2017 Conference Speakers 

ERIC WEINER
New York Times Bestselling Author and Award-Winning National and International Correspondent 
Plenary Luncheon Speaker

RINKU SEN
President and Executive Director of Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation
Opening Plenary Speaker

ESTHER BRIMMER
Executive Director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators 
AIEA Association Breakfast Speaker


Rinku Sen PortraitRINKU SEN
President and Executive Director of Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation
Opening Plenary Speaker

Rinku Sen is the President and Executive Director of Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation and the Publisher of the award-winning news site Colorlines. Race Forward brings systemic analysis and an innovative approach to complex race issues to help people take effective action toward racial equity through research, media, and practice.

Under Sen’s leadership, Race Forward has generated some of the most impactful racial justice successes. One example is the groundbreaking Shattered Families report, which changed the immigration debate with investigative research on how record deportations of parents were leading to the placement of thousands of children in foster care, often separating them permanently and legally from their families. Sen was the architect of Drop the I-Word, a campaign for media outlets to stop referring to immigrants as “illegal,” resulting in the Associated Press, USA Today, LA Times, and many more outlets dropping the i-word, affecting millions of readers every day.

A visionary and a pragmatist, Sen is one of the leading voices in the racial justice movement, building upon the legacy of civil rights by transforming the way we talk about race, from something that is individual, intentional, and overt to something that is systemic, unconscious, and hidden. Prior to her work at Race Forward, Rinku served in leadership roles for over a decade at the Center for Third World Organizing (CTWO), where she trained new organizers of color and crafted public policy campaigns. Sen’s cutting edge book Stir it Up, read widely by community organizers and taught on campuses across the country, theorized a model of community organizing that integrates a political analysis of race, gender, class, poverty, sexuality, and other issues.

Sen’s second book The Accidental American: Immigration and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization told the story of Moroccan immigrant Fekkak Mamdouh, who co-founded the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York in the aftermath of September 11. Sen received a B.A. in Women's Studies from Brown University and an M.S. in Journalism at Columbia University. A native of India, Rinku grew up in northeastern factory towns, and learned to speak English in a two-room schoolhouse.


ESTHER BRIMMER
Executive Director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators 
AIEA Association Breakfast Speaker

Esther Brimmer currently serves as the Executive Director and chief executive officer of NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

Dr. Brimmer’s distinguished career includes three appointments within the U.S. Department of State, serving most recently as the assistant secretary for International Organization Affairs from April 2009 to 2013. 

Prior to joining NAFSA, Dr. Brimmer was professor of practice of international affairs at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs where she served a two-year term as the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor. She was also an adjunct senior fellow for international institutions at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a senior advisor at McLarty Associates.

She was previously deputy director and director of research at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) from 2001-2009, and was a member of the SAIS faculty. She also taught at the College of Europe in Belgium, and from 1995-1999, she was a senior associate at the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict. Earlier, she served on Capitol Hill as a legislative analyst for the Democratic Study Group in the U.S. House of Representatives. Immediately after earning her doctorate from Oxford University, she spent two years as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company.


Eric Weiner PortraitERIC WEINER
Author and Award-Winning National and International Correspondent
Plenary Luncheon Speaker

Eric Weiner is the author of The New York Times bestseller The Geography of Bliss, as well as two other books. His latest book, The Geography of Genius, has been called “smart, funny and utterly delightful…Weiner’s best book yet.”

The Geography of Bliss has been translated into 20 languages. A number of high schools and universities have incorporated the book into their curricula. Weiner is the recipient of the Borders Original Voices Award, and a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award. His second book, Man Seeks God, was called a “disarmingly funny, illuminating read… a refreshing departure from more weighty spiritual tomes.”

As a long-time foreign correspondent for National Public Radio, Eric reported from more than 30 nations, from Iraq to Indonesia, covering some of the major international events of recent times. He is the recipient of several journalism awards, including the Angel Award for coverage of Islamic affairs in Asia.

Eric writes a regular column for BBC Travel. His work also appears in The Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and other publications, as well as on NPR’s Morning Edition. When not writing, or thinking about writing, Eric is an avid cyclist and consumer of sushi (Tekka maki, in particular). He lives in in the Washington, DC area, with his wife and daughter and their two rambunctious cats.