Biographies

Keynote Speakers
Monday, 9:00 a.m. Ponderosa E, Justice for Migrants and all Working People


Mr. David Bacon

Writer and Photojournalist
Berkeley, CAMr. David Bacon Writer and Photojournalist
David Bacon is a writer and photojournalist based in Oakland and Berkeley, California. He is the author of several books about migration and globalization: The Children of NAFTA (University of California Press, 2004), Communities Without Borders (ILR/Cornell University Press, 2006), Illegal People – How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press, 2008), and The Right to Stay Home (Beacon Press, 2013).

David Bacon was a factory worker and union organizer for two decades, including several years with the United Farm Workers, the United Electrical Workers, the International Ladies Garment Workers, and other unions. Today he documents the changing conditions in the workforce, the impact of the global economy, war and migration, and the struggle for human rights.

David Bacon's photography has been exhibited widely in the U.S., Mexico, and Europe, including at the Oakland Museum of California, University of California in Berkeley, Merced and Los Angeles, the National Civil Rights Museum, DeSaisset Museum, Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography, Galeria de la Raza, Viewpoint Gallery, Puffin Gallery, Queens College, the Church Center of the United Nations, the Museum of Mexico City, the American Labor Museum, the Autonomous University of Mexico City, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, IG Metall Galerie in Frankfurt, Galerie Unterhaus in Passau, and KulturAXE, in Vienna.

His articles and photoessays have been published in Afterimage, New Labor Forum, Al Jazeera America, The Nation, The Progressive, La Jornada, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The East Bay Express, Contexts, Gastronomica, and Race, Poverty and the Environment, among other media. His photography and journalism have received the Max Steinbock Award, Project Censored Award, Los Angeles Press Club Award, the East Bay Press Association Award, New America Media Award, Domingo Ulloa Cultural Award, and the Distinguished Service Award from the Southwest Labor Studies Association. Illegal People was awarded the C.L.R. James Best Book Award for 2007-8 by the Working Class Studies Association.

As a photojournalist, David Bacon has been documenting through photographs and stories the lives of farm workers since 1988. He has traveled through the Pacific Coast’s indigenous communities, developing the Living Under the Trees project in a way that enables community activists to participate and guide its course. In the process he has raised funding from sources that include the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, The California Endowment, and the California Council for the Humanities. He belongs to the Pacific Media Workers Guild, CWA, and he has been an organizer of the Bay Area Free South Africa Movement and the Labor Immigrant Organizers Network, as well as board chair of the Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights.

Monday, 7:30 p.m., Ponderosa E, Growing up in the Shadow of the Border

Mr. Rick NajeraMr. Rick Najera Comedian, Speaker, Screenwriter, Actor, Director, Author
Comedian, Speaker, Screenwriter, Actor, Director, Author

Los Angeles, CA
Rick Najera is a comedian and nationally acclaimed speaker, award-winning screenwriter-performer-director, and author with credits in film, television, theatre, Broadway, and new media. Rick Najera is a key influencer with an expansive portfolio of talent.

Currently he is a writer and guest star on Hulu’s Emmy-nominated original series, East Los High and also directs the CBS Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase (in his 11th consecutive year). Najera recently filmed a television pilot, Color Correct News, addressing current news and issues. Najera also developed and hosts the Latino Thought Makers Series (in its third season) for Oxnard College Performing Arts Center, interviewing top industry leaders and community heroes in the industry such as Edward James Olmos, Esai Morales, and dozens more.

Najera, a thought maker himself, is a national speaker addressing through comedy topics such as diversity, entertainment, media, politics, and more, and has spoken at the most prestigious corporations, universities, and organizations in America, including Google, Harvard, Stanford, The World Bank, CNN, Al Jazeera, CBS, UCLA, and NAHREP, among others. He was also recently signed by Latino Rebels, an influential news site and digital network, to develop and create original programming including a new web comedy sketch series.

Rick Najera currently directs for CBS and has directed the CBS Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase for the last 11 consecutive years. He directs and oversees the show in its entirety, mentoring the actors, teaching writing and stage performance, and presenting the most important showcase of talent in the industry. Under his tutelage, more than 65 actors from the showcase have been cast as series regulars or leads in popular television shows including Saturday Night Live (SNL) and The Daily Show, and hundreds have gone on to successful careers in the entertainment industry.

