Engaged Citizen Conference
Keynote Speaker & Presenters

Keynote Speaker

Justin Gest is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government. His teaching and research interests include minority political behavior, immigration policy, and demographic change.

He is the author of Apart: Alienated and Engaged Muslims in the West (Oxford University Press 2010), The New Minority: White Working Class Politics in an Age of Immigration and Inequality (Oxford University Press 2016), and will soon publish Crossroads: Comparative Immigration Regimes in Times of Demographic Change (Cambridge University Press 2017). He is the editor of Silent Citizenship: The Politics of Marginality in Unequal Democracies (Routledge 2016), and has authored a dozen peer-reviewed articles. He has also provided commentaries for BBC, CNN, The Guardian, Politico, and Reuters.

Professor Gest received the 2014 Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize, Harvard’s highest award for faculty teaching. In 2013, he received the 2013 Star Family Prize for Student Advising, Harvard’s highest award for student advising. He co-founded and serves as the Deputy Director of the Migration Studies Unit at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).


Joan Faber McAlister is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric, Media, & Social Change at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. Her research focuses on visual and spatial rhetorics in public culture as well as aesthetics and critical theory. Modes of social location and the status, function, and material character of “home,” dwelling, and belonging are persistent themes running throughout her work. An award-winning scholar, she is currently the Editor of Women’s Studies in Communication.

Renee Sedlacek joined the office of Community Engaged Learning August 2013. Renee has spent her career supporting the development of service-learning and co-curricular service programs at small private liberal arts institutions. Prior to joining the Drake staff Renee served seven years as the Service-Learning Coordinator at Wartburg College and one as an Iowa Campus Compact AmeriCorps*VISTA at Central College. Renee received her B.A. from Central College in Sociology and Psychology and her M.A. from the University of Northern Iowa in Post Secondary Education: Student Affairs.

As the director Renee provides leadership and management of community-based learning, service-learning and co-curricular service initiatives for the Drake University Office of the Provost. Serving as the primary public face for students, faculty, staff and community partners Renee provides strategic oversight of external and internal relationships that effect community-based service and learning, i.e. service-learning, engaged scholarship, & community-based research. In her free time Renee enjoys cycling, gardening, and finishing DIY up-cycle projects around her house, a northside craftsman built in the 1920's!

Lourdes Gutiérrez Nájera is a cultural anthropologist whose research is vested in continued exploration of indigeneity, immigration, ethnicity, citizenship, belonging, and youth. She has published essays in numerous journals including: American Anthropologist, the Association of Mexican American Educators (AMAE) Journal, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, Practicing Anthropology, and ” Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development". She is also a co-edtior (with M. Bianet Castellanos and Arturo Aldama) of Comparative Indigeneities of the Américas: Toward a Hemispheric Approach, examining indigenous experiences across the hemisphere (University of Arizona Press 2012. As a professor of Anthropology at Drake University, her classes cover diverse topics such as globalization, borders and borderlands, transnational migration, oral history and Latinos in the United States.

Panelists for DACA Breakout Session:

Kenia Calderon was born and raised in Santa Ana, El Salvador. In 2005, her family and she migrated to the United States. Was undocumented until her senior year in high school. A college degree had been her goal, but the lack of legal status made this goal harder to obtain. Halfway through her senior year in high school, she was granted DACA. She had to navigate the college system by herself and this motivated her to advocate for other undocumented students in Iowa. She has advocated for the Latino community in the city, state, and national level. She was named one of the 15 to Watch in 2015 by the Des Moines Register, as well as an honoree of the 2016 Passport to Prosperity. Kenia is a senior at Drake University and will graduate this coming may with a degree is Management and Entrepreneurship.

Erica Johnson, AFSC No Bio info at this time

Daniela Pelaez was born in Barranquilla, Colombia and immigrated with her family to Miami, Florida in 1999 when she was five years old. In 2003, while in the process of legalizing their status, Daniela’s mother became ill and had to leave the country due to a lack of health insurance and the court deemed it abandonment. After years of legal battles, Daniela was issued an order of deportation with a 30 day notice in 2012. Friends, family and school administration at her high school held a massive protest and walkout that resulted in international media coverage, the support of congress, and ultimately, immigration policy change. Following Daniela’s deferral to remain in the country, President Obama issued an executive order that would come to be known as DACA in the summer of 2012. Daniela became the poster child for the Dream Act and immigrant rights movements nationwide. Since then, Daniela has attended and graduated Dartmouth College with a degree in Medical Anthropology. She is now applying to medical school to become a surgeon. (photo below)

Ali Procopio is University Program Director for FWD.us, a non-profit founded by Mark Zuckerberg and other leaders in the tech community that is focused on supporting policies that keep the American Dream achievable in the 21st century--starting with immigration reform. Having developed her own passion for advocacy and immigration reform while in college, Ali is thrilled to be working with students and developing resources for them to be successful in their advocacy efforts. Ali graduated from Dartmouth College in 2013 where she majored in Italian, which she hopes she will use in her professional life one day. Until then, she'll be mobilizing university students and faculty across the country in the fight for immigration reform. (Photo below)

Monica Reyes  Mónica Reyes was born in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico and immigrated to the United States with her single mother and younger sister at the age of three years old. She grew up in New Hampton, Iowa and was the first Latino/a to graduate from New Hampton H.S. Mónica Reyes studied Sociology and Spanish at the University of Northern Iowa. Mónica is actively involved in immigration reform and immigrant rights advocacy. She is the co-founder of DREAM Iowa, Iowa's largest statewide immigration reform advocacy group lead by DREAMers. Through her work with immigration reform advocacy, she has confronted politicians such as Steve King, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, and Jeb Bush. She has been interviewed about her activism on “The Rundown” with MSNBC by José Díaz-Balart, on “Al Punto” with Univision by Jorge Ramos, and on “Nerding Out” with MSNBC by Dorian Warren. In 2015 she won one of the Latino Leadership Awards from Iowa LULAC. Her passion for immigration reform is a passion of first-hand experience. She is an undocumented immigrant that qualified for DACA which has enabled her to fight for all those who are left unprotected from deportation and continues to fight to keep families together.

Erin Lain, J.D., Ph.D., serves as the Assistant Dean for Academic Services at Drake Law School and Associate Professor of Law. She has been focused on diversifying the legal profession since 2009 and completed her dissertation on the experiences of minority students who were academically dismissed from law school. She formerly served as a CLEO summer institute director in 2011 and 2016 and worked in law school admissions with a focus on recruiting minority students. She teaches law classes in the areas of bar exam preparation, legal writing and legal analysis. She also runs Drake Law School’s academic success program and founded and directs a yearly pro bono volunteer trip for law students. She has published a book on leadership entitled Follow the Leader, and writes in the area of legal education. Annually she speaks on issues of mental health and ethics topics at the Drake General Practice CLE.

Today at Drake
02:00 PM - 04:00 PM
University News
October 19, 2017
Drake senior Morayo Adeyoju, a native of the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria, shares his cultural history as part of an art exhibition on display through Oct. 22 in The Anderson Gallery. Adeyoju's grandfather was a king of the Yoruba tribe.