The following are the speakers for our 2017 conference. Each speaker was joyfully selected to give a talk by our wonderful Speakers Team. We could not be more thrilled to present a group of such diverse and incredibly talented individuals and we cannot wait for them to share their ideas with you on April 1.


Stephen Asma


A professor of Philosophy and Distinguished Scholar at Columbia College Chicago, Stephen Asma is a man of many talents. A self-described Joe-Six-Pack, he has been a freelance illustrator, a professional jazz/blues musician who has played alongside the likes of Buddy Guy and B.B. King and Koko Taylor, Fulbright Scholar, and the bestselling author of 10 books, including On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears, Buddha for Beginners, and the upcoming Evolution of Mind: Affective Roots of Culture and Cognition. His writing has been translated into German, Spanish, Hebrew, Czech, Chinese, Hindi, Portuguese, and Romanian. In addition, he is a regular contributor to radio programs, including Chicago Public Radio and Oprah Radio’s “Soul Series, as well as a recurring columnist for the New York Times philosophy column and has contributed to other national papers and journals such as the Chicago Tribune and the Journal of Biology and Philosophy. Currently, he is teaching courses about the human mind, science, Eastern and Western philosophy, and everything in-between while also performing with his acoustic swing-jazz band Swing Hakim. He can be found at his SoundCloud and his website.


Peter Kim

Comedian & Entrepreneur

Peter Kim is a Chicago based writer, performer, comedian represented by Gray Talent Group. Recent credits include The Second City National Touring Company, and The Second City e.t.c. - where he was nominated for a Jeff Award in the critically acclaimed revue: 'A Red Line Runs Through It'. He can currently be seen improvising with Baby Wine at The Annoyance, hosting The Moth at Lincoln Hall and The Kiki at The Laugh Factory.


Kacy Johnson

Artist & Photographer

Kacy Johnson is a documentary portrait artist. Born in the United States, she explores the realities of women in cultures both similar to and far from her own by creating photos, audio recordings, and mixed media interventions, asking women themselves to become creators of the story that will be told about them.

Her project, FEMALE, took shape in 2013 while she lived in Brazil. FEMALE attempts to look beyond the majority of female representations in modern society by creating portraits of women from an unseen perspective, the exposed back, a part of their body that is more often visible to others than to themselves. Authentic, anonymous and honest, these portraits are a way to understand and express the reality of women from around the world, and to take into account the similarities and differences between the living conditions of women in different parts of the world, finding what connects them universally.

Kacy studied journalism and documentary arts at the University of Chapel Hill at North Carolina and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.


Rich Alapack

Founder of we all live here & artist

Rich Alapack is the founder of We All Live Here. He started the Chicago based organization as an antidote to all the things that have unintentionally evolved into reasons for people to not get along. Given his background in tech and advertising, he figured he could start an organization whose mission was to use art, community, and technology to remind us all to get along and help each other succeed. If society is ever going to defeat things like racism, hatred, violence, etc. Rich believes we will have to start with the children. So to try and do his part, he works with schools to create public art that uses We All Live Here as a theme. He brings the art projects to life at no direct cost to the school by teaching kids graphic design, community building, and crowdfunding. This unites the staff and students involved, the broader community, and gives the students a blueprint of how to make ideas come to life for the rest of their lives.


Jocelyn Delk Adams

Chef, author, and entrepreneur

Jocelyn Delk Adams is the founder, author, national television personality and brand ambassador behind the award winning and best selling cookbook Grandbaby Cakes and the food website Grandbaby-Cakes.com, which gives her family’s, particularly her grandmother’s, cherished generational recipes her modern spin while preserving the most important ingredient- tradition.  Jocelyn is a cast member one of the Cooking Channel’s longest running most popular shows, “Unique Sweets” and has been featured regularly on the TODAY Show and The Rachael Ray Show and has also been seen on Food Network’s The Kitchen, The Cooking Channel, ABC World News Now, Hallmark Channel, Better Homes and Gardens, O (The Oprah) Magazine, The Thanksgiving Day Parade on CBS, Essence Magazine, Southern Living Magazine, and The New York Times Online.  She has been a brand ambassador/writer for top brands such as Coca-Cola, Pillsbury, Yoplait, McCormick, Safest Choice Eggs, KitchenAid, White Lily and many more.  

Jocelyn's first cookbook Grandbaby Cakes was released in September 2015 and was featured as a top fall cookbook by People Magazine, Vanity Fair, Yahoo! and Epicurious.  It also won the Gourmand World Award 2016 for Best Blogger Cookbook USA and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award 2016- Outstanding Literary Instructional Work.   She is the founder of A Charitable Confection, an anti-violence dessert fundraiser featuring the top bakeries in Chicago.  Jocelyn hopes Grandbaby Cakes will continue to deliver inspired recipes shaped by the past but reinvented for the present which will encourage new generations of dessert enthusiasts to learn how to bake and create new family memories for years to come.


