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CHESS Speaker Series

  • Fall 2023 Events

    CHESS Find your Voice Fall 2023

    In our journey toward understanding ourselves and the ever-changing world, it is crucial to explore the diverse traditions that add meaning to our lives. The College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences encourages you to Find Your Voice through this year’s speaker series. Events will bring campus and community together as we hear diverse perspectives, engage in new experiences, and encourage advocacy, action, and self-expression.

    Divergent Voices: Politics and Archaeology in Israel (Annual Collins Lecture)

    Dr.Rachel Hallote

    Tuesday, September 12th | 7 p.m. | Waldron 219
    Speaker for Collins Lecture: Dr. Rachel Hallote, Professor of History at SUNY Purchase in Westchester, NY.

    Dr. Hallote is an author, archaeologist and professor of History. She has worked at numerous sites in Israel, including Megiddo. She is particularly interested in the history of archaeology during the last two centuries, which is reflected in her book, The Forgotten Story of Early American Biblical Archaeology, and she co-hosts an archaeology podcast called This Week in the Ancient Near East. Her talk explores how archaeology is abused and misinterpreted to justify modern political agendas, particularly in Jerusalem and at Masada.

    Co-sponsored by the Collins Institute for Archaeological Research and the School of Public Service & Global Affairs.

    International Day of Democracy

    Friday, September 15th | 11:30 a.m. | Waldron 219

    This event will center on an interactive faculty and student panel discussing various aspects of democracy. The panel discussion will be followed by a Question & Answer session as well as the opportunity to register to vote and visit interactive tables on a variety of topics related to democracy.

    Light refreshments will be served and there will be an opportunity to win prizes!


    Tyler Perkins

    Assistant Teaching Professor, Philosophy

    Why Democracy?

    Dr. Anjali Sahay

    Director of PSGA

    The United Nations: Protecting Democracy Around the World

    Dr. Jeff Bloodworth

    Professor, History & PSGA

    The Secret Sauce of American Democracy

    Dr. Eric Dart

    Associate Professor, Theology

    Whose Common Good: Integral Ecology and Democracy

    Ren Reigel

    Graduate student in MPA and former President of CIVIC

    Political Activism on Campus

    Book Signing & Reading of The Senator’s Daughter

    Book Signing The Senator's Daughter

    Thursday, September 21st | 2 - 4 p.m. | Gannon Bookstore 

    Current employee and alumnus Emily Cummings will hold a book signing and selected reading of her recently published debut novel, The Senator’s Daughter.  The novel is a work of historical fiction that began as a short story in her senior seminar course while she was a student at Gannon and evolved into a novel over the years. 

    A small number of copies will be available for purchase at the event but the book is also available through Amazon and locally at Werner Books and Pressed Books & Coffee. 

    Caught in the Middle: Humanitarian Crisis at the Poland-Belarus Border

    Gaia Magdalena Luczak

    Tuesday, September 26th | Sessions at Noon & 1:30 p.m. | Palumbo Third Floor Atrium 

    Gaia Magdalena Łuczak is a humanitarian activist and will speak on the dire experiences of migrant people caught between Belarus and Russia and Poland. Based in Poland herself and professionally associated with the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, she works in cooperation with Grupa Granica (The Border Group), focusing on the rights of minorities at the Polish-Belarusian border. This event is presented in partnership with the First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant

    Mambo: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

    Mambo - Bandmates

     Monday, October 9th | 7 p.m. | The Deck (Waldron Campus Center) 

    Immerse yourself in the rich culture and vibrant Latin music as Erie's local band, "Mambo," takes you on an exciting journey through the most exciting Latin rhythms. From Latin jazz to salsa, merengue and rock, this evening promises to be an unforgettable experience.

    What can you expect?
    - Live performance by the talented band "Mambo"
    - Music that will get your body moving
    - Festive and energetic atmosphere
    - Dancing, dancing and more dancing!

    Don't come alone! Invite your friends, family and fellow dancers to join this exciting celebration.

    Meet the band members:
    Julio Quezada on Latin guitar, Bob Seaman on bass and vocals, vocalist extraordinaire, Cristina DiFranco, Carlos Cruz on congas and bongos and Phil Papotnik on saxophone.

    This is your chance to experience the passion and joy of Hispanic Heritage live! Don't miss it!

