England, North Carolina, New York and in Vienna, Austria. Choreographic or teaching residencies include the University of Virginia, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Amherst College, Trinity College (CT), Salve Regina University, Rhode Island College and Providence College. Christina has premiered a new work at the Music Carolina Festival in Winston-Salem since 2013; this past summer her work “The Patsy Project” featured a cast of 25 dancers, ages 4-75, with live music by Martha Bassett and her band singing music by Patsy Cline.Since 2012, Christina has regularly taught a community dance class in Winston-Salem, NC to people living with Parkinson’s Disease, and has been involved in three scientific studies that look at the ways improvisational dance can help the mobility and balance of people living with neurodegenerative disease.  She has received funding from the National Parkinson Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC, and most recently the NIH to conduct a randomized clinical trial, testing her improvisational dance method in a community of adults living with Mild Cognitive Impairment and their carepartners. More information about this work can be found at  Her published work has appeared in the Journal of Dance Education, Research in Dance Education, Dance Magazine, Theatre Journal, the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts, The Journal of Physical and Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics and Frontiers in Neurology.

In 2017 Christina also was appointed to a new administrative role in the Office of the Provost and is working with colleagues across the university to enhance visibility of the arts at and beyond Wake Forest, and help forge interdisciplinary connections across the arts and other Wake Forest schools and departments.  She is also very involved in an annual, interdisciplinary symposium:Wake Forest’s Aging Re-Imagined, which brings together the work of artists and scientists around the topic of Healthy Aging.

Chris W. Surprenant


Dr. Chris W. Surprenant is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of New Orleans. Professor Surprenant is the founding director of the Alexis de Tocqueville Project, an academic center for research and programming focusing on issues at the intersection of ethics, individual freedom, and the law.

His current projects focus on contemporary issues in criminal justice reform, including the ethics of punishment; explore the connection between human well-being and entrepreneurship; and examine the importance of open inquiry and free exchange to the proper functioning of a free society, both in academic institutions and society as a whole.

He has been recognized by Princeton Review in 2012 as one of the “Best 300 Professors” in the United States, and by Cengage Learning as one of their “Most Valuable Professors” of 2014, awarded to three professors in the United States who “have made lasting impressions on the education and lives of their students.”

Dorian Warren

Twitter: @dorianwarren

Dr. Dorian T. Warren is President of the Center for Community Change Action (CCCA) and Vice-President of the Center for Community Change (CCC). He is also a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and Co-Chair of the Economic Security Project.

A progressive scholar, organizer and media personality, Warren has worked to advance racial, economic and social justice for over two decades. He previously taught for over a decade at the University of Chicago and Columbia University, where he was Co-Director of the Columbia University Program on Labor Law and Policy. Warren also worked at MSNBC where he was a Contributor, fill-in host for Melissa Harris Perry and Now with Alex Wagner, and Host and Executive Producer of Nerding Out on MSNBC’s digital platform.

He currently serves on several boards including Working Partnerships USA, the Workers Lab, the National Employment Law Project, Capital & Main and The Nation Magazine Editorial Board. As a commentator on public affairs, Warren has appeared regularly on television and radio including NBC Nightly News, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, BET, BBC, NPR, Bloomberg, & NY1, among other outlets. He has also written for The Nation, Huffington Post, Newsweek, Salon, Washington Post, New York Times, Medium, Ebony, and Boston Review.

Warren is co-author of The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy (Cambridge University Press) and co-editor of Race and American Political Development (Routledge). In 2013, he was included on the list of NBC’s theGrio’s 100 people making history today. After growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Warren received his B.A. from the University of Illinois and his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from Yale University.

Sherri Williams


Twitter: @SherriWrites

Dr. Sherri Williams is an assistant professor in race, media and communication at American University. You’ll find Williams at the intersection of social media, social justice, reality television, mass media and how people of color use and are represented by these mediums. Williams has a particular interest in how black people’s use of social media is changing social justice and the entertainment industry, especially television. She is also interested in and studies how marginalized people, especially black women, are represented in the media. National media outlets including CNN, USA Today, Smithsonian Magazine and Vice interviewed Williams for her social media expertise. She was also named one of NBC BLK’S fierce black feminists you should know.

For almost two decades Williams traveled to unfamiliar places to deliver stories that matter. Whether she stood in the middle of a Ku Klux Klan rally in Mississippi, a hostage situation at a hotel and a bank, the rural countryside of South Africa or the streets of Cuba – Williams transported readers to new places and introduced them to interesting people. Her journalism career started in 1999 at the Associated Press’ Jackson, Mississippi bureau and she worked in three newsrooms for 10 years. She still contributes to national media outlets. Her work appeared in Self,, NBC BLK, Ebony, Essence, Heart & Soul and Upscale magazines.

As a professor and media researcher, Williams’ work focuses on how marginalized groups, especially women of color, are portrayed in the media. Williams teaches journalism and storytelling classes as well as courses that examine the ways in which race, gender, class, and sexual identity are portrayed in the media. Williams is now leading a study that explores how black millennials are affected by seeing images of fatal police brutality against black people on social media. She earned a Ph.D. in mass communications and a master’s degree in magazine, newspaper and online journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in journalism at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi.

Dave Zirin

Personal Website
Edge of Sports

Twitter: @edgeofsports


Dave Zirin, named one of UTNE Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Our World”, writes about the politics of sports for the Nation Magazine. He is their first sports writer in 150 years of existence.

Zirin hosts the popular weekly podcast, Edge of Sports. He also co-hosts the radio program “The Collision: Sports and Politics with Etan Thomas & Dave Zirin.”

Author of eight books on the politics of sports, he has been called “the best sportswriter in the United States,” by Robert Lipsyte, Zirin won the 2015 New York Press Club Award for Sports Journalism, the 2015 National Headliner Award for Online Magazine writing and Sport in Society and Northeastern University School of Journalism’s ‘Excellence in Sports Journalism’ Award. He was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for his book The John Carlos Story: TheSports Moment that Changed the World, and the PEN American award for literary sports writing.

More Presenters Forthcoming