Speakers, Panelists, and Breakout Session Leaders

Featured Speakers

Lecia BrooksLecia Brooks, Outreach Director, Southern Poverty Law Center

Lecia Brooks is the Outreach Director at the Southern Poverty Law Center, where she travels across the U.S. and abroad to counter hate and extremism and promote the celebration of difference. She leads the Center's vital outreach initiatives advance social justice. Lecia also serves as director of the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Alabama, an interpretive center designed to provide visitors to the Civil Rights Memorial with a deeper understanding of the civil rights movement. Joining the SPLC In 2004, she revitalized the Teaching Tolerance "Mix It Up at Lunch Day" program, which strives to break down racial, cultural, and social barriers in schools. She has nearly a decade of experience in diversity advocacy training for corporations and nonprofit organizations, including Walmart, Lyft, Prism Health of North Texas, and the Salzburg Seminar, and the Newark Public Library. She has a degree in political science from Loyola Marymount University and an elementary education certificate from National University in Los Angeles, California.

Jelani CobbJelani Cobb, Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism, Columbia University

Journalist, educator, and diversity speaker Jelani Cobb writes about the enormous complexity of race in America. Jelani Cobb was a recipient of the Sidney Hillman Prize for Opinion & Analysis Journalism for his New Yorker columns and was prominently featured in Ava Duvernay’s 13th, an Oscar-nominated documentary about the current mass incarceration of black Americans. Cobb also teaches in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he recently accepted a duPont-Columbia Award on behalf of Duvernay for the documentary. A long-time staff writer at The New Yorker, Cobb has written a remarkable series of articles about race, the police, and injustice. Cobb was formerly Associate Professor of History at the University of Connecticut, where he was director of the Africana Studies Institute. He has received Fellowships from the Fulbright and Ford Foundations. He is the author of Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress, To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic, and The Devil & Dave Chappelle and Other Essays. His forthcoming book is Antidote to Revolution: African American Anticommunism and the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1931.

Daniel ZiblattDaniel Ziblatt, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University

Daniel Ziblatt is Eaton Professor of the Science of Government at Harvard University where he is also a resident faculty associate of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies and Harvard's Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. His research focuses on democratization, democratic breakdown, political parties, state-building, and historical political economy, with an emphasis on Europe from the nineteenth century to the present. His three books include How Democracies Die (Crown, 2018), co-authored with Steve Levitsky), a New York Times best-seller, being translated into fifteen languages. He is also the author of Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2017), which won the American Political Science Association's 2018 Woodrow Wilson Prize for the best book in government and international relations as well as three other prizes including the American Sociological Association's 2018 Barrington Moore Book Prize.  His first book was Structuring the State: The Formation of Italy and Germany and the Puzzle of Federalism (Princeton, 2006 [2008]). Ziblatt co-chairs (with Steve Levitsky) a new Challenges to Democracy Research Cluster (for postdocs, undergraduates, and PhD students) at Harvard's Weatherhead Center. He also directs a research program for graduate and undergraduate students at Harvard's Institute of Quantitative Social Science ("Politics Through Time") and has served as interim director of Harvard's de Gunzburg Center for European Studies. He has been a visiting fellow at European and American universities, including the European University Institute (Florence, Italy), Sciences Po (Paris), as well as several German universities, including most recently in the Department of History (State Archive of Bavaria and Institute of Bavarian History) at the Ludwigs Maximilian University (Munich, Germany).

