Main menu

Conference Speakers

Julian Bond photo_0.jpg

Julian Bond

Julian Bond has been an activist in the civil rights, economic justice, and peace movements since his college years. In 1960, he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and became its communications director. Earlier that year, he helped create the Atlanta University student civil rights organization, which directed several years of nonviolent protests and won integration of Atlanta’s movie theaters, lunch counters, and parks. Mr. Bond served 20 years in the Georgia House and Georgia Senate, drafting more than 60 bills that became law. He was president of the Atlanta branch of the NAACP for 11 years and in 1998, was elected chair of the NAACP national board and served for 11 terms until stepping down in 2010. He continues to serve as Chairman Emeritus. Mr. Bond was also the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center from 1971 to 1979. He is Distinguished Adjunct Professor in the Department of Government at American University.

Terrence Roberts photo for web_0.jpg

Terrence Roberts

Dr. Terrence J. Roberts is one of the “Little Rock Nine” who desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. As a 15-year-old eleventh grader, he joined eight other students and became one of the first nine black students to go to a formerly segregated public high school in Little Rock. He is CEO of Terrence Roberts Consulting, a management consultant firm devoted to fair and equitable practices in business and industry. In his first book, Lessons from Little Rock, Dr. Roberts describes his experience at Central High School and talks about the salient lessons to be learned from that episode. His second book, Simple, Not Easy: Reflections on Community, Social Responsibility, and Tolerance seeks to guide the reader toward more socially responsible positions in life.

To learn more, go to

Dr. Roberts's appearance is generously sponsored by Facing History and Ourselves.

Kara Cooney photo for web_0.jpg

Kara Cooney

Dr. Kathlyn (Kara) Cooney is a professor of Egyptian Art and Architecture at UCLA., specializing in craft production, coffin studies, and economies in the ancient world. In 2005, she was co-curator of Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaoh at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She also produced and hosted the comparative archaeology television series, Out of Egypt, with her husband, Neil Crawford for the Discovery Channel. The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt is Dr. Cooney’s first trade book, and it benefits from her immense knowledge of Egypt’s ancient history to craft an illuminating biography of its least well-known female king. As an archaeologist who spent years at various excavations in Egypt, she draws from the latest field research to fill in the gaps in the physical record of Hatshepsut. Dr. Cooney’s current research in coffin reuse, primarily focusing on the 20th Dynasty, is ongoing. Her research investigates the socioeconomic and political turmoil that have plagued the period, ultimately affecting funerary and burial practices in ancient Egypt.

Photo by Mikel Healey.

Rick Steves photo 1_0.jpg

Rick Steves

Rick Steves advocates smart, affordable, perspective-broadening travel. As host and writer of the popular public television series Rick Steves' Europe, and best-selling author of over 50 European travel books, he encourages Americans to travel as "temporary locals." Over the past 20 years, he has hosted more than 100 travel shows for public television. Mr. Steves also hosts a weekly public radio program. He is the author of Travel as a Political Act, reflecting on how travel has broadened his own perspectives, and how it can be a significant source for peace and understanding in the world.

To learn more, go to

Sharon M. Draper_0.jpg

Sharon Draper

Sharon M. Draper is a New York Times bestselling author and recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring her significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens. She has received the Coretta Scott King Award for both Copper Sun and Forged by Fire. Her Out of My Mind has won multiple awards and has been a New York Times bestseller for more than a year. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she taught high school English for twenty-five years and was named National Teacher of the Year. Visit her at

Ms. Draper's appearance is generously sponsored by Simon & Schuster.

To learn more, go to

Stephen Bradberry photo_1.jpg

Stephen Bradberry

As a community organizer in New Orleans, Stephen Bradberry organized low-income, displaced and returning working families to ensure their participation in the post-Katrina recovery process. Bradberry's grassroots efforts in support of the right of displaced persons to return to their city and to be treated with fairness and dignity, helped to ensure that marginalized communities had a voice in the recovery process. Under his direction, grassroots networks in New Orleans ran an 18-month campaign to turn the city of New Orleans' planning process around 180 degrees -- from plans turning the Lower Ninth Ward into wetlands to being a pilot neighborhood for the rebuilding process. In 2005 he became the first U.S. citizen to win the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. Mr. Bradberry co-founded the Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign, a partnership of Gulf Coast community, faith, student, labor and human rights organizations and their national allies advocating for federal legislation to create living wage jobs for families to return home, rebuild their neighborhoods and restore the environment in communities still struggling to recover from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. In response to the BP oil drilling disaster, he is advocating for federal initiatives that partner with affected communities, their local authorities and organizations to address the crisis affecting the health and livelihoods of thousands across the Gulf Coast.

