Gina Athena Ulysse
Gina Athena Ulysse received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. She is an anthropologist, spokenword poet/performance artist and blogger. Her artistic work revolves around finding and defining the self as a Haitian-American woman, and she remains fiercely committed to her chosen role of change agent for her birth country. She is currently an associate professor at Wesleyan University.
Evelyn Alsultany is an Associate Professor in the Department of American Culture at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Arabs and Muslims in the Media: Race and Representation after 9/11, co-editor of Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, and Belonging and co-editor of Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora. She is guest curator of the Arab American National Museum's online exhibit, www.arabstereotypes.org.
Mike Barwis is the founder and CEO of the Barwis Methods family of companies, and a consultant to the NY Mets. He was formerly the Director of Strength and Conditioning at the University of Michigan. During his career, he has trained over 500 professional and Olympic athletes, as well as college All-Americans, national champions, national and international competitors and medalists in over 40 sports.
Mary Heinen is affiliated with the University of Michigan School of Social Work and Open Society Foundation. She organizes, educates and supports people returning from corrections. Mary is a Soros Justice Fellow. Heinen is co-founder of the Prison Creative Arts Project and the national Prison Arts Coalition. She is currently working with Nation Inside and the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women. Mary is a documentary filmmaker, visual artist, historian and scholar.
Jim Robert has been a public school teacher for over 24 years. He wrote and developed the curriculum for his high school Philosophy/Senior Passage Class that he has taught for over 17 years at Pioneer High School. He is the father of three and lives with his wife in Ann Arbor.
Sterling Speirn is president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Since joining the foundation, he has refined the mission, focusing on propelling vulnerable children to success through an approach focused on education and learning, food, health and well-being, and family economic security along with a commitment to promoting racial equity and community and civic engagement. Speirn, a Michigan native, earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Stanford University, and a law degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
An Account Executive on Google's Brand Solutions sales team, Zafar Razzacki works with some of the world's largest brands to develop innovative digital marketing strategies. Before joining Google, Zafar spent 10 years in entrepreneurial ventures in technology, education, medical device, and music markets. When not busy chasing big ideas and developing crazy business concepts, he is a passionate singer-songwriter who has performed on stages around the world. The only thing stronger than his love of music is his love for the city of Detroit.
From 2003 to 2012, Oliver Uberti worked in the design department of National Geographic Magazine, most recently as Senior Design Editor. His designs and information graphics have won numerous international awards. A graduate of the UM School of Art & Design, Oliver left National Geographic last year to form his own studio, Oliver Uberti Creative, in one of his favorite places on Earth: Ann Arbor.
Sharon Pomerantz’s first novel Rich Boy was the 2010 winner of the National Jewish Book Award for Debut Fiction, and was chosen by Entertainment Weekly as one of the Ten Best Novels of 2010, and by Booklist as one of the Ten Best First Novels of 2010. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals, as well as on NPR’s Selected Shorts program, and her story “Ghost Knife” was included in Best American Short Stories 2003. She teaches writing at the University of Michigan.
Born and raised in Jersey, Dan Morse has sought to live his life according to one philosophy – no matter where you come from, you possess immense potential to create a difference in the world. To help others see the same, he has formed a partnership with a youth garden in Detroit, served as the Chief Programming Officer for Future Civic Leaders (a youth political leadership non-profit in D.C.), and founded The Beet Box (a health empowerment food cart in Ann Arbor).
Julie Steiner, graduate of UM School of Natural Resources and the Environment, has spent her career working for social change. Anti-poverty organizer with ACORN, political organizer for abortion rights with Arizona Right to Choose, Executive Director of ACLU of Tennessee, first Director of SAPAC at UM, and Human Rights Coordinator at the City of Ann Arbor. Julie is currently the Executive Director of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance, a coalition of 32 community nonprofits and local government offices working to end homelessness.
Maria Castro & Pedro Lowenstein
Maria Castro and Pedro Lowenstein are Professors of Neurosurgery and Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan. They both received their degrees from Universities in Argentina. Maria’s research focuses on development of immunotherapies for brain cancers. Pedro’s focus is discovering the cellular, molecular, and mathematical basis underlying the growth patterns of malignant brain tumors. Together, their pioneering work in gene therapy for brain cancer has recently been approved by the FDA and a Phase I clinical trial will commence at UM imminently.
Dr. Clark is currently teaching in the School of Kinesiology. Clark spent 4 years at NASA Headquarters, two of them as the International Space Station Senior Scientist and 2 of them as the Chief Scientist for Human Space Flight. Kathryn also served on the Stafford-Anfimov Committee for the International Space Station and received the NASA Public Service Medal for time on the NASA Return to Flight Committee following the Columbia Shuttle accident.
Michael Williams is a native of Detroit and a senior at the University of Michigan where he studies Afroamerican and African Studies and Urban Studies. He credits civic engagement experiences in Vietnam, South Africa, and his hometown of Detroit to deepening his passion for social justice in urban environments. As he completes his final undergraduate term participating in the Semester in Detroit program, Michael hopes to remain in Detroit long-term tackling urban planning and policy issues to create equitable, sustainable, and self-empowered neighborhoods and communities.
Chris Armstrong was the first openly gay Student Body President at the University of Michigan. After being elected, the Assistant Attorney General of Michigan began attacking him and lobbying for his resignation simply because he was gay. After the story gained national media attention, the Asst. Attorney General and Chris went on to win a settlement against his aggressor. Chris now resides in Washington, DC.
David Chesney thoroughly enjoys teaching in the Computer Science and Engineering Division at the University of Michigan. His life is blessed by a loving wife, Jean, and three extraordinary daughters, Tegan, Brynn, and Mairin; all of whom make him better than he is.
Robert Quinn holds the Margaret Elliot Tracey Collegiate Professorship at the University of Michigan and is faculty of Management and Organization (Ross Business School). He is co-founder and Director of the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship. Quinn’s research, teaching and publishings focus on leadership, organizational-change and effectiveness. Recipient of Academy of Management’s 2010 Martin Trail Blazer Award for opening new directions in the field of organization theory. Recipient of 2011 Marion F. Gislason Award, presented by Executive Development Roundtable for life-long contributions to leadership.
Melissa Gross has a background in dance (BA from University of Colorado) and kinesiology (PhD from UCLA). Her current research focuses on the expression of emotion in body movement in healthy individuals and individuals with mood disorders. She teaches anatomy and biomechanics in the School of Kinesiology at UM where she is delighted to observe the creativity in undergraduate students that emerges at the intersection of art and science.
John Bacon is a writer, speaker, teacher and coach of high school hockey. He authored five books on sports, business and leadership, including Cirque du Soleil: The Spark, Bo's Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership and Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College football (New York Times bestseller). He is the recipient of the 2009 Golden Apple. In 2011 the Michigan Chapter of the Meeting Professionals International named him Speaker of the Year.
Merry Michelle Walker
Merry Walker is the founder of Vort Port International (VPI), an organization that enables low-income communities globally to gain access to basic necessities through education, training, and innovation of sustainable technology-based solutions. With a majority of its membership being women, VPI champions women's rights around the world through empowering rural women attain skills that enable them to positively impact their communities. Ms. Walker holds a Masters of Science in Engineering degree in Energy Systems Engineering and Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan.