Who’s Speaking

The community assembly will include brief remarks from campus leadership, including President Mark Schlissel, Provost Susan Collins, and Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Robert Sellers.

This year’s featured keynote speaker is Journalist, Entrepreneur and Television Host, Soledad O’Brien.

Following the keynote address, a roundtable conversation will include Riana Elyse Anderson, Soledad O’Brien, Valarie Kaur, Sydney Carr, Jeff Witt and Oluwaferanmi Okaniami

Soledad O’BrienJournalist, Entrepreneur and Television Host

Soledad O’Brien is an award-winning documentarian, journalist, speaker, author and philanthropist. She is the CEO of Soledad O’Brien Productions, a multi-platform media production company dedicated to telling empowering and authentic stories on a range of social issues and a thought leader whose public engagement garners wide attention.

Soledad O’BrienJournalist, Entrepreneur and Television Host

Soledad O’Brien is an award-winning documentarian, journalist, speaker, author and philanthropist. She is the CEO of Soledad O’Brien Productions, a multi-platform media production company dedicated to telling empowering and authentic stories on a range of social issues and a thought leader whose public engagement garners wide attention.

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Valarie KaurCivil Rights Leader, Lawyer, Author, Filmmaker, Educator & Innovator

Valarie Kaur is a renowned civil rights leader, lawyer, best-selling author of SEE NO STRANGER: A Memoir & Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, award-winning filmmaker, educator, innovator, and celebrated prophetic voice.

She leads the Revolutionary Love Project to reclaim love as a force for justice. Valarie burst into American consciousness in the wake of the 2016 election when her Watch Night Service address went viral with 40 million views worldwide.

Her question “Is this the darkness of the tomb – or the darkness of the womb?” reframed the political moment and became a mantra for people fighting for change. In the last twenty years, Valarie has won policy change on multiple fronts – hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, solitary
confinement, Internet freedom, and more.

She founded Groundswell
Movement, Faithful Internet, and the Yale Visual Law Project to inspire and equip advocates at the intersection of spirituality, storytelling, and justice. Valarie has been a regular TV commentator on MSNBC and contributor to CNN, NPR, PBS, the Hill, Huffington Post, and the Washington Post. A daughter of Sikh farmers in California’s heartland, Valarie earned degrees at Stanford University, Harvard Divinity School, and Yale Law School. Valarie’s debut book, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, was released in 2020 and expands on her “blockbuster” TED Talk.

Valarie KaurCivil Rights Leader, Lawyer, Author, Filmmaker, Educator & Innovator

Valarie Kaur is a renowned civil rights leader, lawyer, best-selling author of SEE NO STRANGER: A Memoir & Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, award-winning filmmaker, educator, innovator, and celebrated prophetic voice.

She leads the Revolutionary Love Project to reclaim love as a force for justice. Valarie burst into American consciousness in the wake of the 2016 election when her Watch Night Service address went viral with 40 million views worldwide.

Her question “Is this the darkness of the tomb – or the darkness of the womb?” reframed the political moment and became a mantra for people fighting for change. In the last twenty years, Valarie has won policy change on multiple fronts – hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, solitary
confinement, Internet freedom, and more.

She founded Groundswell
Movement, Faithful Internet, and the Yale Visual Law Project to inspire and equip advocates at the intersection of spirituality, storytelling, and justice. Valarie has been a regular TV commentator on MSNBC and contributor to CNN, NPR, PBS, the Hill, Huffington Post, and the Washington Post. A daughter of Sikh farmers in California’s heartland, Valarie earned degrees at Stanford University, Harvard Divinity School, and Yale Law School. Valarie’s debut book, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, was released in 2020 and expands on her “blockbuster” TED Talk.

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President Mark Schlissel
Mark SchlisselPresident, University of Michigan

Dr. Mark S. Schlissel is the 14th president of the University of Michigan and the first physician-scientist to lead the institution.

A graduate of Princeton University (A.B., summa cum laude, 1979, Biochemical Sciences), he earned both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1986, Physiological Chemistry). He completed residency training in internal medicine at Hopkins Hospital and conducted postdoctoral research as a Bristol-Myers Cancer Research Fellow under David Baltimore at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Whitehead Institute. President Schlissel is a board-certified internist.