Najera’s fourth book, Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood, has garnered national attention and critical acclaim. In his memoir, Najera explores what it means to be Latino within the ever-changing backdrop of life as a Hollywood creative and offers an insider’s view through an ironic yet comedic lens, from in front of the camera to behind. Almost White was awarded Most Inspirational Non-Fiction Book.

A screenwriter by trade, Najera co-wrote the feature film Nothing Like the Holidays starring Debra Messing, Alfred Molina, John Leguizamo, and Luis Guzman, which won him a prestigious ALMA Award. His writing/acting credits also include the nationally acclaimed stage play Latinologues™ on Broadway, and he was one of only three Latinos to ever write and star in their own play on Broadway. He has also written for groundbreaking television comedies such as MAD TV and In Living Color, and currently the Emmy-nominated show on Hulu, East Los High. Najera has been nominated for two WGA awards for Best Writing for a Comedy/Variety Television Series for his writing on Fox’s MAD TV.

For more information on Rick Najera, visit www.ricknajera.com.

Conference Speakers

Mr. Tarek Abuata, JD, Director
Friends of Sabeel – North America

Portland, Oregon
Born into a Palestinian Christian family in Bethlehem, Palestine, Tarek moved to Texas during the first Palestinian Intifada when he was 12 years old. His most recent position was Executive Director at Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace (PCAP), a DC- based organization working among U.S. faith-based communities for justice in Palestine. He has also served as Executive Director at Love Thy Neighbor, a DC-based organization which provided nonviolence training in Palestine. Additionally, Tarek worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), coordinating their Palestine/Israel on-the-ground team, the United Palestine Appeal, for eight years, directing programs and development, and managing the Negotiations Support Unit of the Palestinian Authority, researching legal and policy issues. Tarek holds a JD from the University of Texas Law School and is licensed to practice law in Texas and DC.

Dr. Tom Farer, Professor
University of Denver
Denver, Colorado
Tom Farer is University Professor at the University of Denver, having served as Dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies for fourteen years. He previously served as President of the University of New Mexico, of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs, and of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. He has been a fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Carnegie Endowment, and The Wilson Center. He has worked in the Departments of State and Defense. At the United Nations, he served as legal advisor to the chief of the UN operation in Somalia.  He is on the editorial boards of the American Journal of International Law and the Human Rights Quarterly and was co-editor of the journal Global Governance. He has published 12 books and over one-hundred and fifty articles, which have appeared in The New York and London Review of Books, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and the Columbia and Harvard Law Reviews

Dr. Nell Gabiam, Assistant Professor
Department of World Languages and Cultures
Department of Political Science
Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa
Nell Gabiam is Assistant Professor of World Languages and Cultures, and Political Science at Iowa State University. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008. Prior to starting her appointment at ISU, she was provost postdoctoral scholar at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago. She is the author of The Politics of Suffering: Syria’s Palestinian Refugee Camps, which was published in May 2016 by Indiana University Press, as well as several journal articles. While her earlier research focused on the politics of humanitarian aid in Palestinian refugee camps, her more recent research has focused on the effects of the ongoing Syrian war on the country’s Palestinian population and has taken her to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, France, Sweden, and Germany.

Dr. Marjorie Heier, MD
Medical Director, Missions Clinic
Rufunsa District, Zambia            
Dr. Marjorie Heier is a graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Medicine and the Lincoln Medical Education Partners Family Medicine Residency Program.  She practiced rural medicine for 22 years before accepting a contract as a consultant while preparing to go to Zambia to work as medical director of a privately owned, publicly operated Missions Clinic, which she has done for more than three years. She remains board certified in Family Medicine in the US, which she has been for 27 years, and has full licensure as a physician in Zambia as well, where she is the sole practicing physician in Rufunsa District with a population of more than 65,000.  She is in Nebraska on furlough, visiting her parents and children.

Mr. Brian M. Kelly, RA, NCARB
Associate Professor of Architecture
2014-16 Killinger Professor of Urban Design
University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Lincoln, Nebraska
Associate Professor Brian M. Kelly, a licensed architect in the State of Nebraska, joined the University of Nebraska  Lincoln's College of Architecture in the Fall of 2009. His previous teaching experience includes Drury University’s Hammons School of Architecture in Springfield, MO and California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. Prior to joining the faculty at UNL, Brian served as lead designer in the office of Randy Brown Architects, designing several award-winning projects of various types and scales.  In addition to teaching, he is a partner with AToM, a design office which focuses on small-scale architectural projects, objects, and graphics. Brian’s design work has been recognized through awards programs nationally and featured in publications internationally. His research is in the areas of design thinking, open-source design, and representational theory with regard to architectural construction and fabrication. 

