2017 Keynote Speakers

2017 Building Bridges Conference

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Dr. Nekima Levy-Pounds is a civil rights attorney, freedom fighter, legal scholar, blogger, and nationally recognized expert on issues at the intersections of race, public policy, economic justice, public education, juvenile justice, and the criminal justice system. In 2016, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the Governor's Commission on Martin Luther King Day. In 2015, she was named one of “40 Under 40” by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. In 2014, she was named a “Minnesota Attorney of the Year” by Minnesota Lawyer and recognized as one of “50 Under 50 Most Influential Law Professors of Color in the Country” by Lawyers of Color magazine.  She has served as president of the Minneapolis NAACP and as an advisor to Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.
Winona LaDuke is an internationally renowned activist working on issues of sustainable development renewable energy and food systems. She lives and works on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, and is a two-time vice presidential candidate with Ralph Nader for the Green Party.
As program director of the Honor the Earth, she works nationally and internationally on the issues of climate change, renewable energy, and environmental justice with indigenous communities. And in her own community, she is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, one of the largest reservation-based nonprofit organizations in the country, and a leader on the issues of culturally-based sustainable development strategies, renewable energy, and food systems. In this work, she also continues national and international work to protect Indigenous plants and heritage foods from patenting and genetic engineering.
In 2007, LaDuke was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, recognizing her leadership and community commitment. In 1994, she was nominated by Time magazine as one of America’s 50 most promising leaders under 40. She has been awarded the Thomas Merton Award in 1996, Ms. Woman of the Year (with the Indigo Girls) in 1997, and the Reebok Human Rights Award, with which in part she began the White Earth Land Recovery Project. The White Earth Land Recovery Project has won many awards, including the prestigious 2003 International Slow Food Award for Biodiversity, recognizing the organization’s work to protect wild rice from patenting and genetic engineering.
A graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities, she has written extensively on Native American and environmental issues. She is a former board member of Greenpeace USA and is presently an advisory board member for the Trust for Public Lands Native Lands Program as well as a board member of the Christensen Fund. The author of five books, including Recovering the Sacred, All Our Relations, and a novel, Last Standing Woman, she is widely recognized for her work on environmental and human rights issues.