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Fall 2019 Speaker Biographies

Oswald Schmit

Sponsored by the College of Science, the Office of Graduate Education and Research and the Honors Program

Os Schmitz is the Oastler Professor of Population and Community Ecology, in the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. His research aims to make sense of nature’s complexity. Complexity comes from the interdependencies among the variety of carnivore, herbivore, decomposer and plant species within together within ecosystems. This complexity can make understanding of ecological functioning daunting. But his research resolves rules that explain how these interdependencies vary in time and space, and what they mean for ecosystem functions like nutrient cycling, carbon storage, and resiliency to global environmental change. His book, The New Ecology: Rethinking a Science for the Anthropocene, written for a broad readership, conveys these exciting new discoveries and developments in ecological science and how they can help society achive sustainable livelihoods in the new age in which humans dominate the Earth.

Os holds a Ph.D. in Resource Ecology from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and the Environment, and a Masters of Science and Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Guelph in Canada. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Ecological Society of America. He has served on the scientific advisory board of the American Forest Foundation’s Center for Conservation Solutions and US Environmental Protection Agency’s Scientific Advisory Board ad hoc panel reviewing the EPA Report on the Environment. He has also served as science advisor to the Open Space Institute’s efforts to develop strategy for building a climate resilient landscape in the northeastern USA. He currently serves on the science advisory council of the Ocean Conservancy.


Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga

Sponsored by the Department of Languages, Cultures and Humanities, the Department of Psychology, the Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work, the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, the Office of Diversity and the Honors Program

Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga is Assistant Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at the University of San Francisco and Faculty Coordinator for the Masters in Counseling MFT program at the San Jose Campus. Belinda has a doctorate in Education, and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with eighteen years of experience working in community mental health, with a specialization in child trauma and Latino Mental Health. Belinda has extensive experience in county mental health where she worked in Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall mental health and San Mateo County Pre to Three High Risk Infant Mental health team. She also spent a significant time working at University of California Berkeley Tang Social Services team where her focus was working with student families, and sh previously served for eight years as adjunct faculty at Santa Clara University. She co-founded and is part of the Latino Advisory Council in Half Moon Bay, CA. Belinda has done extensive work on the coast working with farmworker families and their children, in her community practice her focus is on immigration trauma, u-visas, asylum and has worked with refugee children of San Mateo County.

Dr. Hernandez-Arriaga is Founder and Chief Executive Director of Ayudando Latinos A Soñar (, a Latino cultural arts, education and social justice program dedicated to working with rural youth and families living on coastside. Her current research is focused on understanding the emotional, psychological and traumatic experiences that impact undocumented and mixed status Latino youth. Belinda’s work also focuses on understanding the cultural arts as a healing space for this community of children. Belinda is committed to social justice advocacy and multicultural practices in counseling that gives voice to underground communities and expand indigenous cultural practices in the field of counseling. She and her husband have three young daughters and live in the coastal community of Half Moon Bay.


Jace Clayton

Sponsored by the Office of Student Life, the First Year Writing Program and the Honors Programs

Jace Clayton is an artist, composer and writer based in Manhattan, also known for his work as DJ /rupture, and a professor at Bard College and Harvard University. Clayton uses an interdisciplinary approach to focus on how sound, memory, and public space interact, with an emphasis on low-income communities and the global South. His book Uproot: Travels in 21st Century Music and Digital Culture was published in 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Recent projects include Sufi Plug Ins, a free suite of music software-as-art, based on non-western conceptions of sound and alternative interfaces; Room 21, an evening-length composition for 20 musicians staged at the Barnes Foundation; and The Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner, a touring performance piece for grand pianos, electronics, and voice.

As DJ /rupture, he has released several critically acclaimed albums and hosted a weekly radio show on WFMU for five years. Clayton’s collaborators include filmmakers Jem Cohen, Joshua Oppenheimer, poet Elizabeth Alexander, singer Norah Jones, and guitarist Andy Moor (The Ex).

Clayton is the UNC-CH/Duke Nannerl Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professor. He is a 2014 New York Foundation for the Arts Nonfiction Literature fellow, a 2013 Creative Capital Performing Arts grantee, and recipient of a Foundation for Contemporary Art artists award. He joined the Music/Sound faculty of Bard College’s MFA program in 2013. Clayton has been an artist-in-residence with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Eyebeam Art + Technology Atelier, and a USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism fellow. Clayton has performed in over three dozen countries, and has given artist talks at a number of museums, universities, and other institutions.


Michael Sorrell

Sponsored by the Office of the President, the Division of Student Success, the Office of Retention and Graduation and the Honors Program

Ranked with the likes of Tim Cook and Bill and Melinda Gates on Fortune’s 2018 list of the world’s greatest leaders, Michael Sorrell transformed struggling Paul Quinn College in Dallas into one of the most innovative colleges in America. An attorney and former White House staffer, Sorrell brought a bold new vision to Paul Quinn, focusing on academic rigor, experiential learning and entrepreneurship. He also pioneered what he named the “urban work college model,” based on Paul Quinn’s dramatic success. Inspiring, straight-talking, and with a compelling and hopeful story to tell, Sorrell received a standing ovation at SXSW Education for his dynamic delivery and groundbreaking approaches to reinventing the future of American higher education.

