Dr. Conchita Hernandez Legorreta (@Conchitahdz)
Dr. Conchita Hernandez Legorreta was born in Mexico and grew up in California. She advocates for the rights of blind children and their parents in the public-school setting in the United States and abroad through a lens of intersectionality focusing on social justice. Conchita received her Bachelor's degree from Saint Mary’s College of California, majoring in International Studies, Spanish, and History. She then went on to Louisiana Tech University where she received her Master’s in Teaching with a focus on teaching blind students. As well, Conchita earned a master’s certificate in working with Deaf-Blind students from Northern Illinois University. Conchita received a Doctoral degree in Special Education from George Washington University. Conchita is a Biden Presidential Appointee to the National Board for Education Sciences.
Conchita has been published in Future Reflections and Rooted in Rights. Conchita keeps up with research in special education and serves as a peer reviewer on the Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research. Conchita conducts workshops on best practices for educators and professionals in the field of disability and advocacy in the United States and internationally. Conchita worked in the rehabilitation field in Nebraska where she set up innovative programming for disabled adults. Conchita is the founder and Chair of METAS (Mentoring Engaging and Teaching All Students) a non-profit organization that trains educators in Latin America that work with blind/low vision students and other disabilities. In this role she engages lawmakers in policy discussions around people with disabilities and inclusion. Conchita is also a co-founder of the National Coalition of Latinx with Disabilities that seeks to amplify the voices of disabled Latinx in the disability rights movement. Currently, Conchita works as the Maryland Blind and Low Vision Specialist. Conchita strives to be a voice for change for educators, professionals and advocates to make full inclusion a reality for people with disabilities in Latin America.
Heather McGhee (@hmcghee)
Heather designs and promotes solutions to inequality in America. Over her career in public policy, Heather has crafted legislation, testified before Congress and helped shape presidential campaign platforms. Her book The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together spent 10 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and was longlisted for the National Book Award and Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. The New York Times called it, “The book that should change how progressives talk about race.” and the Chicago Tribune said, “Required reading to move the country forward…”. It is a Washington Post and TIME Magazine Must-Read Book of 2021. The paperback version will be out in February 2022. The Sum of Us will be adapted into a Spotify podcast by Higher Ground, the production company of Barack and Michelle Obama in June 2022, and into a young adult readers’ version by Random House Children’s in 2023.
Heather is an educator, serving currently as a Visiting Lecturer in Urban Studies at the City University of New York’s School of Labor and Urban Studies. She has also held visiting positions at Yale University’s Brady-Johnson Grand Strategy Program and the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. She is the recipient of honorary degrees from Muhlenberg College, Niagara University, and CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.
For nearly two decades, Heather helped build the non-partisan "think and do" tank Demos, serving four years as president. Under McGhee’s leadership, Demos moved their original idea for “debt-free college” into the center of the 2016 presidential debate, argued before the Supreme Court to protect voting rights in January 2018, helped win pro-voter reforms in five states over two years, provided expert testimony to Congressional committees, including a Supreme Court confirmation hearing in 2017, and led the research campaigns behind successful wage increases for low-paid workers on federal contracts, as well as at McDonalds, Walmart and other chain retailers.
As an executive, McGhee transformed Demos on multiple levels. She led a successful strategic planning and rebranding process. She designed a Racial Equity Organizational Transformation which led to an increase in staff racial diversity (from 27 percent people of color to 60 percent in four years), an original racial equity curriculum for staff professional development and a complete overhaul of the organization’s research, litigation and campaign strategies using a racial equity lens. McGhee also nearly doubled the organizational budget in four years. A strong coalition-builder and trusted cross-movement leader, McGhee deepened Demos’ influence through new networks and collaborations inside and outside the Beltway.
An influential voice in the media and a former NBC contributor, McGhee regularly appears on NBC’s Meet the Press and MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Deadline White House and All In. Her 2020 TED talk is entitled “Racism Has a Cost for Everyone”. She has shared her opinions, writing and research in numerous outlets, including the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Politico and National Public Radio. McGhee’s conversation on a C-SPAN program in 2016 with a white man who asked for her help to overcome his racial prejudice went viral, receiving more than 10 million views and sparking wide media coverage that included a New York Times op-ed, a New Yorker piece and a CNN town hall. In spring 2018, Starbucks founder Howard Schultz asked McGhee to advise the company as it designed an anti-bias training for 250,000 employees in the wake of the unjust arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia store. McGhee wrote a report with recommendations for how Starbucks can apply a racial equity lens to their businesses, and how other companies both large and small can benefit from doing the same.
McGhee also played a leadership role in steering the historic Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and was one of the key advocates credited for the adoption of the Volcker Rule.
She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University and a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. McGhee is the chair of the board of Color Of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, and also serves on the boards of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Open Society Foundations’ US Programs and Demos.
Dr. Jonathan Metzl
A renowned psychiatrist and professor, Dr. Jonathan Metzl is a widely sought after speaker on topics ranging from race, racism, and mental health to “structural competency” and medical education, to health in the U.S. South, to the politics of racial resentment in America. In his genre-shifting book Dying of Whiteness, which won the 2020 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award and many other honors, he changed how we understand what it means to be white in an age where the politics of racial resentment are higher than ever before. A regular commentator for major media outlets like ABC News and MSNBC, Metzl is also the Director of Vanderbilt’s Department of Medicine, Health, and Society, and author of several acclaimed books that challenge the ways we think about illness and health—including Dying of Whiteness, The Protest Psychosis, Prozac on the Couch, and Against Health.
The former Guggenheim fellow’s recent book, Dying of Whiteness, is filled with interviews with real, everyday Americans, and demonstrates the need for cooperation and diversity in a divided country. The book makes the case that many Americans vote against their own interests out of fear or ignorance, and this leads them to have worse health outcomes and quality of life. Public Books says that “Metzl’s shocking conclusions keep ringing in your head long after you put his book down.” Alondra Nelson of Columbia University and the Social Science Research Council calls his writing “pathbreaking, provocative, empathetic, and poignant.”
Metzl is the Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology and Psychiatry, and the director of the Department of Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University. He is the winner of the 2020 APA Benjamin Rush Award for Scholarship, and has written extensively for the New York Times, Washington Post, VICE, Politico, and other major publications about the most urgent hot-button issues facing America and the world. He is a frequent media commentator on issues of public health and gun violence who has appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, C-SPAN, CNN, AM Joy, PBS’s Amanpour & Co., HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, and many more.