To learn more, go to

Sonia Nazario photo for web_0.png

Sonia Nazario

Sonia Nazario is an award-winning journalist whose stories have tackled some of this country’s most intractable problems -- hunger, drug addiction, immigration -- and have won some of the most prestigious journalism and book awards. She is best known for "Enrique's Journey," her story of a Honduran boy’s struggle to find his mother in the U.S. Published as a series in the Los Angeles Times, "Enrique's Journey" won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2003. It was turned into a book by Random House. Her recent humanitarian efforts to get lawyers for unaccompanied migrant children led to her selection as the 2015 Don and Arvonne Fraser Human Rights Award recipient by the Advocates for Human Rights. She also was named a 2015 Champion of Children by First Focus and a 2015 Golden Door award winner by HIAS Pennsylvania. Ms. Nazario, who grew up in Kansas and in Argentina, has written extensively from Latin America and about Latinos in the United States. She has been named among the most influential Latinos by Hispanic Business Magazine and a “trendsetter” by Hispanic Magazine. In 2012 Columbia Journalism Review named Nazario among “40 women who changed the media business in the past 40.”

Ms. Nazario's appearance is generously sponsored by Tulane University’s Stone Center for Latin American Studies.

Rebecca Snedeker photo_0.jpg

Rebecca Snedeker

Rebecca Snedeker is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and writer whose work supports human rights, environmental justice, and creative expression in her native New Orleans. Most recently, she co-authored Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas, a book of 22 imaginative maps and essays, with Rebecca Solnit. Ms. Snedeker has produced several feature documentaries that take place in New Orleans, including By Invitation Only (PBS), Witness: Katrina (National Geographic Channel), and Land of Opportunity (ARTE). She is a recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and serves on the Steering Committee of New Day Films.

Masahiro Sasaki photo for web_0.png

Masahiro Sasaki

Masahiro Sasaki was born in 1941 in the Kusunokicho neighborhood of Hiroshima. On August 6, 1945, the Sasaki family became hibakusha, or atomic bomb survivors: Masahiro, his 2-year-old sister Sadako (model for the statue at the Children’s Peace Memorial in Hiroshima), his mother and his grandmother were at their home 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) from the hypocenter and his father returned to the city the following day. Ten years later, Masahiro’s sister Sadako died of leukemia caused by the atomic bomb. Masahiro, along with Sadako’s classmates, raised funds for the establishment of the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima. Mr. Sasaki later founded the Sadako Legacy to extend Sadako’s message of “omoiyari no kokoro,” or compassionate heart, as an agent of peace and reconciliation. He has donated the original origami cranes to the 9/11 Tribute Center in New York, the European Peace Museum in Burgenland Province, Austria, and the National Park Service/WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor. In 2013 Mr. Sasaki and his son,Yuji, visited Iran, where they again appealed for peace by donating of one of Sadako’s cranes. Today, he continues to speak about human rights and Sadako’s “omoiyari no kokoro” (compassionate heart) legacy for local governments, civic organizations, schools and other groups throughout Japan.

Mr. Sasaki's appearance is sponsored by the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA) and the Japan Society of New York.

Clifton Truman Daniel photo for web_1.png

Clifton Truman Daniel

Clifton Truman Daniel is a grandson of President Harry S Truman and his wife, Bess. He is the son of author Margaret Truman and former New York Times Managing Editor E. Clifton Daniel Jr. Mr. Daniel is honorary chairman of the board of the Truman Library Institute, nonprofit partner of the Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, MO. He is the author of Growing Up With My Grandfather: Memories of Harry S. Truman and Dear Harry, Love Bess: Bess Truman’s Letters to Harry Truman, 1919-1943. He is working on a book on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Mr. Daniel's appearance is sponsored by the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA) and the Japan Society of New York.

