Joint Conference Keynote Speakers
Sunday, June 29
Opening Plenary Session
Brenda J. Child
For a people to lose both their past and their language is to lose hope. As an educator and scholar, Brenda Child has worked with skill and determination to keep alive the American Indians’ incredible story of survival and to preserve the language of the Ojibwe people.
Brenda J. Child is one of our nation’s foremost American Indian scholars. She was born on the Red Lake Ojibwe Reservation in northern Minnesota where she is a citizen. She is a Professor of American Studies at the University of Minnesota, and resides with her family in Saint Paul and Bemidji, Minnesota.
Professor Child’s book, Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900-1940 (University of Nebraska) chronicles the U.S. government’s past practice of taking Indian children away from their families and placing them in boarding schools, often far from their homes. The book won numerous awards, including the North American Indian Prose Award. Professor Child’s newest book is Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of Community (Penguin).
At the University of Minnesota, she was a recipient of the President’s Award for Outstanding Community Service and served as Chair of the Department of American Indian Studies (2009-12). Professor Child was also part of the research group that developed the digital Ojibwe People’s Dictionary.
Sunday, June 29
Luncheon Plenary Session
Malika Saada Saar
She has stood up for poor and homeless women. She’s fought against the early sexualization of girls and battled child sex trafficking. She is a tireless advocate for America’s most vulnerable girls and women.
During her brief time as a high school teacher, Malika Saada Saar developed a passion for women’s rights. “I started working with pregnant girls in the school. “There were no additional support services for them and nowhere else to go.”
Then she went to law school and after earning her law degree, she jumped right back into advocacy work. She founded the Rebecca Project, now one of the most powerful and influential organizations serving vulnerable women and families. Under her leadership, the Rebecca Project successfully lobbied to eliminate the practice of shackling women prisoners during childbirth and to shut down Craigslist ads that lead to child sex trafficking.
Today, Ms. Saada Saar is Special Counsel on Human Rights to the Rabin Group, a progressive public relations firm, and she continues to serve as the Director of the Human Rights Project for Girls (Rights4Girls), which focuses on vulnerable girls in the U.S.
Ms. Saada Saar holds a B.A. from Brown University, an M.A. in Education from Stanford University, and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law School. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and three children.
Monday, June 30
Closing Plenary Session
Few advocates for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people combine both Christian ministry with community and workplace activism. Darren Phelps is one who does. He believes in welcoming all people regardless of sexual orientation, race or class.
Darren Phelps is the National Executive Director for Pride At Work, a constituency group of the AFL-CIO for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender union members and allies. Pride At Work organizes mutual support between the labor movement and the LGBT community for social and economic justice.
Darren Phelps has over 20 years of leadership experience in both non-profit organizing and progressive ministry. An openly gay pastor in Washington, D.C., Darren Phelps founded the Bethel Christian Church with a focus on radical inclusivity—affirmatively welcoming all people regardless of sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, gender identity or expression or economic situation.
He actively supports marriage equality and is an active member of the Gertrude Stein Club, the D.C. affiliate of the National Stonewall Democrats. Darren Phelps has also stepped up to become a leader with the Gays & Lesbians Opposing Violence Committee, an organization that is working to reduce violence against LGBT people in his community.