Panel and Breakout Session Speakers

Amel AhmedAmel Ahmed, Associate Professor of Political Science, UMass Amherst

Professor Ahmed's main area of specialization is democratic studies, looking particularly at the politics of institutional choice in the process of democratization.  She is author of “Democracy and the Politics of Electoral System Choice: Engineering Electoral Dominance” (Cambridge University Press, 2013) which won the Best Book Award from the European Politics and Society Section of the American Political Science Association. In a new book-length project, entitled Out of Order: Parliamentarization and Suffrage Expansion among European Democratizers, she examines the long-term impact of institutional choice, and particularly the sequencing of institutional development, on democratic stability. She also has a special interest in research methods and has written extensively about mixed-method research designs. Her work has appeared in various journals including: Comparative Political Studies, Perspectives on Politics, Studies in Comparative International Development, and Journal of Politics. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the areas of Comparative Politics, West European Politics, American Political Development, Electoral Studies, and Research Methods.

Margaret ArsenaaultMargaret Arsenault, Director for Workplace Learning & Development

Margaret Arsenault is the Director for Workplace Learning & Development at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has extensive experience as an organization development consultant and in the design and facilitation of workshops and seminars for public sector employees and organizations, with particular emphasis on: supervisory leadership development, respectful and inclusive workplace practices, managing in unionized contexts, and customer service.


Anna BranchAnna Branch, Professor of Sociology and Associate Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion, UMass Amherst.

Anna Branch is a Professor of Sociology and the Associate Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her book Opportunity Denied: Limiting Black Women to Devalued Work (2011) provides an overview of the historical evolution of Black women’s work and the social-economic structures that have located them in particular and devalued places in the U.S. labor market. She is also the editor of Pathways, Potholes, and the Persistence of Women in Science: Reconsidering the Pipeline (2016) which outlines the inadequacy of the pipeline metaphor in understanding the challenges of entry and persistence in science and offers an alternative model that better articulates the ideas of agency, constraint, and variability along the path to scientific careers for women. Dr. Branch has authored several articles and book chapters that explore the historical roots and contemporary underpinnings of inequality. Her current streams of research investigates rising employment insecurity in the post-industrial era through the lens of racial and gender inequality and challenges to implementing the “Computer Science for All” educational goals and aims within the context of existing educational inequality in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Kim CaseKim Case, Professor of Women’s Studies and Psychology, University of Houston Clear Lake

Dr. Case is a social psychologist by training and applies critical race theory, feminist theory, queer theory, and intersectional theory to her teaching, research, and service to the profession, on campus, and in the surrounding community. Her mixed-methods research examines ally behavior when encountering bias and interventions to increase understanding of intersectionality and systemic privilege, reduce prejudice, and create inclusive spaces within educational and community settings. Her pedagogical scholarship addresses diversity-course effectiveness, inclusive classroom practices, and teaching for social justice. Her first book, Deconstructing Privilege: Teaching and Learning as Allies in the Classroom (2013), focuses on pedagogical strategies for teaching about privilege through an intersectional lens. Her second book emphasizes intersectionality pedagogy across the curriculum: Intersectional Pedagogy: Complicating Identity and Social Justice (2017). Her next book with Mary Kite and Wendy R. Williams is under APA contract, Navigating Difficult Moments in Teaching Diversity and Social Justice.

Makiko DeguchiMakiko Deguchi, Sophia University, Tokyo

Makiko Deguchi is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Foreign Studies at Sophia University in Tokyo. She received her doctorate at Boston College in 2006. Trained as a cultural psychologist, her interests include the impact of social oppression on the psychology of both the advantaged and disadvantaged group members. Her research investigates factors that lead people to take collective action (i.e. demonstrations and protests), and qualitative research on life histories of people who become allies to minority groups. A recipient of the 2018 Fulbright scholarship, she is spending six months in the U.S. at St. Lawrence University and the Wellesley Centers for Women to study privilege studies and campus dialogues around racism and privilege. She currently teaches courses in Cultural Psychology, Psychology of Discrimination, Psychology of Positionality: Understanding Majority Privilege, and a seminar in Qualitative Research Methods in Psychology. She is also the President of SIETAR Japan (Society of Intercultural Education, Training, and Research in Japan). She translated into Japanese the book “Promoting Diversity and Social Justice: Educating Members of Privileged Groups” (Goodman, 2011) which was published through Sophia University Press in 2017. She is currently writing a book in Japanese on changing attitudes of dominant group members through privilege awareness.

