Planning Committee

Miquel Jackson the Coordinator for Race in The Heartland.  He is a Dubuque Human Rights Commissioner, the Vice President of the Dubuque NAACP, Chair of the Dubuque Community Police Relations Committee, and works as a Home/School Liaison at Lincoln Elementary for the Dubuque Community School District.  He coordinates the BBQ IN DBQ, and the Annual NAACP Turkey Give Away, both meant to bring community resources to the “people”, and foster community togetherness. Miquel has facilitated conversations on race relations and created a plan of action in the Cedar Rapids School District.

Miquel obtain his BA in Sociology and is currently enrolled in the Master in Management – Organizational Diversity & Inclusion Leadership program at the University of Dubuque.

“Race In the Heartland: The Past In the Present, is important because race and equity matter.  We are in a time where people are wanting to understand what it means to be equitable, and what it means to be inclusive.  These same people either do not know how or are looking for ways to improve upon knowledge they already have.  This conference is beneficial because no matter whether you are the CEO or the janitor, Race in The Heartland provides you with skills and best practices that can be utilized at all levels of any business/organization.”

John Stewart is a retired university professor and dean.  His most recent book is Personal Communicating and Racial Equity (2017) and he has facilitated diversity-equity-inclusion training for numerous groups, including Dubuque Community School District, Inclusive Dubuque, Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, UW-P Campus Climate Initiative, the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, and the Multicultural Family Center.

“Race In the Heartland: The Past In the Present, will enable tri-state educators, professionals, business people, and nonprofits to learn about important DEI issues from local, regional, and national experts without leaving Dubuque.”

Christine Darr is the chair of the Dubuque Democratic Socialists, which is a local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. She is also an Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics at the University of Dubuque, a mom, and an avid reader of post-apocalyptic fiction.

“I am so excited to see this conference coming together. I hope it will become a model for conversations about race throughout the heartland and beyond. These conversations could not be more important and I’m honored to be a part of the process.”

Dr. Parks earned her Ph.D. in Sociology at Texas A&M University in 2007 and has been a faculty member in the sociology departmant at Loras College since then.  She has taught courses on the sociology of education, social demography, research methods and statistics, social problems, democracy and global diversity, the social construction of whiteness, race and ethnicity, among others.  Her research interests often focus on racial and educational inequality. Currently, Dr. Parks is working on a project about the impact of motherhood on academic careers.  She also has experience with designing research projects, analyzing data, and consulting on projects.  When she’s not teaching or reading sociology, Dr. Parks enjoys time with her husband and two kids.  She enjoys travel, films, podcasts, playing board games, knitting, reading, and singing karaoke. She also serves as a Human Rights Commissioner for the city of Dubuque.

Anthony is the current NAACP President as well as the current Chair for the Dubuque Human Rights Commission.  He found his way into Dubuque through love. A young lady who was his fiance at the time decided to move to Dubuque to attend college so he applied to the same school, the University of Dubuque. Anthony is from the Chicago inner city and has always equated Dubuque as small enough to be a suburb but confident enough to be a city. He gets the security part of wanting to live in a not-so-crowded environment, but still gets the confidence of a city. Not a big city, but a city.

He is passionate about service, so he serve on a lot of boards in the Tri-State region. Anthony’s personal passion is to serve all people. He is pro black, but that doesn’t mean he is anti-anything. It doesn’t mean he’s anti-white. It doesn’t mean he’s anti-homosexuality. It’s his goal and his passion to make sure that young black males reach their potential and reach more than what people may claim them to be or categorize them to be.

“The reason the Race in The Heartland conference is needed is because everyday, minorities are reminded of their race, but as a nation we refused to have meaningful conversations about it.” 

Katrina Farren-Eller was the previous coordinator for the Inclusive Dubuque Network, and is now back in academia as a faculty member in public relations at Loras College. Her doctorate is in Rhetoric and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University, and she also has an Executive Certificate in Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Management and an Executive Certificate in Organizational Development and Change Leadership, both from Georgetown University. Along with research interests in diversity, equity, and inclusion issues, she is currently getting certified in meditation while exploring the connection between mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and creating inclusive work environments.

“For most of us, talking about race is one of the most uncomfortable and difficult topics of conversation we can imagine. Yet, if we don’t risk having those conversations, nothing will change. This conference is an opportunity for all of us to be vulnerable, and to lean into the discomfort so we can learn and grow together.”

