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Past Speakers and Forum Guests

Brad Stephens & Carolyn Zelikow

The Community Change Collaborative has hosted a speaker series for a decade, featuring guests from a variety of disciplines and sectors who focus on the theory and practice of community change through its many valences.  This selected archive includes many accomplished and visionary speakers who shared insights with CCC members and the campus community through the Collaborative's faculty Forum, podcast interviews, public talks and roundtables.  Andrew Morikawa, Senior Fellow at the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance (IPG), hosts the podcast interview series. An archive of recordings from past interviews can be found here.

The Collaborative hosted its 2020-2021 speaker series and faculty forum with the guests listed below. 

CCC Speaker Series with Lily Yeh

In September 2020, CCC members welcomed Lily Yeh, an internationally celebrated artist and award-winning founder and former executive and artistic director of the Village of Arts and Humanities. Lily Yeh developed a unique methodology for using the arts as a tool for community building and personal transformation during her tenure at The Village. Founding Barefoot Artists in 2002, Lily Yeh now works internationally on projects in places including Rwanda, Kenya, Ghana, Ecuador, and China. The Barefoot Artist aims to train and empower local residents, organize communities, and take action for a more compassionate, just, and sustainable future. 

Watch the presentation with Lily Yeh here, or on YouTube.

CCC Faculty Forum with Cruz Garcia and Nathalie Frankowski

In November 2020, CCC members welcomed Cruz García, who is a Puerto Rican architect, educator, author, theorist, curator, and artist and Nathalie Frankowski, who is a French architect, educator, author, poet, curator, and artist. They have recently joined the Virginia Tech School of Architecture and Design as architecture faculty. 

In search of critical forms of architectural pedagogy, Garcia and Frankowski are deeply invested in the development of new curricula and pedagogical experiments searching for diverse forms of public engagement with architecture, as well as a decolonization of the role of architecture in the construction of new worlds. Garcia and Frankowski develop and frequently offer international art and architecture workshops for diverse participants, spanning from children, to college students working across different fields and the general public. They co-founded WAI Architecture Think Tank and the critically acclaimed alternative art space Intelligentsia Gallery, among numerous other exhibition, publication, and research accomplishments achieved around the world.

Watch the presentation and discussion with Cruz Garcia and Nathalie Frankowski here.

CCC Speaker Series with Alia Malek

When Home is Unattainable, What Replaces it?
In November 2020, CCC welcomed Alia Malek for a presentation and panel discussion with Katherine Randall, Nadine Sinno, and Jake Keyel. 

In 2015, Malek traveled from Greece to Germany with a group of Syrians fleeing their country’s disintegration. The refugees had met while marooned on the same raft in the middle of the Aegean Sea. Each of them came from a different part of Syria and from different socio-economic classes. Their sights were set on making it to Sweden and the Netherlands. Some of them would be forced to ask for asylum in Germany. Since then, Malek has been reporting on their lives and displacement across these three countries as part of a 10 year reporting project. Drawing on this work, she will consider what replaces the very idea of home when home itself becomes unattainable and its permanence illusory.

Alia Malek is Director of the International Reporting Program at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, a journalist, and former civil rights lawyer. She is the author of A Country Called Amreeka: US History Re-Told Through Arab American Lives (Simon & Schuster 2009) and editor of Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post 9/11 Injustices (McSweeney's 2011). With collaborators the Magnum Foundation and Al Liquidoi, Alia edited and co-conceived EUROPA: An Illustrated Introduction to Europe for Migrants and Refugees, released in Europe in 2016. Her narrative nonfiction book, The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria, was released in 2017. Her reportage has appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Policy,, the Nation, the Christian Science Monitor, Jadaliyya, McSweeney’s, Guernica and other publications.

Katherine Randall volunteers as a medical coordinator for the Blacksburg Refugee Partnership, and is also a PhD Candidate in the Rhetoric and Writing program at Virginia Tech.

Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, Dr. Nadine Sinno is currently an Associate Professor of Arabic and Director of the Arabic program at Virginia Tech.

Dr. Jake Keyel is a Post Doctoral Research Associate at the Calhoun Center for Higher Education Innovation.

Sponsored by the Community Change Collaborative and the VT Institute for Policy and Governance, the VT Center for Refugee, Migrant, and Displacement Studies and the Center for Rhetoric in Society.

Watch the presentation and panel with Alia Malek here, or on YouTube.

The Collaborative crafted its 2019-2020 speaker series with the guests listed below. Each of these podcasts can be found on the Trustees Without Borders site.

Elizabeth LaPrelle, old time and folk musician;

Roger Thurow, best-selling author, in partnership with Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences;

Alexander Wendt, Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University, in partnership with the Virginia Tech Department of Political Science;

Julia Dinsmore, povery activist and author, in partnership with the Virginia Tech University Libraries;

Todd London, Head of the MFA Playwriting Program at the New School, School of Drama and the Director of Theatre Relations for the Dramatists Guild of America, in partnership with the Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts;

Henrique Gomes da Silva and Andreza da Silveira Jorge, artists and community builders working with Redes da Mare in the Mare favela in Rio de Janeiro; with roundtable participants Dr. Jordan Laney, Dr. Brandy Faulkner, and Rachel Weaver, in partnership with the Virginia Tech Department of Political Science;

Dr. Monica White, Associate Professor of Environmental Justice with a joint appointment in the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in partnership with the Virginia Tech Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation;

Brandi and Carlton Turner, the leadership team for the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production (Sipp Culture), in partnership with the Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts;

Faculty Forums were held with John Tedesco, Laura Zanotti, Kristin Lamoureux, Tyler Walters, Desiree PoetsLeigh Anne Krometis, Sarah Lyon-Hill, and Anna Erwin.

CCC members also interviewed participants from the Friends of Fulbright Argentina Student Exchange Program and the Virginia Tech Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program for Pakistan, programs of the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute.

Highlights from the 2018-2019 academic year include the Collaborative’s seven Forum guests and one international speaker from Brazil, two expert panels, and a discussion with representatives from one of Virginia Tech’s interdisciplinary graduate education programs.

Fall Semester 

  • Jordan Laney, Instructor, Appalachian Studies, Dept. of Religion and Culture
Jordan Laney
  • Todd Schenk, Assistant Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning program 
Todd Schenk
  • Emily Satterwhite, Associate Professor, Dept. of Religion and Culture and Director, Appalachian Studies
Emily Satterwhite
  • Jae Li, Exchange Professional from Habitat for Humanity (China) (in conjunction with Total Action for Progress (TAP)

Spring Semester 

  • CCC awarded funding from the Women and Minority Artists and Scholars Lecture Series (WMASLS) to invite speaker Theresa Williamson (Rio de Janeiro, Catalytic Communities) for a podcast interview, public lecture and course/classroom discussion
Theresa Williamson
  • CCC facilitated a panel discussion and workshop for key Pennington Gap, VA stakeholders, focused on different types of lodging.  Panel speakers included:
    • Jason & Byron Dowdy, Milestone Development, LLC
    • David Hill, Hill Studio
    • Scott Tate & Neda Moayerian, VT-OED
    • Maria Saxton, Ph.D., VT Environmental Design & Planning
    • Representation from DHCD, LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, VA Tourism Corp., Pennington Partners
  • CCC members facilitated small group discussions at CCC President Lehi Dowell’s Diversity Scholar campus gun violence panel featuring Alek Scarlatos, Blacksburg Chief of Police Anthony Wilson, and the mother of a child lost during the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007
Alek Scarlatos
  • CCC hosted Interfaces of Global Change (IGC) graduate student fellows and affiliated faculty for a discussion focused on invasive species in communities and engaging communities in scientific research.  Affiliated faculty guests included:
    • Todd Schenk, Assistant Professor, School of Public and International Affairs
    • Jacob Barney, Associate Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
    • David Haak, Assistant Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
    • Scott Salom, Professor, Department of Entomology
  • CCC campus Forum Guests:
    • Huaxing Liu & Qing Huang, Visiting scholars from the Shandong University Faculty Professional Development Program at Virginia Tech (a program of the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute)
Qing Huang
  • CCC campus Forum Guests:
    • Ben Grove, Associate Director for strategic partnerships and engagement for Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' (CALS) Global Programs and Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE)

Amy Goldstein
Pulitzer award-winning author and Washington Post Reporter.

