Thursday, September 27
General Session Keynote Speaker

Bakari Sellers

Bakari Sellers made history in 2006 when, at just 22 years old, he defeated a 26-year incumbent State Representative to become the youngest member of the South Carolina state legislature and the youngest African American elected official in the nation.

In 2014 Sellers won the Democratic nomination for Lt. Governor and is widely considered to be a rising star within the Democratic Party and leading voice for his generation.

Sellers earned his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College, where he served as student body president, and his law degree from the University of South Carolina. He has followed in the footsteps of his father, civil rights leader Dr. Cleveland Sellers, in his tireless commitment to public service while championing progressive policies to address issues ranging from education and poverty to preventing domestic violence and childhood obesity.

In addition to his impressive list of early accomplishments, Sellers served on President Barack Obama's South Carolina steering committee during the 2008 election. That coupled with his uncommon ability to reach across the aisle and get things done has led to numerous accolades including being named to TIME Magazine’s 40 Under 40 in 2010 as well as 2014’s “The Root 100” list of the nation’s most influential African-Americans. Sellers has been a much sought after public speaker and has provided political and social commentary and analysis on many major national news outlets.

He has served as a featured speaker at events for the National Education Association, College Democrats of America National Convention, NAACP, the 2008 Democratic National Convention and, in 2007, delivered the opening keynote address to the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC.

Sellers practices law with the Strom Law Firm, LLC in Columbia, SC.

Sellers is a CNN contributor and is married to Ellen Rucker.


Saturday, September 29
Dr. Bryant T. Marks, Sr.

Diversity and Implicit Bias Trainer

Dr. Bryant T. Marks, Sr. is a minister, researcher, trainer, and award-winning educator. His personal and professional mission is to develop the knowledge, wisdom, and skills of others that will allow them to reach their full potential and live their lives with purpose and passion. Dr. Marks is the Founder and Chief Training Officer of the National Training Institute on Race and Equity and he is a professor in the Department of Psychology at Morehouse College. He served on President Obama’s Board of Advisors with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans and as senior advisor with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Dr. Marks was a contributor/trainer with the Obama Administration’s My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) and 21st Century Policing programs. Dr. Marks has provided implicit bias training to over 2,000 Police Chiefs and executives via a series of briefings at the White House in 2016, and several thousand patrol officers in local police departments including the entire Los Angeles Police Department. He has also provided training related to diversity and implicit bias to individuals in education (K-12 and higher education), corporations, philanthropy, non-profits, local and federal government, and several other sectors. He serves on several national boards and is a highly sought after speaker and trainer. He holds a B.A. in psychology and a minor in economics from Morehouse College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan. Dr. Marks conducts research and professional development in the areas of diversity and implicit bias, Black male psychology and development, the academic achievement of minority college students, innovations in STEM education, and personal passion and productivity. Dr. Marks is married to Kimberly Marks and father to Kim, Zion-Trinity, and Bryant II.


Saturday, September 29
Ruben Navarrette, Jr.

Syndicated Columnist and Author

Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a nationally syndicated columnist with The Washington Post Writers Group whose twice-a-week column appears in nearly 150 newspapers. This makes him the most widely read Latino columnist in the country, known for his unpredictability and provocative thinking. He challenges both political parties with equal enthusiasm, and his column is required reading for anyone who wants to better understand the nation’s 52 million Latinos.

Navarrette is also a CNN contributor who writes a weekly column for CNN.COM on the issues of the day. His columns often provoke strong reaction, racking up as many as 800,000 page views, 11,000 reader comments and dozens of emails.

On television, Navarrette has appeared on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN’s Inside Politics, CNN’s Paula Zahn Now, CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, The Chris Matthews Show, Fox News Channel’s The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News Channel’s Fox and Friends, MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, PBS’ The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, PBS’ NOW with Bill Moyers, CNN’s Erin Burnett Outfront, CNN’s Rick’s List, and other shows.  He also served as a panelist on the PBS’ All-American Presidential Forum in June 2007, a primetime event where he joined moderator Tavis Smiley and other panelists in posing questions to Democratic presidential candidates.

On radio, Navarrette has appeared on nationally syndicated radio shows hosted by Bill Bennett, Lars Larson, Michael Reagan, Linda Chavez, and Laura Ingraham. He has dozens of interviews on local radio shows and Sirius/XM. His writing has been praised on the nationally syndicated radio show hosted by Rush Limbaugh, where the host once read one of his columns to the show’s 20 million listeners. He has been a commentator on National Public Radio’s Tell Me More w/ Michel Martin, Talk of the Nation, The Diane Rehm Show, All Things Considered, and Morning Edition. A radio talk show host who, in 1994, had a three-hour daily show in Los Angeles, he has been a guest host in Phoenix, Dallas, San Diego, and Fresno, CA. He has also served as a guest host for the nationally syndicated The Michael Medved Show, which airs in more than 200 markets.

As a freelance writer, Navarrette has contributed to The Wall Street Journal, The Denver Post, The Chicago Tribune, Texas Monthly, Hispanic Magazine, Latino Magazine, PODER Magazine, USA Today, VOXXI.COM, & TIME.COM.

Navarrette is the author of A Darker Shade of Crimson: Odyssey of a Harvard Chicano (Bantam, 1993). He’s also a contributor to the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul series, having published essays in both Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul and Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul. He has also contributed essays and columns to more than a dozen books, including Writing About Diversity (Harper-Collins), Debating Affirmative Action (Dell), Multicultural Reader (Kendall/ Hunt), The Resourceful Writer (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), and The Latino/a Condition (NYU Press).

He is a graduate of Harvard College where he earned a Bachelors Degree in History in 1990 and a 2000 graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he earned a Masters’ in Public Administration.

After college, he served as an extern for US Appellate Court Judge Alex Kosinski, taught at the K-12 level, and taught at California State University Fresno.

He spent 12 years working for three major US newspapers – The Arizona Republic (reporter/metro columnist), The Dallas Morning News (member of the editorial board), and The San Diego Union-Tribune (member of the editorial board).

He’s also a popular speaker on the national lecture circuit, having addressed, since 1993, dozens of audiences at universities, conferences, and town halls.  He has spoken at Harvard, Georgetown, Oberlin, Southern Methodist University, Wabash College, Colby College, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, Hanover College, The University of Arkansas, New Mexico Highlands University, Washington and Lee University, Lansing Community College, Bunker Hill Community College, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, West Virginia University, California State University Fresno, San Diego State University, The University of San Diego, Oklahoma State University Tulsa, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

His awards and distinctions include being invited to judge the competition for the Pulizer Prizes in 2013, and being nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary by the Washington Post Writers Group in 2012. He was also won notoriety for being a finalist for the Distinguished Writing Award for Editorial Writing from American Society of Newspaper Editors in 2008, winning 3rd Place in Column Writing in the National Headliners Awards in 2006, winning 1st Place in Column Writing from the California Newspaper Publishers Association in 2006, winning 2nd Place in Column Writing in the National Headliners Awards in 2004, and winning 3rd place in the Columnist category of the awards competition of the Arizona Press Club.

He has also been invited to participate in several foreign leadership exchange programs, including the America’s Voice in Israel program in Jerusalem, the British American Project in Oxford, the Mexican/Mexican-American Solidarity Foundation Conference in Mexico City, the American Swiss Foundation in Zurich.

Navarrette lives in the San Diego with his wife, and three children.

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