Naomi Clark, PhD is an English professor who teaches college writing, public writing, and rhetoric courses. She is also mom to two young children and volunteers with organizations such as the Dubuque Renters’ Union and National Nurses United.

Over the five years I’ve lived in Dubuque, I’ve been inspired by the determination of many in this community to make it a place where all can thrive. This conference will be an important step forward in helping us (and other communities in the region) discover even more ways we can make good on the American promise of opportunity for all.

Josh Jasper is the Volunteer Coordinator for Race in The Heartland and is the CEO of Resources Unite, an organization that strengthens communities by connecting people to resources and volunteer opportunities that lead to a happier and more engaged way of life.

Previously, Josh was the President/CEO of Riverview Center, an organization that provides services to survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

He is an international speaker and consults with organizations on topics of nonprofit management, facilitation, community engagement, diversity, leadership development and violence prevention strategies. Josh has worked with all branches of the military, Australian Army, universities throughout the country and professional sports teams.

Josh has a graduate degree in social work from the University of California, Los Angeles, and was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps. He is married and has three children.

“This conference is important because we must continue to discuss the issues of race and racism in our community. Too often, we shy away from some of the most important issues in our community for fear of not knowing or offending. I believe these conversations can and will lead to needed action.”

Andi Leineberg grew up in a small town in Illinois called Antioch. Growing up I never felt like I was subjected to a lot of real issues that people all over America face, but when I came to college I had the opportunity to learn and research about important social issues, such as racial disparity. I chose to attend Loras College because I knew this community would suit me well, and through experiencing a new community I have had the chance to learn so much about myself and the world. Specifically, I have come across my passion for public relations and sociology. With my public relations studies I have been honored to have the opportunity to work with some of the incredibly individuals working to make this conference great. A conference such as this one is crucial given the state of our society that we live in. It is becoming more and more evident that we need to educate ourselves on these topics and create spaces where unheard voices can finally be heard.

“A conference such as this one is crucial given the state of our society that we live in. It is becoming more and more evident that we need to educate ourselves on these topics and create spaces where unheard voices can finally be heard.”

Rachel Daack has been teaching about diversity-related topics for the past twenty years as a college instructor and in the past fifteen years as a local consultant. She currently teaches at Clarke University as Professor of Sociology. Areas of interest include gender and race. As a survivor of a traumatic brain injury, she also has some specific thoughts about disability. Her past professional positions include: college textbook developmental editor for Wm. C. Brown and Times Mirror, HTML programmer/technical writer consulting for John Deere Corporate, and solid waste educator for Dubuque Metropolitan Area Solid Waste Association. Prior to that work she worked in food service, as a valet parker, as a domestic helper, and as an office worker. Rachel earned a BA in Global Studies with a French minor from the University of Iowa. She also earned a 6-12 teaching certificate from Clarke College. She holds an MA in geography and an interdisciplinary PhD, both also from the University of Iowa.

Her relevant community involvement includes: 10-years of leadership with the Lincoln Elementary parent organization (PALS), chair of the Dubuque Branch NAACP education committee, leadership of Clarke University’s Multicultural Issues Committee, serving on diversity and inclusion panel discussions in the region, and active participation with the Best Practices and Education sector groups of Inclusive Dubuque. Daack also began a mentoring program between Clarke students and students at Dubuque Senior who are at risk for not graduating from high school.

Rachel grew up in the Holy Ghost/Fulton neighborhood of Dubuque. She and her spouse have lived in Dubuque for nearly twenty years and have raised two children here. The children are graduates of Lincoln Elementary, Washington Middle School, and Dubuque Senior.

“The Midwest is filled with untapped human resources with respect to diversity and justice.  Focused time, challenging information, and real human connection may result in broadened and new understanding and actions for justice.”

Dr. Mary Gitau is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Clarke University, Dubuque, Iowa. Her educational preparation encompasses Education and Social Work and she teaches in the areas of social work practice with communities and organizations, social work research, diversity issues, and global/international social work. In addition to teaching, she has keen interest in advocating and empowering vulnerable populations. As a member of the Board of Directors for Multicultural Family Center and chair of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Clarke University, Mary has great passion is community engagement, diversity and multiculturalism.

Race in The Heartland will create opportunities for participants to engage in dialogues and discuss factors and conditions that shape people’s experience with race. Further, it will provide participants with an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate efforts related to enhancing equity and inclusiveness in our communities.