Invited Keynote Speakers, Workshop Facilitators, & Media

  • Dr. Ervin D. Seamster, Jr.

    Dr. Ervin D. Seamster, Jr.
    Minister, Philanthropist, Academician, and Entrepreneur

    Dr. Ervin D. Seamster, Jr. is a minister, philanthropist, academician and entrepreneur. As a visionary, he has been instrumental in developing numerous educational, social, and spiritual organizations.

    From 1999-2002, Dr. Seamster served in key roles at Abilene Christian University. His past endeavors have impacted every facet of the school’s current success—whether fundraising, academic, or the focus on diversity. Dr. Seamster was the first African American invited to be a special assistant to the president of ACU, Dr. Royce Money. In this unique challenge, created especially for him, Dr. Seamster played a pivotal role in recruiting talented men and women of color to apply to the doctoral fellows program for minority faculty members. Dr. Seamster also taught courses dedicated to Old Testament theology and Urban Ministry in the 21st Century. He recruited students from across the state of all ethnicities and backgrounds while urging donors to pledge several million dollars in scholarships. It has been an honor and his great joy to raise money for Christian education, especially for his alma mater, Southwestern Christian College. For nearly two decades, Dr. Seamster has used his brainchild-event, The Fab Five Revival, to raise funds for deserving students. The revivals, and other initiatives, have generated substantial amounts for Southwestern Christian College. Dr. Seamster was chief architect of the One in Christ Conference, sharing leadership duties with his mentor, J. McDonald Williams, Dr. Jack Reese and Don Crisp. The conference mission was to break down barriers by bringing together ministers from across America to address the socio-economic and cultural issues that separated black, white and brown churches within their fellowship.

    One of the highlights of Dr. Seamster’s career was co-founding Northwest Preparatory Academy in Houston, Texas, along with school superintendent, Dr. Steve Roberts and Mr. Erik Singleton. Nurturing the lives of countless young people, whose needs were not being met in their previous school environments, Dr. Seamster served as the academy’s first board president and has since been named president-emeritus. Over the years, growth at Northwest Prep has consistently flourished as young people graduate with a more committed purpose and career path.

    When Dr. Seamster began his career as a theologian and strategic church planter, he worked in several positions including as an Associate Minister and, ultimately, Senior Minister at the Marsalis Avenue Church of Christ in Dallas, Texas. For nine years, Dr. Seamster was being groomed for greater things. The call—a vision in his heart—was a challenge to leave historic Oak Cliff and begin an urban ministry devoted to saving the lost, strengthening believers and reaching the un-churched, wherever they were located.

    With the blessings of his mentors, friends, family, and leaders at Marsalis Avenue, in 1999, Dr. Seamster founded Light of the World Church of Christ, where he currently serves as the senior minister. Light of the World, located in Southern Dallas County, has grown from four to 450 members. LWCC began with a handful of ministries. Today, the church has something for everyone with almost 25 fully-functional ministries. Light of the World is committed to bridging Christ and community, as it helps members empower one another and reach out to people in search of God’s truth.

    As an entrepreneur, Dr. Seamster brings a wealth of integrity and people skills to his business ventures and corporate goals. For the past three years, Dr. Seamster has worked on the board of the Dallas County Appraisal District. He is also the president of EDS & Associates, specializing in real estate consulting and renovating. The many hats worn by Dr. Seamster provide overwhelming proof that this academician, philanthropist, businessman, and minister is forever committed to using his life to make a difference in the lives of others.

    Dr. Ervin D. Seamster, Jr. holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Southwestern Christian College, a Master of Divinity degree from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, and a Doctorate of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Seamster has traveled the world, taking his New Testament message about Christ to citizens of every race, creed, color, and socioeconomic background. He is the proud son of the late Iona Calloway-Seamster and Ervin D. Seamster, Sr. of Shreveport, LA.

  • Dr. Terry S. Smith

    Dr. Terry S. Smith
    Chief Juvenile Probation Officer for Dallas County

    Currently, Dr. Terry S. Smith serves as the Chief Juvenile Probation Officer for Dallas County.  As the Executive Director of Dallas County Juvenile Department, she services approximately 6,000 families annually. She also manages a department of approximately 900 employees with a budget estimated at approximately $71 million dollars, with oversight of six residential programs, nine satellite field probation offices, five (5) open enrollment charter school campuses, a juvenile justice alternative education program, a comprehensive psychological and substance abuse program, home detention and a day reporting center.   Dr. Smith is committed to the philosophical tenets of juvenile justice, focused on assisting youth to meet their individual potential through family focused, strength based intervention while continuing to always be mindful of community safety and victim restoration.

    Dr. Smith has been involved with the Juvenile Justice system for over 31 years, having previously served 25 years with Harris County Juvenile Probation (in Houston, Texas).

