World Affairs Conference



Mr. Tom ClynesTom Clynes
Author and Photojournalist

Tom Clynes is an author and photographer who covers the adventurous side of science and environmental issues. His work is seen regularly in National Geographic and Popular Science where he is a contributing editor.

Tom divides his home time between Ann Arbor, Michigan, and rural Vermont. But traveling the world to discover and tell extraordinary stores is Tom's passion. He spends much of his time in the field, reporting on subjects such as Ebola outbreaks and eco-mercenaries in Africa, or climate science-deniers in Washington, or arsenic-loving microbes in alpine lakes. He’ll be taking us along with him on some of his most memorable assignments. 

Tom is also a Knight Wallace Journalism Fellow and an International Reporting Project Fellow, and his magazine stories often appear in Houghton-Mifflin’s Best American Magazine Writing anthologies. Tom is the author of the book Wild Planet and he’s currently working on another book, The Boy Who Played With Fusion, to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Conference Speakers

Ms. Anne Cummings, Lecturer and RN
Department of Biology and CHI Health Good Samaritan
Kearney, NE

Ms. Anne Cummings is a native of Kearney, and an alumna of the University of Nebraska at Kearney (B.S., M.S.) and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (B.S.N.). In 2001 she joined the Peace Corps and served two years in the Federated States of Micronesia, a developing island nation in the Pacific. She lived on the Island of Kosrae where she worked at the State environmental office in the area of land use planning and also taught high school chemistry. Anne currently works as a Lecturer for the UNK Department of Biology and as an RN in the Emergency Department at CHI Health Good Samaritan.

Dr. Joseph Dumba, M.D.
The Healing Kadi Foundation
Omaha, NE

Dr. Joseph Dumba is a Family Practice physician in Omaha. Dr. Dumba has been organizing medical mission trips to South Sudan since 2007 and since that time has provided care to more than 30,000 people in the most remote parts of the country. In 2009, he founded The Healing Kadi Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Omaha that raises funds to run the medical clinic in South Sudan. The first clinic with full service X-ray, ultrasound, lab, pharmacy and exam rooms was opened in June of 2013 and has served more than 20,000 patients. They are now in the beginning stages of building a modern hospital at the site of the clinic.

Ms. Jodi Garrelts, Law Student
Nebraska College of Law
Lincoln, NE

Ms. Jodi Garrelts is a third-year law student at the Nebraska College of Law, focusing on international human rights and immigration law. Jodi became interested in these subjects after serving as a health volunteer for the Peace Corps in Mozambique. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Spanish at UNK in 2006 and is still a proud Loper!

Dr. Mike Gross, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon
GIKK Ortho Specialists
Omaha, NE

Dr. Mike Gross is a Nebraska native who went to medical school at St. Louis University. His interest in foreign medical work stemmed from his time there. The two most prestigious graduates from St. Louis University are Dr. Edward Doisy, a Nobel laureate and Dr. Thomas Dooley, a family practice physician who set up an outreach clinic in Southeast Asia before he died a premature death in his early 40s. At the time of his death, Dr. Dooley was considered one of the 10 most admired Americans. A picture of both of these men was prominently featured outside of the Dean's office, but it was Dr. Dooley's unassuming picture with a sick child that made a lasting impression on Dr. Gross and sparked his interest in foreign medical work. Dr. Gross has worked with the Christian Medical Society, Health Volunteers Overseas, and now works with an outreach organization called SIGN, which provides modern locking nails for long bone fractures that can be used in Third World settings. His multiple trips over the last 30 years having introduced him to a variety of individuals from different walks of life who have made a lasting impact on world health care.

Ms. Sandy Hanna, Member
Palestinian Rights Task Force of Nebraskans for Peace
Omaha, NE

Ms. Sandy Hanna is a retired teacher who graduated from Hood College in Frederick, MD in the 1960s. It was here that she first began to understand racial discrimination in the U.S. Sandy has lived in Nebraska for 48 years. This spring, she went with the Presbyterian Peacemaking Conference to Israel and Palestine for two weeks to study the crisis situation “on the ground” there and to listen to voices on both sides.

