Critical Diversity Studies Forum: Past Forums

Every September the Critical Diversity Studies Forum incorporates academic scholarship and social justice practices by bringing together artists, activists, scholars, and community leaders to engage in dialogue with the USF community.


2023 — Storytelling for Collective Liberation

Storytelling for Collective Liberation informational graphicJoin us for the annual Critical Diversity Studies Forum as we explore storytelling for collective liberation. As we confront book bans, discriminatory and dehumanizing legislation, and ongoing socio-political conflict, our Forum will focus on deep listening, liberatory education, interconnection and collective healing.

The Forum will begin with an introduction from Drag Story Hour story-teller Per Sia, a Latinx and non-binary youth educator and Drag Queen. The keynote will then be delivered by Maya Gonzalez, an award-winning children’s book artist, author, activist and progressive educator.


With a pedigree from weekly performances at the late, iconic Esta Noche, Per Sia's trajectory has gone on to include art curation, stand-up, television, and maybe a quinceañera or two, in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and México. Currently she is a regular performer in the nationally acclaimed "Drag Story Hour" as well as an educator in residence at an after school arts program in the San Francisco Unified School District profiled on KQED Arts, National Public Radio and CNN.

Maya Gonzalez is an award-winning children’s book artist, author, activist and progressive educator. Maya's work addresses systemic inequity in relation to race/ethnicity, sexism and cissexism using children’s books as radical agents of change and healing, both personally and culturally. Maya co-founded Reflection Press, a POC, queer and trans owned independent publishing house that uses holistic, nature-based, and anti-oppression frameworks in their books and materials for kids and grown-ups. Maya is also the creator of the Gender Wheel, a tool to express the dynamic, infinite and inclusive reality of gender, and provides lectures and workshops to educators, parents and caregivers.

2022 — Interconnectivity Amid Climate Crisis

Interconnectivity Amid Climate Crisis informational graphicJoin us for the annual Critical Diversity Studies Forum with our keynote speaker: Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs as we explore the theme of interconnectivity amidst climate crisis, through art, poetry, resilience, and joy.

As a world, we are in a time of crisis, transition, and emergence. The realities of our climate crisis have demonstrated to us the failure of our systems, The need to respond to the realities of our climate crisis and create change at all levels is urgent--the future is in our hands. Our theme for this year names both our urgent reality and also one direction forward. To borrow the words of Dr. Gumbs, from Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals, we offer today’s forum as an invitation to slowness as “a strategic intervention in a world on speed, and an appropriate response to the exact urgencies that make us feel we cannot slow down.  It is the speed, the speedboats, the momentum of capitalism, the expediency of pollution that threatens the ocean, our marine mammal mentors, and our own lives.”


Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a Queer Black Feminist Love Evangelist and an aspirational cousin to all life.  She is/they are the author of several books, most recently Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals. Dr. Gumbs has also published works of poetry, non-fiction, and academic texts (Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity in 2016, M Archive: After the End of the World in 2018 and Dub: Finding Ceremony, all published by Duke University Press).  Dr. Gumbs is the co-founder of the Mobile Homecoming Trust, an intergenerational experiential living library of Black LBGTQ brilliance.   

Dr. Gumbs’s forthcoming book is titled The Eternal Life of Audre Lorde. Dr. Gumbs brings a passion for issues that impact oppressed communities and an intimate knowledge of the resilience of movements led by Black, indigenous, working class women and queer people of color. 

2021 — Moving Toward Radical Imagination

Moving Toward Radical Imagination informational graphicWe are in a time of transition and emergence. As a nation, we are reckoning with historical and systemic violences and the failure of our systems, and we are also witnessing the emergence of powerful and transformative solidarities. Our futures will be determined by the choices we make today, and we have the power to reimagine futures that are more just, loving, and life-giving than any that we have witnessed in our histories. We are pleased to announce our keynote speaker for this year’s forum: Adrienne Maree Brown, a writer and currently the writer-in-residence at the Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute.