    Register Today

    Pardon Me: A Documentary Screening

    Pardon Me

     Monday, October 23rd | 5 p.m. | Zurn 104 

    The Gannon University Pardon Project Hub, along with the Pardon Project of Erie County, will host a screening of the new documentary short film Pardon Me.

    The 30-minute film, which explains the pardon system and tells the stories of two people in it, will be followed by a panel discussion which will feature the filmmaker Shuja Moore, who himself has a past criminal record, two members of the community who have reformed their lives and received pardons, and representatives of the Pardon Project of Erie County.


    CHESS Making Connections Spring 2023

    This year’s CHESS Speaker Series emphasizes making connections in all its forms. From reconnecting with each other at the scale of the interpersonal, to forging connections across academic fields at the scale of the interdisciplinary, to exploring the interconnectedness of nations at the scale of the global. We hope this year’s series will help us continue to emerge from the isolation of the pandemic and renew prior social bonds even as we learn about and forge new ones.

    Join us on this year-long journey, one event at a time, and make some connections!

    Gannon Native American Symposium: Native Traditions and the Catholic Church

    Tuesday, March 28th | 7 p.m. | Yehl Ballroom

    This event will feature a panel discussion between two dynamic and world-renowned figures: Father Maurice Henry Sands and Dr. Damian Costello.  In addition to the panel discussion between these leaders, the event will feature a screening and discussion of Enduring Faith: The Story of Native American Catholics. This 2021 film, produced by the Knights of Columbus, features both panelists as well as dozens of other scholars, religious figures, and Native leaders.

    Damian Costello

    Dr. Damian Costello is an expert on the life and legacy of Nicholas Black Elk, and the author of Black Elk: Colonialism and Lakota Catholicism. Costello received his PhD in Theological Studies from the University of Dayton and specializes in the intersection of Christian theology, Indigenous spiritual traditions, and colonial history.  He also serves as Director of Postgraduate Studies at NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community.

    Fr. Maurice Sands

    Father Maurice Sands is Executive Director of the National Black and Indian Mission Office in Washington, D.C., a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, and a member of the Ojibway, Ottawa, and Potawatomi tribes, known together as Anishinaabe.

    Sponsored by the Cooney-Jackman Professorship 

    Register Today

    Gannon Concert Band: Women Composers

    Gannon Concert BandWednesday, March 29th | 7 p.m. | Yehl Ballroom

    Join the Gannon University Concert Band as we explore music performed not nearly as frequently as it should be. This concert features music exclusively by living women composers, most pieces composed within the last five years. Composers are represented from Canada, Japan, Australia, and the United States and write for ensembles ranging from school groups to professional orchestras.

    Improv as Life: The Art of Making Connections

    Sara FisherSaturday, April 1st | 3 p.m. | Waldron 219

    Erie natives Sara Fisher and RJ Hodde will present on the art of improv, the ways that it cultivates connections, and how to apply improv to life.

    After a talk and performance, Fisher and Hodde will lead a series of improv games to illustrate the concepts and give everyone a chance to experience it themselves.

    Sara Fisher is a singer, dancer and character comedienne who finds joy in the exploratory, expansive process of improv. A graduate of both The Second City Chicago Music Improv Conservatory and iO Chicago Training Center, she has performed music improv throughout Chicago and Boston. She is also a Gannon University alum, a rostered teaching artist through Erie Arts & Culture, and the founder of New Joy on the Block, through which she hosts community building workshops and is available for private / corporate events. She is a member of L’Arche Erie, a community of people with and without disabilities, who share life together.

    RJ Hodde

    RJ Hodde is a director and showmaker specializing in physical dramaturgy. He is a lifelong student-turned-teacher of popular performance with a penchant for ensemble comedy. In 2020, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education recognized RJ with the Kennedy Center award in Innovative Teaching (Region III) for his pedagogical developments in Camp and Clown as modes of improvisational actor-character training. He is a proud millennial and native son of Erie, Pennsylvania, a graduate of the Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre, Indiana University (MFA), and DePaul University (BFA) in Chicago.

    Register Today

    Multicultural Dance Night: One World. One City. Our City. Erie.

    Multicultural Dance NightTuesday, April 4th | 7 p.m. | Erie Playhouse, 13 W. 10th St.