President Schlissel previously was provost of Brown University, where he was responsible for all academic programmatic and budgetary functions within Brown’s schools and colleges, as well as its libraries, research institutes and centers.

President Mark Schlissel
Mark SchlisselPresident, University of Michigan

Dr. Mark S. Schlissel is the 14th president of the University of Michigan and the first physician-scientist to lead the institution.

A graduate of Princeton University (A.B., summa cum laude, 1979, Biochemical Sciences), he earned both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1986, Physiological Chemistry). He completed residency training in internal medicine at Hopkins Hospital and conducted postdoctoral research as a Bristol-Myers Cancer Research Fellow under David Baltimore at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Whitehead Institute. President Schlissel is a board-certified internist.

President Schlissel previously was provost of Brown University, where he was responsible for all academic programmatic and budgetary functions within Brown’s schools and colleges, as well as its libraries, research institutes and centers.

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Collins
Susan CollinsProvost, University of Michigan

Susan M. Collins is the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan, as well as the Edward M. Gramlich Collegiate Professor of Public Policy, professor of economics, and former dean of the Ford School (2007-17). Before coming to Michigan, she was on the economics faculty at Georgetown University and Harvard University, and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution (where she retains a nonresident affiliation). She is an international economist whose research interests center on understanding and fostering economic growth in industrial, emerging market, and developing countries. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She served a term as president of the Association for Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA) from 2013-15 and, earlier in her career, as a senior staff economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. Collins received her bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, in economics from Harvard University and her doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Collins
Susan CollinsProvost, University of Michigan

Susan M. Collins is the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan, as well as the Edward M. Gramlich Collegiate Professor of Public Policy, professor of economics, and former dean of the Ford School (2007-17). Before coming to Michigan, she was on the economics faculty at Georgetown University and Harvard University, and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution (where she retains a nonresident affiliation). She is an international economist whose research interests center on understanding and fostering economic growth in industrial, emerging market, and developing countries. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She served a term as president of the Association for Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA) from 2013-15 and, earlier in her career, as a senior staff economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. Collins received her bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, in economics from Harvard University and her doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Psychology Department, Christina Robinson
Robert SellersVice Provost for Equity and Inclusion & Chief Diversity Officer

Dr. Robert Sellers is the Vice Provost for Equity, Inclusion, and Academic Affairs, and also serves as the Charles D. Moody Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Education. As Vice Provost, Dr. Sellers works with the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs on matters related to diversity at the University as well as a broad range of academic issues including the budget, faculty tenure and promotions, and student enrollment. He oversees operations of four central administrative units.

Psychology Department, Christina Robinson
Robert SellersVice Provost for Equity and Inclusion & Chief Diversity Officer

Dr. Robert Sellers is the Vice Provost for Equity, Inclusion, and Academic Affairs, and also serves as the Charles D. Moody Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Education. As Vice Provost, Dr. Sellers works with the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs on matters related to diversity at the University as well as a broad range of academic issues including the budget, faculty tenure and promotions, and student enrollment. He oversees operations of four central administrative units.

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Riana Anderson headshot
Riana Elyse AndersonAssistant Professor, Health Behavior & Health Education, School of Public Health
Riana Anderson headshot
Riana Elyse AndersonAssistant Professor, Health Behavior & Health Education, School of Public Health
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Sydney Carr headshot
Sydney CarrPresident, Students of Color Rackham; Doctoral Candidate, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts & Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Sydney Carr headshot
Sydney CarrPresident, Students of Color Rackham; Doctoral Candidate, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts & Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
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Feranmi Okanlami headshot
Oluwaferanmi OkanlamiDirector, Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services, Assistant Professor, Michigan Medicine
Feranmi Okanlami headshot
Oluwaferanmi OkanlamiDirector, Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services, Assistant Professor, Michigan Medicine
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Jeff Witt headshot
Jeff WittOrganizational Development Lead and DEI Lead, U-M Library
Jeff Witt headshot
Jeff WittOrganizational Development Lead and DEI Lead, U-M Library
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