Distinguished Speakers

One way to develop the skillset to become an effective peacemaker is to learn from the successes and failures of others. Each year we host distinguished local and international peacemakers to share their rich knowledge and instructional stories about their work and experiences to benefit students, faculty, and the community.

Speakers by Year:

2014-15 | 2013-14 | 2012-13 | 2011-12 | 2010-11 | 2009-10 | 2008-09 | 2007-08

Note: this list does not include the Peacemaker in Residence, Ignatian Peacemaking Lecture, or Faculty Fellow presentations that take place each year.


Dr. Vanessa Tobin and Dr. Jean Claude Kazadi

Bringing it Home: Connecting the Work of CRS to Marquette

Marquette is poised to connect even more deeply to a world in need through its distinctive partnership with Catholic Relief Services. Two CRS key leaders — Dr. Jean Claude Kazadi and Vanessa Tobin — brought the urgent, life-saving work of CRS into full focus and talked about the ways in which being the difference is not only possible, but imperative. From relieving unthinkable suffering to catalyzing structural change, CRS is on the global scene and ready to serve in partnership with Marquette and others.

This event was part of Mission Week 2015.

Dr. Carolyn Woo

Who Cares? Charity, Justice, and the Quest for the Common Good

Dr. Carolyn Woo, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services shared how we view charity and justice in today's world and how the Marquette community can have a significant impact on the lives of those who are underserved.

Dr. Woo’s distinguished career includes serving as dean of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business for 14 years and associate executive vice president for academic affairs at Purdue University. Recently, she was featured in Foreign Policy magazine as one of the “500 most powerful individuals on the planet” and one of 33 in the category of “a force for good.”

This event was part of Mission Week 2015.

Rev. Bryan Massingale

A View From The Mountain Top

Rev. Bryan Massingale, Professor of Theological Ethics at Marquette University presented on how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would respond to Trayvon Martin, and Michael Brown, and Eric Garner, and ... Watch a video recording of this discussion.

This event was sponsored by the Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, Raynor Memorial Libraries, the Center for Peacemaking, and the Center for Intercultural Engagement.

Panel Discussion

Recent Events and Racial Justice

Patrick Kennelly, Director of the Center for Peacemaking moderated a discussion on recent events and racial justice with Dr. Angelique Harris, Zarkey Hegwood, Astead Herdon, Dr. Jodi Melamed, and Marjorie Valbrun. Watch a video recording of this discussion.

This event was sponsored by the Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, Raynor Memorial Libraries, the Center for Peacemaking, and the Center for Intercultural Engagement.

Dr. James Mathew (Script Writer, Director, and Producer)

The Life and Legacy of Henry David Thoreau

This theatrical performance of dramatic readings brought to life the works and legacy of Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau was an American poet, philosopher, polymath, abolitionist, naturalist, and transcendentalist who influenced Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He is best known for his book Walden and his essay Resistance to Civil Government.

The cast included Robert Pavlik, Jacquelyn Ranallo, Patrick Kennelly, Anne Gorski, James Huston, Heather Ho, Paul E. Seifert, Harlan Petersen, Vicki L. Watkins, Scott Riedel, and Darren Schacht.

Terry Rynne

Jesus Christ, Peacemaker: A New Theology of Peace

Dr. Terrence Rynne will presented on his new book Jesus Christ, Peacemaker: A New Theology of Peace.

From Amazon: This path breaking book shows how the early church took seriously the "hard sayings" of the sermon on the Mount, put them into practice even in the teeth of violent repression, and, as a result of imitating Jesus' lifestyle, converted the Roman Empire.

From Orbis: A new theology of peace that renders the just war theory near mute by making Jesus and his teachings the cornerstone of both theory and practice.

Dr. Rynne teaches in peace studies at Marquette University, is co-President of the Sally and Terry Rynne Foundation which is dedicated to peacemaking and the empowerment of women, and he is a co-founder of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking.