Ms. Tiffani Luethke, Doctoral Student
College of Education and Human Sciences
University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Lincoln, Nebraska
Tiffani Luethke is a doctoral student in the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL), where she is specializing in Leadership Studies. She is also a Graduate Teaching Assistant/Instructor in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication (ALEC) at UNL. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Leadership Education from UNL and her Bachelor of Science Degree in Organizational Communication from the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK). Tiffani’s research interests include topics related to migration and displacement, minority and gender issues in leadership, globalization and leadership, cross-cultural analysis of behaviors, and organizational leadership issues, such as ethics, related to cultural context.

Mr. Hanny Megally, Senior Fellow
Center on International Cooperation
New York University
New York, New York
Hanny Megally is a Senior Fellow at New York University’s (NYU) Center on International Cooperation (CIC) focusing on violent extremism, human rights, and rule of law. He also serves on the board of Equality Now, whose mission is to protect and promote the human rights of women and girls. Prior to joining NYU, Hanny was Chief of the Asia, Pacific, Middle East and North Africa Branch at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. Previously, he was Vice-President at the International Center for Transitional Justice. He began his career at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International (AI) in London, where he researched human rights violations in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa and for ten years headed the MENA Research Department. Hanny went on to manage the Ford Foundation's social justice program in the Middle East and then, served as Executive Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch.

Ms. Olga Morozan, Fulbright Scholar
College of Education
University of Nebraska at Kearney
Kearney, Nebraska

Ms. Olga Morozan, a Fulbright Scholar from Moldova, teaches online courses for the College of Education at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Morozan is a doctoral candidate at the Institute of Education Sciences in Moldova. Her research is in the area of online addiction prevention. Morozan has extensive experience as a coordinator, trainer/lecturer, and researcher in various national and international projects and programs connected to education, technology, and social sciences. She co-wrote and coordinated projects that were financed by the U.S. Department of State and the American Councils for International Education. Additionally, she has designed and taught courses in Education and Social Sciences, as well as Management and Leadership for students of all ages whose areas of interest include education, psychology, and management: future leaders of the Moldovan society.

Ms. Izdehar Qaud
Nebraskans for Peace
Omaha, Nebraska
Izdehar Quad, a native of Hebron, Palestine, moved to Omaha when she was 21 so her husband could pursue studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Izdehar is the mother of two sons and two daughters. She dedicates her participation in this year’s conference to the memory of her son, Nader, who spoke at the James E. Smith Midwest Conference on World Affairs, Positive Engagement in the Global Community, in 2014. Nader unexpectedly died of a congenital heart defect in January.

Ms. Batoul Rabaa
Nebraskans for Peace
Omaha, Nebraska
Batoul Rabaa is a Palestinian-American studying to become a physician's assistant. She co-chairs the Palestinian Rights Task Force of Nebraskans for Peace. She and her husband recently returned from a six-week stay in Jordan, visiting relatives.

Mr. Antoine Ripoll, Director
European Parliament Liaison Office with U.S. Congress
Washington, DC
Antoine Ripoll has been the Head of the European Parliament Liaison Office with the U.S. Congress in Washington, DC since 2012. The whole of his professional career has been devoted to the European Union. A civil servant at the European Commission from 1986-1988, he then joined the European Parliament, with various functions: media and communication, as well as numerous parliamentary committees including environment, transport, foreign affairs, trade, and economic affairs. From 2007-2012, he served as Chief of Staff and Spokesperson of the Leader of the largest Parliamentary Group, the European People’s Party (EPP), and within the same time period also served as Deputy Secretary General of the EPP Group in charge of European Parliamentary governing bodies. Following his time with the EPP, he was Director for Relations with Parliamentary Groups. Ripoll holds a Master in Public and European Law from Paris – Panthéon Sorbonne University. He is married to a US/Italian citizen and has two children.