In this year’s CDS Forum, we will examine the role of radical imagination. We will ask: In what directions do we want to grow: as individuals, communities, and a nation? How can we allow those most impacted by violence to lead us? How can we reimagine and construct new systems, practices, and relations that are rooted in collective care, accountability, justice, and joy?


Adrienne Maree Brown is the writer-in-residence at the Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute, and author of Holding Change: The Way of Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Mediation, We Will Not Cancel Us and Other Dreams of Transformative Justice, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds and the co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements and How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office. She is the cohost of the How to Survive the End of the World, Octavia’s Parables and Emergent Strategy podcasts. Adrienne is rooted in Detroit.

2020 — CDSX: A Time for Revolutionary Love

CDSX: A Time for Revolutionary Love informational graphic2020 marks the 10th anniversary of the Critical Diversity Studies (CDS) Forum and we are emboldened to revisit what has guided our dialogues this past decade — the creation of new possibilities, systems, and ways of being grounded in wonder, collective wisdom, and love for justice and equity.

The forum features keynote speaker Valarie Kaur, who writes in her memoir See No Stranger that love is more than a feeling. Rather, “love is a form of sweet labor: fierce, bloody, imperfect, and life giving — a choice we make over and over again.” Revolutionary Love is the “choice to enter into labor for others, for our opponents, and for ourselves in order to transform the world around us. It is not a formal code or prescription but an orientation to life that is personal and political.” In this time of pandemic, uprisings, rising nationalism and polarization, we believe that now, more than ever, it is time for Revolutionary Love.

This year’s CDS Forum engages participants in a dialogue to address the questions: How do we labor for the world we want when the labor feels endless? How can the practices of Revolutionary Love guide us in transforming ourselves, our communities, and our nation?


Sikh racial justice activist, civil rights lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, educator, founder of the Revolutionary Love Project, and author of the new book See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love

Visit Valarie’s website

2019 — We All Count

We All Count informational graphicThe year 2020 is on the horizon and will be extremely consequential. In addition to critical national, state, and local elections, 2020 also includes the decennial U.S. Census, which will help determine public policy proposals and community resource allocation for years to come. This current historical moment offers a painful reminder that we need to be vigilant to ensure that the humanity of all groups is fully recognized, honored, and counted in our political and community processes. Highlighting the connections between white supremacy, xenophobia, cis-hetero-patriarchy, exploitative capitalism, and able-bodied supremacy, the 9th annual CDS Forum engages participants in a dialogue to help answer the questions: Which communities are represented, cared for, and “counted"? Whose voices are heard? What’s at stake? And how can we commit to effectively organize together, advocate for one another, and ensure that all are counted?


2018 — “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for”

We are the ones we've been waiting for informational graphicThis political and historical moment calls for each of us to respond by addressing injustice and working collectively towards justice. Poet June Jordan’s words remind us that as we look towards midterm elections and electoral mobilization, we must also nurture our own roles as leaders and look to our own communities for leadership.

The 8th annual CDS Forum takes inspiration and hope from both past and present-day movements that address intersections of immigration, racial justice, incarceration, education, disability, and more. The Forum engages our communities in dialogue, inquiry, and in sharing resources for action. As a community, we ask: How can we work collectively to both elect leaders to represent us, and also develop our own leadership? What can youth-led movements, past and present, teach us about our own leadership and the potential of our communities? What are the roles of creativity, love, and critical hope in fueling ourselves and our commitments to action?


Nationally acclaimed poet, educator, performance artist and public speaker.

Visit Yosimar’s website

Executive Director of the Buck Scholars Association, co-founder of Hmong Innovating Politics (HIP), first Hmong elected official in Sacramento; USF Alum.

Co-founders of Radical Monarchs, whose mission is to “create opportunities for young girls of color to form fierce sisterhood, celebrate their identities and contribute radically to their communities.”

Disability justice thought leader, community organizer, and former appointed advisor to the Obama administration.

2017 — Our Legacies

Our Legacies informational graphicThe 7th annual CDS Forum convenes a diverse and intergenerational dialogue to reflect upon the legacies and leadership of everyday individuals and communities. We will also ask ourselves to look forward and consider what legacies we wish to create so that future generations can thrive.

