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Keynote Plenary Session Speakers

22nd ConferenceInformation on keynotes and plenary speakers for the scsu 22nd women's studies conference









Anita SarkeesianA media critic and public speaker, Anita Sarkeesian is the creator of Feminist Frequency, a video webseries that explores the representations of women in pop culture narratives. Her work focuses on exposing and deconstructing the sexist stereotypes and patterns in popular culture, and highlighting issues surrounding the targeted harassment of women in online and gaming spaces. She has received particular attention for her video series Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, which examines tropes in the depiction of female video game characters. 

In 2013, Newsweek magazine and The Daily Beast named Sarkeesian as one of their "125 Women of Impact." In 2014, she became the first woman recipient of the 2014 Game Developers Choice Ambassador Award. In 2015, she was chosen as one of the Time 100, Time Magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. And in January 2015, as part of a $300 million effort to increase diversity and inclusivity in the technology sphere, Intel announced it would partner with Feminist Frequency and other groups to help promote increased career opportunities, engagement, and positive representation for women and minorities in technology and gaming.  She has been interviewed and featured in publications such as The New York Times, Wired, The Wall Street Journal, The Globe and Mail, and The Boston Globe. 


2014 Keynote Speaker: Majora Carter


Majora Carter Majora Carter is an internationally renowned urban revitalization strategy  consultant, real estate developer, and Peabody Award winning broadcaster.    She is responsible for the creation & successful implementation of numerous  green-infrastructure projects, policies, and job training & placement systems.

 After establishing several local and national organizations to carry on that  work, she built on this foundation with innovative ventures and insights into  urban economic developments designed to help move Americans out of poverty.

Her long list of awards and honorary degrees include accolades from groups as diverse as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, Goldman Sachs, as well as a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship.  Her 2006 TED talk was one of the first 6 videos to launch their groundbreaking website.

Majora embodies the American Dream. She has continually set new standards of excellence with projects in her South Bronx community, while expanding her reach nationally and internationally.  Her philanthropic pursuits and business interests have all pointed toward greater self-esteem and economic potential for low-income people everywhere.

Additional Tech Related info:
Majora is an Advisory Board member of the Bronx Academy of Software Engineering, and Co-Founder & CEO of StartUpBox.SouthBronx ( This enterprise-generating project is seeding the ground for community participation in accessible & lucrative economic growth trends for the 21st century.   In 2012, Majora was one of’s ‘Silicon Alley 100’, a strong supporter and participant of #Focus100, and one of Goldman-Sachs ‘100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs’.

In 2007, while at the helm of Sustainable South Bronx, Majora Carter brought MIT’s first ever Mobile Fab-Lab (digital fabrication laboratory) to the South Bronx where it served as an early iteration of the “Maker-Spaces” found elsewhere today.  The project drew residents and  visitors together in the South Bronx for creative collaborations.  Majora was a featured speaker at M.I.T. for – continuing to drive  financial resources that seek out diversity & innovation, into the communities left out of previous economic booms.

2014 Keynote Speaker: Dr. Chung Hyun Kyung


Dr. Kyung Associate Professor Chung Hyun Kyung, graduated from Ewha Women's University in Seoul with the B.A. (1979) and the M.A. (1981). She holds the M.Div. from the School of Theology at Claremont (1984), a diploma from the Women's Theological Center in Boston (1984), and the Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary (1989). She is a lay theologian of the Presbyterian Church of Korea, as well as once having become a temporary Buddhist novice nun. In 1999, she lived for a year in a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas studying meditation. Now she is in the process of becoming a dharma teacher at the Kwan Eum Zen School in New York City. She first came to international attention in 1991, when she made a now famous speech– a feminist/Asian/ Third World interpretation of the Holy Spirit–at the World Council of Churches in Canberra, Australia. She defines herself as a “salimist” (Korean Eco-feminist) from the Korean word “salim,” which means “making things alive.”

Professor Chung's teaching and research interests include feminist and eco-feminist theologies and spiritualities from Asia, Africa and Latin America; Christian-Buddhist dialogue; Zen meditation; approaches to disease and healing in varied religious backgrounds; mysticism and revolutionary social change; Goddesses and women’s liberation in Asia; interfaith peacemaking; as well as the history and critical issues of various ecumenical theologies (e.g., Minjung theology, EATWOT theology, Gospel and Culture, interreligious dialogue).

