2019 Program — UNREASONABLE CONVERSATION

Ai-jen Poo is the Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Co-Director of Caring Across Generations. She is an award-winning organizer, author, and social innovator, and a leading voice in leading voice in future of work and family care solutions. Ai-jen is a 2014 MacArthur “genius” Fellow, TIME 100 alumna and recently featured speaker at TEDWomen. She has been an influential voice in the #MeToo movement and joined Times Up at the 2018 Golden Globes. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, TIME and CNN.com. She is author of The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America. Follow her at @aijenpoo.

Ali Noorani is the Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan advocacy organization working with faith, law enforcement and business leaders to promote the value of immigrants and immigration. Growing up in California as the son of Pakistani immigrants, Ali quickly learned how to forge alliances among people of wide-ranging backgrounds, a skill that has served him extraordinarily well as one of the nation’s most innovative coalition builders.

Before joining the Forum in 2008, Ali was executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and he has served in leadership roles within public health and environmental organizations.

Ali is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, holds a Master’s in Public Health from Boston University and is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. Ali lives in Washington, D.C. and is the author of “There Goes the Neighborhood: How Communities Overcome Prejudice and Meet the Challenge of American Immigration,” (Prometheus, April 2017) and host of “Only in America” podcast.

America Ferrera is an award-winning actress and producer known for her breakthrough role as “Betty Suarez” on ABC’s hit comedy, Ugly Betty. For her performance, Ferrera was recognized with a Golden Globe®, Emmy® and Screen Actors Guild Award®, as well as ALMA and Imagen Awards.

She currently produces and stars in the NBC workplace comedy, Superstore, which is currently in its fourth season. Additionally, Ferrera recently released her first book landing on the New York Times best-seller list, American Like Me, a vibrant and varied collection of first-person accounts from prominent figures about the experience of growing up between cultures in America.

A longtime activist, Ferrera also co-founded HARNESS, with her husband Ryan Piers Williams and Wilmer Valderrama, in 2016. HARNESS is a community of artists, influencers and grassroots leaders that provides education and engagement opportunities to amplify the work of organizations and individuals working on behalf of social justice.

In July 2016, Ferrera spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on behalf of women’s rights and immigration in support of Hillary Clinton. She was a chair for the Artists’ Committee for the Women’s March on Washington and spoke at the historic Women’s March the day after the 2017 Presidential Inauguration.

In 2006, Ferrera founded her own television and film production company, Take Fountain.

Contributing Editor at New York magazine, blogger, and author Andrew Sullivan is a popular source of provocative, astute political and social commentary. The Washington Post called him “a media pioneer,” and The New York Times said, “Andrew Sullivan might deserve to be remembered as the most influential political writer of his generation.”  

In his early twenties, Andy was a typical student, midway through earning a Sports Science degree. When life took a series of sudden turns, he made the radical decision to give it all up and set off to Asia to become a Buddhist monk.

Over the next decade, Andy studied as a lay-person and novice monk in the traditions of South East Asia, and then took full ordination in the Kagyu Lineage of Tibet. This life-affirming journey led to another when Andy returned to the UK with just one goal in mind: to demystify meditation and make it accessible to all. After several years in private practice, Andy had a chance meeting with cofounder Rich Pierson. Together they created a vision for bringing meditation to people everywhere. Headspace launched in 2010 as an events company, and the Headspace app soon followed.

Now reaching a community of more than 42 million members in 190 countries through this platform, Andy, Rich and the dedicated team at Headspace are delivering on their mission to improve happiness and health around the world. Andy lives in Santa Monica, California, with his wife and two children.

Follow Andy on Twitter: @andypuddicombe

A University of California, Berkeley sociologist, Arlie Russell Hochschild is the author of nine  books, most recently, Strangers in Their Own Land: anger and mourning on the American Right, a New York Times best seller and finalist for the National Book Award.  Her work appears in sixteen languages.

A highly regarded, nationally and internationally recognized activist, advocate, community organizer and social justice advocate and professional.

Bamby most recent employer was Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. She spent eight dedicated years as the Health Education and HIV Prevention Services Coordinator at the nation’s largest and most experienced clinical program providing multidisciplinary healthcare and services to trans youth.

