Past Speakers and Forum Guests
The Community Change Collaborative has hosted a speaker series for over 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, Trustees Without Borders podcast interviews, public talks and roundtables.
Andrew Morikawa, Senior Fellow at the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance (IPG), and more recently Brad Stephens, Graduate Research Assistant at IPG, have hosted the podcast interview series Trustees Without Borders. An archive of recordings from past interviews can be found here.
The Collaborative hosted its 2022-2023 speaker series and faculty forum with the guests listed below.
CCC Workshop with The Frontera Project
In October 2022, CCC members participated in a workshop with members of The Frontera Project, an interactive, bilingual theater experience created and performed by a company of Mexican and US artists. This dynamic group uses theater, music, movement, and play to actively engage the audience in a compassionate, often joyous conversation about life at the US/Mexico Border. Rather than tell “one Big Story”, they build a mosaic of many small stories that celebrate the richness and contradictions of Fronterizo life. Specifically focused on Tijuana/San Diego, they explore the varied experiences of people on both sides of the Border – for audiences who may never have been there themselves.
During this particular workshop, CCC members were led in a variety of exercises focused on connecting the mind and body and then building storytelling capacity. It was a great opportunity to learn how the tools of theatre can be utilized for broader storytelling and social change.
CCC Faculty Forum with Jessica Taylor
In October 2022, CCC members welcomed Dr. Jessica Taylor, an assistant professor in the History department at Virginia Tech where she teaches public history. She has done fieldwork in a number of settings, including with the National Park Service, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, and a number of regional organizations.
In her talk, Dr. Taylor shared how she conceptualizes oral and public history while drawing on case studies from her work, featuring commercial watermen in Eastern Virginia; descendant communities of people who were enslaved on what is now Virginia Tech's campus; and mutual aid workers in the age of COVID-19 and Zoom. In addition to discussing the applications and methodologies of the work, she also shared how to ethically engage in community collaborations and thoughtfully engage audiences in the work.
CCC Speaker Series: Doug Jackson
In November 2022, CCC members welcomed Doug Jackson, the arts and culture coordinator for the City of Roanoke, where he provides staff support and leadership for civic arts initiatives including the City’s public art program, creative placemaking strategies, municipal arts funding, and arts and cultural planning. Most recently, he has implemented Roanoke’s “Year of the Artist,” a unique endeavor focused on training, funding, and support for artists engaging in creative community engagement. Doug also serves as a capacity development specialist with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), where he provides facilitation and strategic support to Virginia communities and their placemaking partners.
During his time on campus, Doug participated in a roundtable focused on his career in community development at both the state and local levels. He also gave a presentation about Roanoke’s “Year of the Artist” and how he situates art as a social change agent. Lastly, he engaged in a podcast interview that dug deeper into the theoretical underpinnings of his work.
CCC Faculty Forum with Dr. Marc Stern
In March 2023, CCC members welcomed Dr. Marc Stern, a professor in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech. His research focuses on human behavior within the contexts of environmental conflicts, natural resources planning and management, and environmental education and communication. His most recent book, Social Science Theory for Environmental Sustainability: A Practical Guide, published by Oxford University Press, translates social science theory and knowledge for everyday use by people interested in working on environmental problems.
During his talk, Dr. Stern shared how social science theories might be made accessible and useful for social change practitioners. He talked about how anyone interested in fostering social change might benefit from understanding a number of the important behavioral theories, and he focused particularly on the benefits of understanding trust theory.
CCC Faculty Forum with Dr. Claire Cahen
In April 2023, CCC members welcomed Dr. Claire Cahen, an Assistant Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Virginia Tech. Her research centers on urban austerity, community development, labor, and racial justice and has been published in journals such as Race, Ethnicity and the City, Antipode, Labor Relations, and Housing Studies. She is also particularly interested in urban education and how it has been financialized and taken over by charter schools.
Dr. Cahen’s talk with CCC focused on how Newark’s school system has been changed by the broad adoption of charter schools. She shared about what makes this possible and why it continues despite ongoing issues.
CCC Speaker Series with Dr. David McIvor
In April 2023, CCC members welcomed Dr. David McIvor, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Colorado State University. He is a political theorist with research interests in democratic theory, critical theory, and psychoanalysis. He is also the author of Mourning in America: Race and the Politics of Loss (Cornell, 2016). He has recently been engaging with questions of both fugitive democracy and how political activism might be physically embodied through things such as breathwork and grieving.
During Dr. McIvor’s talk, he touched on issues ranging from how democracy is broadly misunderstood in our society and how it can be more resilient than we imagine. He suggested that democratic practice is present beyond our governmental systems and is a vital part of how we navigate all societal challenges.
The Collaborative hosted its 2021-2022 speaker series and faculty forum with the guests listed below.
