Complete List of Speakers
click links for bios
- His Beatitude Bechara Peter Rai, Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church
- Bishop Carlos Sevilla, S.J.
- U.S. Representative Luis Vicente Gutiérrez
- U.S. Representative William Lacy Clay
- Former U.S. Representative Thomas Gerard "Tom" Tancredo
- Sonal Ambegaokar, J.D.
- Gene McNary, J.D.
- Ken Schmitt, J.D.
- Peter Neeley, S.J.
- William O'Neill, S.J.
- Robert "Bob" Fox
- Christopher Heath Wellman
- Jaime Aguila, Ph.D.
- Daniel Groody, CSC, Ph.D.
- Cawo Abdi
- Marshall Fitz
- Uma A. Segal, Ph.D.
- Jorge Riopedre
- Lisa Dorner
- James R. Edwards, Jr.
- Hung Pham, S.J., Ph.D.
His Beatitude Bechara Peter Rai, Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, was elected by Maronite Bishops as Patriarch on March 25, 2011 in Lebanon. Patriarch Rai is leading the Maronite Church on his motto of "Communion and Love," promising he will place his ministry in that spirit and calling members of the church to follow that motto as well. On his first address after his election, Patriarch Rai thanked God and pledged to work untiringly to lead through communion and charity. As is customary for Maronite patriarchs, Rahi took the additional name Boutros, that of Saint Peter, who briefly held the See of Antioch before moving to Rome to become bishop there. The following month, Patriarch Rai said that, for the sake of communion and love, he would work "to establish a sincere and complete dialogue” with Muslims "and build together a future in common life and cooperation.”
From the Maronite Order of the Blessed Mother, Patriarch Rai has been a bishop for 25 years. In 2007, he received the National Order of the Cedar. Born in Lebanon in 1940, Bechara Boutros al-Rahi attended Collège Notre Dame de Jamhour, a Jesuit school in Lebanon, before entering the Mariamite Maronite Order in 1962. In 1967, he was ordained as a priest, and in 1986, he was consecrated as the auxiliary bishop of Antioch in New York state. From 1986 to 1990 he served as a Patriarchal Vicar at Bkerke, and in 1990 he was appointed Archbishop of Jbeil. Patriarch Rai founded Notre Dame University in Louaizé and was its president from1978 to 1984. From 1982 to 1986 he presided over the Court of Appeal of the Maronite Tribunal. Pope John Paul II named him as the Coordinator of the Synod for Lebanon, a post he held from 1990 to 1995. He chaired the Episcopal Commission for the Affairs of the Family in 1997 and Commission for Communications since 2009.
Patriarch Rai holds a degree in philosophy and theology and a doctorate in canon and civil law from the University of Saint John Lateran (the Rota Tribunal in Rome). He taught Canon Law and theology at St. Joseph University in Beirut (USJ) and at Holy Spirit University in Kaslik (USEK) and the Sagesse University. Patriarch Beshara Rai is the first Maronite Patriarch to come from a religious order in more than 200 years. The last in date was Patriarch Toubia el-Khazen (1756-1766), who also was a monk of the Mariamite Order. In 2003, he was elected secretary of the Maronite Synod, and in 2009 he became President of the Lebanese Episcopal Commission for the Media. Last year, at the age of 71, he was chosen Patriarch of the Maronites.
Bishop Carlos Sevilla, S.J., is a retired bishop of Yakima, Wash., and a prelate of the Roman Catholic Church, who entered the Society of Jesus in 1953. He studied at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., obtaining his Master's degree in Philosophy. Ordained to the priesthood in 1966, he earned his master's in theology from Santa Clara University, and furthered his studies at the Jesuitenkolleg in Innsbruck and Catholic Institute of Paris. In 1988, Fr. Sevilla was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco and Titular Bishop of Mina by Pope John Paul II, and in 1996, he was named the sixth Bishop of Yakima, Wash., becoming only the second religious and the first Jesuit to hold that office. Within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he has sat on the Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and the Sub-Committee for Translation of Liturgical Texts into Spanish. He co-chaired the West Coast Dialogue of Catholics and Muslims and chaired the Committee on Religious Life and Ministry and the Sub-Committee for Translation of Liturgical Texts Into Spanish.
U.S. Representative Luis Vicente Gutiérrez, (D-Illinois), has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1993 and was the first Latino to be elected to Congress from the Midwest. Regarded as a leader in Congress on comprehensive immigration reform, Mr. Gutiérrez was appointed Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force and has previously served as Chair of the Democratic Caucus’ Immigration Task Force. During the 110th and 111th Congress, he served as a Member of the Judiciary Committee's Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law Subcommittee. He has authored several bills to reform immigration laws and often serves as his party’s leading strategist and spokesperson on immigration issues.