    Dr. Smith is one of the first in the nation to receive her Ph.D. in Juvenile Justice from Prairie View A & M University, thus allowing her the keen knowledge of the historical perspective of juvenile justice combined with actual long term practical field experience. Dr. Smith has been a keen leader and is astute at assessing youth, programs, employees and public/private partnerships from a holistic and comprehensive approach.

    Dr. Smith has innate governance which translates into well run programs and divisions, high staff morale and a strong judgment regarding youth safety. She is an extremely all-embracing team player with a positive perspective and a paramount supporter of all things related to her mantra of “putting Youth First”.  Dr. Smith is extremely dedicated to staff, youth, and her Department and is ever focused on the Department mission of servicing and empowering youth and families in crisis.

  • Andrew Young

    Andrew J. Young heard the call to service as a young man. He has lived his life in response to that call, from his ordination as a minister, to his work on behalf of civil and human rights, to his public service career as a member of Congress, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and Mayor of Atlanta. The Andrew Young Foundation builds on his legacy by developing and nurturing new generations of innovative leaders to tackle this era’s global challenges.

    Andrew Young was born in 1932 in New Orleans. Raised in a middle-class family – his father was a dentist, his mother a teacher – Young was forced to travel from his own neighborhood in order to attend segregated schools. He excelled as a student and entered college early, graduating from Howard University in 1951 at 19 years of age. He became an ordained minister after graduating from Hartford Theological Seminary in 1955 and took a job as a pastor in Thomasville, Georgia. It was during his time in South Georgia that Young first became active in the Civil Rights movement. He organized voter registration drives in the African-American community, enduring death threats along the way.

    In 1957, Young moved with his wife, Jean Childs Young, to New York City to work with the Youth Division of the National Council of Churches. He returned to Georgia in 1961 to lead the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s (SCLC) “citizenship schools,” working closely with Dr. King to teach non-violent organizing strategies. Within the SCLC, Young organized desegregation efforts throughout the South, including the May 1963 march in Birmingham where participants were viscously attacked by police dogs. King often entrusted Young to oversee the SCLC when King spent time in jail after protests. Young was a key strategist and negotiator during civil rights campaigns that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    In 1970, Young left the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to run for Congress. He lost his first race, but two years later became the first African-American representative from the Deep South since Reconstruction. He served on the Banking and Urban Affairs and Rules Committees, sponsoring legislation that established a U.S. Institute for Peace, The African Development Bank and the Chattahoochee River National Park, while negotiating federal funds for MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority), the Atlanta highway system and a new international airport for Atlanta.

    In 1977, President Carter appointed Young to serve as the nation’s first African-American Ambassador to the United Nations. As Ambassador, Young negotiated an end to white-minority rule in Namibia and Zimbabwe and brought President Carter’s emphasis on human rights to international diplomacy efforts.

    In 1981, Young was elected Mayor of Atlanta in 1981, where, as he liked to say, the mayor had once had him thrown in jail. He was re-elected in 1985 with nearly 80 percent of the vote and in 1988 Atlanta hosted the Democratic National Convention. His tenure corresponded with a recession and a reduction in federal funds for cities. He turned to international markets for investments in Atlanta, attracting 1,100 new businesses, $70 billion in investment, and 1 million new jobs to the region. He developed public-private partnerships to leverage public dollars for the preservation of Zoo Atlanta.

    Young led the successful effort to bring the Centennial Olympic Games to Atlanta in 1996. As Co-Chair of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, he oversaw the largest Olympic Games in history in terms of numbers of participating countries, competing athletes and the number of spectators. He was awarded the Olympic Order, the highest award of the Olympic Movement. President Bill Clinton appointed him founding chair of the Southern African Enterprise Development Fund. In 2000 and 2001, he served as president of the National Council of Churches.

    In 2003, he and his wife Carolyn McClain Young founded the Andrew J. Young Foundation to support and promote education, health, leadership and human rights in the U.S., Africa, and the Caribbean. Andrew Young Presents, the Emmy-nominated, nationally syndicated series of specials produced by Ambassador Young through the Andrew J. Young Foundation, Inc. is seen in nearly 100 American markets and worldwide through the American Forces Network. Its first episode was drawn from the documentary film Rwanda Rising, about Rwanda’s progress since the genocide of 1994.Young narrated the film. Ambassador Young retired from GoodWorks International, LLC, in 2012 after well over a decade of facilitating sustainable economic development in the business sectors of the Caribbean and Africa.

    He has shared his life’s work in books including “A Way Out of No Way: The Spiritual Memoirs of Andrew Young,” “An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America,” and “Walk in My Shoes: Conversations between a Civil Rights Legend and his Godson on the Journey Ahead,” which was co-authored by Kabir Sehgal.

    Ambassador Young has received honorary degrees from more than 100 universities and colleges in the U.S. and abroad. President Jimmy Carter awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and France awarded him the Legion d’Honneur, each representing the highest civilian honor for that particular nation. He has received the NAACP’s Springarn Medal. In 2011 he received an Emmy Lifetime Achievement award, and his portrait became part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. He serves on a number of boards, including: the Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change, United Nations Foundation, the Atlanta Falcons, the Andrew Young School for Policy Studies at Georgia State University, and Morehouse College.

