2014 MCIC Presenters
Lee England jr.
Violin with Soul
Lee England Jr. is a professional violinist with work credits that span from Stevie Wonder to Usher. He is a world-renowned musician and prodigy. He is the first non-athlete to be signed to Michael Jordan's brand and was the first and youngest African-American composer to have his music accepted for use by the NFL; and recently produced all of the music for the World Cup.
Read more about Lee England Jr.
ELIZA GREENWOOD AND JOSIE KRUEGER
DEAF AND TRANSGENDER ADVOCATES
The founder of Greensoda Productions, Eliza Greenwood, grew up in Colorado and New Mexico. In high school, she immersed herself in classical theatre. One day the thought occurred to her, "Deaf theatre must also exist." Further research led to the summation of her goals for a BA studying deaf theatre. She moved across the country to pursue studies in Washington, DC, the “Mecca” of deaf culture.
Josie Krueger is a deaf, transgender survivor who speaks on everything from adoption to male versus female underwear. After graduating from the California School for the Deaf, she went on to Gallaudet University and then earned a B.A. in American sign language from Kent State University. All the while, she was developing a unique way of storytelling.
Learn more about Greensoda Productions
Combating Islamophobia Through Comedy
Negin Farsad is at the forefront of social justice comedy—a field that she insists totally exists (or should). As one of few Iranian-American Muslim female comedian/filmmakers, this TED Fellow uses humor to bridge the racial, religious, social, and immigrant gap.
Learn more about Negin Farsad
Farsad wrote for and developed the MTV series, “Detox,” the PBS animated series “1001 Nights,” and the Nickelodeon series “Class ParentsNerdcore Rising,” a comedy about nerdcore hip-hop, for which she was director, producer, writer, production assistant, and golf caddie. Nerdcore Rising premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival to sold-out houses and received critical praise. Salon named it a “hilarious and delightful” Best of Fest pick and the Boston Herald called it a “laugh riot from the first scene.” Nerdcore Rising has been an official selection of multiple festivals around the country and internationally, earning Best Film, Best Director, and Audience Favorite awards along the way.
Negin was recently named one of the 50 Funniest Women by the Huffington Post. She was also named a 2013 TED Fellow and gave a TED Talk about her work in social justice comedy.
Jose Antonio Vargas
Inside the Immigration Debate
Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, multimedia storyteller, and the founder of Define American, a campaign that seeks to elevate the immigration conversation. Shortly after Vargas' story on the issue of the undocumented was published in TIME in June 2011, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that it would no longer deport young undocumented residents who qualify for the DREAM act. Those eligible will receive work permits.
Learn more about Jose Antonio Vargas
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. He also toured with President Obama during his announcements about immigration reform.
Vargas 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.
On July 15, after living in the United States for 21 years as an undocumented resident, he was arrested by immigration officials while trying to fly from the border town of McAllen, Texas. He was released several hours later after being questioned.
Life as a Gay Man in the NFL
Several years ago, after playing for nine seasons in the NFL (Atlanta, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Carolina, and Minnesota) Esera Tuaolo came out on national television and told the world that he is gay. Now, he cherishes the chance to share his story in order to try and help others who may still be struggling with who they are and to others to understand the challenges people face in an intolerant society. Tuaolo also had to overcome the cultural resistance of his Pacific Islander family and friends who had a very traditional, old world point of view.
Learn more about Esera Tuaolo
Since coming out of the closet in 2003, he has been speaking to schools and corporations about homophobia in sports, creating a safe environment for employees, bullying, and many other forms of discrimination.
After retiring from professional football Tuaolo became fed up with pretending to “be straight.” He publicly announced his sexuality on HBO Real Sports, an experience he describes as “taking off a costume I’ve been wearing all my life.”
Diane Nilan, a respected, relentless advocate, voluntarily plunged into homelessness to address this issue. Her 25 years working with homeless persons: running suburban shelters, successfully leading legislative efforts to guarantee educational rights for homeless students, and training educators about those rights provided her with a myriad riveting stories to share.
Learn more about Diane Nilan
Since 2005, Nilan has been on back roads of all 48 states in the lower United States, chronicling homelessness of homeless families and youth. She travels in her road-weary RV she's dubbed Tillie. She's teamed up with Dr. Laura Vazquez, media professor at Northern Illinois University, to produce “My Own Four Walls” and “On the Edge,” acclaimed documentary films about homeless children, youth and families.