    Enjoy dances from around the world performed by artists from our own vibrant Erie community. This year’s event includes a special feature: Fiery rhythms of Tuika’s Polynesian Island Magic.

    Register Today

    Ideology, Utopia, and Environmental Justice

    Wednesday, January 25th | 12:20 p.m. | Palumbo 3rd Floor Atrium

    This event centers on a presentation of Dr. Richard Moodey’s paper "Ideology, Utopia, and Environmental Justice" with a reaction from panelist Dr. Aaron Kerr. It also serves as a launch point for the “Dick Moodey Environmental Justice Paper Award.” The award will allow Gannon undergraduate students to participate in an essay contest on topics that broaden our understanding of environmental justice issues in marginalized communities.

    Register on Facebook

    A Conversation and Exhibit of African American Alumni Experience at Gannon University

    Wednesday, February 15th | 5 p.m. | Waldron 219

    Parris Baker

    Join us as we hear from a panel of Black/African American alumni as they share their experiences as a Gannon student.  The event will be moderated by Dr. Parris Baker, associate professor in Gannon’s social work program, and supported by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office.  This event will feature a photography exhibit showcasing the experiences of the alumni while at Gannon.

    We are also excited to share details about a new scholarship that will be announced at the event. The scholarship will be awarded to an undergraduate student of Black/African American descent in the Department of Criminal Justice and Social Work who has a record of academic excellence and community service.

    This program is sponsored by the Department of Criminal Justice and Social Work.  Please join us for this important event in honor of Black History Month.

    Featured Speakers

    Cheryl Rush DixCheryl Rush Dix '07C, '82

    As an educator with Aerospace Engineering – Teaching – Program Administration career trajectories in roughly equal arcs, Cheryl Rush Dix has dedicated her professional life to establishing access and opportunity for science education. Currently Chair of the Erie County Community College Board of Trustees, her contributions to community impact include the effort to establish Erie’s community college, co-founding the PAsmart grant awarded STEM Equity Alliance, and accomplishing a long-held, Pennsylvania district goal of shifting a struggling, ninety-percent poverty, ninety-percent minority school into ninety-percent proficiency on the state science assessment. Additionally, Cheryl is a Fulbright Research Alumna, founder of Pathlight Associates LLC, National Science Foundation funded project investigator, Malcolm Baldrige & Communities of Excellence Awards Examiner, and member of the Erie Water Works and the Burleigh Legacy Alliance boards of governance. 

    Selena KingSelena King '13

    A former candidate for Erie City Council, Selena is passionately involved in local and State political activities. Her efforts towards fostering a civically engaged community include: assisting potential candidates in getting elected as the immediate past Chairwoman of the Erie Democratic Black Caucus and a former Organizer for PA Democratic Party. Her life’s motto of “service first,” equips her to serve the Erie community as a current member of the City of Erie’s Zoning Hearing Board, Blighted Property Review Committee, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Foundation, and a Board Member of numerous nonprofit organizations. In these roles, she assists with government and regulatory compliance, nonprofit fundraising, and advocating for marginalized Pennsylvanians. Her efforts have been recognized both locally and nationally through various awards such as the Erie Reader’s 40 Under 40, Delta Sigma Theta’s Shirley Chisholm Political Awareness and Involvement Award (Erie Alumnae Chapter), lifetime member of Phi Alpha (National Social Work Honor Society), Mercer County Frontiers Club Scholars, and others. A native of Sharon, Pennsylvania, Erie has been her home for the last two decades, along with her greatest joys; sons Ethan and Jadon. Professionally, Selena is the Northwest Regional Representative for the Office of U.S. Senator John Fetterman. Selena holds a Bachelor of Arts from Gannon University and is an upcoming graduate (Summer 2023) of Pepperdine University’s Caruso School of Law, where she will obtain a Master of Legal Studies in Dispute Resolution.

    A'Darius PorterA'Darius Porter '15, '18G

    A’Darius is an African American male who is emerging in the field of Higher Education. He is currently in his fourth year of his Doctoral program at Gannon University studying Organizational Learning and Leadership focusing on the experience of Black Males who attended predominantly White institutions (PWI’s). A’Darius transferred to Gannon University in Fall 2013 graduating with a BS in 2015 and an MBA in 2018. A’Darius has stayed at the university currently serving as the Director, Auxiliary Services & Conferencing. He credits his time as a collegiate athlete to his work ethic and success.

