Program 2018

Tickets must be purchased for events featuring Attorney General Holder and Common. All other panels are free to attend, but registration is required.

Day 1: Monday, September 10

Join us as we honor Ida B. Wells-Barnett and her many contributions to the struggle for civil rights and equality for African Americans.

Reception Sponsor:
Huntington Bank

Michelle Duster
Michelle Duster is an author, speaker and professor of writing at Columbia College Chicago. She has edited and contributed to a total of nine books, two of which include the writing of her great-grandmother Ida B. Wells. Her latest is an edited collection about the impact of Michelle Obama. A native Chicagoan, she earned her BA in Psychology from Dartmouth College and her MA in Media Studies from The New School.

This panel will explore the post-WWII history of American health care. Shaped by a tapestry of historical, institutional, ideological, and political factors, our health care system is unlike the rest of the industrialized world. Our panelists will attempt to untangle the web of influences that have given rise to the complicated arena of health care in America.


Lawrence Brown
Dr. Lawrence D. Brown is a Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Brown is the author of “Politics and Health Care Organizations: HMOs as Federal Policy” and of articles on the political dimensions of community cost containment, expansion of coverage for the uninsured, national health reform and cross-national health policy.

Guian McKee
Guian McKee is an associate professor in presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. He is the author of The Problem of Jobs: Liberalism, Race, and Deindustrialization in Philadelphia, published in 2008 by the University of Chicago Press. McKee’s research focuses on how federal policy plays out at the local level in American communities, and he is currently working on a book that examines the rise of the health care economy in American cities after World War II.

Stephanie Vomvouras, MD MBA
Dr. Stephanie Vomvouras is vice president of healthcare delivery and chief medical officer for BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois. Vomvouras is a board certified internist and has presented and published work in a variety of respected peer review publications and other venues. She is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the National Quality Forum and served as Community Health’s “All in Chicago” 2017 committee chairperson.


Melissa Hogan
Dr. Melissa Hogan is an associate professor and dean of Roosevelt University’s College of Pharmacy. She has more than 20 years of experience in pharmacy education with a focus on pharmaceutical care skills courses. One of her passions is veterinary pharmacy. She has published in the field, taught pharmacy students and conducted numerous training programs for practicing pharmacists. Under her leadership, the College of Pharmacy is focused on recruiting and training a diverse student body, and currently boasts a 95 percent job placement rate.

Day 2: Tuesday, September 11

When Martin Luther King, Jr. read the words to the African American hymnal “We Shall Overcome” to the throngs of protestors in Washington, D.C. in March 1968, he underlined the importance of music in the movement for civil rights. From Sam Cooke and Nina Simone to folk artists like Pete Seeger, the revelry and community-building power of music helped inspire millions to stay the course through a fight that is long from over. Join us as renowned jazz musician Ramsey Lewis and former WBEZ radio personality Richard Steele discuss the impact of musicians and song on the ongoing struggle for African American civil rights.


Maggie Brown
Maggie Brown is a singer, producer and performer. Her one-woman-show, “LEGACY: Our Wealth of Music,” tells the history and evolution of black music and demonstrates how African Americans courageously and virtuously responded to the horrors of slavery, segregation and disenfranchisement by creating inspiring and thriving art forms which have become part of our American cultural heritage. Brown seeks to educate and encourage a greater for the power of music, words and resilience of the human spirit. She uses the arts to foster care and respect for words, history, music and life.

Ramsey Emmanuel Lewis, Jr.
Ramsey Emmanuel Lewis, Jr. is an American jazz composer, pianist and radio personality. Lewis has recorded more than 80 albums and has received seven gold records and three Grammy Awards in his career. In 1994, Lewis appeared on the Red Hot Organization’s compilation album, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, alongside other prominent jazz artists Herbie Hancock and Roy Ayers. The album, meant to raise awareness and funds in support of the AIDS epidemic in relation to the African American community, was heralded as “Album of the Year” by TIME magazine. In addition to recording and performing, Lewis hosts the weekly syndicated radio program Legends of Jazz, created in 1990. He also hosted the Ramsey Lewis Morning Show on Chicago “smooth jazz” radio station WNUA (95.5 FM). In December 2006, this morning show became part of Broadcast Architecture’s Smooth Jazz Network, simulcasting on other smooth jazz stations across the country to 2009.

Paul Wertico
Paul Wertico is an associate professor of jazz studies at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts and has taught drums privately for more than 45 years. Hailed as “one of the most versatile and musical drummers in music today,” Wertico was a member of the Pat Metheny Group from 1983 to 2001. During that time, he won seven Grammy Awards and also played drums & percussion on David Bowie’s hit recording, “This Is Not America.” He has played with countless artists in all 50 states and in over 60 countries, as well as playing on drums and percussion on hundreds of recordings.


