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• Speakers Announced for the 14th GRCC Diversity Lecture Series

Warner Norcross & Judd is proud to be a continuing sponsor of the Diversity Lectures Series hosted by the Bob and Aleicia Diversity Learning Center at Grand Rapids Community College.  Each year, the Diversity Learning Center brings outstanding speakers to advance the discussion of diversity and inclusion in our community.  This coming school year is no exception.  The Diversity Learning Center has lined up an extraordinary group of lecturers for the fourteenth annual lecture series during the coming school year.  Here, from the series brochure which you can download here, is a list of the speakers:

Ray Suarez – October 8, 2008
Journalist, Author, Correspondent
“Media, Politics and Washington: An Evening with Ray Suarez”Ray Suarez

With more than twenty-five years of varied experience in journalism, Ray Suarez, one of the most respected news anchors in Washington today, continues to make major contributions to the public understanding of the stories shaping America today. Ray Suarez is the Senior Correspondent for PBS’s News Hour with Jim Lehrer and was previously host of NPR’s nationwide call-in news show Talk of the Nation. Suarez thinks that the media is the best tool by which people can voice their opinions about those who govern. On top of his work on the public airwaves; Suarez has taken to chronicling the American condition on the page. His much talked-about new book, The Holy Vote: The Politics of Faith in America, takes an in-depth look at the intersection of politics and religion in this country, while also examining the increasing polarization between Red and Blue States.

Amy Dickinson – November 12,, 2008
Author, Syndicated Columnist, NPR Commentator
“Aging in the 21st Century”

Amy DickinsonAmy Dickinson’s voice and narratives are heard and seen in numerous mediums. As a columnist her Ask Amy column for the Chicago Tribune is syndicated in over 200 newspapers nationwide. She is a regular panelist on Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, carried on 400 NPR stations, and has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered. Her work focuses on family life and parenting, often drawing from her experiences as a single parent and member of a large extended family. Dickinson is a distant relative of Emily Dickinson; her family has lived in her hometown of Finger Lakes, New York continuously since the revolutionary war. “Life in my hometown was like growing up in Lake Wobegon, only with worse weather and high unemployment.” She continues, “My great grandfather was warden of Sing Sing prison and my great uncle ran off to Europe and joined the circus when he was 40.”

B. D. Wong – December 3, 2008
Tony Award-Winning Actor, Author, Activist
“Racial Self-image and the Model Minority Myth”
B. D. Wong

While perhaps best known to many as forensic psychiatrist Dr. George Huang on NBC’s Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, B.D. Wong is also an author, Broadway actor, and accomplished speaker. Wong feels that living day to day in the trenches of his challenging career as an actor, (a vocation in an industry fraught with rejection and racism) has forced him to not only empower himself and his own self esteem, but it has caused him to be even more facile and articulate about the issues of racial self-image, race-based rejection, Asian-American parental pressure, and the “model minority myth.” In June 2003, Wong released his first book, Following Foo: The Electronic Adventures of the Chestnut Man, a memoir about the personal drama that he and his partner endured on their path to parenthood “involving a surrogate, an egg from his partner’s sister and identical twins born 13 weeks prematurely and needing months of intensive care.”

Prince Cedza Dlamini – February 4, 2009
Humanitarian, Social Entrepreneur
“Global Forgiveness and Connectedness”

Prince Cedza DlaminiCedza Dlamini is an impassioned humanitarian, social entrepreneur and visionary.  His vision is to create a unified global order by establishing global networks of young leaders working collectively to address world problems, such as HIV/AIDS, poverty, hunger, and illiteracy.  He travels the world to help young people recognize their connectedness to each other and their power to change their surroundings.  As the grandson of Nelson Mandela, he carries on the activism and investment in community leading him to expose young people to the leadership and professional skills they need in their communities.  He founded the Ubuntu Institute for Young Social Entrepreneurs, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nation’s eight point strategy to eradicate poverty, hunger and disease in Africa.