This event draws upon the histories of those who have worked collectively to challenge inequality around issues of race, immigration, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. As a community, we ask: In these current political times, what actions must we take towards equality and justice? How can we take action in our own communities, and across different communities? How can our present-day actions honor the lives, lessons, and legacies of those who came before us? What are the roles of art, music, dance, and creativity in this work, and how can our actions — even when challenging — be rooted in hope, love, and joy?


Isabella “Isa” Borgeson is a queer, multiracial Filipina American national slam poet and teaching artist from Oakland, California who views her poetry as an extension of her activism and community organizing. In 2012, Isa won "Best Poem" of the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI), where she represented UC Berkeley for three years. Isa has received fellowships from Voices of Our Nation Art Foundation and the Poetry Incubator through Poetry Foundation and Crescendo Literary. In December 2015, she performed at the United Nations Climate Change negotiations in Paris for COP21, where she spoke about the impact of climate change on her Philippines homeland and other island nations. Isa's poetry and activism have been featured on CNN, NBC, Inquirer, and the Guardian. Her passion and commitment toward social justice issues and teaching poetry as a tool for resistance keeps her grounded in her communities across the Pacific Ocean – a homeland from Oakland to Tanauan.

In 2013, Carlos Menchaca became Brooklyn’s first openly gay office holder and New York State’s first Mexican-American elected official. Carlos is also a USF alum.

Carlos authored the legislation for New York’s first municipal identification card, IDNYC, which now serves over one million New Yorkers. As Chair of the Committee on Immigration, Carlos has supported innovative programs for immigrant day laborers, street vendors, and worker cooperatives. He is an ardent proponent of workers’ right to organize and workplace safety.

Carlos is a champion for the neighborhoods in his district and has fought gentrification and displacement through street protest, support of tenant advocates, and with legislation that expands tenants’ rights and protections.

Council Member Menchaca is a leading voice in New York City’s Sanctuary movement. He sees criminal justice reform and ending Broken Windows policing as integral to Sanctuary efforts.

Leroy F. Moore Jr., Founder of the Krip-Hop Nation and cofounder of Sins Invalid, is an activist, writer, poet, rapper, feminist, and radio programmer. Moore writes for I.D.E.A.L. Magazine, and since the 1990s, has written the column "Illin-N-Chillin" for POOR Magazine. His books include the spoken-word CD and his upcoming book is a children’s book, Black Disabled Art History 101 published by Xochitl Justice Press.

As a youth, Mr. Moore discovered that most people had little knowledge of the historical impact of disabled African Americans. This led him to begin research, initially in the music industry, and to promote artists with disabilities for broader inclusion.

Mr. Moore is a leading activist on issues of wrongful incarceration and police brutality against people with disabilities. He writes, lectures, and performs about race and disability issues both in the United States and abroad. Moore is one of the founding member of National Black Disability Coalition.

Mr. Moore has traveled to South Korea for the Para-Olympics and for the 2014 DaDa Fest Krip-Hop Nation UK Tour, as well as to South Africa, Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere, networking internationally with other disabled activists and artists.

Born in 1967 with cerebral palsy in NYC, Mr. Moore as blessed to have a conscious, activist father & mother who instilled a strong sense of identity as a Black and disabled youngster. Thus, Moore’s Krip-Hop Nation is a movement that addresses ableism, or discrimination against disabled artists, esp. Black musicians marginalized because of racism AND ableism.

Krip-Hop Nation has over 300 members worldwide who get their message out by publishing articles and hosting events, lectures and workshops.

Ms. Betty Soskin (née Charbonnet) grew up in a Cajun/Creole African-American family that settled in the East Bay after the historic floods that devastated the City of New Orleans in 1927. Betty attended local schools, graduating from Castlemont High School during the World’s Fair at Treasure Island. She can recall ferry boat crossings at a time that precedes the construction of the bridges that span the Bay; and at a time when the Oakland International Airport consisted of two small hangars. She remembers Amelia Earhart’s departure and tragic loss as if it happened yesterday. She remembers the explosion at Port Chicago on July 17, 1944 and subsequent mutiny trials.

