Diversity Leadership Conference

2016 Keynote Speakers

FRIDAY KEYNOTE: MONTI WASHINGTON
6:15 PM - 7:00 PM
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A product of a one night stand, abused in foster home after foster home, and raised sleeping in parks were just a few of the daunting obstacles in Monti’s journey from the streets to the stage.

Monti’s passion for helping students stems from the adversity he faced early on in life. Forced to live in poverty due to his mother’s drug addiction, Monti grew up sleeping on cardboard boxes, living in parks, and being abused by foster parent after foster parent. Until 8th grade Monti was in special Ed. classes and was held back on two separate occasions. Despite his adversity, Monti would go on to obtain two college degrees, become a state basketball champion, award winning poet, McDonalds All- American nominee, a nationally recognized actor, and co-founder of a non-profit organization aimed at inspiring youth to be TRU The Real U.

SATURDAY LUNCH KEYNOTE: ERNESTO MEJIA
12:30 PM – 1:45 PM
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Ernesto Mejia, the proud son of Mexican immigrants, is a true example of the American dream. Diagnosed with the rare disease of Guillain-Barré Syndrome at the age of 16 that left him temporarily paralyzed, he was not supposed to be a successful student, much less a College Dean of Students. Through his hardships, Ernesto learned to never give up on life, he now speaks to students, parents and teachers about overcoming obstacles and never giving up on the American dream: education.

SATURDAY CLOSING KEYNOTE: DR. MARC LAMONT HILL JR.
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
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Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is one of the leading intellectual voices in the country. He is currently the host of BET News and a political contributor for CNN. He is the former host of the nationally syndicated television show Our World With Black Enterprise and the inaugural host of Huff Post Live, as well as a former political contributor to Fox News Channel. An award-winning journalist, Dr. Hill has received numerous prestigious awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, GLAAD, and the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Hill is Distinguished Professor of African American Studies at Morehouse College. Prior to that, he held positions at Columbia University and Temple University. Since his days as a youth in Philadelphia, Dr. Hill has been a social justice activist and organizer. He is a founding board member of My5th, a non-profit organization devoted to educating youth about their legal rights and responsibilities. He is also a board member and organizer of the Philadelphia Student Union. Dr. Hill also works closely with the ACLU Drug Reform Project, focusing on drug informant policy. Over the past few years, he has actively worked on campaigns to end the death penalty and to release numerous political prisoners.

Dr. Hill is the author or co-author of four books: the award-winning Beats, Rhymes, and Classroom Life: Hip-Hop Pedagogy and the Politics of Identity; The Classroom and the Cell: Conversations on Black life in America; Nobody: America’s War on Its Vulnerable from Ferguson to Baltimore and Beyond (July 2016); and Gentrifier (June 2016). He has also published two edited books: Media, Learning, and Sites of Possibility; and Schooling Hip-Hop: New Directions in Hip-Hop Based Education.

Trained as an anthropologist of education, Dr. Hill holds a Ph.D. (with distinction) from the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on the intersections between culture, politics, and education.