Kevin GoodmanKevin Goodman, Visiting Professor of Social Justice Education

Kevin Goodman is a Visiting Professor in Social Justice Education, Department of Student Development, College of Education. A social-organizational psychologist of intergroup relations and student experiences, his teaching centers intersectionality, critical pedagogy and design. He completed a Psychology and Women’s Studies PhD from the University of Michigan. He graduated CSU Long Beach with a Psychology BA, Speech Communications minor, Peace Studies Certificate, and NIMH-COR fellowship.


Joseph Krupczynski

Joseph Krupczynski, Associate Professor of Architecture

Joseph Krupczynski is an Associate Professor of Architecture and the director of Civic Engagement and Service Learning (CESL) at UMass Amherst. As a designer, public artist and educator his recent creative work and scholarship prom­otes imaginative community partnerships, and crafts participatory platforms to engage a variety of issues within the built environment—especially in collaboration with underrepresented communities.

Eun LeeE.Y. (Eun) Lee

E.Y. (Eun) Lee (she/her) is an Ed.S. candidate and ’17 M.Ed. graduate in Social Justice Education,  Department of Student Development, College of Education, with a Graduate Certificate in Advanced Feminist Studies and a Certificate in College Counseling. Her academic interests include feminist pedagogy and pedagogy for social justice, dialogic learning/teaching methodologies, as well as sociolinguistics. Her professional experiences include (inter)group dialogue facilitation and program coordination for teaching diversity and social justice and student development in college settings, as well as previous work with K-12 student services.

Cedric de LeonCedric de Leon, Director of the Labor Center and Associate Professor of Sociology, UMass Amherst

Cedric de Leon is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Labor Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His interest areas and expertise are labor and labor movements, race and ethnicity, political sociology, and comparative historical sociology. He is the author of Origins of Right to Work (Cornell, 2015) and Party and Society (Polity, 2014) and co-editor of Building Blocs (Stanford, 2015) with Manali Desai and Cihan Tugal. Prior to coming to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Cedris was an organizer, a local union president, and a rank-and-file activist in the U.S. labor movement.

Sharon DunnSharon Dunn, Hands Across the Hills

Sharon Dunn joined Hands Across the Hills, the all-volunteer grassroots bridging project as it formed in Leverett MA in 2017. As part of its media team, she concentrates on outreach. She is also a member of Bridge4Unity, a local bridging and dialogue group on race, partnered with SC and KY. She is a former business executive, has published two books of poetry and a memoir Under a Dark Eye: A Family Story, and is working on a nonfiction book about a Cape Cod 'island' through time. 


Jay FrostJay Frost, Hands Across the Hills

Jay Frost helped launch Hands Across the Hills in November 2016 following the presidential election. The idea was to try to bridge the severe political divide between America’s political left and right. He recently retired from a career in corporate communications and is co-author of two books published for business markets.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of New Hampshire. Coincidentally, he and co-facilitator Sharon Dunn attended the same high school in Concord NH.



Nina Tissi GassowayNina Tissi-Gassoway

Nina Tissi-Gassoway (she/her) is a PhD candidate in Social Justice Education, Department of Student Development, College of Education. Nina earned her M. Ed.  in College Student Services Administration and worked professionally in Student Affairs for 6 years before deciding to pursue her doctorate. Her doctoral research explores the ways Intergroup Dialogue can be used to examine race-relations and racism within queer college communities and build cross-race coalitions.  Nina has served as a teaching assistant and course instructor for undergraduate and graduate students focusing on Intergroup dialogue and social justice issues in education


Susannah HeschelSusannah Heschel, Eli Black Professorship of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College