Prof. Chung tries to synthesize the wisdom of the worldwide people’s movements, spiritual legacies of Asian religious traditions, critical academic analysis, and the world of the arts in her theology. In 2006, she successfully extended an invitation to the Dalai Lama to speak at Riverside Church at a Union-sponsored event called Peace is Possible! She organized this week-long conference in collaboration with the International Interfaith Peace Council, of which she is a founding member and councilor, and with Peacemakers in Action. A charismatic speaker, her numerous lecture engagements, interviews, and televised appearances have taken place at universities and people’s movement settings throughout the world, and have been broadcast through the international media. She also produced an award-winning, eight-part series, “The Power of Women in World Religions,” on Korean Public T.V. (View a TED talk)

Professor Chung's published works include Struggling to be the Sun Again: Introducing Asian Women’s Theology (1991); In the End, Beauty Will Save Us All: A Feminist Spiritual Pilgrimage, Vols. I and II, published in Korean, (2002); Letter from The Future: The Goddess-Spell According to Hyun Kyung, published in Korean, (2003); and Hyun Kyung and Alice’s Fabulous Love Affair with God (2004), co-authored with renowned American novelist, Alice Walker; as well as numerous articles. She is currently working on a new book, Salimist Manifesta: Korean Women’s Theology of Life. She is also conducted interviews with scholar-priest and ecotheologian Thomas Berry for a prospective book project, Four Seasons with Thomas Berry.

2012 Plenary Speaker: Anne Keala Kelly


Anne Keala Kelly

Anne Keala Kelly is an award winning, Native Hawaiian filmmaker and journalist whose works focus primarily on the early 21st century Hawaiian sovereignty movement. Her feature length documentary, Noho Hewa, has been screened and broadcast internationally and is widely taught in university courses that focus on indigenous peoples, the Pacific, and colonization. Ms. Kelly’s expertise is on indigenous peoples and cultural and environmental issues and politics, with a concentration on Native Hawaiian resistance to U.S. policies regarding desecration, militarism, forced assimilation, and legislative attempts to federally recognize the Hawaiians as a native people of the United States. She is a Ted Scripps Environmental Journalism fellow and the recipient of film festival and journalism awards, as well as grants from the Fund for Investigative Journalism and the Paul Robeson Fund. Ms. Kelly has an MFA in Directing from the UCLA School of Film and Television.

Ms. Kelly’s broadcast and print journalism includes:

Radio reports filed from Hawaii, where she lives, Kathmandu and Geneva; she has produced television segments that have been featured on Al Jazeera English, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer and Democracy Now!, and she has published more than 75 articles, including commentary and reviews, in Indian Country Today, The Nation, and the Honolulu Weekly.

Ms. Kelly’s other published works include:

Resistance to Empire, Erasure and Selling Out, essay in forthcoming book, “A Nation Rising,” (Summer 2014) Duke University Press; American Outrage, American Indian Quarterly; Hawaiian Literature and Resistance: How My Ancestors took on the Stryker Brigade and Joined the Struggle to De-militarize Hawaii, American Indian Quarterly; A Kingdom Inside: The Future of Hawaiian Political Identity, Futures: The Journal for Forecasting, Planning and Policy; Haolewood: Colonial Codes, Kapu Narratives and Kanaka Oiwi Discourse, Spectator, The USC Journal of Film and Television Criticism.

2012 PLENARY SPEAKER: Professor imna arroyo


Imna ArroyoImna Arroyo was born in Guayama, Puerto Rico.  She studied at La Escuela de Artes Plasticas del Instituto de Cultura in San Juan, Puerto Rico and obtained her BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and her MFA from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.  She has also studied at other printmaking techniques at the Tamarind Institute, New York University Printmaking Studio, the University of Guanajuato, in Mexico and Non-toxic Printmaking Methods at the  Canadian School for Non-Toxic Printmaking, Summer International Printmaking Workshop, Grande Prairie Regional College, Alberta, Canada.   Her work is also in numerous collections including the Museum of Modern Art Library/Franklin Furnace Artist Book Collection, Yale Art Gallery and Schomberg Center for Research and Black Culture. 