Order the book from Orbis | Amazon.


Stacy McCoy

Typhoon Haiyan Relief Volunteer Shares Her Experience

Super-typhoon Haiyan made landfall in November 2013 in the Philippines, resulting in approximately 8,000 deaths and disrupting the livelihoods of 5.6 million. Hundreds of development agencies provided humanitarian relief, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

In this presentation, Stacy McCoy will talk about her experience working on the ground with CRS post-typhoon. While in the Philippines, Stacy helped to implement an assessment of options for farmers needing seeds for the upcoming planting season in areas affected by the super-typhoon.

Stacy McCoy is an MS/PhD student in Agricultural Economics at Purdue University with six years of international development experience promoting improved livelihoods for rural agrarian communities. Stacy worked with CRS in Rwanda as an International Development Fellow from 2008-09, and subsequently as an Agro-Enterprise Program Manager in Afghanistan from 2009-2012. Stacy began her graduate studies at Purdue in the fall of 2012, and over her winter break spent 4 weeks supporting the CRS response to Super-typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Paul McComas and Maya Kuper

Unplugged: A Theatrical Rock Show to Combat Rape and Despair

Paul McComas and Maya Kuper joined by Tim Buckingham and Mike Holden presented Unplugged, a one-hour program of scenes and songs to combat rape and despair, adapted from McComas' critically acclaimed novel.

This theatrical rock show told the story of troubled young alternative-rocker and rape survivor Dayna Clay, including her solitary journey into the wilderness of the South Dakota Badlands and her subsequent struggle to recover from depression, come to terms with her traumatic childhood, and secure a hard-won inner peace.

McComas is a Milwaukee native and two-time recipient of the Chicago Reader's "Critic's Choice" in Theatre & Performance. He has also published four other acclaimed books: Planet of the Dates, Unforgettable (a Silver Prize-winner at 2012's Midwest Book Awards), Twenty Questions, and Fit for a Frankenstein. He has also received the Mental Health Association's Distinguished Service Award.

Dr. Grant Silva

Approaching the Borders of Peace: The Militarization of National Borders and the Creation of Internal Divisions

Dr. Silva, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, shared his project titled Approaching the Borders of Peace:The Militarization of National Borders and the Creation of Internal Divisions. He travelled to the U.S.-Mexico border to research physical and psychological borders. The work combines his expertise in political philosophy and Latin American philosophy.


Dr. Michalinos Zembylas

Teaching About/for Ambivalent Forgiveness in Troubled Societies

Dr. Michalinos Zembylas shared his reflection on a vignette of ethnographic research on forgiveness in a troubled society focusing on his home country of Cyprus. The vignette highlighted the complexity of forgiveness and provided a specific instance where traditional models of interpersonal forgiveness may fail or, at the very least, need to be expanded to account for the socio-political or inter-group dynamics. The presentation concluded with a discussion of the pedagogical implications of the notion of ambivalent forgiveness for troubled societies.

Dr. Michalinos Zembylas is a professor of education at the Open University of Cyprus. He is researching how politics influence social justice, peace, citizenship and intercultural education. He has written five books and has explored different topics relating to the role emotion in education.

This event was co-sponsored by the U.S. Institute of Peace, College of Education and Office of International Education.

Margaret Swedish

Finding Our Place In the Web of Life

New discoveries of the vastness of the universe have reshaped our sense of place and purpose as humans living on this one small planet in one of billions of galaxies. From the first "Flaring Forth," a monumental act of creation has been taking place through everything-including us.

At the same time as we make these discoveries, we are encountering ecological crises across our planet that are threatening the future of life, and they, too are becoming our teachers, revealing us to ourselves.

This retreat explored these dynamics and what they tell us about this moment of transition, the implications for the journey of faith and how we see the meaning and mission of the human at this point in time. All creation is one community where everything is connected to everything else. In our search together, we will explore the implications of that truth in our own lives and the witness of our communities.