When Sorrell took the helm of Paul Quinn in 2007, enrollment had been declining for more than five years and the college was on the verge of being shut down. Today, it is considered a shining model of urban education and most years, has a waiting list. As Fortune noted when naming him to their top 50, “Sorrell quickly set about challenging perceptions, both external and internal, by giving Paul Quinn a bigger vision of itself.” With a rallying cry of “WE Over Me,” and a mission to end poverty, Sorrell led both a movement and a total transformation. He bolstered admissions standards, stepped up recruitment, demolished abandoned campus buildings and, in partnership with PepsiCo, turned the football field into an organic farm that feeds the neighborhood and the Dallas Cowboys. The college was honored as HBCU of the Year, the HBCU Student Government Association of the Year and the HBCU Business Program of the Year and was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. It also became one of only a handful of federally recognized work colleges, a key component of the school’s reality-based educational approach.

Sorrell has received numerous awards and recognition for his civic and educational leadership. He is the only three-time recipient of the HBCU Male President of the Year award and was named one of America’s 10 Most Innovative College Presidents. He also received Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and PUSH/Excel’s Education Leadership Award, the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and the A. Kenneth Pye Award for Excellence in Education from Duke University’s School of Law. Sorrell received a B.A. from Oberlin, a J.D. and M.A. in Public Policy from Duke University and an Ed.D from the University of Pennsylvania. He was the recipient of a Sloan Foundation Graduate Fellowship, studying as a graduate fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School and Duke. Before taking leadership of Paul Quinn, Sorrell enjoyed a successful career representing professional basketball players, as a public affairs consultant, attorney and as a special assistant in the White House under Bill Clinton.

A talented and energizing presenter, Sorrell has inspired crowds at TEDx, SXSW EDU, The Aspen Institute and Duke University, and numerous other venues with his vision for education, uniting communities and leading through challenges. His memorable speeches often include his formula for success at Paul Quinn College: Preach hope, practice patience, instill resilience, be entrepreneurial in thought and action and, most of all, lead with love.


David L. Albright

Sponsored by the Veterans Studies Program, the Department of Psychology, the Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work and the Honors Program

David L. Albright is the Hill Crest Foundation Endowed Chair in Mental Health and Director of the Office for Military Families and Veterans at The University of Alabama School of Social Work. He is a military veteran and former research fellow with both the Department of Veterans Affairs and the RAND Corporation’s Center for Military Health Policy Research. Dr. Albright’s research and scholarship are largely focused on implementation and translation so that it is practically useful for communities, veterans service organizations, health care providers, and policymakers as they work to promote and address health-and wellbeing-related determinants and outcomes among military personnel, veterans, and their families and communities. He is the Co-Editor of the recent collection, Bulletproofing the Psyche: Preventing Mental Health Problems in Our Military and Veterans, which focus on the phenomenon of resilience, among other pertinent determinants of mental health and well-being.

The Governor of Alabama appointed Dr. Albright to both the Alabama Executive Veterans Network, in which he serves as the Education and Research committee chair, and to the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council, in which he serves as the Community Engagement chair. He also leads a state task force to identify and develop recommendations for the Alabama Veteran population on opioid misuse and treatment.

Dr. Albright holds an appointment on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on the Well-Being of Military Families. He also serves as the delegate of the Delegate Assembly for the NASW-Alabama Chapter, and is on the board of directors for both the Alabama Rural Health Association and the Alabama Rural Health Coalition for the Homeless. He was a 2018-2019 Rural Health Fellow with the National Rural Health Association, focusing on rural Veteran policy, and he recently completed six years of chairing and co-chairing the Military Personnel and Veterans, First Responders, and their Families and Communities track for the Council on Social Work Education. He recently served as a subject matter expert on the SAMHSA PTSD special expert panel, and as both a military social work and rural social work consultant to the National Association of Social Workers. Dr. Albright also has been recognized for excellence and innovation in teaching and curriculum design, and recently recognized with both the Outstanding Commitment to Advising and the President’s Senior Faculty Research awards by the University of Alabama.


Chip Colwell

Sponsored by the Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies, the Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work, the Office of Diversity and the Honors Program.

Chip Colwell is the Senior Curator of Anthropology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He received his PhD from Indiana University, and has held fellowships with the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Rockefeller Foundation, and J. William Fulbright Program.

He has served on the editorial boards of the American Anthropologist, American Antiquity, and the International Journal of Cultural Property. He was co-editor of Museum Anthropology from 2009-2012 and was elected to the Society for American Archaeology board of directors. Numerous grants have supported his research, including from the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

He has published more than 50 academic articles and book chapters, and 11 books, including most recently, Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America's Culture. His work has been highlighted in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, Archaeology Magazine, BBC, and TED. He is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Gordon R. Willey Prize of the American Anthropological Association, Mountain-Plains Museums Association Leadership and Innovation Award, Colorado Book Award, and two National Council on Public History Book Awards.

In 2016, as the founding editor-in-chief, he launched SAPIENS, an online magazine about anthropological thinking and discoveries, and serves as co-host of the SAPIENS Podcast


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