Shannon Brownlee – March 11, 2009
Author, Economist, Health Care Analyst
“Debunking The Myth of Poor Care for American Veterans”

Shannon BrownleeShannon Brownlee is a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, and a former writer for U.S. News and Word Report.  The New York Times named her best-seller Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer as the #1 Economics Book of the Year. Shannon Brownlee examines the unprecedented influence that “fee-for-service” care is having on America’s public health-and sets myth from reality in examining the successes and failures in our ever-changing health systems. As debate surrounds the availability and quality of care for American soldiers and veterans, Shannon shares the story of the Veterans Health Administration-which has gone from a picture of all that was wrong with American health care, to a symbol of all that can be right. Bucking the traditional systems, the VHA is working with providers and veterans to create collaboration towards a more efficient and effective model.

All lectures begin at 7:00 p.m. at Fountain Street Church, 24 Fountain NE, in Grand Rapids. 

• Circle Theatre Presents “Crowns”

CrownsIf you attended our tour of the Newcomers Exhibit at the Public Museum earlier this year and learned about the significance of hats in the African American church, you will be interested in play that just opened in Grand Rapids.  Circle Theatre, on the campus of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, is presenting Crowns through August 9 Crowns explores black history and identity through the experience of a young black girl sent south to live with her grandmother following a tragedy at home.   The hats worn by churchgoers dressed in their Sunday best are their “crowns.” Cast members use their crowns to tell tales of everything from etiquette to history to society behind a soundtrack of spirituals, blues, hip hop and rap.   Box office information is available on the Circle Theatre site on line at

The Multiracial Association of Professionals will be reserving a block of tickets for Tuesday, August 5.  Tickets are $20 if ordered through MAP.  If you would like to attend as part of MAP, let Rodney Martin know by Thursday, July 31 so he can make arrangements.

• August 7 One Book, One Firm Celebration

One Book, One FirmPlease join us on August 7, from noon to 1:30 p.m. for a special luncheon presentation in our One Book, One Firm program.  The luncheon will feature Alice Kennedy in a performance of three scenes from her play Inside the Model Minority.  In addition, the luncheon will feature a belated celebration of Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, with special food, presentations and activities.

The presentation will be broadcast over the Internet to participants in each of our offices, who will also get to enjoy the special food and activities.  It is not necessary to have read the One Book, One Firm selection to participate in this event.  Everyone is encouraged to attend.

Alice KennedyMany of you will remember that Alice Kennedy was a panelist at our May 30 discussion of this year’s One Book, One Firm selection, Stealing Buddha’s Dinner.  Ms. Kennedy is the founder of Diversity Theatre in Grand Rapids.  Her family immigrated to the United States following the fall of Saigon.  She was recently profiled in The Grand Rapids Press.  (Click here to read the profile.) 

The scenes Ms. Kennedy will perform from Inside the Model Minority bring to life the issues some funny, some poignant faced by Asian immigrants to the United States.  Portraying a Korean child adopted by a white American family, Ms. Kennedy will take us along on a quest in search of her identity.  She will portray a young Chinese American male, whose family has been in this country since the mid-1800s, and who struggles with bigotry and the question of what it means to be American.  And as a recent immigrant from Asia, she will bring to life the challenge of learning a new language and new customs.  

Please mark your calendars today and RSVP to Robin Keith as soon as possible.  We need a solid estimate of participation by Monday, July 28 so all the arrangements can be made for this event.

• Bich Minh Nguyen to Speak on Growing Up in Grand Rapids

Bich Minh NguyenThe Main Branch of the Grand Rapids Public Library will be hosting author Bich Minh Nguyen on Thursday, March 27 from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.  Nguyen will be discussing her critically acclaimed memoir Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, which recounts the author’s coming of age in Grand Rapids after her family fled Vietnam at the end of the war.   Growing up as an immigrant in our community, Nguyen hungered to be a “real” American.   Her desire to belong translated into a passion for American food. While her Buddhist grandmother, Noi, made traditional Vietnamese spring rolls and green sticky rice cakes, young Bich (pronounced “Bit”) craved Ding Dongs and Doritos.  

Nguyen’s publisher summarizes her book as follows:

Beginning with Nguyen’s family’s harrowing migration from Saigon in 1975, Stealing Buddha’s Dinner is nostalgic and candid, deeply satisfying and minutely observed, and stands as a unique vision of the immigrant experience and a lyrical ode to how identity is often shaped by the things we long for.

For more information on the book, click here.