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Speaker Biographies: Fall 2014

Michael T. Benson

President of Eastern Kentucky University and Author of Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel

Dr. Michael T. Benson is the 12th President of Eastern Kentucky University, a position he assumed on August 1, 2013.  

Throughout his twenty-year career in public higher education, Michael has devoted himself to students and their academic success.  He is an accomplished communicator and scholar committed to diversity and expanding global academic opportunities, and is a proven financial manager who is focused on developing and sustaining political and external support for EKU.

Born in Salt Lake City and raised in Texas, Michael completed his doctorate in modern Middle Eastern history from the University of Oxford (St. Antony’s College) where he was a recipient of the Oxford Graduate Overseas Fellowship and a Rotary Foundation Scholarship. He also earned a master’s degree cum laude from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame in non-profit administration, and a B.A. cum laude from Brigham Young University with a major in political science and double minor in English and history.

Prior to his chief executive role at EKU, Michael was the 15th President of Southern Utah University where he successfully directed the development and implementation of SUU’s largest and most ambitious comprehensive campaign, the $100 million “Future is Rising Campaign.”  

Dr. Benson has worked and studied abroad for seven years in Italy, England and Israel. He is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post as a featured blogger on higher education issues.  His book, Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel (Praeger 1997) has been hailed as a landmark work in the area of American foreign policy and the U.S. presidency.  He has also served as a consulting historian and essayist for both the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri. 

An accomplished athlete, Michael has run a marathon in 2 hours and 41 minutes, played collegiate basketball at both Brigham Young and Oxford, and maintains an 8 handicap in his favorite sport – golf.  

Most importantly, however, Dr. Benson and his wife Debi (Woods) are the parents of three young children: Truman (6), Tatum (5), and Talmage (2). He is also the father of Emma (16) and Samuel (14).


Lee Alan Dugatkin

Behavioral Ecologist, Evolutionary Biologist, and Historian of Science

Lee A. Dugatkin is a Professor and Distinguished University Scholar in the Department of Biology at The University of Louisville. His main area of research interest is the evolution of social behavior, and he and his lab are studying the evolution of cooperation, the evolution of aggression, the interaction between genetic and cultural evolution, the evolution of antibiotic resistance, and the evolution of risk-taking behavior.

Dugatkin has had the privilege of speaking at over 100 major universities all around the world including Harvard University, Oxford University (England), Cornell University, The University of Chicago, The University of Copenhagen (Denmark), The University of Helsinki (Finland), Charles University (The Czech Republic), Uppsala University (Sweden), The University of Groningen (Holland), National Taiwan University (Taiwan), The University of Otago (New Zealand), The London School of Economics (England), Cambridge University (England), and many others. He is an occasional contributing author to Scientific AmericanSlate MagazineThe New ScientistNewsdayCerebrumBioScience, Psychology Today and The Wilson Quarterly.

Dugatkin is the author of over 150 articles on evolution and behavior in such journals as Nature, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and The Proceedings of The Royal Society of London. He has published three books on the evolution of cooperation: Cooperation among Animals: An Evolutionary Perspective, Oxford University Press, 1997. Cheating Monkeys and Citizen Bees, The Free Press, 1999. The Altruism Equation: Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness, Princeton University Press, 2006. These books have been translated into German, Chinese, Korean and Japanese and Spanish.

Dugatkin is also the author of two textbooks: 1) Principles of Animal Behavior (W.W. Norton, 1st edition, 2004, second edition, 2009, 3rd edition, April 2013). 2) Along with coauthor, Carl Bergstrom,  a new textbook, Evolution (WW Norton, 2012). 

He has also written a number of popular books, including Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose (The University of Chicago Press, 2009) and his latest trade book is The Prince of Evolution (2011).


Luis H. Zayas

Dean of the School of Social Work and Robert Lee Sutherland Chair in Mental Health and Social Policy at the University of Texas at Austin

Luis H. Zayas was appointed as Dean of the School of Social Work in January 2012.  Before joining UT Austin, Zayas was the inaugural Shanti K. Khinduka Distinguished Professor of Social Work and Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis.  During his nearly ten years at Washington University, Zayas held the post of Associate Dean for Faculty from 2005-2007 and founded the Center for Latino Family Research in 2007.   At Washington University, he taught social work practice courses; mentored doctoral dissertations, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate research assistants; led outpatient management rounds and psychotherapy seminars for psychiatric residents; and conducted research in diagnostic processes, suicide attempts of young Latinas, and adapting interventions for Latino children, youth and families.

Born in Coamo, Puerto Rico, Zayas attended college and graduate school in New York City.  In a social work career spanning 35 years, Zayas has cross-walked clinical practice, supervision, administration, and research.  He entered the field as a social worker in New York City delivering services directly to clients in social service agencies, general and pediatric rehabilitation hospitals, and mental health and primary care clinics in the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx.  Zayas directed a therapeutic nursery in the South Bronx where he also supervised clinical staff.  While extending his focus to research, teaching, and administration, Zayas has remained an active practitioner throughout, more recently providing pro bono services to community agencies.

Presently, Zayas is focusing on the plight of citizen-children whose parents are being deported.  Through funding by the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, he is examining the effects of deportation on the psychosocial functioning of U.S.-born citizen-children of undocumented Mexican immigrants.  As a practitioner, Zayas is involved also in evaluating citizen-children and testifying in immigration courts on behalf of citizen-children and their families.  This practice has also led to his public advocacy for citizen-children.  In addition, Zayas continues his research on adolescent Latinas who have the highest rates of suicide attempts of any U.S. adolescent group.

Zayas has held social work faculty appointments at Columbia University, Fordham University, and Washington University, and a family medicine faculty appointment at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation; National Institute of Mental Health; Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; and other public and private sources.  In 1993, he was honored by the American Family Therapy Academy with the “Economic and Cultural Diversity Award” for his work with AIDS orphans and their families.  He received leadership awards from several professional associations and mentoring awards at Washington University.  He has lectured to university audiences in Chile, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, and the United States.


John Corvino

Chair of the Philosophy Department at Wayne State University and Author of What’s Wrong with Homosexuality?

Dr. John Corvino is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He is the co-author (with Maggie Gallagher) of Debating Same-Sex Marriage (June 2012) and the author of What’s Wrong with Homosexuality? (January 2013), both from Oxford University Press. Until 2011, his column “The Gay Moralist” appeared weekly at; he has also contributed to The Advocate, the LA Times, the Independent Gay Forum, the Huffington Post, The New Republic and the New York Times. In the last twenty years he has spoken at over 200 campuses on issues of sexuality, ethics, and marriage.

Corvino is the recipient of numerous awards, including a 2012 Distinguished Professor of the Year Award from the Presidents’ Council of the State Universities of Michigan and a 2004 Spirit of Detroit Award from the Detroit City Council for his work on behalf of LGBT rights. His YouTube videos have received nearly a million hits.


Tari Hartman Squire

Strategic Marketing Consultant and Founding CEO of EIN SOF Communications, Inc.

Tari Hartman Squire’s EIN SOF Communications, Inc., a leading disability strategic marketing, accessible events and employment strategies woman-owned small business, with an extensive disability, diversity, government, media, corporate and university network. EIN SOF is a GSA Federal Contractor in Market Research & Analysis.  The hallmark of each EIN SOF campaign weaves sophisticated cause-related, social, guerilla and strategic marketing with innovative PR brand development strategies to illuminate disability-inclusive diversity in public policy.

As prime contractor, subcontractor and grantee for U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy, EIN SOF is partner in the Add Us In three-year grant to increase employment of people with disabilities from historically-excluded communities; delivers entertainment and corporate testimonials for What’s Your Connection? campaign; helped outreach and coordinate the Listening Tour and co-produced Entertainment, Healthcare and Financial Sector Summits.

Other government clients include the National Council on Disability (NCD) for its newly released Report, Experience of Voters with Disabilities in the 2012 Election Cycle. EIN SOF has a Teaming Arrangement with Washington, DC-based Fors Marsh Group, LLC for a five-year Blanket Purchase Agreement with the IRS to conduct focus groups with tax payers and tax preparers in a multiple languages to improve IRS forms and publications.

Squire won the Visionary Award for 25 years of collaborative leadership as founding executive director of Media Access and launching SAG performers with disabilities committee. At the White House 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Robert David Hall’s (CSI) introduction to President Obama named Squire a “dynamo in communications.” She hosted a White House Business Roundtable for DOL Employment & Training Admin; produced ODEP’s Lights! Camera! Access! Summit that inspired NBCUniversal’s What Can WE Do? recruiting event.

EIN SOF/Nielsen NRGi’s “Disability Community Market Research Initiative” with national disability thought leaders built the disability-inclusive diversity business case and was featured in Adweek & Fortune Small Business.

EIN SOF launched disability strategic marketing with its My Left Foot campaign (DC Capitol Hill Screening and first-ever tie-in with ADA). A trusted media source, Squire co-authored Making News: How to Get Disability Rights Coverage and advised Associated Press Stylebook on disability-savvy semantics.