CCC Trustees Without Borders Podcast with Emiliano Olmedo Altamirano
CCC spoke with Emiliano Olmedo Altamirano, a member of the Fulbright Argentina team that arrived in early August 2021 for a six-week program at Virginia Tech coordinated by the Language and Culture Institute (LCI). During the podcast with interviewers Joong Won Kim and Andy Morikawa, Emiliano discusses his interest in community gardening, including his rooftop garden created out of necessity due to land restrictions.
Listen to the podcast here.
CCC Faculty Forum with Dr. Andrea Baldwin
Dr. Andrea N. Baldwin, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Virginia Tech, joined CCC for a Faculty Forum in October 2021.
Dr. Baldwin is an attorney-at-law who also holds a MSc. in International trade policy and a PhD in Gender and Development Studies. She has several publications including her most recent co-edited volume Standpoints: Black Feminist Knowledges published in 2019 (Virginia Tech Publishing), and her forthcoming monograph A Decolonial Black Feminist Theory of Reading and Shade: Feeling the University (Routledge). Dr. Baldwin was born and raised on the small Caribbean island state of Barbados and considers herself an all-around Caribbean woman and loves everything coconut and soca.
Her presentation, titled "BRACKISH POSSIBILITIES," explores epistemic resistance through Black Feminism. You may watch Dr. Baldwin’s Faculty Forum talk on YouTube here.
CCC Speaker Series with Karen O'Brien
Dr. Karen O’Brien, a professor in the Department of Sociology and Human Geography at the University of Oslo, came to Virginia Tech in October 2021 to give a public lecture and engage with faculty and students. Dr. O’Brien is an internationally recognized expert on climate change and society, focusing on themes such as climate change impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation including how climate change interacts with globalization processes and the implications for human security.
Co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science, College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences, VTIPG, Global Change Center, Fralin Life Sciences Institute, Community Change Collaborative, and The Vice President for Research & Innovation.
CCC Faculty Forum with Dr. LaDale Winling
In December 2021, CCC hosted a Faculty Forum with Dr. LaDale Winling, associate professor of history and core member of the Public History program at Virginia Tech.
Professor Winling uses spatial data tools in both his print and digital work. With collaborators, in 2016 he launched Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America, on the work of the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) to map and grade the credit worthiness of neighborhoods in cities across America. In 2018, he launched Electing the House of Representatives, 1840-2016, on Congressional elections, which has been featured in The Atlantic, The New York Times, and on National Public Radio, among other outlets.
You may watch Dr. Winling's Faculty Forum talk on YouTube here.
CCC Trustees Without Borders Podcast Interview with Josephus Thompson III and Michael Carter, Jr.
In February 2022, Mr. Josephus Thompson III, founder of The Poetry Cafe and host of 90.1 FM's "The Poetry Cafe" program joined for a suite of events hosted by the Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation and the Community Change Collaborative (CCC). The program included an open mic night with a reception held at the Black Cultural Center, and a creative writing workshop. The program featured the cultural art form of spoken word poetry, demonstrating the power of creative expression in social transformation.
Josephus Thompson III and Michael Carter Jr., 11th generation farmer and owner of Carter Farms in Orange, Virginia joined CCC for a podcast titled “Roots of the Work: Poetry, Agriculture and Social Change” following the on-campus events. The interview was led by Justice Madden, community architect and graduate student in Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural Leadership, and C. Meranda Flachs-Surmanek, an artist, cultural organizer, and master’s degree candidate in Virginia Tech’s Urban & Regional Planning and Theatre: Directing & Public Dialogue programs. Josephus and Michael discuss the creativity, the rhythm of poetry, and nature as embedded in liberation work.
Listen to the podcast here.
CCC Trustees Without Borders Podcast Interview with Dr. Michelle Ramos
Dr. Michelle Ramos, Executive Director of Alternate ROOTS and founder of Ramos Coaching, participated in a CCC podcast interview in March 2022 entitled "Nonprofit Futures and Philanthropy Reimagined: How Cultural Workers are Changing the Field."
Dr. Michelle Ramos applies critical race theory and lived experiences to disrupt long standing white supremacist structures and systems. In the podcast interview, Dr. Ramos discusses the legacy of activism that energizes her work. The interview was led by Nicole Nunoo, a PhD candidate in Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural Leadership and Community Education, a food justice enthusiast by heart and a community development analyst by profession, and C. Meranda Flachs-Surmanek, an artist, cultural organizer, and master’s degree candidate in Virginia Tech’s Urban & Regional Planning and Theatre: Directing & Public Dialogue programs.
Listen to the podcast here.
CCC Trustees Without Borders Podcast Interview with Mark Valdez
In April 2022, Mark Valdez participated in an interview to explore his work sparking civic imagination with the communities in which he works to support people in seeing solutions and success.