Dr. Amr Soliman, MD, PhD
Assistant Dean for International Cooperation
Professor of Epidemiology
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, Nebraska
Dr. Soliman joined the University of Nebraska four years ago after serving on the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Public Health and the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Over the past 25 years, he has collaborated with faculty in Africa, the Middle East, and minority and refugee populations in the U.S. to develop a program in international cancer epidemiology and migration studies. The program in Africa investigated the epidemiology and early detection of certain cancers. In the U.S. he has conducted research with the minority-focused cancer registry in Detroit, the Arab American community in Michigan, African and Asian refugees in Nebraska, and minority populations in Omaha and Lincoln. Dr. Soliman has also been the Principal Investigator of a National Cancer Institute-funded research program for training graduate students in cancer prevention in international and minority settings in the U.S. Dr. Soliman’s teaching focuses on cancer and chronic disease epidemiology, prevention, and disease control in underserved U.S. populations and low- and middle-income countries.

Mr. Michael Stopford
Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Affairs
University of Nebraska at Kearney
Kearney, Nebraska
Michael Stopford is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Affairs at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. As the institution’s senior international officer, he leads the university’s Office of International Education, international development, and global engagement programs. Previously, Michael was responsible for Global Corporate Strategy and International Higher Education at Weber Shandwick, a public affairs firm based in Washington, DC, and served as Senior Assistant to the President for International Affairs at American University. Michael’s professional career began with the UK Diplomatic Service in New York and Vienna. He joined the United Nations and served in UNHQ in New York, as Chief of Staff of the UN Geneva Office, and as Director of the Washington Office. He then headed PR for the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation. Later he was responsible for Strategic Communications with NATO in Brussels, where he also headed the Science for Peace and Security program. In the private sector, Michael was charged with international public affairs for the agribusiness multinational Syngenta in Basel, Switzerland; ExxonMobil in Dallas, Texas; and Global Corporate Reputation with The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ms. Christa Yoakum, Coordinator
Nebraska is Home
Nebraska Appleseed
Lincoln, Nebraska
Christa Yoakum is the coordinator of Nebraska Is Home, a grassroots movement promoting mutual respect and cooperation among U.S.-born and foreign-born neighbors, creating safe, strong, and robust communities for all. She also works in the Immigrants and Communities program at Nebraska Appleseed, advocating pro-immigrant policies, and employing arts, positive messages, and community engagement and improving local policies to support new neighbors and promote immigrant integration. A Nebraska native, Christa has long advocated for policies that improve the lives of her neighbors. She had the opportunity to work for the International Organization for Migration on the South Sudanese Out of Country vote on the Referendum to secede from Sudan, creating the new nation of South Sudan.

Diplomat Speakers


Professor Athanasius Ako Ayuk, Cultural Counselor
Embassy of Cameroon
Washington, DC
Athanasius Ako Ayuk is an Associate Professor of British Literature who earned his MA and PhD in British Literature from the University of Yaoundé 1, Cameroon in 2005. He taught at the Universities of Burundi and Hope Africa University Kenya (Bujumbura campus) from October 2003 to April 2005 before being recalled to the Higher Teacher’s Training college of the University of Yaoundé 1, where he taught September 2005 to February 2010. From February 2010 to September 2015, he taught at the University of Maroua where he chaired the Department of English at the Higher Teacher’s Training College. Since September 2015, he has been the Cultural Counselor at the Embassy of Cameroon in Washington DC. While in Maroua, he served in local committees for the fight against Boko Haram. He has a number of national and international publications in his field, including Joseph Conrad and his Moral Paradoxes (2013).

Ms. Heleen Bakker, Deputy Head Political Department
Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Washington, DC
Heleen Bakker, Deputy Head of the Political Department at the Netherlands Embassy, is a career diplomat. She joined the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1998, after completing a Master’s degree in Public Administration/International Relations from the University of Twente. Heleen first worked at the Netherlands Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, and subsequently at the Africa Department at the Ministry’s Headquarters in The Hague. She was posted to Sarajevo from 2000-2002, where she was a Political Advisor to the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina. From 2002-2005, Heleen was based at the Netherlands Mission to the United Nations in New York, where she worked on human rights, social issues, and sustainable development. Next, she was the speechwriter to the Dutch Foreign Minister, a job she thoroughly enjoyed for a number of years. From 2012-2015, Heleen headed the EU External Policy Division at the Foreign Ministry, working on EU enlargement, the EU’s neighborhood, trade policy, and development cooperation.