U.S. Representative William Lacy Clay (D-St. Louis) was elected to represent Missouri’s First Congressional District to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000. Prior to his election, Congressman Clay served for 17 years in both chambers of the Missouri Legislature. In Congress, Mr. Clay serves on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Financial Services Committee. He is a native of St. Louis and a graduate of the University of Maryland.
Former U.S. Representative Thomas Gerard "Tom" Tancredo, (R-Colorado), served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1999 to 2009. As an advocate in Congress for preventing illegal immigration, Mr. Tancredo founded the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus in May 1999 and served as its Chairman until January 2007. In 2008 he was a candidate for President of the United States, where he centered his campaign’s focus on the issues of illegal immigration and terrorism.
Sonal Ambegaokar, J.D., is an attorney for the National Immigration Law Center. She specializes in health policies. In that capacity, Ms. Ambegaokar monitors and evaluates federal, state and local policies affecting low-income immigrants and their access to affordable health care. Prior to joining the NILC, she served as supervising attorney of the Health Consumer Center of Los Angeles, where she worked on local and state health policy issues and managed a multi-language consumer hotline that served Los Angeles County residents with health coverage and access issues. She earned her Juris Doctorate degree from the University of California at Davis.
Gene McNary, J.D., is the former Commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. In this capacity, Mr. McNary was responsible for the enforcement and administration of all federal immigration laws and benefits. He served as Commissioner for more than 3 years before returning to private practice, where he specialized in immigration law. Mr. McNary is the former Executive Director of the Missouri Gaming Commission and County Executive of St. Louis County.
Ken Schmitt is a native of Missouri and obtained his Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts in Public Administration, and Juris Doctorate from Saint Louis University undergraduate, graduate, and law schools. He is a principal attorney and founder of US Legal Solutions, LLC, a law firm that dedicates itself to serving both local and foreign businesses and individuals and that tries to encourage a more global perspective of their clients in their business and legal interests. Mr. Schmitt is admitted to practice and frequently litigates matters in the State Courts of Missouri and Illinois as well as the Eighth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, the Federal District Courts for the Eastern District of Missouri and the Southern District of Illinois, and the Federal Immigration Courts. Mr. Schmitt is a member of the Missouri Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). He is the Missouri/Kansas AILA Chapter Chair and serves on its National Board of Governors. He also serves as a board member of Catholic Charities Community Services, Inc, a Catholic Charities of St. Louis affiliated agency. He frequently speaks before law groups, domestic and foreign University students, and community organizations on various issues related to representation of immigrants and immigration policy issues. His practice is focused primarily on employment based immigration, removal and detention matters, civil litigation, and criminal defense.
Peter Neeley, S.J. is the Associate of Education and Formation at the Kino Border Initiative, which is an outreach organization designed to foster solidarity to meet the needs of migrants within the local religious communities on both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border through vibrant and collaborative partnerships. Strengthened by a faith that welcomes strangers, KBI supports the ministry of U.S. and Mexican communities that welcome and care for undocumented people on both sides of the border between Mexico and Arizona, from which hundreds of immigrants are deported daily. Fr. Neeley has spoken about KBI's efforts in the border town of Nogales, Mexico to National Public Radio including relief operations of organizations that minister to deportees and provide services, such as a soup kitchen. "Everyone there is affected by migration," he has said. On the Mexican side of the border, the need is for shelters and services for deportees. On the U.S. side, the Initiative would like to have a scholar in residence to study and publicize the stories of the border community. Fr. Neeley runs the NBI cafeteria where volunteers prepare three meals a day under a tent that can serve 200 people. "Crossing into the U.S. illegally is not a sin," he told NPR, "it's a misdemeanor."
William O'Neill, S.J. is a member of the Society of Jesus and associate professor of social ethics at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, and a visiting professor of ethics at the Jesuit School of Theology, "Hekima," in Nairobi, Kenya. He received his doctorate from Yale University in 1988. His writings address questions of human rights, ethics and hermeneutical theory, social reconciliation, restorative justice, and refugee and immigration policy. Fr. O'Neill has worked with refugees in Tanzania and Malawi, and he has done research on human rights in South Africa and Rwanda. For the past 11 years, he has served migrant women as Catholic chaplain at the Federal Women's Prison in Dublin, Calif.