Ms. Soskin worked in a segregated Union hall, Boilermaker’s A-36, during World War II as a file clerk. In 1945 she and her young husband, Mel Reid, founded a still-existing small Berkeley music store — Reid’s Records.

In 1995, Ms. Soskin was named a “Woman of the Year” by the California State Legislature. In 2005 she was named one of the nation’s ten outstanding women, “Builders of communities and dreams” by the National Women’s History Project in ceremonies in both Griffiths Park in Los Angeles, and in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Soskin was instrumental in the establishment of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in 2000. On June 10, 2016 Ms. Soskin received the Silver Medallion Award at the World War II Museum in New Orleans in a special ceremony. It should be noted that there are but two women among 30 past recipients.

Ms. Soskin is currently employed as a park ranger for the Rosie the Riveter World War II/Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, assigned to civic engagement and community outreach.

2016 — Change the Here from Here

Change the Here from Here informational graphicSan Francisco has been called the “best city ever” — but who is thriving here? Who is struggling to survive? Alongside unprecedented prosperity, many are impacted by xenophobia, Islamophobia, displacement, economic violence, and other systemic attacks against marginalized communities. The 6th annual CDS Forum, Change the Here from Here, convenes local activists who will share resistance strategies through their art, work, and civic participation to shape a more humane, inclusive, and just San Francisco. Learn how we are changing the here from here.


Chinaka Hodge is a poet, playwright, screenwriter and founding member of The Getback. Originally from Oakland, California, Chinaka graduated from NYU in 2006, and completed her MFA in Writing for Film and TV at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in May 2012. Her work has been featured in Newsweek, Teen People and Believer Magazine and on PBS, NPR and two seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry. Chinaka is the oldest of eight children, split between seven parents and six households. In short, she’s a true product of blended-family, Northern California and the ‘90s. She aspires, above all else, to be an outstanding great-grandmother.

Claudia Bernardi is an Argentinean painter, printmaker, and installation artist who lives in Berkeley. Her work is informed by her participation in the Argentinean Forensic Anthropology Team, which was established to investigate and gather evidence of human rights violations. Bernardi has participated with Team investigations in Argentina, Ethiopia, and El Salvador. She also teaches printmaking to political refugees and survivors of torture from Latin America at Kola Institute in Berkeley. Bernards printmaking and installation work, created from experiences, seeks to remember and preserve the memory of human rights violations while transcending its brutality. In March 2005, Claudia Bernardi, in collaboration with the community of Perquin, El Salvador, will initiate the creation of the School of Art/Open Studio of Perquin designed to facilitate, implement, and teach art and community-based art projects reaching children and adults living in Morazán, El Salvador.

Tony Robles: Born and raised in Frisco. Friscopino poet and author of Cool Don't Live Here No More--A letter to San Francisco. Housing activist and Currently on the short list among nominees for SF poet laureate. Nephew of poet Al Robles, poet laureate of Manilatown and fighter for the international hotel.

The #Frisco5 are a group of protesters who went on a hunger strike on April 21, 2016 in San Francisco, CA, in front of the San Francisco Police Department Mission Station to demonstrate against episodes of police brutality, use-of-force violations, and racial bias, specifically the deaths of Alex Nieto on March 21, 2014, Mario Woods on December 2, 2015, Amilcar Perez Lopez on February 26, 2015, and Luis Gongora on April 7, 2016.

2015 — Stones of Hope

Stones of Hope informational graphic5th Annual Critical Diversity Studies Forum "Stones of Hope: Non-Violent Activism Built on Legacy and Imagination", recalls Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s decree to “hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope,” and seeks to bring our diverse communities together to consider: How can we effectively stand up to our huge social problems? What can past struggles teach us? And how might necessity and our moral imaginations help us invent new tools and practices to intelligently, creatively address the issues we face today?