H.E. Dr. Božo Cerar, Ambassador
Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia
Washington, DC
A career diplomat, Ambassador Cerar previously served as Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia to Canada (1997–2001), Poland (2004) and as Permanent Representative of the Republic of Slovenia to NATO (2007–2011). From 2005 to 2006 as well as in 2012 and 2013 he served as a State Secretary/Deputy Foreign Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia. He presented his credentials to President Obama in September 2013 and has since served as Ambassador of Slovenia to the U.S. In 2014, he became Slovenia’s Ambassador to Mexico with residency in Washington. He is also accredited as a permanent observer to the Organization of American States and CARICOM. Ambassador Dr. Cerar holds a BA in Law, MA in Diplomatic Studies and PhD in International Law. He is an author of numerous articles and books on international relations and diplomacy. Besides Slovenian, he speaks English, French, Russian, Serbian and basic Greek.

Mr. Fajar Yusuf, Consul
Information, Social and Cultural Affairs
Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia
Chicago, Illinois
Born in Jakarta, Mr. Fajar Yusuf earned his degree in International Law from Trisakti University, Jakarta. Later, he completed his graduate studies at the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, with a LL.M degree in International and European Law. Consul Yusuf joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2003. Prior to his appointment in Chicago, he served as the Head of Data Section and the Head of Data Collection Sub-Section at the Secretariat of the Directorate General of Legal Affairs and International Treaties. His first assignment was at the Consulate General in Sydney, Australia, where he served as the Vice Consul of Protocol and Consular Affairs.

H.E. Mr. Solo Mara, Ambassador
Embassy of Fiji
Washington, DC
Fiji’s Ambassador to the US, Mr. Solo Mara, recently took up his position in Washington, DC in December 2015 after more than four years as Fiji's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ambassador to Germany, Ireland, Israel and the Holy See. A proud husband as well as a father of four children, Ambassador Solo Mara is an enthusiastic rugby fan like most of his compatriots. Following various governmental positions, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2000, rising to the position of Permanent Secretary in 2008. This appointment came shortly after Fiji's democratically elected government was ousted by a military government. As Permanent Secretary, Mr. Mara's role was to represent his country's new strategy that targets to rebuild Fiji into an inclusive society, addressing issues of race and economic disparity to bring about a politically stable Fiji.

Mr. Herbert Quelle, Consul General
German Consulate General
Chicago, Illinois
Herbert Quelle, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Chicago, was born on December 27, 1953 in Herford, Germany. He is married and has two grown daughters. After school, military service, and university, he joined the Federal Foreign Office, then still in Bonn, in 1980. His postings abroad, at which he served in various functions, include Los Angeles, Pretoria, Havana, Warsaw, London, Baku and Boston. In Baku he served as Ambassador. His attachment to the Consulate General in Boston was combined with a fellowship at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs of Harvard University. Herbert Quelle has been in Chicago since July, 2014.

Dr. Anupam Ray, Consul General
Consulate General of India
Houston, Texas
Anupam Ray is a physician by education and was a neuro-surgery resident before joining the Indian Foreign Service in 1994. He has held key diplomatic assignments in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and he has served as manager of India’s successful campaign for the position of Commonwealth Secretary-General out of London and as a senior member of the Indian team in the UN Security Council in New York. He was the first employee of India’s Development Partnership Administration created in 2012. He later worked, as Joint Secretary in the Government of India, to kick-start one of India’s most innovative diplomatic projects – the ambitious $500 million Nalanda University. In addition to a medical degree, he has a M.A. in Public Administration and has been a Fellow at the Center of Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC, and a Visiting Professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky.

Ms. Guadalupe Sánchez-Salazar, Consul
Consulate of Mexico
Omaha, Nebraska
Minister Sánchez-Salazar is a career member of the Mexican Foreign Service and currently serves as Consul of Mexico in Omaha, Nebraska. Some of her most important assignments include that of Chargé d'Affaires a.i. and Deputy Head of Mission at the Mexican Embassy in Jamaica; Deputy Representative to the International Seabed Authority, based in Kingston; Delegate at the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations (UN) in New York; and Chief of the Consular Section at the Embassy of Mexico in Hungary. In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, she has served in the capacity of Director at the Department of the United Nations, and at the Department of the Organization of American States, among others. She holds a Bachelor’s in International Relations from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, a graduate Certificate in Foreign Affairs from the University of New York, and a graduate Certificate in Mexico-U.S. bilateral relationship from Columbia University.