To see a video of Mr. Daniel reflecting on his trip to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2012, click here.

Raynard Sanders photo for web_0.jpg

Raynard Sanders

Dr. Raynard Sanders has over thirty-five years of experience in teaching, educational administration, and economic and community development. As a principal he developed the first high school DNA lab in Louisiana and created The Creole Cottage Project, an innovative school-to work program where his students built and renovated houses in the school’s community. Dr Sanders has also served as professor and Director in the Master of Arts in Urban Education Program at Southern University at New Orleans and was the Executive Director of The National Faculty at New Orleans, a national professional development agency design to improve the quality of teaching in poor performing schools throughout the Mississippi Delta. Most recently his work has been around educational equity where he has provided consulting services to numerous school districts and community groups across the country. He is also the host of The New Orleans Imperative, a weekly radio show that nurtures and fosters public awareness around public education.

Monique Verdin photo_0.jpg

Monique Verdin

Monique Verdin is a native daughter of southeast Louisiana. Her documentation offers an intimate window into Louisiana’s indigenous Houma Nation, exposing the complex interconnectedness of environment, economics, culture, climate and change challenging the bayou communities of her homeland. My Louisiana Love is a personal documentary narrative about Ms. Verdin’s life, exposing a centuries old story of loss and resilience in the Mississippi River Delta. Her photography has been exhibited nationally and internationally. In 2013, she collaborated on a mile-and-a-half long performance/procession/eco-experience concerning the loss of land and culture in Southeast Louisiana titled Cry You One. Ms. Verdin is project manager of The Land Memory Bank & Seed Exchange, which intends to create a record of the unique land, cultures and ecology present at the base of the Mississippi River Delta.

David Crane photo for web_0.png

David Crane

Professor Crane is a professor of practice at Syracuse University College of Law, where he also earned his Juris Doctor degree. There he teaches International Criminal Law, International Law, and National Security as well as the Laws of Armed Conflict. In 2002 he was appointed Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone by then Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. Through 2005 Professor Crane prosecuted those who bore the greatest responsibility for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other serious violations of international human rights committed during the civil war in Sierra Leone during the 1990s. He was the first American Chief Prosecutor at an international war crimes tribunal since Justice Robert H. Jackson at Nuremberg in 1945.

Kenneth Morris photo 1_3_0.jpg

Kenneth B. Morris, Jr.

Kenneth B. Morris, Jr. is descended from two of the most important names in American history; he is the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass and the great-great grandson of Booker T. Washington. He is President of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI), a public charity that endeavors to create a modern Abolitionist Movement in schools across the U.S. through service learning. Mr. Morris's career and life path are driven by a mission to end human trafficking and all forms of servitude with a focus on the FDFI mission To Advance Freedom through Knowledge and Strategic Action.

Karen Korematsu photo 1_2_0.jpg

Karen Korematsu

Karen Korematsu is the daughter of the late Fred T. Korematsu and in 2009 co-founded the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education and the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco. She has been the Institute's executive director since May 2013. She shares her father's passion for social justice and education as she carries on her father's legacy through education as a civil rights advocate and public speaker.

Anthony Chavez photo_2_0.jpg

Anthony Chávez

Raised in the farm worker movement his grandfather, César Chávez, founded, Anthony Chávez grew up participating in United Farm Workers' marches, picket lines, and political campaigns. He speaks now around the country to numerous student and community groups on behalf of the César Chávez Foundation, established to further his grandfather's life and work. He has worked on several political campaigns, including as campaign manager for a successful Phoenix city council candidate. He is also working on service learning and character education initiatives, including with the Alameda (CA) County Office of Education.

Michael Ross photo_0.jpg

Michael A. Ross

Professor Michael Ross teaches at the University of Maryland at College Park, specializing in the Civil War Era and U.S. Legal History. His new book The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law, and Justice in the Reconstruction Era is the story of a sensational trial that riveted the South during one of the most pivotal moments in the history of U.S. race relations. The book won the 2014 Kemper Williams Prize. Professor Ross is also the author of the prize-winning book Justice of Shattered Dreams: Samuel Freeman Miller and Supreme Court during the Civil War Era as well as numerous articles in academic journals (four of which have won “best article” prizes). He serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Supreme Court History and has served as historical advisor to the United States Mint.