Baratunde Thurston is a futurist comedian, writer, and cultural critic who helped re-launch The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, co-founded Cultivated Wit and the About Race podcast, and wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black. Baratunde is is a highly sought-after public speaker, television personality, and thought leader who has been part of noteworthy institutions such as Fast Company, TED, the MIT Media Lab, The Onion, and the gentrification of Brooklyn, New York. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

Bassem Youssef, dubbed the Jon Stewart of the Arab World, was the host of popular TV show Al-Bernameg - which was the first of its kind political satire show in the Middle East region. Originally an online 5-minute show, Al-Bernameg became the most watched show in the history of Egyptian TV with an average of 40 million viewers every week, in addition to over 2 million subscribers on YouTube and 1.2 billion views on his own channel and other channels.

Betty Reid Soskin is the oldest park ranger with National Park Service and the author of Sign My Name to Freedom: A Memoir of a Pioneering Life. Betty was instrumental in the establishment of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California. She was later hired to work at the Rosie the Riveter Park, where she works today.

Cecilia Muñoz is Vice President for Public Interest Technology and Local Initiatives at New America in Washington, D.C. She was President Obama’s Domestic Policy Director after a 20 year career at the National Council of La Raza (now UNIDOS US), the nation’s largest Hispanic policy and advocacy organization.

As a native New Yorker and lifetime public school student, Coco, now a senior in high school, was shocked by the pervasive segregation and inequity in NYC. Since late 2016, Coco has worked at IntegrateNYC to advocate for policy that frames integration holistically and uplifts student voices.

DeRay McKesson is a civil rights activist focused on issues of innovation, equity, and justice. A leading voice in the Black Lives Matter movement and co-founder of JoinCampaignZero.org, MappingPoliceViolence.org, OurStates.org, and ResistanceManual.org, DeRay also hosts of critically acclaimed podcast Pod Save the People and is the author of “On the Other Side of Freedom: A Case for Hope”.

Desmond Meade is a formerly homeless returning citizen who is the current Executive Director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) and a Law school graduate. As President of the FRRC, Desmond lead the successful “Amendment 4” campaign which established voting rights for over 1.4 million Floridians with a prior felony conviction.

Brittney Cooper is an award-winning author, teacher, and public speaker who believes Black feminism can change the world for the better. She is an Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University and the is co-founder of the popular Crunk Feminist Collective blog. Her recent critically-acclaimed work, Eloquent Rage: A Black Woman Discovers her Superpowers (St. Martin's Press), was an Emma Watson "Our Shared Shelf" Selection for November/December 2018 and named a Best Book of 2018 by The New York Public Library, Mashable, The Atlantic, Bustle, The Root, NPR, and Fast Company. She has been a contributing writer for Cosmopolitan.com and columnist for Salon.com. Her cultural commentary has been featured on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes, The Beat with Ari Melber, Melissa Harris-Perry, the New York Times, New York Magazine, Marie Claire, The Cut, the Washington Post, NPR, PBS, Al Jazeera’s Third Rail, Ebony.com, Essence.com, TheRoot.com, TED.com, and has been named four times to The Root 100. She is also co-editor of The Crunk Feminist Collection (The Feminist Press) and the author of Beyond Respectability: The Intellectual Thought of Race Women (University of Illinois Press).

Dr. Burke Harris is an award-winning physician, researcher and advocate dedicated to changing the way our society responds to one of the most serious, expensive and widespread public health crises of our time: childhood trauma. She was appointed as California’s first-ever Surgeon General by Governor Gavin Newsom in January 2019. Her career has been dedicated to serving vulnerable communities and combating the root causes of health disparities. She is the Founder of the Center for Youth Wellness, an organization leading the effort to advance pediatric medicine, raise public awareness, and transform the way society responds to children exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress. Dr. Burke Harris’ TED Talk, “How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across the Lifetime” has been viewed almost 5 million times. Her book “The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity” was called “indispensable” by The New York Times. She is the recipient of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award presented by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Heinz Award for the Human Condition.