Robert “Bob” Fox, along with Saint Louis University, founded Casa de Salud to help ensure that Hispanic immigrants in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area could have access to health and wellness care, regardless of their immigration status. Mr. Fox serves as chairman of the board of Casa. He is a member of the board of trustees of Saint Louis University as well as the Saint Louis Zoo Foundation board. Mr. Fox is a founding member of the advisory board for Washington University St. Louis’s Gephardt Institute for Public Policy. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Drury University and a master’s degree from Saint Louis University. The founder of NewSpace Inc., he and his wife, Maxine Clark, support College Bound St. Louis, the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) Inspire Academy and Teach for America.
Christopher Heath Wellman is Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis. His work involves ethics, and he specializes in political and legal philosophy. Among his recent publications, he has two books published by Oxford University Press: A Liberal Theory of International Justice (co-authored with Andrew Altman), and Debating the Ethics of Immigration: Is There a Right to Exclude (co-authored with Philip Cole). Professor Wellman is also a Professorial Research Fellow at Charles Sturt University in the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, an Australian Research Council Special Research Centre. He has written extensively about immigration and its implications and issues.
Jaime Aguila, Ph.D. serves as an Assistant Professor at the School of Letters and Sciences, Arizona State University. His area of expertise is the History of Mexico and the American Southwest in the Department of Humanities & Arts in the School of Applied Arts and Sciences at the Polytechnic campus. He began at ASU in the Fall 2008 after teaching for eight years at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa, Texas. He received his doctorate from Arizona State University. His current research focuses on the evolution of Mexican emigration public policy and Mexican-U.S. relations.
Daniel Groody, CSC, Ph.D. is a Catholic priest, a Holy Cross religious, a scholar, teacher, and an award-winning author and film producer. He is an Associate Professor of Theology and the Director of the Center for Latino Spirituality and Culture at the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame. In addition Prof. Groody is the author of various books and articles, including Border of Death, Valley of Life: An Immigrant Journey of Heart and Spirit, and Globalization, Spirituality, and Justice: Navigating the Path to Peace (2007). Among others, he has worked with the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Vatican on issues of theology, globalization, and immigration. He earned his Bachelor's degree at the University of Notre Dame in the Great Books Program, his Master of Divinity and his Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology and his doctorate in theology from the Graduate Theological Union. He is an executive producer of films and documentaries, including One Border, One Body: Immigration and the Eucharist, and Dying to Live: A Migrant's Journey, which have received international acclaim and aired on PBS among others. Prof. Groody teaches U.S. Latino Spirituality, Globalization, Christian Spirituality and Social Justice, and lectures in the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia.
Cawo Abdi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Sussex, UK. Prof. Abdi's extensive ethnographic research mostly focuses on Somali refugee experiences of dislocation and settlement. Her publications focus on issues of migration, gender and family, and ethnic and religious identity processes. Prof. Abdi is finishing a book about Somali refugee settlements in the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and the United States. She has projects under review: “Moving Beyond ‘Xenophobia': Structural Poverty, Conflict and Encounters with the ‘Other' Africans” and “Regional Approach to Gender and Conflict in the Horn of Africa.”
Marshall Fitz, J.D., is director of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress where he oversees the Center’s research and analysis of economic, political, legal and social impacts of immigration policy in America and develops policy recommendations designed to further America's economic and security interests. A leader in national and grassroots coalitions for the advancement of progressive immigration policies, Mr. Fitz has been one of the key legislative strategists in support of comprehensive immigration reform and has served as a media spokesperson on a broad array of immigration policy and legislative issues. He has appeared on national and regional media outlets; been quoted extensively in international, national, and local publications; and presented at national conferences and universities on immigration matters. In addition, Mr. Fitz has advised members of Congress regarding immigration policy, politics and strategy, and helped draft major legislation. He currently serves on the boards and steering committees of other national organizations focused on immigrant rights and immigration policy. A graduate of the University of Virginia, School of Law, Mr. Fitz served on the Virginia Law Review. Before holding his current position he served as the director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, where he led the education and advocacy efforts on all immigration policy issues for the 11,000-member professional bar association.
Uma A. Segal, Ph.D., is Professor and Director of the Baccalaureate Social Work Program at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. Her current areas of research interest and publication are immigrant and refugee concerns in global perspective, and she serves as resident scholar on migration on the Advisory Board of the Katherine A. Kendall Institute (KAKI), an international arm of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Dr. Segal was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies in 2004 and redirected its mission toward an international, interdisciplinary focus in exploring all aspects of human migration. Book publications include A framework for immigration: Asians in the United States (Columbia University Press, 2002), Immigration worldwide (Oxford University Press, 2010), and Refugees Worldwide (Praeger, 2012).