Margaret Swedish was director of the Religious Task Force on Central America and Mexico in Washington D.C. (1981-2004). Since 2006, her work has been focused on the ecological crises now confronting humanity. Her book, Living Beyond the 'End of the World:' A Spirituality of Hope, addresses connections among the various environmental, economic and cultural trends that are leading towards ecological collapse.

Paul McComas

Scribe of Social Conscience: Steinbeck Plus Seventy-Five

Three-quarters of a century after the publication of "the great American novella" Of Mice and Men (1937) and the epic Depression-era protest novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939), this presentation took a fresh look at both of these masterpieces, along with three other books by John Steinbeck: East of Eden, Cannery Row and Travels with Charley: In Search of America. Author-actor-educator Paul McComas presented dramatic readings and analysis from all five classics, particularly Steinbeck's status as a master chronicler of-and avid advocate for-"the have-nots." The presentation also included a performance of Bruce Springsteen's stirring Wrath-inspired song "The Ghost of Tom Joad." With his unflagging insistence that each of us is, indeed must be, our brothers' and our sisters' keepers, Steinbeck 75 years later could hardly be more timely...or more necessary.

Milwaukee native Paul McComas is the author of four acclaimed books: two novels, Planet of the Dates and Unplugged, and two short-story collections, Unforgettable (a Silver Prize-winner at 2012's Midwest Book Awards) and Twenty Questions. Since 1988, he's taught writing, literature, and film, winning awards from National-Louis and Northwestern Universities. A recipient of the Mental Health Association's Distinguished Service Award, he serves on the National Leadership Council of the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) as well as on its Speakers' Bureau.

Patrick Kennelly

Nonviolence in Afghanistan

October 6, 2012 marked the 11th anniversary of the American invasion of Afghanistan. The immense toll this conflict has taken of the American and Afghan people is apparent. There have been over 23,000 people killed in Afghanistan in the last ten years, of those more than 2,100 were American troops. The majority of the other victims of this conflict were Afghan civilians. Sadly, but not surprisingly - since violence begets violence - Afghan, American, and UN officials are predicting increased violence in the future.

Patrick Kennelly, associate director of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking, provided a concise history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, an overview of peacemaking efforts in Afghanistan, and facilitated a discussion on what we can do to bring about an end to this war. Kennelly has traveled to Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012 to research how Afghans are using nonviolent solutions to resolve the conflict in their country.

Ethan Casey, M. Salahuddin Khan, and Rachel Williams

The Pakistan That I Know

Pakistan is often misunderstood in the media due to the complexity of USA-Pakistan relationship. Many times people have limited knowledge about Pakistan and Pakistanis in America leading to negative stereotyping. This interactive panel discussion featured three speakers who will shared their personal experiences living and working in Pakistan. The panelists will focused on major social and development issues facing Pakistan as well as ideas on how to promote peace by connecting American and Pakistani communities.

The panelists were Ethan Casey, journalist and author of Alive and Well in Pakistan and Overtaken by Events, M. Salahuddin Khan, author of Sikander, and Rachel Williams, Rotarian, who has received many awards for her work in Pakistan.

This event was co-sponsored by the Pakistan Physicians Society of Wisconsin and the Human Development Foundation.


Rev. Charlie McCarthy and John Carmody

Retreat on Gospel Nonviolence

Original Christianity, for about 300 years after the life of Christ, forbade the use of violence and enmity. This retreat led by Rev. Charlie McCarthy and John Carmody provides what many have called a life-changing experience of the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels. It addresses our struggles to transform our lives and our world by living Christ’s example and message of universal love and kindness in all our relationships. It shows us how we can effect peace in our families, communities, workplace, political structures and the world by confronting with love those forces within that undermine the innate capacity for care and compassion with which we are all imbued. Come join us.

Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy is the founder and the original director of The Program for the Study and Practice of Nonviolent Conflict Resolution at the University of Notre Dame. He is a co-founder, along with Dorothy Day and others, of Pax Christi-USA. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his life’s work on behalf of peace within people and among people.

John Carmody is currently director of the Center for Christian Nonviolence in Wilmington, DE. He served as a Marine Platoon Commander and Company Executive Officer in Vietnam in '67 and '68 where he was awarded a Silver Star and two Purple Hearts. He left the Marine Corps as a captain in 1970 to pursue a career in teaching and later worked for DuPont Pharmaceuticals.


Sr. Carolyn Gorny-Kopkowski, O.S.B.

Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope

Hope is rooted in the past but believes in the future. God’s world is in God’s hands, hope says, and therefore cannot possibly be hopeless. Life, already fulfilled in God, is only the process of coming to realize that we have been given everything we need to come to
fullness of life, both here and hereafter.

But if struggle is the process of evolution from spiritual emptiness to spiritual wisdom, hope is a process as well. Every stage of the process of struggle is a call to move from spiritual torpor to spiritual vitality. The spirituality of struggle gives birth to the spirituality of hope.

Gift yourself with this retreat to reflect on the struggles of your own life. Come to recognize the possibility of new spirit and transformation no matter what life presents to you. Be courageous of heart – face the struggles and discover the gifts! The retreat was led by Sr. Carolyn Gorny-Kopkowski, OSB.

Hedy Epstein

From Killenheim (Germany 1939) to West Bank (Palestine 2003)

Hedy Epstein

Hedy Epstein is an American Jew of German descent who escaped to England on a children's transport in 1939; she never saw her family again. After WWII, she worked on the Nuremberg Medical Trial, which involved the doctors accused of performing medical experiments on concentration camp inmates.

In 1948, she moved to the U.S. and became active in anti-war, fair housing and other social justice movements. Hedy has visited the Israeli Occupied West Bank five times since 2003. Hedy spoke of her experiences as a Jew in Nazi Germany and as an international peace activist who has witnessed the plight of the Palestinian people first-hand.

You can watch the presentation here.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Peacemaking Through the Torah

Rabbi Arthur Waskow

A prophetic voice in Jewish, multireligious, and American life, Rabbi Arthur Waskow was instrumental in founding The Shalom Center and initiating Olive Trees for Peace. He has promoted peace, justice, and healing of the Earth for over 40 years.

He taught for seven years at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College,  and as visiting professor of religion at Swarthmore and Vassar colleges and Drew and Temple universities. In 1995 he was named by the United Nations one of forty Wisdom-Keepers from around the world in connection with the Habitat II conference.

In 2001 he initiated Olive Trees for Peace in support of Rabbis for Human Rights' work in Israel and Palestine, and in 2002 joined in founding RHR/ North America as secretary of its Board and steering committee, and was instrumental in urging it to work on human rights issues in the US (especially torture). Several years later in 2007, he was named by Newsweek one of the fifty most influential American rabbis.

Rabbi Waskow discussed Jewish scripture and prayer, and its use or misuse in support of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

You can watch the presentation here.

Mubarak Awad

A Nonviolent Approach to the Middle East Conflict

Dr. Mubarak Awad

Known as the Arab Gandhi, Mubarak Awad committed himself to a lifetime of nonviolence
after his father was killed in fighting between Arabs and Jews.

As a leading voice for nonviolence and peace in the Holy Land, Awad contended that all traditions and religions can discover and embrace nonviolent approaches to social change, justice, and peace.

Awad discussed the challenges, struggles, and successes nonviolence in the Middle East peace process, as well as the role of US citizens in Middle East policy making.

You can watch the presentation here.