A national expert on the relationship between hate violence and preserving democratic institutions, governance, and inclusive societies, Eric brings nearly 30 years of expertise in community organizing and philanthropy to his role as Western States Center’s Executive Director. Since his civil rights career began in the late 1980s, Eric has worked with community groups, philanthropy, government and business leaders, and human rights advocates throughout the country to expose and counter white nationalist hate groups, protect vulnerable communities, and make our democracy more inclusive. From 2014 – 2017, Eric served as the Program Officer for Civil Rights at Ford Foundation.  Eric has been quoted and cited extensively by national media and is the author of multiple written works including “Skin in the Game: How Antisemitism Animates White Nationalism.” Eric is a recipient of a 2016 Peabody-Facebook Futures Media Award and was one of eight leaders, in countries ranging from the US to Senegal, to receive a New Executives Fellowship from the Open Society Foundations in June 2018.

Geena Davis is one of Hollywood’s most respected actors and received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Muriel Pritchett in The Accidental Tourist and 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series for her portrayal of the first female President of the United States in Commander in Chief. Davis is the Founder and Chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. She founded the Bentonville Film Festival in 2015 to champion women and diversity in media. Geena is the Executive Producer of the documentary This Changes Everything.

Heather Rae produced such films as Academy Award nominated Frozen River, Netflix Originals Tallulah and Dude. She recently entered a producing deal with Amazon Studios, and as a speaker and social critic Rae works from her settler and indigenous roots to deepen the dialogue of reconciliation and responsibility in the Americas.

Jess Morales Rocketto is the Political Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and Executive Director of Care in Action, where she spearheads political advocacy campaigns on economic justice, immigration reform, sexual harassment, and the future of work for the 2.5 million domestic workers in this country.

Critically acclaimed, multi-award winning, platinum-selling singer-songwriter John Legend has garnered ten Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, a Tony Award, and a Golden Globe, among others. He is a producer, activist, and the founder of FREEAMERICA.

Joy Buolamwini is a poet of code who uses art and research to illuminate the social implications of artificial intelligence. She founded the Algorithmic Justice League to fight the coded gaze - harmful bias in artificial intelligence. At the MIT Media Lab, she pioneered techniques that are now leading to increased transparency in the use of facial analysis technology globally.

Kent Mendoza was born in Mexico, but migrated to the United States at the age of six with his mom. He grew up in Pico Union District, a densely populated, low-income and immigrant community in Los Angeles County where at an early age was exposed to the realities of gangs, drugs and violence. Lacking fundamental resources as an immigrant and a father figure, he was quickly influenced by his local gang and at the age of 14, joined the gang. Kent was incarcerated and served time in probation camp, but at the age 17 was trialed as an adult and faced a prison life sentence. During his incarceration, he met Scott Budnick, the person who gave him hope and the confidence in changing his life around. Although he faced an adult sentence, he was instead sent to the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) for 7 years. Kent served a total of 5 years and during his last year of incarceration he spend time reading books, educating himself, and most importantly; preparing himself for his release. He was honorably discharged from DJJ and avoided deportation.

Upon release, Kent had a fundamental understanding of the harm he had caused and was now extremely motivated and committed to live a different lifestyle. He began volunteering at the ARC, speaking to bring awareness to the change that is possible for at risk youth and working directly with the formerly incarcerated. His participation and willingness to be of service opened new opportunities for him. In 2014, Kent began working at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. He exceled within the Chamber from an intern to a full staff member, thus he proved that his second chance was real. While working at the Chamber on smart justice issues, he successfully completed the 2015 Commission Training Program offered by Wally Marks Leadership Institute from the Liberty Hill Foundation. He was awarded a certificate of acknowledgement by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl. Kent has also been to the White House and has published an article through the Huffington Post.

Emmy, SAG and Golden Globe nominated actor, director, producer and activist Kerry Washington has received high acclaim for her work in film, television, and theater. Fresh off her Broadway run in American Son, Washington is currently developing several projects through her production company, Simpson Street.

Krista Vernoff is the showrunner of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” An Emmy nominated writer who has worked in television for two decades, Vernoff’s credits include Shameless, Law & Order, and Wonderfalls.