Richard Steele
A Brooklyn, New York native, Richard Steele began his radio career as a disc jockey at a station in Roanoke, Virginia, and later became a morning radio personality in Boston. In 1970, Steele began his career of 47 years in Chicago radio, including 27 years with WBEZ as a program host and correspondent. Steele also hosted the television programs Urban Street and Chicago Today, and has been a pledge host on Chicago’s PBS station WTTW for more than 25 years. In his journey as a music radio personality, and later as a talk show host, he always found ways to inform, as well as entertain Chicago’s vast multicultural community, but never lost his special relationship with Chicago’s African American community. That’s where his foundation and cultural roots are. He and his wife of 45 years reside on the South Side and have two adult children and four grandchildren.

Since the early 1990s, the prison population of the United States has exploded, with African Americans disproportionately represented. From policing to prosecutions to sentencing, African Americans and their communities continue to be treated more harshly than other Americans. The events in Ferguson, Missouri, the shootings of unarmed African Americans and the Black Lives Matter movement have all helped bring fresh attention to this urgent social justice issue. This panel will bring together leading voices in the areas of policing and mass incarceration to discuss how we can reform these institutions and fight racist policies.


Jamelle Bouie
Jamelle Bouie is Slate’s chief political correspondent and a political analyst for CBS News. Bouie reports from the front lines of the nation’s most significant news events, from civil unrest to political partisanship, and has emerged as a leading voice on U.S. politics, public policy, elections and race. In 2015, Forbes named him to its “30 Under 30 in Media” list as one of the individuals driving the ever-shifting landscape of news and content. He also regularly contributes to the weekly roundtable discussion on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” and his writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, TIME and The New Yorker.

Natalie Moore
Natalie Moore is WBEZ’s South Side reporter, covering segregation and inequality. Her enterprise reporting has tackled race, housing, economic development, food injustice and violence. Moore’s work has been broadcast on the BBC, Marketplace and NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. She is the author of The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation winner of the 2016 Chicago Review of Books award for nonfiction and a Buzzfeed best nonfiction book of 2016. She is also co-author of The Almighty Black P Stone Nation: The Rise, Fall and Resurgence of an American Gang and Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation.


Heather M. Dalmage
Heather M. Dalmage, professor of sociology and director of the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation, is president-elect of the Society for the Study of Social Problems. Dalmage serves on the Board of Education for the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. She has published broadly in the areas of race, juvenile justice, disability, family and education. She is a former Fulbright Scholar to South Africa and serves on several editorial boards. She is the 2018 recipient of the Doris Wilkinson Faculty Leadership Award for her scholar activism.

Day 3: Wednesday, September 12

Over the past year, women have come forward in every sector of society to report sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence in and out of the workplace. The #MeToo movement has galvanized a new conversation about women’s civil rights in and out of the workplace. A generation after the Equal Rights movement, how far have we come as a society in combatting gender-based violence and discrimination, and what still needs to be done. Join us as prominent commentators assess the state of contemporary feminism and talk about how society can finally confront and overcome misogyny, violence and discrimination.


Rebecca Traister
Rebecca Traister is writer at large for New York magazine and the author of the New York Times best-seller All The Single Ladies, which was named a Notable Book of 2016 by The New York Times. Her previous book, Big Girls Don’t Cry, was a Times Notable Book of 2010 and the winner of the Ernesta Drinker Ballard Book Prize. She has also written for Elle, Salon, The Nation, The New Republic, the Washington Post and The New York Observer and has twice been a National Magazine Award finalist. She is a winner of the 2016 Hillman Prize for Analysis and Opinion Journalism. She lives in New York City.

Maudlyne Ihejirika
Maudlyne Ihejirika is an award-winning Chicago Sun-Times urban affairs reporter and columnist with 30 years of experience in journalism, public relations and government. She holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Iowa and an MSJ from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She pens the Sun-Times “Chicago Chronicles,” long-form columns on “people and places that make Chicago tick.” She is the author of, Escape From Nigeria: A Memoir of Faith, Love and War, a riveting tale of her family’s survival of the brutal Nigerian-Biafran War, and miracles that brought them to the U.S.

Ihejirika is a frequent guest contributor on PBS-TV’s “Chicago Tonight: Week In Review” and FOX-32’s “Good Day Chicago,” and has appeared as a political analyst on CNN, TV One, ABC, CBS, NPR and WBEZ.


Marjorie Jolles
Marjorie Jolles is Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Director of Roosevelt’s Honors Program. Her area of specialization is feminist philosophy, with an emphasis on ethics, philosophy of the body, and the rhetoric and aesthetics of female power. She has published numerous articles and chapters in the fields of feminist philosophy, sexual politics, and cultural studies, and is co-editor of Fashion Talks: Undressing the Power of Style (SUNY Press, 2012). She is currently writing Postfeminism: An Intellectual History, a book tracing the cultural life of late 20th and early 21st century feminist theory the US.

