The Speakers

Clint Smith

Clint Smith is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of Counting Descent, which won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. Clint has received fellowships from New America, the Art For Justice Fund, Cave Canem, and the National Science Foundation. His writing has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review and elsewhere. He currently teaches writing and literature at the DC Central Detention Facility. His debut nonfiction book How the Word Is Passed, which explores how different historical sites reckon with—or fail to reckon with—their relationship to the history of slavery, will be published by Little, Brown in 2021. He received his B.A. in English from Davidson College and his Ph.D. in Education from Harvard University.

Dr. Venoncia M. Baté-Ambrus

For over 15 years Dr. Baté-Ambrus has been a leader in the health, human services, education, and non-profit sectors. She has been an active member of several health organizing collaborations involving academia, government, faith and community-based organizations, hospitals, and hospices. Dr. Baté-Ambrus is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Dominican University’s Graduate School of Social Work where she specializes in integrated health and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Understanding the need for culturally responsive healthcare, Venoncia has been a longtime champion of Community Health Workers (CHWs). She began her career as a CHW specializing in end-of-life care and since then has been an advisor, advocate, researcher, and educator of CHWs at local, state, regional and national levels. Dr. Baté-Ambrus has authored works on CHWs in various publications. She has served as an American Public Health Association (APHA) Governing Councilor representing the CHW section and served as the CHW policy committee co-chair. Dr. Baté-Ambrus is a co-chair of the Community Health Interest Group of the American Psychological Association’s Division 27: Society of Community Research and Action. She has earned a BA in Multicultural Psychology from Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), a MS in Organizational Leadership from Dominican University, a MA in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola University and a PhD in Community Psychology from National Louis University, as well as several graduate certificates in mediation, conflict resolution, health psychology, health mission leadership, marketing and fundraising. Dr. Baté-Ambrus is a trained in restorative justice and circle keeping and in Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation pedagogy.

Amy Omi

Amy Omi is an Adjunct Professor of Music and University Minister for Liturgy and the Arts at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. She is a 2003 alumna of Dominican University with a Master’s in Music Education from VanderCook College of Music. As part of the University Ministry Team, she is dedicated to building a more just and humane world by dismantling the false belief in a hierarchy of human value. Her work seeks to enliven the Dominican University Interfaith Community by fostering spiritual development, dialogue across difference, and a shared commitment to the common good. Amy is trained as a Circle Keeper with Precious Blood Ministries in Chicago, whose mission is to “work as agents of reconciliation and healing with those who have been impacted by violence and conflict.” She is also trained as a Racial Healing Circle Facilitator through the AAC&U Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Initiative (TRHT), and serves as a Core Member of Dominican’s TRHT Center, which actively works to “resist racial injustice and social inequality on campus and in the communities we serve.” A restorative justice approach to Ministry allows Amy to create a brave space among diverse groups seeking to build trust, heal hurt, learn from one another, and celebrate together. Not only is Amy dedicated to educating undergraduate students in the discipline of music, she is deeply committed to cultivating contemplation and prayer within the day-to-day life of the University campus. Through her work as Music Liturgist, she provides students with opportunities to strengthen their skills through public prayer and explore culturally grounded approaches to liturgy and the arts. She has been a supervisor of the student interns in Interfaith Relationship for four years, and is a standing member of the University’s Interfaith Cooperation Committee.

Stephanie Zavala-Guzman

Stephanie Zavala-Guzman is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, raised in the southwest of Chicago. She graduated from Dominican University in 2015 with a Bachelor’s in Sociology and Studies of Women and Gender. Stephanie is now on Staff as Program Director for Dominican Volunteers USA, a post-grad service program. She shares DVUSA’s vision of a more “just and humane society”, rooted in the liberation of Black and Brown communities that continue to be at the mercy of a racist society.

Stephanie shares her story, inspirations, and activism experience as it relates to community organizing and immigration. Stephanie’s lived experiences as an undocumented immigrant trying to navigate the higher education system is what encouraged Stephanie to begin organizing, and although her college career lent insight on how to analyze the society that we live in, Stephanie talks about what it looks like to organize outside of an academic setting in order to achieve liberation. It is through an incredible network of friends and family, social media accessibility, vulnerability, and unapologetic honesty, that Stephanie continues to be inspired to reimagine a liberated world achieved through collective work.

Ahriel Fuller

Ahriel Fuller, a 2017 Graduate of Dominican University and Chicago resident, is a dynamic artist and organizer who serves the people with confident ingenuity. Her $$Free.99 Community Store Initiative implements a donation based, mobile and stationary store that provides free essentials to Black residents in under-served communities. Ahri's youth and family service upbringing, coupled with experiential knowledge in crisis intervention, lends to her grassroots-oriented approach to social justice in neighborhoods most impacted by systemic racism.

Immigration Law Society

The Chicago-Kent Law School Immigration Law Society is a student-led organization dedicated to exploring substantive issues involving immigration law as well as the practice of immigration law. In March of 2018, ILS sent the first group of 12 students to Dilley, Texas to volunteer with the CARA ProBono Project at the South Texas Family Residential Center. Dilley is the largest detention center in the U.S. exclusively detaining women and children seeking asylum in the United States. At Dilley, students work directly with women and children who are seeking asylum by helping them to prepare for their credible fear interviews and accompanying them to their interview with asylum officers or before immigration judges. In order to best prepare their detained clients, students ask such women to recount traumatic experiences, which range from gang-related violence, rape, domestic violence, and persecution for political opinion, religion, sexuality, and nationality. The students ability to speak Spanish, and many other languages have been key in their success in helping over 700 women know their rights, feel understood and in many receive positive legal outcomes. ILS members are devoted to ensuring that their work in connection with Dilley continues as long as necessary, sending additional groups of students in January 2019, and most recently January 2020.

Jennifer Duffield

Jenn Duffield is the Assistant Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator at Elmhurst University. Her engagement as a college student activist led her to work in higher education and student affairs, where she developed professional interests in sexual misconduct prevention, equity and inclusion initiatives, and wellness practices. Jenn is currently pursuing her Ed.D. at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and focusing her dissertation work on the influence of yoga practice on the professional experiences of student affairs educators who are mothers.