The forum featured speakers Nicole Lim, Jeff Chang, and Danny Glover with performances and activist sessions to help participants begin re-imagining possibilities and advance towards a more human and just future at the University of San Francisco and beyond.


Transformative Dr. Martin Luther King and the Inconvenient Hero

This year's College of Arts and Science Dean's Lecture discussed how Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy of non-violent activism was currently taking shape in the Bay Area, and beyond. Drawing from his own experiences as an artist and activist, Mr. Glover challenged and inspired USF and local community members to, in Dr. King's words, "let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California" and "from every state and every city," to change the world from here.

A native San Franciscan, Mr. Glover overcame a struggle with dyslexia by building his confidence and excelling in mathematics as a young man.

He studied economics at San Francisco State University, where he joined the Black Students Union, a group that was pivotal in establishing the country’s first college of ethnic studies and creating intersections between the campus and the community.

It was his time as a college student that ignited his passion for social justice causes.

As his success and notoriety grew as an actor, so too did his social and philanthropic efforts. In 1994, Mr. Glover traveled to South Africa to urge its citizens to participate in that country’s first fully democratic national election.

He is respected for his wide-reaching advocacy for economic justice, access to health care, and education programs in the United States and Africa.

He is a public voice on issues involving educational opportunities for underserved communities, global human rights, and AIDS.

Mr. Glover served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program from 1998-2004 and currently serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, where he continues to focus on issues of poverty, disease and economic development in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Who We Be: The Culture Wars + Our Resistance

Over the past half-century, the U.S. had seen profound demographic and cultural change. But racial progress still seemed distant. Resegregation was the norm. The culture wars flared as hot as ever. How could the response be in order to move all of us towards freedom?

Jeff Chang has written extensively on culture, politics, the arts, and music.

His first book, "Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation" garnered many honors, including the American Book Award and the Asian American Literary Award.

He edited the book, "Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop".His new book, "Who We Be: The Colorization of America" was released on St. Martin's Press in October 2014.

He is currently at work on two other book projects: Youth (Picador Big Ideas/Small Books series), and a biography of Bruce Lee (Little, Brown).

Jeff has been a USA Ford Fellow in Literature and a winner of the North Star News Prize. He was named by The Utne Reader as one of "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World". With H. Samy Alim, he was the 2014 winner of the St. Clair Drake Teaching Award at Stanford University.

Jeff co-founded "CultureStr/ke" and "ColorLines". He has written for The Nation, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Believer, Foreign Policy, N+1, Mother Jones, Salon, Slate, Buzzfeed, and Medium, among many others. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i, he is a graduate of ‘Iolani School, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of California at Los Angeles. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University.

Education and Resistance: Including Native Perspectives in the Dialogue

Nicole's presentation explored how California Native voices had been denied through the history of genocide and colonization. Today, the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center and community advocates are working to re-frame California tribal legacies, incorporate oral histories and revise curriculum to address contemporary issues for California tribal communities.

Nicole Lim is Pomo from Northern California. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctorate from the University of San Francisco, School of Law. She has worked for the National Indian Justice Center (NIJC) and the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center (CIMCC) over the past twenty years. She was an assistant professor of Ethnic Studies in the Native American program at Sacramento State University from 2002-2006. She is currently a staff attorney and a trainer for NIJC’s regional and on-site training programs specializing in Federal Indian Law.

She is also the executive director of CIMCC, where she directs programs for education reform, exhibit development, native language revitalization, and tribal youth enrichment. In 2014 she was appointed to the 4th District Agricultural Association, Sonoma-Marin Fair Board and serves as the Co-Chair of the government relations committee for the California Association of Museums.

"Ritual Of The Collective Breath"

"Ritual of the Collective Breath" paid homage to the grassroots national uprising that had been precipitated by the deaths of African American men and young men of color at the hands of police. It was a ritual to send out positive musical vibrations for the collective healing and “breathing in one complete breath” for all Americans of conscience who abhor the violence plaguing our communities from within and without.

Idris Ackamoor is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, actor, tap dancer, and director. He is the Co-Artistic Director of the celebrated San Francisco performance company Cultural Odyssey.