Grandmother Mona Polacca

The Spirituality of Mother Earth

Mona Polacca

The Spring Retreat was led byGrandmother Mona Polacca, M.S.W., Member of The International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers.  She is a Havasupai, Hopi, and Tewa Native American whose tribal affiliation is of the Colorado River Indian Tribes of Parker, Arizona. The Grandmothers are a group of women representing indigenous cultures from around the world, who are concerned with destruction of the earth and indigenous ways of life.  

Mona has been a featured conference speaker both nationally and internationally, themes focusing on indigenous peoples human rights, aging, mental health, addiction and violence. In December 2008, Mona had the honor of being the representative of the indigenous Peoples on a panel of world religious leaders who drafted and signed a statement “Faith in Human Rights”, in commemoration of the 60th Year of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  She is employed with the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. working the tribes on addressing health issues.

Mona is also featured in a wonderful collection of teachings and stories compiled in the book, “Grandmothers Counsel the World: Women Elder Offer Their Vision for Our Planet” (ed. Carol Schaefer).

Dr. Beth Osnes

(M)other: Panel and Play

The panel explored motherhood and peacemaking through a variety of lenses – nursing, journalism, psychology, and the performing arts. This inter-disciplinary panel consisted of Dr. Ana Garner, Dr. Beth Osnes, Dr. Karen Slattery and Dr. Leona Vande Vusse who discussed how their research contributes to how society approaches motherhood and peacemaking.

Dr. Beth Osnes' performance explores what it might take for the mothers of one country to authentically care about the mothers and children of another country. The show’s opening describes a fictional program, called “Baby Swapping,” created by the United Nations to generate concern for the world’s children. In this small, limited pilot program, seven mothers from seven nations from around the world are required by their governments to swap their six-month-old babies with another mother from another nation for one month. What follows is an intimate look at one of these mother’s experiences and her eventual realization of her interconnectedness with these other mothers, their children, and their nations.

Jesse Greenberg

Giving Voice to the Majority: Creating the Pro-Israel Pro-Peace Lobby

Jesse Greenberg


Jesse Greenberg is the Chicago regional political director of J Street, the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement. They seek to change the direction of American policy in the Middle East and to broaden the public and policy debate in the U.S. about the Middle East. They also support strong American leadership to end the Arab-Israeli and Palestinian-Israeli conflicts peacefully and diplomatically.

For decades, the predominant voice from American Jews on Israel has come from a more hawkish minority. J Street was created change that dynamic and to create the space in Washington, DC for policymakers to take more thoughtful, nuanced positions in order to help bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that results in two-states. J Street is staking out a moderate place on the political spectrum and creating a home for the majority of American Jews who believe that Israel's ability to achieve a two state solution and maintain its Jewish, democratic character will come only through hands-on American foreign policy and the support of Congress.

Julie Enslow

The Life of an Activist: The KKK, MLK, and Me

Julie Enslow


Julie Enslow of Peace Action Wisconsin is an accomplished local peace activist and the Center for Peacemaking's 2009 Milwaukee Community Peacemaker. As a founding member of Peace Action Wisconsin and with nearly four decades of involvement in the struggle for peace and justice, Julie is a living example of what it means to be a peacemaker.

Julie gave a formal presentation to Marquette and the wider community about the personal story behind her motivation to commit to a lifetime of peace and nonviolence.

Sr. Helen Prejean, C.S.J.

Dead Man Walking - The Journey Continues

Sr. Prejean accepts diploma


Sister Helen Prejean received an honorary degree in theological studies from Marquette University upon the recommendation of the Center for Peacemaking. After accepting her diploma, she spoke to the audience about her journey from the seminary to being a spiritual advisor for death row inmates to becoming one of the leading advocates to abolish the death penalty.

Watch the highlights from Prejean's speech.

Fr. Ray Helmick S.J.

Israel-Palestine: What is the Vatican Position?

Fr. Ray Helmick S.J., professor of Theology at Boston College, spoke about his experiences in Israel-Palestine and interpreted the historical influences on the Vatican's position on the conflict in Israel-Palestine to a Marquette-Milwaukee audience.