Keryl Mccord
President and CEO of Equity Quotient (EQ), and recently retired Director of Operations from Alternate ROOTS.

Carolyn Zelikow
Associate Director of National Programs, The Aspen Institute; Founder of the Hometown Summit, tomtom Founders Festival

With Brad Stephens
 Director of the Colab; Lead Planner of Cityworks (X)po in Roanoke, VA.

Amy Brooks
Program Director and Dramaturg for Roadside Theater, a part of Appalshop in Whitesburg, Kentucky.

Francesco Manca
Deputy Director (ret.) for the Political and Civil Affairs Office of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL )

Mahir Zeynalov
Turkish journalist and analyst based in Washington, D.C.

Jeanette Abi-Nader
Founding Member, Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative; Executive Director, City Schoolyard Garden

With Kim Niewolny
Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural Leadership and Community Education, Virginia Tech

Ramon Zepeda
Program Director, Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF)

Anthony Flaccavento
Organic farmer, innovator and sustainable development pioneer from Abingdon, Virginia

Ethan Kent
Senior vice president of the nonprofit, Project for Public Spaces

Rick Cavey
Former U.S. Navy Diver, now owner and operator of an organic vegetable farm in Southwest Virginia

Dust In The Bottomland
Composer Nate May and bass vocalist Andrew Robert Munn combine contemporary opera and passions for environmental and economic justice in Appalachia

Patricia Parera
Economic and Social Development Consultant for The World Bank

Elizabeth Streb
Artistic Director, STREB Extreme Action Company

Tracy Kunkler
Principal, Social Profit Strategies

Lisa Jo Epstein
Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Gas & Electric Arts

Liz Lerman
Creator and Director of Healing Wars

Tay Keong Tan
Fellow, Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance 

John Ferguson
Executive Director, American Voices        


Ben Knapp
Director of the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) and Professor of Computer Science,  Virginia Tech

Penny Franklin
Local and national union leader and civil rights activist from Christiansburg, VA

Joanna Sherman, Artistic Director and Michael McGuigan, Managing Director
Bond Street Theatre in New York, NY

Frank Dukes
Director of the Institute for Environmental Negotiation (IEN) at the University of Virginia

Jack Hinshelwood
Executive Director, The Crooked Road

Thenmozhi Soundararajan
Digital Storyteller, Writer, Director and Singer

Kathie Denobriga & Melanie Hammet
Mayor & Mayor Pro Tem of Pine Lake, Georgia

Pam McMichael
Director, Highlander Research and Education Center

John Dreyzehner
State Health Commissioner, Tennessee

Tal Stanley
Director, Appalachian Center for Community Service, Emory & Henry College

Craig T. Ramey
Distinguished Research Scholar, Human Development, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

Avila Kilmurray
Director, Community Foundation of Northern Ireland

Bob Summers
Founder, techpad; Entrepreneurial Evangelist

Woody Crenshaw
Founding President, Sustain Floyd

Brian Wheeler
Executive Director, Charlottesville Tomorrow

Norma Wood
Western Region Independent Living Consultant with Project LIFE

Nancy Agee 
President & CEO, Carilion Clinic

Beth Obenshain
Founder, New River Land Trust

Dudley Cocke
Artistic Director, Roadside Theater

Anthony Flaccavento
Founding CEO, Appalachian Sustainable Development; Candidate for Virginia 9th Congressional District