He is also Artistic Director of the legendary world music/jazz ensemble THE PYRAMIDS which just returned from a 32 - day European tour throughout 10 countries! Mr. Ackamoor has been honored with TWO Lifetime Achievement Awards for his extraordinary musical and theatrical contributions. The most recent was presented in January 2012 by the renowned BBC radio personality Gilles Peterson at the Worldwide Awards Show in London.

2014 — Dis\Placement

Dis\Placement informational graphic“Dis/Placements”, the 4th annual CDS Forum at USF, coincided with the anniversaries of several events which activated seismic shifts in US society: the centenary of the beginning of World War I, the 50th anniversary of the official commencement of US military involvement in Vietnam, and the 50th anniversary of the US Civil Rights Act and our War on Poverty. These anniversaries offered us an occasion to consider and explore how social events — i.e., President Obama’s June 2014 vow to employ executive authority to expedite immigration reform, the Isla Vista killings in May 2014 and the anti-misogyny campaigns this tragedy inspired, and the concurrent “urban renewal” and anti-gentrification movements produced by the Northern California technology boom — are simultaneously stirring up the social order, displacing populations.


Founder of Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC) and affordable housing activist.

Author and creator of Unsettlers.

Performer and Director of The Medea Project, co-artistic director of Cultural Odyssey.

2013 — Dreaming On

Dreaming On informational graphicThe 3rd annual CDS Forum reflects upon the vision Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of fifty years ago — a dream for a nation united in equality and freedom — and explores continuing struggles to redefine and realize the Dream. Participants will consider how the Dream has manifested today, where we have failed, and what remains to be done.


Awele Makeba has mesmerized audiences around the world including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Musikverein Vienna, Tsinchu Teacher’s College in Taiwan, Suriname (U.S. Dept. of State Tour), Russia, Australia, France and Canada.

Awele (ah WAY lay) is an award winning and internationally known storyteller/teaching artist, literacy specialist, and recording artist recognized as a “truth teller," an artist for social change, and someone who sparks "aha!" moments. She researches, writes and performs hidden African American history, folklore, and personal tales. She provides opportunities for audiences to grapple with the meaning of their own lives as they make meaning of past lives. She has made it her life’s work to tell history through the words of its silenced and oft-forgotten witnesses. Awele uses art to catalyze deep conversations about race, our common humanity, and our vision of a just, humane, multiracial society. Awele teaches through performance and she animates democracy through her art.

She has written two one-woman shows, Rage Is Not A 1-Day Thing!: The Untaught History of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and I’m Not Getting On Until Jim Crow Gets Off in which she tells the story of the 1955-56 Montgomery bus boycott, watershed moment in U. S. history through the eyes of four women, Claudette Colvin, Mary Louise Smith, Rosa Parks, and JoAnn Robinson. Awele’s story, “The Story of Claudette Colvin,” is featured on the Music for Little People benefit recording, This Land is Your Land, for the Southern Poverty Law Center. Featured artists include Danny Glover, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Taj Mahal, Willie Nelson, The Neville Brothers, and others. She is also the featured storyteller on Oregon Public Radio’s radio series and CD The Undiscovered Explorer: Imagining York with Danny Glover as the narrator. Other award winning CDs include: Tell That Tale Again and Trailblazers: African Americans in the California Gold Rush. Film credits include Supervisor Ella Hill Hutch in the Oscar award winning film, MILK directed by Gus Van Sant starring Sean Penn. Awele is a founding member of Vukani Mawethu, a South African Freedom Song Choir based in Oakland, CA

Sandra R. Hernández is chief executive officer of The San Francisco Foundation. Dr. Hernández is a graduate of Yale University, Tufts School of Medicine, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Prior to becoming CEO of the Foundation, she served as the director of public health for the City and County of San Francisco. She is an assistant clinical professor at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine and maintains an active clinical practice at San Francisco General Hospital in the AIDS clinic.