To learn more about The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case, click here.

Fatima Shaik headshot color_0.jpg

Fatima Shaik

Fatima Shaik is a New Orleans author of books for adults and children. Her latest titles are What Went Missing and What Got Found and Louisiana Stories for Young Adults. Her work focuses on the Louisiana Creole and African-American experience. She writes in the voices of the local culture which has absorbed music, food, language and spirits from around the world.
Publishers Weekly called her "this native of New Orleans whose keen ear for dialogue and languid style help capture the special ambiance of Louisiana." Ms. Shaik is an Assistant Professor at Saint Peter's University and a former assistant editor of McGraw-Hill World News.

Barbara Ferguson photo for web_0.png

Barbara Ferguson

Dr. Barbara Ferguson is an educator and attorney, who worked as a teacher and principal, then became the first female superintendent of the New Orleans Public Schools. She served as Deputy Secretary in the Department of Labor, as the attorney for the Workforce Commission in the Governor’s office, and as Assistant Superintendent for Research in the Department of Education. Dr. Ferguson is currently Chair of her nonprofit foundation, Research on Reforms, Inc., which conducts research to ensure access to New Orleans public schools for all children and youth, especially those who are poor or marginalized. Dr. Ferguson publishes her work on the website

Jason Wiese photo_0.jpg

Jason Wiese

Jason Wiese is a curator at The Historic New Orleans Collection and associate director of the Williams Research Center. His subject specialties include the cartohistory of Louisiana, as well as the maritime and military history of the Gulf South, especially the Battle of New Orleans. Mr. Wiese has curated several exhibitions, including “The Terrible & the Brave: the Battles for New Orleans, 1814-15,” “Tierras Realengas: Land Grants in Spanish Colonial Louisiana” and, most recently, “Andrew Jackson: Hero of New Orleans.” He also served as lead editor and contributor for the historical atlas, Charting Louisiana: Five Hundred Years of Maps.

Caroline Roemer photo_0.jpg

Caroline Roemer Shirley

Caroline Roemer Shirley became the first executive director for the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools in 2007, and she has led the association from a membership of zero schools to 90% membership in less than eight years. LAPCS is recognized as the leading organization providing support, promotion, and advocacy on behalf of charter schools throughout the state. Born and raised in Bossier City, Louisiana, Ms. Roemer previously worked around the country on political campaigns, eventually founding her own consulting firm in Salt Lake City, until her Louisiana roots brought her back in 2005.

R Omar Casimire photo_0.png

R. Omar Casimire

Rodney Omar Casimire is the founder of the Katrina National Memorial Charitable Foundation. The Katrina National Memorial Museum project is the result of Mr. Casimire’s vision to create an international destination that will honor those lives that were lost as a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, including his mother. He is a native of New Orleans and has spent a great part of his life on community efforts enhancing local culture via the arts, and his tenure as a highly skilled craftsman in working trades in New Orleans, Chicago, and New York.

Faith D'Aluisio & Peter Menzel photo for web_0.jpg

Faith D'Aluisio and Peter Menzel

Photojournalist Peter Menzel is known for his coverage of international feature stories on food issues, culture, science, and the environment. His award-winning photographs have been published in National Geographic, Smithsonian, The New York Times Magazine, Time, Stern, and GEO. He has received both World Press and Picture of the Year awards and has authored seven books, most recently, What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets, with his wife Faith D’Aluisio.

Faith D’Aluisio, a former television news producer, is editor and lead writer for the award-winning Material World Books series. She and Peter Menzel received the James Beard Foundation Award in 1999 for Best Book: Reference and Writing on Food, for Man Eating Bugs: The Art and Science of Eating Insects. In 2005 the James Beard Foundation awarded their book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats Best Book of the Year and Best Book: Reference and Writing on Food.

