2015 Speakers

Victoria Beeks Host


Victoria A. Beeks resides in Los Angeles, California and is a native of St. Louis, Missouri. Her love of international travel, diverse cultures, and the human connection inspired her to achieve her dreams of telling people’s stories all over the world.

A graduate of Spelman College and DePaul University, Victoria’s BA in Economics and MA in Broadcast Journalism helped her fortify and build a successful career in the entertainment industry. After finishing her graduate internship with CNN’s Entertainment/Showbiz Tonight bureau in Hollywood, Victoria has continued her ever-evolving journey in the world of entertainment production.

VABulous Productions, LLC was founded in 2012 and embodies Victoria’s repertoire of feature films, short films, documentaries, digital series, docu-series, commercials, music videos, and other unique genres of physical production. As an Entertainment Producer, Victoria has been blessed with countless opportunities to connect with people, their journey, and their dreams.

Julian Scaff Designing Change for Good

Title/Occupation: Instructor/Higher Education

Bio: Julian Scaff is an educator, scholar, designer, filmmaker and media artist. A native of California, he has been a professional designer for nearly 20 years working for many tech companies and non-profits. Over the last decade Julian has taught at universities in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, and currently teaches design at General Assembly in South Central Los Angeles.

Wes Hall Success Strategies for Re-Engaging the Disengaged African American Male Student

Title/Occupation: Educational Consultant

Bio: Wes Hall is one of the nation’s leading experts in the area of prevention and intervention work with, “Young Men of Color.” He is an author and national keynote speaker. As an Educational Consultant to Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), he provides professional development to teachers throughout the district in the area of “Relationship Building, and Success Strategies for Re-engaging Disengaged Students. In 2001, Black Enterprise Magazine featured Hall and named him an expert in the area of success.

Jody Armour Black Hearts in White Minds: Race, Crime, and Redemption

Title/Occupation: Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law

Bio: I am first and foremost a dad of three strapping black sons, three black Millennials, and this reality drives my scholarship on racial profiling, police brutality, and mass incarceration.  In my latest work, I seek to wed Critical Race Theory to the Black Lives Matter movement. I take a deeply interdisciplinary approach to social justice discussions, drawing heavily on music, dance, rap, spoken word and other performing arts.  In that spirit, in addition to books and articles, I have written and staged two plays about racial justice.  Because of my abundant nappyness, In the eyes of many I do not look like a law professor–security guards at JW Marriott in downtown LA mistook me for a homeless person and my criminal law students have been overheard saying that “it is ironic that Professor Armour teaches criminal law while he looks like a criminal.”  My love of the law came from my dad, who was sentenced 22-55 years in a state penitentiary for possession and sale of marijuana; he taught himself the law from the Warden’s own law books, wrote his own briefs and represented himself until he won his own vindication in a case I now teach in my criminal law class called “Armour v. Salisbury.”  From my dad I learned the power of language–he showed me that words are ACTS with consequences.  In the words of Toni Morrison, “We die. That may be the meaning of life.  But we DO language. That may be the measure of our lives.”

Glenetta Pope Education Changes Lives

Title/Occupation: Assistant Head of Teaching and Learning

Bio: Born in LA, but raised in East Oakland. I am from a family of 11 brothers and sisters. I am a product of Oakland Public Schools, UC Berkeley, Harvard Graduate School of Education and Cal State Dominguez. I have truly used education to transform my life and the lives of scholars I have worked closely with over the past 20 years. I have served in all types of schools; public, private Christian, public charter and independent.

KiMi Wilson Exploring Mathematics and Science Identity Development of Black Male University Students

Title/Occupation: Doctoral Student – Cal State LA

Bio: Currently a graduate student working on my doctoral degree in education focusing on African American males participation in STEM. I am a former K-12 teacher, and former Education and Outreach coordinator for the Center for Scalable and Integrated Nanomanufacturing research center at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Elan Carson Deconstructing Depression

Title/Occupation: Lyrical Creative Writer & Mental Health Advocate

Bio: Elan Carson knows more than anyone should about depression, mental health, and abuse. As a suicide attempt survivor, few can speak better to the causes, needs, and survival mechanisms of mental health issues. For the past 5 years Elan has been working to educate others by breaking down the taboos and barriers that accompany mental health discussions. Speaker, writer, author and mental health advocate, Elan’s book The Willow Tree exemplifies what it is like to live with severe depression on a day-to-day basis. Elan shares her inspirational story and strives to enable others to understand the causes, effects, and options for those who have mental illness in their lives. A breath of fresh air, wise beyond her years, Elan offers an incredibly candid sharing not often heard.

Michelle Joan Papillion The Art of Doing Good

Title/Occupation: Art Dealer

Bio: I am a contemporary art dealer and advisor with a gallery space in Leimert Park. Things I am good at and most passionate about are developing artists and art patrons. I believe that art is for everyone, and is a tool for change in transforming and bridging together communities all over the world. I have been instrumental in initiating the Leimert Park Renaissance, a resurgence art movement in this historical Black Arts hub.

Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr.

Title/Occupation: Pastor/Non-violent Activist

Bio: Reverend James Lawson was instrumental in shaping America’s Nonviolent Civil Rights movement.

After his incarceration, for refusing to report to the draft for the Korean war, Rev. Lawson traveled to India as a Methodist missionary and studied Ghandi’s principles of nonviolence. Upon his return to the United States, Rev. Lawson was introduced to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. While in Nashville, he met and mentored a number of young students at Vanderbilt, Fisk University, and other area schools in the tactics of nonviolent direct action.