Jorge Riopedre is the executive director of Casa de Salud, Saint Louis University’s health and wellness organization that provides high quality care to the new immigrant community in the greater metropolitan St. Louis area. As the former executive director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis, Mr. Riopedre was the chamber’s chairman and president from 2008 to 2009. Born in Tampa, Fla., he came to St. Louis in 1992 to work in television and radio work for the Jesuits. From 1995 to 2009, he owned and operated a media production company that specialized in the Hispanic market. He serves on the boards of HisPAC and the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals, and the UMSL College of Arts & Sciences Leadership Council. Appointed by former Missouri Governor Matt Blunt to the Hispanic Business, Culture & Trade Commission, and by current Governor Jay Nixon to the Missouri Complete Count Commission, Mr. Riopedre was named a Minority Business Leader by the St. Louis Business Journal and received a national Business Achievement Award from the Service Corps of Retired Executives.
Lisa Dorner is an Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. After she earned her doctorate in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University in 2006, she took her position at UMSL and focused her research on immigrant childhoods, language politics and the implementation of educational policies. One of her research projects documents the development of a new network of language immersion schools. Within this case study, she is examining parents’ and children’s roles in the creation of school- wide policies and practices. Prof. Dorner is interested in how local policies intersect, and conflict, with state and federal mandates. She has published articles in Educational Policy and the Journal of Education Change. She has an upcoming article in the American Educational Research Journal titled “The life course and sense-making: Immigrant families’ journeys toward understanding educational policies and choosing bilingual programs.” As part of a team, she also has analyzed the work environments of urban Catholic, charter, and public schools.
James R. Edwards, Jr., is a nationally recognized expert on immigration policy. A Fellow with the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think tank, he has worked on immigration policy issues since 1989. Dr. Edwards played an insider role on immigration as Legislative Director to a member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and its Immigration Subcommittee. Dr. Edwards was heavily engaged in crafting the landmark 1996 immigration reform law, from subcommittee through conference committee. He served on the House Majority Leader’s Immigration Working Group.
Dr. Edwards has written, spoken, and consulted widely on immigration issues. He co-authored The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform, which was nominated for the Hardeman Prize. He has contributed chapters to Debating Immigration, The Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Immigration, Business and Religion: A Clash of Civilizations, Navigating Government Immigration Issues, and Immigration & National Security Post 9-11. In addition, he has authored many published policy papers and testified on several occasions before congressional committees. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Times, Human Events, National Review Online, and elsewhere. Dr. Edwards has appeared on Fox News Channel, CNN, CBS Evening News, National Public Radio, and talk radio across the country.
Hung Pham, S.J., Ph.D., is presently an Assistant Professor of Theology at the Jesuit School of Theology of the University of Santa Clara, and is finishing his tertianship program working as an associate pastor in rich ethnic diversity of Punta Gorda, Belize. He was born in Vietnam and immigrated to Denver, Colorado in 1985. After having arrived to Denver, he graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 1989. He then attended Regis University and graduated in 1993 with a B.S. Degrees in Math, Chemistry, and Biology. He then entered the Society of Jesus in August 1993, and took his vows in August 1995. After that, he studied philosophy and theology at Saint Louis University (SLU) and completed his master degree in philosophy in 1998. He spent the next two years teaching Chemistry and Biology at St. Louis University High School. In 2000, after having taught at SLU High for two years, he went to Mae Hong Son, Thailand to work for the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) to train math and science teachers in the Burmese refugee camp. After JRS, he studied theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley (JSTB) for a year before going back to Saint Louis and then to Kansas City, where he was trained as a hospital chaplain in the Clinical Pastoral Education Program (CPE). After having completed a year in CPE, his theology studies continued at the Weston School of Theology (WST) in Boston. During that time, he was ordained to the priesthood in 2006. After his studies at WST, he returned to Regis University teaching Ignatian Spirituality and leading the retreat program in Campus Ministry. After a year and a half teaching at Regis, he attended Comillas Pontificia Universidad de Madrid to pursue his doctoral study in Ignatian Spirituality. In December 2011, he successfully defended his doctoral thesis studying the Catechismus of Alexandre de Rhodes in Vietnam at the beginning of the seventeenth century from the perspective of the Spiritual Exercises. For the last nineteen years, the Jesuit formation which he has received has continually called him to immerse himself into various cultures where he continues to not only grow in his identity as a Vietnamese American immigrant but also to live out such an identity for serve others, especially those who are immigrants. he has led numerous retreats for teenagers and young adults in Canada, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam, where they can share and talk about what it means to be an immigrant. For the past five years, he has led a group of university students from Canada and the United States on summer service project teaching and immersing themselves in the cultures of Northern Thailand and Vietnam.