Mark Valdez is a director, writer, and cultural organizer who partners with communities, organizations, civic institutions, and others, using theater and creative tools to address community needs and to lift up community voices and stories. His work has been seen at community venues and professional theaters across California, from a tomato field in Grayson to a de-commissioned Catholic cathedral in downtown LA; from the stages in La Pena Cultural Center in Berkeley to the stages of the Ricardo Montalban Theater/CTG in Hollywood.
The CCC interviewers were Sarah E. Plummer, a recovering journalist, a proud Appalachian, and a PhD candidate at Virginia Tech researching the way Bread and Puppet Theater mobilizes performing objects within their performance styles and spaces, and C. Meranda Flachs-Surmanek, artist, cultural organizer, and master’s degree candidate at Virginia Tech in the Urban & Regional Planning and Theatre: Directing & Public Dialogue programs. In partnership with the Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts.
Listen to the podcast 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.
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.
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, NewYorker.com, 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.
CCC Speaker Series with Sage Crump
In February 2021, CCC welcomed Sage Crump, an artist, culture strategist and facilitator who supports cultural workers/arts organizations involved in social justice to build social movements. Co-hosted by the School of Performing Arts and the Community Change Collaborative (CCC).
Trustees Without Borders Podcast Interview with Jiang Nengjie
Jiang Nengjie, a renowned independent filmmaker, documentarian, and director, discussed his career with CCC in April 2021. In his work, Nengjie, a 35-year-old independent Chinese documentary director, producer and photographer, pays close attention to the silenced minority groups of the fast-developing, modern Chinese society.
From 2009 to 2014, he finished his trilogy on left-behind children and produced the fourth one in 2016. In 2015, he produced Long Lao, a documentary on veterans of the Second Sino-Japanese War. In 2018, Yun Jie entered the Beijing International Film Festival as Jiang’s first feature length film on left-behind children and empty nesters. Jiang became better-known to the Chinese online community in April 2020 with his documentary on local coal miners and the mining community, called Miners, Grooms and Pneumoconiosis.
Yezi Yang: PhD candidate, Department of Geosciences, Virginia Tech
Kim Felix: PhD student, Planning, Governance, and Globalization, Virginia Tech
Neda Moayerian: Postdoctoral research associate, Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance (VTIPG) and the Center for Economic and Community Engagement (CECE)
Listen to the podcast interview here.
CCC Speaker Series with The Frontera Project
CCC welcomed Ramon Verdugo and Jessica Bauman of THE FRONTERA PROJECT in April 2021. The mission of THE FRONTERA PROJECT is to lift up stories of the U.S.-Mexican Border that are too often ignored — stories reflecting the richness and complexity of that region — to create conversation and connection with audiences in the United States. The interactive virtual experience included a new original short play, music, video, poetry and conversations with the artists who are creating the effort.
The podcast interview was led by Molly Todd (PhD Candidate, ASPECT) and Jon Catherwood-Ginn (Associate Director of Programming at the Moss Arts Center and a PhD student, Planning, Governance, and Globalization).
Co-sponsored by the Institute for Policy and Governance, Moss Arts Center, and The Center For Peace Studies and Violence Prevention.
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;
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.
- Jordan Laney, Instructor, Appalachian Studies, Dept. of Religion and Culture
- Todd Schenk, Assistant Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning program
- Emily Satterwhite, Associate Professor, Dept. of Religion and Culture and Director, Appalachian Studies
- Jae Li, Exchange Professional from Habitat for Humanity (China) (in conjunction with Total Action for Progress (TAP)
- 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
- 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)
- 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)
Pulitzer award-winning author and Washington Post Reporter.
President and CEO of Equity Quotient (EQ), and recently retired Director of Operations from Alternate ROOTS.
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.
Program Director and Dramaturg for Roadside Theater, a part of Appalshop in Whitesburg, Kentucky.
Deputy Director (ret.) for the Political and Civil Affairs Office of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL )
Turkish journalist and analyst based in Washington, D.C.
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
Organic farmer, innovator and sustainable development pioneer from Abingdon, Virginia
Senior vice president of the nonprofit, Project for Public Spaces
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
Economic and Social Development Consultant for The World Bank
Artistic Director, STREB Extreme Action Company
Executive Director, American Voices
HEALTHY NRV AND CONVERSATION NRV: Talk at the Table
Director of the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) and Professor of Computer Science, Virginia Tech
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
Director of the Institute for Environmental Negotiation (IEN) at the University of Virginia
Executive Director, The Crooked Road
Digital Storyteller, Writer, Director and Singer
Kathie Denobriga & Melanie Hammet
Mayor & Mayor Pro Tem of Pine Lake, Georgia
Director, Highlander Research and Education Center
State Health Commissioner, Tennessee
Director, Appalachian Center for Community Service, Emory & Henry College
Western Region Independent Living Consultant with Project LIFE
President & CEO, Carilion Clinic