Susannah Heschel is the Eli Black Professor and chair of the Jewish Studies Program at Dartmouth College. She is the author of Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus and The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany as well as edited volumes, including Insider/Outsider: American Jews and Multiculturalism and Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust. She has been a visiting professor at the Universities of Cape Town, Frankfurt, Edinburgh, and Princeton, and has held research grants from the Carnegie Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Humanities Center, and the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin. She is a Guggenheim Fellow and is studying the history of European Jewish scholarship on Islam. Her first book on that topic has just been published, Jüdischer Islam: Islam und jüdisch-deutsche Selbstbestimmung. She has just co-edited a book with Umar Ryad, The Muslim Reception of European Orientalism.

Ray La RajaRay La Raja, Professor of Political Science, UMass Amherst

Raymond J. La Raja is a professor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and associate director of the UMass Poll, which conducts Internet-based surveys of voters nationally. His research focuses on political parties, interest groups, elections and campaign finance. He is the co-author with Brian Schaffner of Campaign Finance and Political Polarization: When Purists Prevail (U. Michigan Press 2015) and Small Change: Money, Political Parties and Campaign Finance Reform (U. Michigan Press 2008).

Luis MarentesLuis Marentes, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, UMass-Amherst

Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His works focuses on post-Revolutionary Mexico, and travels and migration between Mexico and the United States. He is the author of José Vasconcelos and the Writing of the Mexican Revolution. He has been a contributor on matters of migration and immigration reform to Latino Rebels, Latino Voices and PRI The World.


Dave Neely, Diversity Education and Training Specialist 

Dave Neely, Ph.D. is the Diversity Education and Training Specialist in Student Affairs and Campus Life at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has more than fifteen years of higher education experience in both curricular and co-curricular settings focused on social justice and diversity education. His curriculum design, facilitation, and teaching are inspired by personal researcher/practitioner experiences with multiple forms of experiential education including intergroup dialogue, educational theatre, and critical approaches to community engagement.

Franklin OdoFranklin Odo, Professor of American Institutions and International Diplomacy, Amherst College

Franklin Odo is currently The John J McCloy Visiting Professor of American Institutions and International Diplomacy at Amherst College. He teaches Asian American Studies in the American Studies Department. He was founding director, in 1997, of the Asian Pacific American Center at the Smithsonian Institution, retiring in 2010. He was Chief of the Asian Division at the Library of Congress in 2011. Odo was among the first faculty teaching Asian American Studies in the early 1970s at UCLA and Cal State Long Beach. He continued at the University of Hawaii Manoa and was a visiting professor at UPenn, Princeton, College Park, Hunter College, and Columbia in the 1990s. His last major monograph was Voices from the Canefields: Folksongs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawai`i, published by Oxford in 2013. Odo recently edited Finding a Path Forward: Asian American Pacific Islander National Historic Landmarks Theme Study” – published in hard copy and launched online by the National Park Service in 2017.

Linda TroppLinda Tropp, Professor of Social Psychology, UMass Amherst

Linda R. Tropp, PhD, is Professor of Social Psychology in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Faculty Associate in the School of Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. For more than two decades she has studied how members of different groups experience contact with each other, and how group differences in status affect cross-group relations. She has worked with national organizations on U.S. Supreme Court cases relevant to racial integration and equity, on national initiatives to improve interracial relations in schools, and with nongovernmental organizations to evaluate interventions designed to bridge group differences in divided societies. A Fellow of the American Psychological Association, Tropp has received distinguished research and teaching awards from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues and the International Society of Political Psychology. Dr. Tropp is coauthor of When Groups Meet: The Dynamics of Intergroup Contact (2011) and editor of several books, including Moving Beyond Prejudice Reduction: Pathways to Positive Intergroup Relations (2011) and Making Research Matter: A Psychologist’s Guide to Public Engagement (2018).

