Conference Speakers & Presenters

Featured Speakers

Charlene Carruthers

Charlene Carruthers

Community Organizer

Charlene A. Carruthers is a Black, queer feminist community organizer and writer with over 15 years of experience in racial justice, feminist and youth leadership development movement work. As the founding national director of BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100), she has worked alongside hundreds of young Black activists to build a national base of activist member-led organization of Black 18-35 year olds dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. Her passion for developing young leaders to build capacity within marginalized communities has led her to work on immigrant rights, economic justice and civil rights campaigns nationwide. She has led grassroots and digital strategy campaigns for national organizations including the Center for Community Change, the Women's Media Center, ColorOfChange.org and National People's Action, as well as being a member of a historic delegation of young activists in Palestine in 2015 to build solidarity between Black and Palestinian liberation movements. Charlene is the founder and executive director of the Chicago Center for Leadership and Transformation, a locally rooted and nationally connected learning community for political education, grassroots organizing, language and strategic communications capacity building.

Eboo Patel

Eboo Patel

Interfaith Educator and Author

Eboo founded Interfaith Youth Core on the idea that religion should be a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division. He is inspired to build this bridge by his identity as an American Muslim navigating a religiously diverse social landscape. For over 15 years he has worked with governments, social sector organizations, and college and university campuses to help make interfaith cooperation a social norm. Named by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, Eboo served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council and is the author of Acts of Faith, Sacred Ground, Interfaith Leadership: A Primer, and Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise. He holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. These days, Eboo spends most of his time on the road, doing what he loves: meeting students, educators, and community leaders to talk about the complex landscape of religious diversity and the power of interfaith cooperation in the 21st century. In his off time, you’ll find Eboo in Chicago with his wife, Shehnaz, and their two sons. When he’s not teaching his kids about interfaith cooperation, there’s a good chance he’s rooting for Notre Dame and feeding a lifelong coffee addiction. Catch up with him on Twitter and Facebook, and keep exploring to learn more about Eboo and IFYC.

Shalini Kantayya

Shalini Kantayya

Filmmaker and Activist

Filmmaker Shalini Kantayya’s feature documentary Coded Bias premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. She directed the season finale episode for the National Geographic television series Breakthrough, a series profiling trailblazing scientists transforming the future. Executive Produced by Ron Howard, it was broadcast globally in June 2017. Her debut feature film Catching the Sun, about the race for a clean energy future, premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival and was named a New York Times Critics’ Pick. Catching the Sun released globally on Netflix on Earth Day 2016 with Executive Producer Leonardo DiCaprio, and was nominated for the Environmental Media Association Award for Best Documentary. Kantayya is a TED Fellow, a William J. Fulbright Scholar, and a finalist for the ABC Disney DGA Directing Program. She is an Associate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Kantayya finished in the top 10 out of 12,000 filmmakers on Fox’s On the Lot, a show by Steven Spielberg in search of Hollywood’s next great director.

Jonathan Mooney

Jonathan Mooney

Writer and Activist

I’m a dyslexic writer, speaker, and do-gooder who did not lean to read until 12 years old. I faced a number of low expectations growing up—was told I would flip burgers, be a high school dropped out and end up in jail. Needless to say there hopeful prophecies didn’t come to pass. Opposed to being a high school drop out I became a college graduate from Brown university with an honors degree in English lit; instead of flipping burgers I ended up writing books, the first of which I wrote at the end of the 23 as an undergrad; And instead of becoming an inmate I become an advocate creating organizations and initiatives that help people who get the short end of the stick. I’ve won many awards for all of this —The Harry S. Truman fellowship for public services, Finalist for a Roads Scholarship, LA Achievement award from The Lab school of Washington where I shared the stage with Vice President Joe Biden—and been featured in/on HBO, NPR, The New York Times, NBC, Fast company, and many other media outlets. But what I’m most proud of is not that I proved some people how doubted me wrong—but that I proved the many people—my mom, a teacher named Mr. R, my wife Rebecca—right, not just about my potential but about the potential for all of us who live and learn differently.

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