Caty Borum Chattoo

Mixed-Race Identity in Non-Post-Racial America

Caty Borum Chattoo is Director of the Center for Media & Social Impact (CMSI), an innovation lab and research center at American University that creates, showcases and studies media designed for social change; and Executive in Residence at the American University School of Communication in Washington, D.C. She is an award-winning communication strategist and documentary film/TV producer working at the intersection of social-change communication, research, documentary and entertainment storytelling.

Borum Chattoo’s social justice documentaries have aired internationally and nationally on Netflix, the Sundance Channel, Pivot, NDTV (India), PBS World, Link TV, KCET, DirectTV and theatrically. She has produced two documentary feature films ( Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price and The After Party ), a TV documentary and transmedia series ( Stand Up Planet , starring Hasan Minhaj from “The Daily Show”), a multi-part documentary TV series focused on global poverty ( ViewChange ), a seven-part environmental justice documentary TV series ( Sierra Club Chronicles ), and PSA campaigns designed for social change on issues ranging from global poverty to climate change to HIV.

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Taylor Dumpson

From Exclusion to Inclusion

Eastern Shore of Maryland native, Taylor Dumpson, is a rising senior majoring in Law and Society with a minor in Sociology. As an active member of the AU community she serves not only as the 2017-2018 AU Student Government President but also Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Lambda Zeta Chapter's Vice President and Program Chair. She spends a great deal of time focusing on social justice issues concerning girls and women, as well as people of color, truly taking to heart the “Service to All Mankind” component in the purpose of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. In her spare time, Taylor enjoys drawing, painting, and photography. A long term goal of hers to open a non-profit community center the joins local organizations and agencies together under one roof to address issues that occur and to provide resources to community members.

Elisa Frost

Designing Culturally Responsive Programming

Elisa has spent the past five years committed to designing culturally responsive women’s health programming in Muslim communities. Her research focuses on understanding how development organizations can better work with local communities on family planning programs and menstrual hygiene management projects.

Elisa holds an MA in International Affairs from American University where she focused on Comparative and Islamic Studies. She serves as Vice President of Half of Humanity, a charity that provides displaced Syrian women with culturally and situationally appropriate menstrual hygiene care packages. Currently, Elisa is a researcher for Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, and works on projects on contemporary Islam.


Philippa Hughes

Seeing Your Way to Civil Discourse

Philippa Hughes is a Cultural Strategist and Creative Placemaker. With Blueberries & Cherries, she invites politically diverse guests to break bread and talk to each other face-to-face over a home cooked meal and to engage in civil discourse that is unfiltered by the lens of political punditry and by the anonymity and bias of social media. Through the Citizen Innovation Lab, she designs temporary creative placemaking projects that bring people together who might not normally meet to engage in dialogue and meaningful interaction. Fueled by the transformative power of art, the Lab constructs human-centered activations in inspiring environments that facilitate connections between neighbors, reinforce community bonds, and strengthen relationships. She writes a weekly subscriber-based email called Pink Line Project that contains picks for off-the-beaten-path arts and culture events, exhibitions, and happenings around DC. She also speaks about personal transformation that follows from seeking discomfort and from living life with passion, generosity, curiosity, and boldness. Philippa has been featured in PBS Newshour, NPR, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, among numerous other media.


Leena Jayaswal

Mixed-Race Identity in Non-Post-Racial America

Leena Jayaswal is an award-winning photographer and documentarian with deep expertise and interest in issues that intersect race, representation and identity. Her films have been broadcast throughout the country on PBS affiliates through National Educational Telecommunications Association, and through New Day Films. She was awarded the prestigious Gracie Allen Award from the American Women in Radio and Television. Her work has been featured in critical film festivals and newspapers for the Indian diaspora. Her award wining photography has been nationally recognized in galleries around the country, with solo shows at the International Visions Gallery and Gandhi Memorial Center in Washington, D.C. She has worked with famed photographer, Mary Ellen Mark. Jayaswal is a Professor in the Film and Media Arts Division of the School of Communication at American University. She is the director of the photography concentration.


Katie McNerney

Finding Your Purpose at Work

Katie is an entrepreneur passionate about increasing social impact by helping mission-driven organizations recruit and develop leadership talent. She is the Founder and Partner of LeaderFit, an executive search firm serving nonprofits, foundations, and social enterprises. LeaderFit recently launched Purpose Path, a structured career coaching program that inspires and prepares professionals to pursue leadership roles at social impact organizations. As a 2017 Presidential Leadership Scholar, Katie is working to adapt Purpose Path’s curriculum to help veterans translate their skills to leadership roles across the social sector. Katie earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Katie lives in Washington, D.C.

Richard O'Brien

The Women’s Mandate

Richard O’Brien has advocated against human rights and civil rights violations internationally and domestically for more than fifteen years. Through his career, Richard has headed NGOs, businesses and civic associations, including the Center for the Prevention of Genocide. He has worked to improve public policy in areas including Sulawesi Indonesia, Eastern DR Congo, Uganda, Darfur and Nuba Sudan, Chechnya, Russia, as well as Florida. Richard has been called on to provide his expertise in Congressional Committee, the US State Department, the United Nations, USAID, and on national media. He currently sits on the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution Advisory Board at George Mason University. Richard is the author of Women Presidents and Prime Ministers (Double Bridge, 2017). The book offers short biographies of the 107 women who have led their respective nations, their backgrounds, struggles, achievements, quotes, photos, infographs, and maps. Richard is a graduate of American University, Georgetown University, and Culver Military Academy. He resides with his family in Maryland.

Makaya Revell

Giving a Chance to Refugees

Makaya came to the US from Democratic Republic of Congo as an unaccompanied minor at the age of 16, not understanding a word of English. He lived the worst of the immigrant experience, from shelter and foster home through immigration court and the immigration bureaucracy. After losing both parents in DRC, he was adopted by an American couple, and then graduated valedictorian of his high school.

Makaya attended York College of Pennsylvania where he received a number of honors, and recently earned his Master’s degree from American University, with a concentration in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. Fluent in five languages (English, French, Lingala, Kikongo, and Kyombe), he has helped recent immigrants from Congo DRC in his role as translator for Geneva Worldwide.

In 2012, Makaya founded a nonprofit called the Marie Mambu Makaya Foundation. The Foundation received a gift of land in the town of Mbanza Ngungu, DRC, and it is about to launch a capital campaign to fund construction of an orphanage. Through his Foundation, Makaya has sponsored and spoke at town meetings on the topics of United States of Africa, Rape as a Weapon of War, and Multicultural Communication.

Shyheim Snead

Bridging the Gap Between Communities and Schools

Shyheim Snead is a rising Senior at American University studying Political Science and Education, with a focus on policy and community-based research. Shyheim is a Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholar and a member of the AU Honors Program and School of Public Affairs Honors Program. Originally from Bridgeport, CT, Shyheim’s upbringing sparked an irrepressible spirit to improve urban neighborhoods, support the most underperforming schools, and disrupt the impacts of intergenerational poverty. Shyheim served for two years on the AU Board of Trustees, represented undergraduate students on the University Presidential Search Committee, and is the current Director of the Kennedy Political Union. Shyheim piloted an initiative to adopt a DC public school and led an Alternative Break to New Orleans focused on educational equity in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Professionally, Shyheim was an Associate with the District of Columbia Public Schools and an intern in the Executive Office of the DC Mayor. Shyheim is a 2017 Harry S. Truman Scholar and a 2017 Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow. Shyheim’s long term graduate school and professional goals are to examine external factors that influence student achievement in the classroom.

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