Dr. Antwi Akom is Founding Director of the Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational, and Environmental Design (ISEEED)– which focuses on creating sustainable cities and schools so that people do not have to leave their communities in order to live, learn, work, and thrive. Dr. Akom is nationally recognized for designing models of schooling for sustainability and building college and career pathways in the clean energy economy. As one of the nation’s leaders in integrating youth development, workforce development, STEM education, and clean technology his solution-driven models not only help build sustainable futures by training the next generation of energy innovators and climate scientists from low -income communities and communities of color, but also introduce new frameworks for reducing health and educational disparities, alleviating poverty, and competing in the 21st century clean energy economy. Currently, Dr. Akom is an Associate Professor of Environmental Sociology in the Department of African American Studies at San Francisco State University and during 2011 has been a Visiting Professor at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the Environmental Energy and Technologies Division. Dr. Akom has received numerous national awards from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation as well as from the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities. Dr. Akom’s forthcoming book is Building Sustainable Cities and Schools and he is a highly sought-after speaker nationally and internationally.
Michael Benitez Jr. is a social justice educator, speaker and activist-scholar, integrating hip hop pedagogy, academic inquiry and personal experience. His presentations provide critical and multicontextual frameworks for empowerment and education, addressing issues of diversity and social justice; cross- and intercultural development and multiculturalism; knowledge representation and equity; and identity, leadership and youth development. Through experiential initiatives and critical practice, Benitez exposes the unpleasant truths of national and global diversity issues dealing with race, gender, and other intersecting topics tied to the injustices of the human condition. At the same time, he examines the state of activism across campuses in a non-threatening, yet passionate fashion. Benitez considers college campuses to be the safety nets for transformation and change, and challenges the complacency students grow used to and how institutions cultivate apathy among our youth. Benitez is co-editor of the anthology, Crash Course: Reflections on the Film “Crash” for Critical Dialogues About Race, Power and Privilege, a collection of essays by some of the country’s most prominent anti-racism writers, scholars and activists. His most recent writing on culture centers, anti racism and social justice was published in Culture Centers in Higher Education: Perspectives on Identity, Theory, and Practice (Stylus, July 2010).Currently, Benitez is a doctoral candidate (Ph.D.) at Iowa State University focusing on Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with a concentration on social justice and higher education. He previously served as Director of Intercultural Development and the David A. Portlock Black Cultural Center at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania and adjunct faculty in the Graduate School of Leadership and Professional Advancement at Duquesne University.He completed both his Bachelor of Science with a minor in African- and African-American Studies and Masters of Education at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU). There, Benitez served under the College Assistance Migrant Program, where he helped revive the program’s migrant education efforts. Later, at Dickinson College, as Director of Diversity Initiatives and Social Justice, Benitez established the “Diversity Monologues,” an annual program aimed at highlighting the creative talents of students while addressing diversity and social justice issues.
Alice Y. Hom is the California Partnerships Program Manager for the National Gender and Equity Campaign, a demonstration project for Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. As a community builder, educator and writer, she brings over 17 years of experience in organizing and teaching on the intersections of race, gender and sexuality while also linking academic issues to community based activism. From 2001-2006, she served as the Founding Director of the Intercultural Community Center at Occidental College where she worked on diversity and social justice issues. Alice also serves on the board of Visual Communications, an Asian American media arts organization. She co-edited an award-winning anthology titled Q & A: Queer in Asian America. Alice received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University, a Masters Degree in Asian American Studies from University of California, Los Angeles, and is completing her dissertation on organizing and community building by lesbians of color from the 1970s to the 1990s in a Ph.D. History Program at Claremont Graduate University.