Tony PaikAnthony Paik, Professor Chair of Sociology, UMass Amherst

Dr. Anthony Paik is Professor and Chair of Sociology and an affiliate of the Computational Social Science Institute.  He joined UMass-Amherst in 2014 and was previously a member of the faculty at the University of Iowa for more than a decade.  He was formerly the Director of the Bachelor’s Degree with Individual Concentration at UMass-Amherst. His research focuses on several areas, including social networks, social demography, and the legal profession. His publications include The Sexual Organization of the City (University of Chicago Press, 2004), which he co-edited.  He also has numerous journal articles, which have appeared in outlets, such as the American Sociological Review, Rationality and Society, Journal of Marriage and Family, Law and Social Inquiry, and Social Science Research.  Currently, Dr. Paik is working on a computational study of cyberbullying, which was funded by National Institute of Justice, and a study on diversity and network in law school, funded by the AccessLex Institute. He received his BA, MA, and PhD from the University of Chicago.

Evelyn SimienEvelyn Simien, Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Race, Ethnicity, and Politics (REP) Graduate Certificate Program, University of Connecticut

Evelyn M. Simien is Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Race, Ethnicity, and Politics (REP) Graduate Certificate program.  Her first book, Black Feminist Voices in Politics (SUNY Press, 2006), examined black feminist consciousness and its effect on political behavior using national survey data. Her second book, Gender and Lynching: the Politics of Memory (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2011), focused on African American women who suffered racial-sexual violence at the hands of lynch mobs in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Her third book, Historic Firsts: How Symbolic Empowerment Changes U.S. Politics (Oxford University Press, 2015), considers whether candidates like Shirley Chisholm in 1972 and Jesse Jackson in 1984 as well as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2008 mobilize voters through emotional appeals while combating stereotypes and providing more inclusive representation.  A nationally recognized teacher, Professor Simien was awarded the 2006 Anna Julia Cooper Teacher of the Year Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, and the 2007 Teaching Promise Award from the American Association of University Professors. She was also recognized as the 2017 Faculty Member of the Year by the UConn chapter of the NAACP. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate classes—for example, African American Politics, Black Feminist Theory and Politics, Black Leadership and Civil Rights, as well as Race, Gender, and Ethnic Politics

Ximena ZúñigaXimena Zúñiga, Professor of Social Justice Education, UMass Amherst

Ximena Zúñiga, is a national leader of diversity, equity and social justice issues in higher education. Dr. Zúñiga's background is in critical philosophy and critical pedagogy, participatory education, and action research. Her initial work was in literacy work and popular education in non-formal adult education programs in her native Chile. Before joining the faculty at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Dr. Zúñiga directed the Program on Intergroup Relations at the University of Michigan where she participated in developing the intergroup dialogue educational model in higher education. She has served as PI and Co-PI on several international, national and local grants including the Inclusive University Initiative at Pune University in India (Obama Singh Grant, 2013-2016), Multi-University Intergroup Dialogue Research Project (W.T.Grant & Ford Foundation, 2005-2008) and Pluralism and Unity Initiative at UMASS Amherst (W. & F. Hewlett Foundation 1998-2002). She is co-editor of Multicultural Teaching in the University (1993), Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (2001; 2010; 2013; (Routledge); Intergroup Dialogue: Engaging Difference, Social Identities, and Social Justice(Routledge, 2014). She is co-author of Intergroup dialogue in higher education: Meaningful learning about social justice(2007;Jossey-Bass) and Dialogues across difference: Practice, theory and research on intergroup dialogues (2013; Russell Sage Foundation). She recently co-edited a special issue for the Journal of Equity and Excellence in Education on intergroup dialogues in k-12, higher education and communities (February 2012). Recent articles and book chapters address racism, immigration & globalization issues in anti-racist education, diversity and social justice education in higher education, and theory, practice, and research on dialogues across differences in higher education and communities. She teaches foundations courses in social justice education, theory, practice and research on intergroup dialogue in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and communities, and a multi-section intergroup dialogue undergraduate course.