Dr. Hernández currently serves on the boards of Blue Shield of California, the Blue Shield of California Foundation, First Republic Bank, Mills College, and the Center for Investigative Reporting. She is also a trustee of the Western Asbestos Settlement Trust and a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Economic Advisory Council, the Public Policy Institute of California Statewide Leadership Council, the Yale University Council, the Fort Winfield Scott Federal Advisory Committee, the UCSF Chancellor’s Advisory Board, and the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute Advisory Board.

Her prior affiliations include President Clinton’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Healthcare Industry; the Council on Foundations; the Institute of Medicine’s Committees on the Consequences of Uninsurance and the Implementation of Antiviral Medication Strategies for an Influenza Pandemic; the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Public Policy Committee; and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Executive Session on Philanthropy. Dr. Hernández also co-chaired San Francisco’s Universal Healthcare Council.

Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker, and the founder of Define American, a campaign that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration.

In June 2011, the New York Times Magazine published a groundbreaking essay he wrote in which he revealed and chronicled his life in America as an undocumented immigrant, stunning media and political circles and attracting worldwide coverage. A year later, he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine internationally with fellow undocumented immigrants as part of a follow-up cover story. Since then, he has testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration reform, and written and directed Documented, a documentary film on his undocumented experience. It world premiered in June 2013 as the centerpiece of the AFIDOCS film festival in Washington, D.C. He was a senior contributing editor at the Huffington Post, where he launched the Technology and College sections. Prior to that, he covered tech and video game culture, HIV/AIDS in the nation’s capital, and the 2008 presidential campaign for the Washington Post, and was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for covering the Virginia Tech massacre. In 2007, Politico named him one of 50 Politicos to Watch. His 2006 series on HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C. inspired a feature-length documentary — The Other City — which he co-produced and wrote. It world premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival and aired on Showtime. In 2010, he wrote an exclusive profile of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg for the New Yorker.

The media’s evolution, and the breakdown of barriers between print and broadcast journalism, has guided his nearly 13-year reporting career. He’s written for daily newspapers (Philadelphia Daily News, San Francisco Chronicle) and national magazines (The Atlantic, Rolling Stone) and has appeared on several national and international television and radio programs, including Nightline, The O’Reilly Factor, and The Colbert Report. On HuffPost, he created the blog Technology as Anthropology, which focuses on tech’s impact on people and how we behave.

He taught a class on “Storytelling 2.0” at Georgetown University and served on the advisory board for the Knight-Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism, housed at American University. A very proud alumnus of Mountain View High School (‘00) and San Francisco State University (‘04), he loves jazz, hip-hop and anything by Gershwin, and worships at the altars of Altman, Almodovar, Didion, Baldwin and Orwell.

He dreamed of one day living in Manhattan after he saw Woody Allen’s version of it. He currently resides in Manhattan.

2012 — Homegrown in California

Homegrown in California informational graphicHome Grown in California: Exploring Conflicts & Coalitions Across Difference, the 2nd annual CDS Forum, commemorates anniversaries around interracial coalition building and conflict. These anniversaries include the 50th anniversary of the UFW (United Farm Workers)/AFL-CIO, recognizing the important work of coalitions including Mexican and Filipino farm laborers and organizers, the 30th anniversary of the Vincent Chin murder that brought together Asian Americans as a pan-ethnic group, and the 20th anniversary of the Rodney King verdict and events in LA.


Frank H. Wu began his service as Chancellor & Dean of University of California Hastings College of Law in July 2010. He was a member of the faculty at Howard University, the nation’s leading historically black college/university, for a decade. He also served as Dean of Wayne State University Law School in his hometown of Detroit, and he has been a visiting professor at George Washington University, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, an adjunct professor at Columbia University, and a teaching fellow at Stanford University. Chancellor Wu is the author of Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White, which was immediately reprinted in its hardcover edition, and co-author of Race, Rights and Reparation: Law and the Japanese American Internment, which received a major grant from the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund. Prior to his academic career, Chancellor Wu held a clerkship with the late U.S. District Judge Frank J. Battisti in Cleveland and practiced law with the firm of Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco.

