Presenters & Workshops

Building Bridges

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Angela Davis: Social Equality Activist and Author

Professor Davis has spent the last fifteen years at the University of California Santa Cruz where she is a professor of history of consciousness, an interdisciplinary Ph.D program, and professor of feminist studies. Her most recent books are Abolition Democracy and Are Prisons Obsolete? She is now completing a book on Prisons and American History. In recent years a persistent theme of her work has been the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination. She draws upon her own experiences in the early seventies as a person who spent eighteen months in jail and on trial, after being placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List.”

Angela Davis is a member of the executive board of the Women of Color Resource Center, a San Francisco Bay Area organization that emphasizes popular education – of and about women who live in conditions of poverty. She also works with Justice Now, which provides legal assistance to women in prison and engages in advocacy for the abolition of imprisonment as the dominant strategy for addressing social problems.

Like many other educators, Professor Davis is especially concerned with the general tendency to devote more resources and attention to the prison system than to educational institutions. Having helped to popularize the notion of a “prison industrial complex,” she now urges her audiences to think seriously about the future possibility of a world without prisons and to help forge a 21st century abolitionist movement.

Dr. Marc Lamont Hill

Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is one of the leading hip-hop generation intellectuals in the country. Trained as an anthropologist of education, Dr. Hill holds a Ph.D. (with distinction) from the University of Pennsylvania.Dr. Hill provides regular commentary for media outlets like NPR, Washington Post, Essence Magazine, and the New York Times. He is the host of the nationally syndicated television show Our World With Black Enterprise. He also provides regular commentary for CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News Channel.

Since 2009, Dr. Hill has been on the faculty of Columbia University as Associate Professor of Education at Teachers College. He also holds an affiliated faculty appointment in African American Studies at the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University.

Dr. Hill is the author of Beats, Rhymes, and Classroom Life: Hip-Hop Pedagogy and the Politics of Identity and co-editor of Media, Learning, and Sites of Possibility and The Anthropology of Education Reader. He is currently completing two manuscripts: First Class Jails/Second Class Schools: Black Youth in the Age of Incarceration and Knowledge of Self: Race, Masculinity, and the Politics of Reading.


Dr. Kevin Wehr (Board Room, Session 3 and 5)

Dr. Kevin Wehr is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the California State University, Sacramento, where he specializes in Environmental Sociology, Theory, Culture, and Criminology. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology in 2002 and his MS in 1998 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He received his BA in 1994 from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Selected publications include Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex: Crime and Incarceration in the 21st Century (Routledge 2013, with Elyshia Aseltine), DIY: The Search for Control and Self-Reliance in the 21st Century (Routledge 2012). Kevin’s session will discuss private and for-profit prisons and how they connect with the larger system of the prison industrial complex.

Carl Wicklund (St. Peter Room, Session 2 and 4)

Carl Wicklund is the Executive Director of the American Probation and Parole Association. He served as the director of a three county adult and juvenile probation and parole department as well as developed and managed a variety of community-based, private sector programs for juveniles and adults involved with the justice or social services systems. His presentation will provide information related to the schools to prisons pipeline or how k-12 school policies and practices contribute to our enormous prison population. He will present information outlining the issue from national sources and personal experiences along with efforts that are under way to help address the issue of youth entering the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Professor Nekima Levy-Pounds (Three Crowns Room, Session 2 and 3)

Professor Nekima Levy-Pounds is a law professor at the University of St. Thomas and the founder of the Community Justice Project (CJP), an award-winning civil rights legal clinic. Levy-Pounds is a national expert on issues of race, poverty, gender, and the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems. Her presentation will explore the unique challenges that incarcerated women face, the characteristics of women who are incarcerated in state and federal prisons and the laws and policies that have played a role in their rapidly growing rate of imprisonment in the U.S.

Michele Garnett-McKenzie (Heritage Room, Session 1 and 2)

Michele Garnett-McKenzieis the Advocacy Director at The Advocates for Human Rights. As Advocacy Director, Ms. McKenzie is responsible for policy advocacy and community and coalition engagement around The Advocates' priority issues, including human trafficking, refugee and immigrant rights, and diaspora community engagement. Her presentation will focus on the detention of immigrants in the U.S. and how the immigrant detention apparatus is now the largest prison system in the U.S. Participants will learn about the immigration detention system, its intersection with the criminal justice system, and the role the private prison industry has played in immigration policy.

Sarah Walker (Board Room, Session 1 and 2)

Sarah Walker works in Government Affairs at Hill Capitol Strategies. Prior to joining Hill Capitol Strategies she spent five years as the Chief Operating Officer at 180 Degrees, Inc. During her time at 180 Degrees, Inc. she founded the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition. Her previous positions include as Research Consultant at the Council on Crime and Justice and Director of Workforce Development at the Center for Court Innovation. Sarah’s workshop will focus on the founding of the MN Second Chance Coalition, a state-wides grassroots efforts to reform criminal justice policy making in Minnesota. She will discuss significant historical developments in Minnesota's criminal justice policy and the impact on the current Minnesota landscape.

Teresa Nelson (Heritage Room, Session 3 and 4)

Teresa Nelson is the Legal Director for ACLU MN. Terri has been with the ACLU-MN since 1996, having previously served as Legal Assistant and Assistant Legal Counsel. Terri’s session will focus on the State’s Constitutional obligation to provide medical needs. Terri will discuss the challenges faced by inmates in a system where shrinking budgets, a building prison population, increased mental healthcare needs, and the privatization of prison medical care all provide incentives to deny care for their serious medical needs.