Baratunde Thurston

Keynote Speaker

Best-selling author, activist, and comedian

Baratunde Thurston is an Emmy-nominated host who has worked for The Onion, produced for The Daily Show, advised the Obama White House, and wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black.

Read his full bio here.

Jamilah Lemieux


Culture critic, communications consultant, podcast host and award-winning writer

Jamilah works across multiple platforms with a focus on race, gender, and social issues.

Read her full bio here.

Eric S. Smith

Fireside Chat Speaker

Vice Chairman, BMO Harris Bank

Eric has a long history of commitment to the non-profit and civic community as reflected through his board service and volunteerism. He spoke with us on how BMO is Breaking Barriers, Centering Community and working to create an Inclusive Economy.

Read his full bio here.

Jen Agosti


Founder and President of JRA Consulting, Ltd.

Jen has a long history in working to transform the culture of child welfare organizations. She spoke with us about the current issues the child welfare system faces and what we can do to improve upon this system for children and families.

Read her full bio here.

Berto Aguayo


Executive Director, Increase The Peace

2019 Ricardo Salinas Scholar, Ricardo Salinas Scholarship 

Berto Aguayo is the co-founder and Executive Director of Increase The Peace, an organization that develops young leaders and promotes peace through community organizing and policy advocacy. Berto spoke with us about the importance of youth voices and mentorship.

Read his full bio here.

The Honorable Zina Cruse


Judge 20th Judicial Circuit, St. Clair County

Judge Zina Cruse was appointed to the 20th Judicial Circuit in St. Clair County, Illinois in 2009 as an Associate Judge and was elected as a Circuit Judge in 2012. She spoke with us on rethinking what justice looks like and the importance of equity for children and families in need.

Read her full bio here.

Dawnielle Jeffrey


Children’s Home & Aid’s Vice President, Early Childhood Services

Dawnielle oversees early care and education to thousands of low-income children. She spoke with us regarding her successful efforts to reduce the racial achievement gap and her work in increasing social and economic mobility of families and strengthening communities.

Read her full bio here.