Francisco Herrera is a cultural worker, a community organizer, singer / songwriter and theologian who has devoted his life to service to his community. His music is a form of public art, sung in churches, plazas, schools, picket lines, meetings and everywhere his songs will provide inspiration and hope. His unique voice captures the essence of “Chicano Soul” that blends the soulful inspiration of rhythm and blues with the earthy ranchero crooners of Mexico. Francisco also has a masters in Theology, which enriches his music as a Liturgical Musician for many types of ritual and has thirty years experience as a performer of children’s music as well.

Christine Chavez has a made a lifetime commitment to public service, civil rights and the labor movement. Born in Delano, California, Christine Chavez was surrounded by the farm worker movement. For years, she worked with the United Farm Workers Union, the organization her grandfather Cesar Chavez helped to co-found 40 years ago. For eight years, Christine Chavez served as the UFW’s Political Director. While there, her responsibilities included raising public awareness to protect the civil rights of farm workers and the larger immigrant community. Recently, Christine Chavez joined Rev. Al Sharpton to announce the formation of the Latino and African American Leadership Alliance. Troubled by the escalating violence between Latinos and African Americans, Chavez worked with the Reverend to organize a march to correspond with the Watts riots of 40 years ago. The Alliance will also sponsor community forums, outreach to schools and enlist the help of policymakers to further this important cause. Christine’s work is based on the values passed down to her from her grandfather: the fight for civil rights, social justice and labor equality.

DJ Marlino, “The Five Foota Funk”, a 23-year veteran to the DJing game, brings an aggressive, hard hitting, head nodding, hands in the air, party rocking set to every dance floor or airwave he encounters. He has worked at WILD 94.9, was an On-Air Personality and Mixshow DJ at Jammin Z90.3 FM in San Diego and has opened up at several concerts for various artists such as Ice Cube, Westside Connection, Naughty By Nature, Xzibit, Destiny’s Child, and many more, and has headlined specialty parties like the Maxim Party at the Harris Rincon Casino.

2011 — Invisible Cities

Invisible Cities informational graphicThe inaugural CDS Forum, Invisible Cities: A Forum on Racial, Economic, and Environmental Justice in America, convened artists, activists, and researchers to explore the critical intersections of class, race, gender, the environment, and justice through a mix of spoken word performances, presentations, and music.


Anthony Khalil, Heron’s Head Park Naturalist and Tracy Zhu former EcoCenter Program Manager will represent Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ). Their presentation titled “Open Space Equity and Environmental Justice in San Francisco” is designed to acknowledge the history and legacies of the environmental movement. They will critically address how discrepancies in open space access across the San Francisco landscape affect efforts to provide people of color and low-income communities a welcoming and inclusive arena to participate in the environmental movement. LEJ’s work will present the on-the-grounds solutions for creating a more inclusive arena for youth and the Bayview Hunter’s Point community.

Steve Lerner is the Research Director at Commonweal, a nonprofit health and environmental research institute located in Bolinas, CA. Author of numerous books, his talk will focus on his most recent book, Sacrifice Zones: The Front Lines of Toxic Chemical Exposure in the United States (2010). Across the US, thousands of people, most of them in low-income or minority communities, live next to heavily polluting industrial sites. Lerner tells the stories of 12 communities that rose up to fight industries and military bases causing disproportionately high levels of chemicals. He argues that residents these sacrifice zones, tainted with chemical pollutants, need additional regulatory protections.

Paul S. Flores is a published poet, playwright, novelist and nationally prominent spoken word artist. Flores' past performance projects have taken him from HBO's Def Poetry to Cuba, Mexico and El Salvador. He is the co-founder of Youth Speaks and currently teaches Hip-Hop Theater and Spoken Word at the University of San Francisco. Flores' plays include FEAR OF A BROWN PLANET directed by Tony Garcia, REPRESENTA! directed by Danny Hoch, YOU'RE GONNA CRY directed by Brian Freeman, and PLACAS directed by Michael John Garcés. Paul was recently named the San Francisco Weekly’s 2011 Best Politically Active Hip-Hop Performance Artist.