    Young continues to call Atlanta home where he lives with his wife, Carolyn McClain Young.  He is the father of three daughters and one son and the grandfather of eight.

    Timeline:

    • 1955 Became pastor of Bethany Congressional Church in Thomasville, GA. Organized African-American voter registration drives, enduring death threats along the way
    • 1957 Joined the executive staff of the National Council of Churches, serving as associate director of the Department of Youth Work, New York, NY
    • 1961 Returned to Georgia to lead Southern Christian Leadership Conference “citizenship schools,” helping educate African-American communities about non-violent social change
    • 1963 Peacefully organized desegregation march on May 3, 1963 in Birmingham, where participants were attacked by police dogs. Negotiated for SCLC in settlement of desegregation campaign in Birmingham, AL
    • 1964  Named executive director of the SCLC, becoming one of King's most trusted lieutenants. Civil Rights Act desegregating public accommodations and employment is signed into law
    • 1965 Served as key strategist in Selma and Birmingham campaigns for voting rights that resulted in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
    • 1972  Elected to Congress from the 5th Congressional District of Georgia, the first African American from the Deep South since Reconstruction
    • 1972-77 Helped enact groundbreaking legislation that established the U.S. Institute for Peace and the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Negotiated federal funds for MARTA, the Atlanta Highway System, and the new international airport in Atlanta
    • 1977 Appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations by President Jimmy Carter, the first African American in history to serve in that position. Negotiated an end to white-minority rule in Namibia and Zimbabwe and brought President Carter’s emphasis on human rights global through international diplomacy
    • 1980 Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter, the highest civilian award bestowed by the U.S. government
    • 1981  Elected Mayor of Atlanta
    • 1982-1989 As mayor, attracted over 1,100 new businesses, $70 billion in investment and 1 million new jobs to the region. Re-elected in 1985
    • 1994 Appointed by President Bill Clinton as Chairman of the Southern African Enterprise Development Fund, which helped foster the creation and expansion of businesses throughout southern Africa
    • 1996 Served as Co-Chair of the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta; An Easy Burden, Civil Rights and the Transformation of America published; Andrew Young founded GoodWorks International with Carlton Masters
    • 1999 Policy School at Georgia State University named in honor of Andrew Young and his many landmark accomplishments
    • 2003 Andrew Young Foundation established as an extension of Young’s vision to inspire leaders around the world to work toward a global goal of peace and inclusion
    • 2007 Andrew Young Foundation funded the film Rwanda Rising, a documentary about the country’s progress after a devastating genocide. Produced by Andrew Young and directed by CB Hackworth
    • 2008 Andrew Young Presents, a series of nationally syndicated television specials, first airs, addressing African issues and the American Civil Rights Movement
    • 2011 Received Emmy for Lifetime Achievement; Portrait installed in the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC
    • 2012 Andrew Young celebrates 80th birthday
  • Eric Brown

    Eric Brown, graduate of American Baptist College and Vanderbilt University, two masters degrees, minister and community organizer, who has created Family Suppers, listening circles in impoverished communities, and a curriculum for high school youth on civic engagement, Vote Local; Eric struggled with school, dropping out of several colleges before coming to ABC where he graduated with honors

  • Rahim Buford
    Poet/Author

    Rahim Buford, poet, author of Save Your Own Life, organizer, teacher in local juvenile detention center and leader in TRIO: Transformation and Reconciliation from the Inside Out, a community of those who have been locked up and their allies; Rahim was first locked up at 16, locked up at 18 for accidental shooting and was caged for 26 consecutive calendar years; released from prison one year ago.

  • Damien Durr

    Damien Durr, graduate of American Baptist College and Vanderbilt Divinity School, minister, high school teacher/social emotional specialist, author of Journey Towards Greatness; Damien never graduated from high school because he couldn't pass the math equivalency exam. Spent seven years hustling on the streets before coming to American Baptist College where he graduated with honors receiving a full scholarship for Vanderbilt Divinity School where he graduated with honors.

  • Ndume Olatushani

    Ndume Olatushani, artist, teacher, internationally recognized speaker (spoke in Geneva, Switzerland at the International Human RIghts Documentary Film Festival and in Oslo, Norway in June at the 6th World Congress Against the Death Penalty); his story has been part of a documentary film and a graphic comic that was featured in The New York Times. Ndume was caged for 28 years, 20 on Tennessee's death row, for a crime he did not commit. Finally released four years ago after a high powered New York law firm took his case.

  • The CDF Nashville Team

    The CDF Nashville Team works with young people who are struggling with school, the streets and home, creating safe space for healing, creativity and community engagement; They are committed to transformative justice and nonviolent direct action organizing that disrupts and dismantles the cradle to prison pipeline, prioritizing the voices, experience and leadership of those who are most directly impacted by the pipeline!