Ms. Laura Hassler, Founder and Director
Musicians without Borders
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Ms. Laura Hassler grew up in a multicultural, artistic community in New York, a child of two professionals in the international peace and nonviolence movement. Active from an early age in U.S. civil rights and peace movements, she studied cultural anthropology and music at Swarthmore College, combining academics with activism and music. She moved to the Netherlands in 1977, where she developed a career as a musician, linking music to social causes. Part of a large network of socially conscious musicians, Laura mobilized this network to collectively launch Musicians without Borders in 1999. Today, still drawing largely on the talents of this ever-broadening network, Musicians without Borders has become one of the world’s pioneers in the use of music to bridge divides, build community and heal the wounds of war.

Ms. Katie Huerter, Member
Palestinian Rights Task Force of Nebraskans for Peace
Omaha, NE

Ms. Katie Huerter is a recent graduate of UNO and a freelance writer who works with the American Friends Service Committee. In May she visited the West Bank and Gaza for the second time. She is a vocal advocate and organizer for equal rights, justice, and freedom in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Mr. Chuck Larsen, Co-Founder
Water 4 Haiti
Minden, NE

Mr. Chuck Larsen is a retired farmer, cattle feeder, and educator. Since 1984 he has volunteered to work with water projects through the Water for Life Mission of Kalona, Iowa and is a board member of that organization. In 2007, he led an effort to start water projects in another area in Haiti. He co-founded the mission, Water 4 Haiti, which works on the island of LaGonave and near Montrouis on the mainland, drilling new wells and repairing existing water systems. In December of 2007, Chuck participated as district delegate at the Rotary International Clean Water Summit in Petionville, Haiti.

Mr. Ken Pitkin, Chair
Callaway Nigeria Partnership Committee
Callaway United Methodist Church
Callaway, NE

Mr. Ken Pitkin grew up on a ranch near Callaway and returned to Callaway after graduating from college. He owns the True Value Hardware store there. Ken and his wife Jill belong to the Callaway United Methodist Church where Ken is the Chair of the Callaway Nigeria Partnership Committee. He has had the opportunity to travel to Nigeria three times and is planning a fourth trip there in 2015. He and Jill have two grown sons.

Mr. Nader Qaud, Member
Palestinian Rights Task Force of Nebraskans for Peace
Omaha, NE

Mr. Nader Qaud is a senior pre-dental major at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He is a Palestinian-American who was born and raised in Omaha. His parents are originally from Hebron, Palestine. His father’s family sought refuge in Jordan after the war in Palestine broke out, and his father, a graduate of UNO, came to the U.S. when he was 18 years old. Nader has the opportunity to visit Palestine and Jordan regularly.

Mr. Dusty Reynolds, Co-Founder and CEO
Omaha, NE

Mr. Dusty Reynolds is the co-founder and CEO of RaceNote, a motorsports technology company based in Omaha. He also is the Entrepreneur in Residence for the Greater Omaha Chamber. In 2009, Reynolds and his wife launched a for-profit, socially conscious clothing company in Mali, West Africa with the goal of providing sustainable income to Malians in hopes of alleviating poverty. Reynolds is a 2004 UNK alum and is married to his bride Julia. They have two children, Hudson and Elsie.

Mr. Andrew Schindler, Project Manager
Tiny Hands International
Lincoln, NE

Mr. Andrew Schindler graduated from the University of Nebraska Lincoln in May 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education. Andrew has spent the last five years in the business world, but his heart has been in the work he’s done for various ministries throughout Lincoln over the past nine years. His service in ministry has been fueled by his passion and love for people and relationships. He started his journey with Tiny Hands International in September 2013. He lives in Lincoln with his wife and three daughters.

Dr. Sri Seshadri, Professor
Department of Marketing and MIS
Kearney, NE

Dr. Sri Seshadri has been a Professor of Marketing at the University of Nebraska at Kearney since 1993. A native of India and a world traveler, he has made Kearney his home. Since 2010 he has been a member of the Kearney Dawn Rotary club. A dedicated Rotarian who strongly believes in Rotary’s motto of “Service above Self,” Professor Seshadri has been involved in several service projects both locally and internationally. He is passionate about extending literacy around the world and in that vein has been engaged in a global project, providing solar lamps to secondary schools in rural India.