Jacques Rodrigue photo_0.jpg

Jacques Rodrigue

Jacques Rodrigue is executive director of George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts. He currently lives in New Orleans where he also serves as House Counsel for Rodrigue Studio, his late father's art gallery. As Executive Director of GRFA, Mr. Rodrigue publicly advocates for an arts-integrated education system, oversees the Foundation's Annual Scholarship Art Contest for Louisiana high schools students and directs the Louisiana A+ Schools (LAA+) program. LAA+ trains teachers how to teach using arts in every classroom and every subject and LAA+ was recently picked by the White House as one of six organizations in the country to be a partner of the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities effort to turnaround failing schools using the arts. He is also a member of the Louisiana State Arts Council and recipient of the 2015 National Arts Educators Association Award for Distinguished Service Outside of the Profession.

Matt Sakakeeny & Willie Birch photo for web_1.png

Matt Sakakeeny and Willie Birch

Matt Sakakeeny is an ethnomusicologist and journalist, New Orleans resident and musician. An Assistant Professor of Music at Tulane University, he initially moved to New Orleans to work as a co-producer of the public radio program, "American Routes." He plays guitar in the band Los Po-Boy-Citos. Willie Birch is an international artist who lives in New Orleans. He is the recipient of many awards and honors, including the State of Louisiana Governor's award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. His works are part of the permanent collections of the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Elizabeth Pearce photo_1.jpg

Elizabeth Pearce

Drinks Historian Elizabeth Pearce is a Louisiana native. She is the founder and owner of the company Drink & Learn which offers tours, classes and presentations, telling the story of New Orleans, the South and the United States through its iconic beverages. She is also the Drinks Curator of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and Education Specialist for the Herbsaint and Peychaud’s Bitters, telling New Orleans history through these brands for the Sazerac Company. Ms. Pearce is the co-author of the French Quarter Drinking Companion, a narrative guide to 100 bars in the French Quarter. She is a regular drinks column contributor to the New Orleans Advocate. Prior to her tenure at the museum, she was a contributing columnist to the Times-Picayune Food Section and Emeril’s online food magazine. Her culinary writing has been featured in the journals Gastronomica, Put A Egg On It, and the collection, Room in the Bowl: The Story of Gumbo.

Greg Lambousy photo 1_0.jpg

Greg Lambousy

Greg Lambousy is Director of Exhibits at the Louisiana State Museum, developing exhibits and interpretation for historic sites across the state. In the past twelve years as Director of Collections he has focused on expanding the music holdings at the museum by collecting a wide variety of artifacts related to jazz and other musical forms and developed the operational plan for the New Orleans Mint Performing Arts Center. He has been the project director for grants from the National Film Preservation Foundation and other funding organizations for the digitization of films from the Louisiana State Museum’s Jazz Collection. Mr. Lambousy has collected artifacts and conducted oral histories related to Hurricanes Katrina & Rita and was the project director for the evacuation and return move of over 200,000 artifacts and the Louisiana Historical Center archive to improved storage in the New Orleans Mint following Hurricane Katrina. He developed a grant funded project involving the digitization of over 70,000 French and Spanish colonial records and the grant funded conservation efforts related to Madame John’s Legacy. Mr. Lambousy serves on the boards of various cultural institutions and is a member of the American Institute for Conservation Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT).

Thomas Jefferson photo_0.jpgNapoleon photo_0.jpg

Thomas Jefferson and Napoleon Bonaparte

"Double or Nothing: The Epic Acquisition of the Louisiana Territory"
With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the United States purchased approximately 828,000 square miles of territory from France, thereby doubling the size of the young republic. The acquisition of the Louisiana Territory for the bargain price of less than three cents an acre was among Jefferson’s most notable achievements as president. Napoleon's plans to re-establish France in the New World were unraveling. France could not afford to send forces to occupy the entire Mississippi Valley, so why not abandon the idea of empire in America and sell the territory to the United States? Emmy Award-winning Louisiana Public Television broadcaster Charlie Whinham will moderate a discussion between President Jefferson and the Emperor Napoleon considering the issues of land, trade, politics, and the consequential circumstances of the education and citizenship of the people in the newly acquired territory.

Stay Connected with NCSS:   Follow NCSSNetwork on Twitter FaceBook.png rss_0.gif