Join us as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States, Eric H. Holder, Jr. discusses the pressing issue of voting rights in the United States. The U.S. Constitution famously failed to guarantee citizens the right to vote in elections. And since the turn of the new century, many states have made it harder for individuals to vote, by passing restrictive voter ID laws and engaging in purges of voter rolls and rollbacks of early voting. Especially since the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision striking down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, states have felt free to openly pursue voter suppression schemes. Can the long struggle for voting rights in the U.S. finally be won, even in this hostile legal and political climate? With his unique insights from the front lines of this fight, and his recent work on the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, Mr. Holder will share his appraisal of the past and his vision for the future with our community. ​

Keynote Sponsor: Mesirow Financial


Eric H. Holder, Jr
Eric H. Holder, Jr. is an attorney who served as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States from 2009 to 2015. He was the first African American to serve in that position and was the third-longest-serving attorney general in the nation’s history. Holder previously served as a judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and as United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.

In July 2001, Holder joined the Washington, D.C. law firm of Covington & Burling as a partner in the firm’s litigation practice group, where he represented clients in complex civil and criminal cases as well as internal corporate investigations. After his departure from the Department of Justice, Holder returned to Covington & Burling and is resident in their Washington office. He focuses on complex litigation and investigatory matters that are international in scope and raise significant enforcement issues and substantial reputational concerns.


Judge Ann Claire Williams
Judge Ann Claire Williams served in the federal judiciary from 1985 until her retirement from the bench earlier this year. The first woman of color appointed to the Northern District of Illinois, first and only person of color to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and third woman of color to serve on any federal appeals court, this Detroit native has been committed to creating opportunities for diverse students from grade school through law school and has also led many national and international training initiatives for judiciaries, lawyers and law students. She is currently of counsel at Jones Day leading its Rule of Law in Africa Initiative. 

Day 4: Thursday, September 13

Academy Award, Golden Globe, Emmy and Grammy-winning actor and musician Common leads this timely conversation about the need to inspire our young students to enact positive change in our communities. Through his years of experience as an activist and philanthropist, Common will share his thoughts on how we can continue to produce generations of dreamers and leaders who make a difference in a polarized society.


An Academy Award, Golden Globe, Emmy and Grammy-winning actor and musician, Common continues to break down barriers with a multitude of critically acclaimed, diverse roles, and continued success at the box office.

More than 10 years ago, Common committed his time and resources to help inner-city youth in his hometown of Chicago. The Common Ground Foundation reaches high school students through programs that focus on character development, social impact, healthy living, technology, financial literacy, creative arts and global leadership. On average, Common Ground Foundation students have improved or maintained a 3.16 GPA and have a 100% graduation rate. Of this, 97% of seniors are attending a four-year college and the Common Ground Foundation’s students have completed more than 2,600 hours of community service.

Mary Ellen Caron, PhD

Mary Ellen Caron is the chief executive officer of After School Matters, one of the nation’s largest and most successful providers of after-school and summer program opportunities for high school teens. Under her leadership, After School Matters has grown and enhanced its services, expanding by thousands of opportunities into more Chicago neighborhoods, growing the organization’s financial reserves and philanthropic support, and advocating for the importance of youth development and the unlimited potential of teenagers throughout Chicago and beyond. Caron currently serves on the boards of directors for the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, the Children at the Crossroads Foundation, and on multiple youth- and education-related advisory committees throughout Chicago.

Janice K. Jackson, PhD
Dr. Janice K. Jackson is chief executive officer for Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest school district in the country. She is responsible for all CPS departments, including the Office of Teaching and Learning, which provides high-quality curriculum to engage and empower students, and the Office of College and Career Success, which works to guarantee that every student in every school has the resources they need to be successful in college, career and life.


Tom Philion
Tom Philion is the dean and professor of reading and secondary education at Roosevelt University’s College of Education. Prior to becoming dean, Philion served as associate dean and chair of teacher preparation programs at Roosevelt. Earlier in his career, he was an assistant professor of English and assistant director of the English Education Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has authored more than 20 articles and reports on topics such as teacher research, portfolio pedagogy and collaborative learning; and has obtained over $1 million in external grant funding. Philion received his BA in English from Fordham University and his MA in English and PhD in English and Education from the University of Michigan.

Day 5: Friday, September 14

Come further our mission of social justice and lend a helping hand to others at Roosevelt University’s American Dream Service Day. This one-day service event open to all members of the Roosevelt community is a fitting way to cap off our third annual American Dream Reconsidered Conference and a meaningful way to give back.

Getting involved is easy — simply sign up for one or more of our service activities. More info forthcoming.
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