Last year, she wrote a series of think pieces in The Hollywood Reporter, emerging as a major voice in the #metoo movement.

Krasner currently serves as the District Attorney for the City of Philadelphia. With experience as a public defender and in the private sector specializing in criminal defense and police misconduct, Krasner has proudly demonstrated a steadfast commitment to social justice, having defended protesters pro bono who were involved with movements including ACT UP, Black Lives Matter, DACA Dreamers, among many others.

Laura Beth Prevette (LB) returned to her Appalachian home after studying on the West Coast. Since 2012 she has been working in her hometown to create meaningful change by breaking down social barriers and creating a sense of community. LB is a self-described aggressive friend and doting dog mom.

Lindsay Toczylowski is a co-founder and the Executive Director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef), a next-generation social justice law firm that defends our immigrant communities against injustices in the legal system. Lindsay is a social entrepreneur whose work to increase access to justice for immigrants is at the forefront of the movement for universal representation. ImmDef focuses on representing the most marginalized immigrants in CA and is one of the largest deportation defense providers in California. Previously, Lindsay was the Directing Attorney for representation programs at Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project and she served as a staff attorney at Kids in Need of Defense and the Children’s Law Center of California. Lindsay also served as the Overseas Operations Director at Asylum Access, an international nonprofit that fights for the rights of refugees in the global South. She was recently named one of California’s Top 40 Under 40 Lawyers by the Daily Journal. Lindsay is the proud mother of two revolutionaries-in-training, Maya and Santiago, and they are her inspiration to keep fighting for social justice every day. 

Masha Gessen is a staff writer at The New Yorker and an author of ten books of nonfiction, including The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, which won the 2017 National Book Award.

Megan Smith is an award-winning entrepreneur, engineer, and tech evangelist. She recently co-founded a company, shift7, focusing on tech-forward networked innovation for impact and economic inclusion. Smith served as the third U.S. chief technology officer from 2014-2017 and spent over eleven years as vice president at Google leading new business development. She is a member of the MIT board and the National Academy of Engineering.

Mehdi Hasan is an award-winning British broadcaster, writer, and author based in D.C. He is a columnist and senior contributor with the Intercept, host of the ‘Deconstructed’ podcast, and presenter of ‘UpFront’ and ‘Head to Head’ on Al Jazeera English. Mehdi is the author of two books and is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

Co-founder of Axios, the next great media company; co-founder of Politico.

Mitch Landrieu was the 61st Mayor of New Orleans (2010-2018). He is the New York Times bestselling author of In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History that recounts his personal journey confronting racism, and tackles the broader history of slavery, race relations, and institutional inequalities that still plague America.

Nikole Hannah-Jones is an award-winning investigative reporter covering racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine. Nikole investigates the way racial segregation in housing and schools is maintained through official action and policy. She is a 2017 MacArthur Fellow and her reporting has won several national awards, including the Peabody Award, George Polk Award, National Magazine Award, Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service. In 2016, Nikole co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a training organization aimed at increasing the numbers of investigative reporters of color. Nikole is writing a book on school segregation entitled, "The Problem We All Live With," to be published on the One World imprint of Penguin/Random House

Pancho Argüelles Paz y Puente was born in Mexico City and has lived in the U.S. since 1997. For more than thirty years he has worked for human rights and social justice in Mexico, Central America, and the United States. In Houston he co-founded Fe y Justicia Worker Center and currently serves as executive director of Living Hope Wheelchair Association a community based organization of immigrants with spinal cord injuries.

Rashad Robinson is President of Color Of Change, a leading racial justice organization with more than 1.4 million members building power for Black communities. He is a sought-after thought leader and collaborator for designing winning social change strategies: corporate accountability, criminal justice reform, changing media representations, building narrative infrastructure and building political power. You can follow Rashad on Twitter with the following hashtags: @ColorOfChange @rashadrobinson

Scott Budnick is a film producer, Founder of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), a non-profit organization that provides a support network for the formerly incarcerated, and currently serves as President and CEO of One Community, LLC. This venture uniquely merges Budnick’s background in storytelling and impact, as a film and TV production company that leverages the movies and shows it makes to effect positive social change.