Other clients include: ADA National Network; AT&T; Bank of America; Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities; Computer Science Collaboration Project; Fox Searchlight/The Sessions; HSC Foundation Youth Transitions Initiative; HP; Kennedy Center Leadership Exchange in Arts & Disability; Macy’s; Mattel/Toys “R” Us launch of Becky (wheelchair user doll); Microsoft; Nickelodeon; ITVS’ Lives Worth Living; Smithsonian; Sundance Channel/Push Girls; UCLA Anderson School of Management’s Leadership Institute for Managers with Disabilities; Veterans Administration and the World Institute on Disability.

 Squire is fluent in American Sign Language, co-chairs National Disability Leadership Alliance Employment Team; spearheaded National Spinal Cord Injury Business Advisory Council; and coordinated PR for disability organizations.


William Powers

Prize-Winning Media Commentator and Author of the New York Times Bestseller Hamlet’s BlackBerry

William Powers was born in Arizona and grew up in Rhode Island. He graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude with a degree in U. S. history and literature, and did graduate study in Spain as a Rotary International Scholar. He began his career as a U.S. Senate staff member working on foreign relations, intelligence and military affairs.

He then joined The Washington Post, working initially for Bob Woodward in the investigative unit. He did reporting and research for The Commanders, Woodward’s international bestseller about the first Gulf War.

As a Post staff writer and columnist in the 1990s, Powers covered business, media, politics, popular culture and ideas. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times and many other publications. He created The New Republic’s first media column, and for ten years wrote an influential column on the intersection of media and politics for National Journal.

He has been featured in dozens of major news outlets, including interviews with Katie Couric, NPR, Good Morning America, the PBS NewsHour, CNBC and the BBC, and coverage in The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Wired,and The Guardian.

Powers has been a speaker at such high-profile venues as South By Southwest, the Aspen Festival of Ideas, Google and Facebook. Reporting on one of his dynamic presentations, The New York Times called him an “apostle” of the next wave of digital thinking.

He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Hamlet’s BlackBerry. Widely praised for its insights on the digital future, the book grew out of research he did as a fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center. It has been selected as the Common Read at a number of colleges and universities, and published in many other countries and languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German and Russian.

Powers is a two-time winner of the National Press Club’s Rowse Award for best American media commentary. He has been a resident fellow at the MacDowell Colony, and studied the technology culture of Japan on a fellowship from the Japan Society.

He spent 2012 as Director of The Crowdwire, a project analyzing the role of social media in the U. S. presidential race. The Crowdwire was sponsored by and based at Bluefin Labs, a technology company that grew out of the MIT Media Lab and was acquired by Twitter in early 2013.

He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, author Martha Sherrill, and their son.



Kenneth Lee Adelman

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

Kenneth Lee Adelman was Director of the U.S. Arms Control Agency for President Ronald Reagan during the 1986 Reykjavik summit, and accompanied Reagan at three superpower summits. He also served as a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

Adelman is Executive Producer of a feature film “Reykjavik” with Michael Douglas as Ronald Reagan, Christoph Waltz as Mikhail Gorbachev, and Ridley Scott as Producer. After government, he taught Shakespeare at Georgetown and George Washington Universities, and National Security Studies at Johns Hopkins and those two universities.

Graduating as a religion major from Grinnell College, Adelman received a Masters in Foreign Service Studies and a Doctorate in Political Theory from Georgetown University.

With his humor, wit, and insight, he has been a top-evaluated keynote speaker for YPO, industry and professional groups across the country. Appearing frequently on television and radio, he is a superb storyteller with an accomplished career. Adelman is an excellent keynote speaker for corporations, associations, and universities.


Audra Simpson

Associate Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University and Author of Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life across the Borders of Settler States

Audra Simpson's primary research is energized by the problem of recognition, by its passage beyond (and below) the aegis of the state into the grounded field of political self-designation, self-description and subjectivity. This work is motivated by the struggle of Kahnawake Mohawks to find the proper way to afford political recognition to each other, their struggle to do this in different places and spaces and the challenges of formulating membership against a history of colonial impositions. As a result of this ethnographic engagement she is interested especially in those formations of citizenship and nationhood that occur in spite of state power and imposition and in particular, she is interested in declarative and practice-oriented acts of independence. In order to stay faithful to the words of her interlocutors she is interested as well in the use of narrative as data, in alternative forms of ethnographic writing and in critical forms of history. In order to stay faithful to her own wishes, she works at every turn to enter the fields of anthropology and Native American Studies into a critical and constructive dialogue with each other.

Audra's second research project examines the borders of time, history and bodies across and within what is now understood to be the United States and Canada.


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