She is currently a Professor of Art at Eastern Connecticut State University where she chaired the Visual Arts Department. Imna Arroyo has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants including several professional development grants. She received the title of 2010 Connecticut State University Professor and the 2007  the honorary title of  Chief Imna Arroyo/Chief Yeye Agboola of Ido Osun, (Chief Mother of the Garden of Honor) in recognition of selfless service to the upliftment of Ido-Osun Kingdom conferred by his Royal Majesty Aderemi Adeen Adeniyi-Adedapo, Ido-Osun, Nigeria, West Africa.   She also received in 2000 Excellence Award, in Recognition of Excellence in Creative and Scholarship Activity from Eastern and the 2003 Steinkraus-Cohen Memorial Outstanding Women of Connecticut Award, in recognition of achievements and dedication to public service. The award is under the auspices of the United Nations Association of the USA (Connecticut, Southwestern Chapter) and UNIFEM-Connecticut, members of the CT.

2012 PLENARY SPEAKER: dr. beverly guy-sheftall


Beverly Guy-Sheftall, PH.D. is founding director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center (since 1981) and Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies at Spelman College. She was for many years an adjunct professor at Emory University’s Institute for Women’s Studies where she taught graduate courses in their doctoral program.

At the age of sixteen, Guy-Sheftall entered Spelman College where she majored in English and minored in secondary education. After graduation with honors, she attended Wellesley College for a fifth year of study in English. After a year at Wellesley, she entered Atlanta University to pursue a master’s degree in English. Her thesis was entitled “Faulkner’s Treatment of Women in His Major Novels.” A year later Guy-Sheftall began her first teaching job in the Department of English at Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama. In 1971 she returned to her alma mater, Spelman College, and joined the English Department.  

Guy-Sheftall has published a number of texts within African American and Women’s Studies which include the first anthology on Black women’s literature, Sturdy Black Bridges: Visions of Black Women in Literature (Doubleday, 1979), which she coedited with Roseann P. Bell and Bettye Parker Smith; her dissertation, Daughters of Sorrow: Attitudes Toward Black Women, 1880-1920 (Carlson, 1991); and Words of Fire: An Anthology of African American Feminist Thought (New Press, 1995). Additional anthologies include Traps: African American Men on Gender and Sexuality (Indiana University Press, 2001), co-edited with Rudolph P. Byrd; I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde (Oxford University Press, 2009), with Rudolph P. Byrd and Johnnetta Betsch Cole; and Still Brave: The Evolution of Black Women’s Studies (Feminist Press, 2009), co-edited with Stanlie James and Frances Smith Foster. She has also completed with Johnnetta Betsch Cole a monograph, Gender Talk: The Struggle for Equality in African American Communities, which was published by Random House in February 2003, and Who Should Be First?: Feminists Speak Out on the 2008 Presidential Election (SUNY Press, 2010). In 1983 she became founding editor of Sage: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women which was devoted exclusively to the experiences of African descent.

Guy-Sheftall is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, among them a National Kellogg Fellowship; a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for dissertations in Women’s Studies; and Spelman’s Presidential Faculty Award for outstanding scholarship. She is a member of the Board of Trustees at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. She has been involved with the national women’s studies movement since its inception and provided leadership for the establishment of the first women’s studies major at a historically Black college. She is also past president of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA). Beyond the academy, she has been involved in a number of advocacy organizations which include the National Black Women’s Health Project, the National Council for Research on Women, and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, on whose boards she serves. In her role as Director of Spelman’s Women’s Center, she has also been involved with the development of student activism around misogynist images of Black women in hip hop as well as a broad range of social justice issues, including reproductive rights and violence against women. She teaches women’s studies courses, including feminist theory and global Black feminisms.