Former Georgia House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams is an author, serial entrepreneur, nonprofit CEO and political leader. In 2018, Abrams became the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia. Following the election, Abrams founded Fair Fight to ensure every Georgia has a voice in our election system. She is the author of Lead from the Outside.

A transformational leader with a remarkable record of achievement, General Stanley A. McChrystal was called “one of America’s greatest warriors” by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. A retired four-star general, he is the former commander of U.S. and International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) Afghanistan and the former commander of the premier military counter-terrorism force, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). He is best known for developing and implementing the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, and for creating a comprehensive counter-terrorism organization that revolutionized the interagency operating culture.

Stephanie Beatriz can currently be seen in the 6th season of BROOKLYN NINE-NINE, which was brought back by popular demand on NBC. This season will mark her directorial debut – the episode features a relevant #MeToo storyline. Beatriz’s standout performance as ‘Detective Rosa Diaz’ has earned rave reviews and numerous awards, including the 2018 Imagen Award for Best Supporting Actress in a TV Series and a 2015 Screen Actors Guild Nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. In addition, the series has also garnered critical acclaim, including the 2018 GLAAD Award for Outstanding Comedy Series and the 2014 Golden Globe for Best Television Comedy.

Other notable film credits include: 2017 SXSW Audience Award winning film, THE LIGHT OF THE MOON, George C. Wolfe’s drama YOU’RE NOT YOU opposite Hilary Swank; Destin Daniel Cretton’s drama SHORT TERM 12 opposite Rami Malek and Brie Larson; Heather Graham’s romantic comedy HALF MAGIC; and John Lee’s PEE-WEE’S BIG HOLIDAY. She recently voiced ‘Sweet Mayhem’ in THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART.

As a bisexual Latina, Beatriz is known for her outspoken advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights and queer representation in the entertainment industry.

Steve Levine is a future editor at Axios. He is a Senior Fellow at The Atlantic Council and teaches energy security at Georgetown University. Before this, Steve was a foreign correspondent in the former Soviet Union, Pakistan and the Philippines.

Tanya Saracho is a playwright and television writer who serves as creator, showrunner, and executive producer of the critically-acclaimed series “Vida,” which earned 100% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Named one of “TV Scribes to Watch” by Variety in 2018, Saracho’s television credits include “How to Get Away with Murder,” HBO's “Looking” and “Girls,” and “Devious Maids.”

Tracee Ellis Ross is an award-winning actress, producer, director and activist, best known for her role as Dr. Rainbow Johnson on ABC’s comedy series black-ish. Ross uses her voice and social influence to advocate for a  joyful culture of self-acceptance,  inclusivity, and equity across all industries.

Valerie B. Jarrett is a senior advisor to the Obama Foundation and Attn, a Senior Distinguished Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School, and President of the Board of When We All Vote. She also serves on the boards of Ariel Investments, 2U, Lyft, the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, and the Economic Club of Chicago.

Ms. Jarrett was the longest serving Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama. She oversaw the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and Chaired the White House Council on Women and Girls. Ms. Jarrett worked throughout her tenure at the White House to mobilize elected officials, business and community leaders, and diverse groups of advocates. She led the Obama Administration’s efforts to expand and strengthen access to the middle class, and boost American businesses and our economy. She championed the creation of equality and opportunity for all Americans, and economically and politically empowering women in the United States and around the world. She oversaw the Administration’s advocacy for workplace policies that empower working families, including equal pay, raising the minimum wage, paid leave, paid sick days, workplace flexibility, and affordable childcare, and led the campaigns to reform our criminal justice system, end sexual assault, and reduce gun violence.

Ms. Jarrett has a background in both the public and private sectors. She served as the Chief Executive Officer of The Habitat Company in Chicago, Chairman of the Chicago Transit Board, Commissioner of Planning and Development, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. She also served as the director of numerous corporate and not-for-profit boards including Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Stock Exchange, Chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board of Trustees, and Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Ms. Jarrett has also received numerous awards and honorary degrees, including TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” as well as the Abner J. Mikva Legal Legends Award.

Jarrett received her B.A. from Stanford University in 1978 and her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981.

https://www.unreasonableconversation.org/2019-program