Fr. Helmick was the second speaker in our Israel-Palestine Program funded by the Frankel Family Foundation. He has established himself as an authority in conflict resolution and mediation as he has been a part of the peace process in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, and now in Israel-Palestine. Fr. Helmick published a book in 2004 Negotiating Outside the Law: Why Camp David Failed.

What people were saying:

Fr. Ray Helmick S.J."Fr. Helmick has great knowledge and understanding of the conflict and the region - both historical and political. The timeline of events made it easier to comprehend the church's position."

"His first-hand experience with all three of the major parties involved was impressive."

"Fr. Helmick has a mastery of the history of the problems."

"His personal experiences and national perspectives helped to understand the Vatican's perspective over the past 50 years."

"This was a great and informative presentation."


Gregory Khalil

Negotiating Peace in Israel-Palestine

Gregory Khalil, former legal adviser with the Palestinian Authority, shared a Palestinian perspective of the conflict in Israel-Palestine as well as personal stories of his time in Israel-Palestine and practical advice on engaging in the struggle for peace.

Funding for this presentation was provided by the Frankel Family Foundation.

Greg Khalil
What people were saying:

"Very informative and eye-opening. It piqued my curiosity to learn more."

"I have heard much of this before but I was really captured by the fairness of this presentation."

"The very clear way in which he laid out the issues and his insightful appreciation of the key problems."

"I enjoyed every second of it!"

"Khalil is excellent!"

"His ability to present complex issues with analogies that the audience could relate to."

"His personal stories and his ability to discuss some important issues as an objective 3rd party observer."

Patricia Isasa

Surviving and Resisting Torture in Argentina

Patricia Isasa, torture survivor and resister from Argentina, visited the Milwaukee area to discuss the brutalities she suffered as a political prisoner and to spread her message to end torture.

The documentary about her imprisonment, "El Cerco" was viewed at her presentation.

Funding for this presentation was provided by the Center for Peacemaking, the Manresa Project, Marquette University Campus Ministry, Peace Action Wisconsin, and SoA Watch, Milwaukee.

Patricia IsasaWhat people were saying:

"Her personal testimony was very powerful."

"Her warm, energetic presence."

"Her passion and commitment to her teachings."

"Her passionate and truthful explanations."

"Her movie was great!"

"The hope that comes from knowing that courageous people like Patricia are working on these issues."

Ken Butigan and Lisa Haufschild

Tools for Nonviolent Social Change

Ken Butigan and Lisa Haufschild of Pace e Bene Nonviolent Services conducted the center's beginning of the year retreat. The retreat included reflection, interactive activities, role play, and group discussion. Participants learned about the foundations of nonviolence and how to structure and organize a nonviolent campaign or demonstration.

Ken Butigan and Lisa Haufschild
What people were saying:

"How the information was shared in a fun, powerful way."

"Their enthusiasm and passion."

"Inspiring and hopeful."

"The interaction, discussion, and different activities."

"Their personal stories were powerful."


Dorothy Jackson and Laurie Hasbrook

Practical Nonviolence Workshop

Dorothy Jackson, Repairers of the Breach, facilitated the morning session in which she led participants through an exploration of the definitions of violence and how it progresses in individuals' lives.

Laurie Hasbrook, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, facilitated the afternoon session in which she discussed nonviolent responses to violence on a national and global level with participants.

Laurie Hasbrook and Dorothy JacksonWhat people were saying:
Morning Session

"Dorothy Jackson's stories and analysis."

"Dorothy Jackson was great. Lets get her again."

"The group discussion. This has been a revelation to me. I have been so moved not to tolerate any kind of abuse."

Afternoon Session

"All of it was worthwhile. It was great to have Laurie here. A good combination of video, poetry, speakers, role-playing, and analysis."

"The opportunity to dialogue about peace and ending violence always brings hope."