Jim Bachor


Chicago artist Jim Bachor adapts the mosaic, an art form that dates to at least the third millennium BC, and applies it to contemporary American life. From junk food to potholes to breakfast cereal, his vibrant work permanently locks into mortar unexpected concepts drawn from the present. Using the same materials, tools, and methods of the craftsmen of antiquity, he creates mosaics that speak of modern things, but in an ancient voice. By harnessing and exploiting the limitations of this indestructible technique, Bachor’s work continually surprises the viewer, while challenging long-held notions of what a mosaic should be. Jim’s work has been included in juried shows throughout the country and his pothole art project attracted world-wide attention since 2013. Recent public art commissions include “thrive”, a 700+ sqft mosaic recently installed at the Chicago Transit Authority’s Thorndale Red Line station and “RUN CHI” located within Niketown in downtown Chicago.


Sanjana Kantayya

Girl Engagement specialist for GirlForward

Sanjana was born in Rockford, Illinois to two resilient immigrants from Tamil Nadu, India. At the age of 5, Sanjana moved with her family to Kogi State, Nigeria where they served at ECWA Hospital Egbe, a Christian missionary hospital. Frequenting Tamil Nadu and Kogi State throughout her childhood, Sanjana was raised in strong Yoruba and Tamil communities, rich with a culture of family. She studied International Studies, Arabic Language and Culture, and Bioethics at Loyola University Chicago. While at Loyola, she conducted an undergraduate research project in Rome and Beijing, studying Traditional Chinese Medicine and its accessibility and utilization for the Chinese diaspora in Rome. Sanjana first encountered Chicago’s refugee resettlement community in 2013 by interning at Pan-African Association and Forma FGC. In 2015, she joined GirlForward as an intern, and now serves as the Girl Engagement Specialist at GirlForward Chicago, where she promotes the health, safety, social-emotional learning and overall personal growth of adolescent girls resettled as refugees in Chicago.

Volker Rose ANL.jpg

Volker Rose

Physicist for Argonne National Lab

Volker Rose is a physicist with the Advanced Photon Source and the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Laboratory as well as an Adjunct Professor of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Ohio University. He holds an advanced degree in physics and a doctoral degree from RWTH Aachen, Germany. Currently, his research focuses on the study of nanoscale materials by means of high-resolution x-ray microscopy techniques. He has published more than 60 journal articles and book chapters as well as given more than 50 invited talks at international conferences and higher institutions around the world. His work has been covered by media outlets including The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Discover Magazine, Voice of America, and many more. Some of his research achievements include a prestigious R&D 100 Award in 2009, a Department of Energy Early Career Research Program Award in 2012, and a Pinnacle of Education Award in 2015.


Louis Carr

President of Media Sales for BET

Louis Carr is a highly accomplished senior executive, a dedicated mentor, a benevolent philanthropist and a devoted patron of African-American art.

In 1986, Mr. Carr started his career with BET Networks. He brings more than 30 successful years as President of Media Sales. To date, he has delivered well over 5 billion dollars in advertising sales targeted to African-American consumers which supersedes all sales professionals in the media industry. He has also hired more African-American sales professionals than any other executive or company in the industry.

Louis Carr, the mentor, founded the Louis Carr Internship Foundation 14 years ago dedicating his efforts to improving diversity in corporate America through paid internships. Since its inception, there have been 140 paid interns and 22 interns, all students of color, who have garnered full time employment opportunities. The foundation has partnered with leading companies such as: CNN, Discovery Networks, McDonald’s Corporation, BET Networks, GlobalHUe, Burrell, Uniworld and Walton Isaacson.

Most recently, he has authored two books titled Dirty Little Secrets and Little Black Book: Daily Motivations for Business and Personal Growth. Carr openly lays out his own roadmap to greatness with sure fire tips to aid students, business professionals and those in pursuit of self-purpose to get to the next level.

Indira Johnson

Artist & Founder of shanti foundation

Born in Mumbai, India, award winning artist and educator, Indira Freitas Johnson’s public art and community-engaged projects address a broad spectrum of peace and social justice issues including those of domestic violence, health education, the environment and nonviolence. They share a common theme- the need to explore ways in which art can increase awareness of the social, political and environmental conditions of our world and motivate people to play an active role in shaping the social fabric of their community. She uses personal memories, communal histories, traditional rituals, and opposing truths as an aesthetic resource. A prime example is Ten Thousand Ripples, Johnson’s current Chicago area Public Art, Peace and Civic Engagement Initiative, which uses art as a catalyst to generate conversations about peace and nonviolence. Johnson lives in Evanston Il and travels to India yearly to work in a family run project in the Golibar slum of Mumbai.