2012 PLENARY SPEAKER: dr. layli maparyan


Layli MaparyanLayli Maparyan, Ph.D., is the Katherine Stone Kaufmann '67 Executive Director of the Wellesley Centers and Professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College. Her scholar-activist work interweaves threads from the social sciences and the critical disciplines, incorporating basic and applied platforms around a common theme of integrating identities and communities in peaceable, ecologically sound, and self-actualizing ways.

Best known for her scholarship in the area of womanism, Dr. Maparyan edited (as Layli Phillips) The Womanist Reader (Routledge, 2006), which documents the first quarter century of womanist scholarship from an interdisciplinary perspective and is the first volume to treat womanism “on its own.” Her most recent book is The Womanist Idea (Routledge, 2012), a comprehensive treatment of womanist worldview and activist methodology. Dr. Maparyan has also published significantly in the areas of adolescent development, social identities (including biracial/biethnic identity and the intersections of racial/ethnic, sexual, spiritual/religious, and gender identities), Black LGBTQ studies, Hip Hop studies, and history of psychology. Supported by a Fulbright Specialist Award in 2010, she worked with the University of Liberia in West Africa to assist with the development of its inaugural Gender Studies Program using an “applied womanism” framework. In 2009, she received an academic fellowship from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society to advance work exploring womanist perspectives on spiritual activism. Currently, her scholarly work revolves around building and helping to define the emerging field of womanist studies. Currently, she sits on the Sirleaf Market Women's Fund Board of Directors and the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities Advisory Council, and is a member of the Women's Solidarity Society of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.  Her scholarly work continues to revolve around building and helping to define the emerging field of womanist studies.

2012 PLENARY SPEAKER: dr. Xiumei Pu


 Xiumei Pu has received formal education in both China and the United States. She has a background in Xiumei Pu
English, American Cultural Studies, and Gender and Women’s Studies. Before coming to the United States, she taught English at a university in China. She came to the United States in 2004 to pursue women’s studies.  She has been in the field since then. She received an M.A. in women’s studies from Georgia State University and a Ph.D. in feminist studies from the University of Minnesota.

 Pu’s work interweaves three threads—pre-modern Chinese ecospiritual traditions, contemporary rural and indigenous women’s experience and knowledge production in western China, and environmental literature by Asian women writers. The goals of her work are to create a patch for the global healing praxis, to carve out a space where the marginalized becomes the center, and to set in motion a healing energy.

 Ecospirituality is a consistent theme in her research and writing. Her essay “Nature, Sexuality, and Spirituality: A Womanist Reading of Di Mu (Earth Mother) and Di Mu Jing (Songs of Earth Mother) in China” examines the link between Di Mu Belief, western Chinese rural women’s agency, and sustainability. Her forthcoming essay “Turning Weapons into Flowers: Ecospiritual Poetics and Politics of Bön and Ecowomanism”elaborates on the ecospiritual ethos of peacemaking, ecospiritual knowing and knowledge production informed by Tibetan Bön thought. Her first novel, “Let My Head Split like a Sunflower, My Tears Fall like Raindrops” is under review by Aunt Lute Books. The novel is based on her field research on women and indigenous spirituality in southwest rural China and Tibet.

Xiumei Pu is passionate about teaching and practices feminist and womanist pedagogy of liberation and care. She has taught both elective and core courses in Gender and Women’s Studies, including Introduction to Women’s Studies, Gender and Global Politics, Literature by U.S. Women of Color, and Asian American Women’s Cultural Production, among others. She currently teaches in the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

2012 SPEAKER: Mind.Evolution 


If Sampson's strength was in his hair, Mind.Evolution.'s strength is in her voice!

Since 2000, Tracy Caldwell has made a name for herself throughout Connecticut as Mind.Evolution. This motivational speaker, writer, and director has performed on major stages across the U.S. from the Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY to Anthology in San Diego, CA.  Originally a part of a poetic duo, Mira and Mind Evolution, she released the collaboration CD Real Brothers/Real Sisters. Lately, she has been standing in her own spotlight, with the release of her solo CD Bare Naked in 2012. Mind Evolution also co-created and starred in The Thick Chronicles: A Body Image Story, which is still touring. Most recently she became a member of the 2014 Connecticut slam team, Verbal Slap. In the process of securing a spot on the team she also won the title of the top poet in Hartford, CT.