    Brandon WileyBrandon Wiley '10, '13G

    Brandon is the Executive Director and Founder of OpenedEyes. He holds a MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. He is a Licensed Professional counselor, currently working at the Veterans Medical Center as the Community Engagement & Partnership’s Coordinator for Suicide Prevention. Brandon is originally from Sharon PA, graduated from Kennedy Catholic High School. He came to Erie in 2006 to originally study pastoral studies and was a seminarian at St. Mark's Seminary. After leaving St. Mark's Seminary, he continued his studies at Gannon University and graduated from Gannon with both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He started OpenedEyes because of his personal battles as a biracial man growing up with a black father and white mother. Brandon is a motivational speaker/diversity trainer and along with his OpenedEyes team, they conduct various workshops and training to schools, businesses and organizations.

    Homer SmithHomer Smith '76

    Homer Smith is currently a Communications Consultant for HLSJ Consulting. He recently retired from Erie Rise Leadership Academy where worked in Public Relations. Prior to Erie Rise he enjoyed a 25-year career with the City of Erie as an ADA Coordinator and Labor Compliance Officer. Homer has also coordinated the Super Soul Saturday Program on 90.5/WERG from 1977 to present. In addition to featuring several music genres, the program also provides public service information, economic development, arts and cultural awareness programming targeting the Erie, PA ethnic and minority community.

    Register Today

    Endangered Alphabets Event

    Endangered AlphabetsWednesday, March 8th | 7 p.m. | Waldron 219

    Did you know that new research has found nearly 300 written languages are still in use?  Sadly, likely over 85% of these face the threat of disappearing.  

    During this event, Tim Brookes, founder of the Endangered Alphabets project, will discuss the importance of preserving scripts that have been abandoned or suppressed while also drawing attention to global issues of cultural endangerment. Tim’s work to preserve endangered scripts has resulted in remarkable wood carvings which both preserve these alphabets and share culturally significant phrases. Using Endangered Alphabets as his lens, Tim will guide the audience through an exploration of the cultural impact on language, progress, globalization, and indigenous cultures when writing systems become extinct.  The card and board games Tim has created will also be on display, too!

    This lecture accompanies an installation of Tim’s Endangered Alphabets wood carvings in Nash Library. The exhibit will open Tuesday, March 7 and be available to the Gannon and Erie communities for three weeks following the lecture.

    This event is being sponsored by MacDonald, Illig, Jones, & Britton, LLP

    Endangered Alphabets MacDonald Illig Logo

    Register Today

    AML Talks: Combating Trade-Based Money Laundering Through Law Enforcement and Private Sector Collaboration

    William CallahanWednesday, March 22nd | 9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. | Zurn 104

    How do illegal drug proceeds move from the United States to places like Colombia and Mexico without the money ever leaving the U.S.?

    William Callahan, Director of Government and Strategic Affairs for Blockchain Intelligence Group and retired U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge, will discuss how trade-based money laundering (TBML) works and is used by transnational criminal organizations and drug trafficking organizations to move drug proceeds from one jurisdiction to another. 

    Callahan, who was named among the Top 20 Most Influential Professionals on LinkedIn in the World of AML Today by Newsinterpretation, will present a case study that took him and his investigators from a shopping district in Queens, N.Y. to the clandestine labs of Colombia and Mexico.  He will also discuss how public and private collaboration is essential to combat illegal drug trafficking and the opioid crisis in addition to providing tips to financial investigators, law enforcement, and the anti-money laundering community to work together and investigate TBML schemes.


    Service Learning, Solitary Bees, and the Secret Garden

    Leigh-Daniel-BeekeepingWednesday, September 14th | 6 p.m. | Gannon Goodwill Garden (Rain Location: West Hall Lounge)

    Visit Gannon’s Goodwill Garden and learn how solitary bees are supporting a healthy and educated community in Our West Bayfront. This event will explore the benefits and challenges of service-learning as a strategy for increasing engagement and the speakers will share information about the community garden, its projects and opportunities for future engagement with academics, clubs and organizations.

    Co-Sponsor: Office of Academic Community Engagement (ACE)-Leigh Forbes is co-presenting with Daniel Salamone

    Improv as Life: The Art of Making Connections

    Christine Cooley *Postponed*

    Second City alumni Sara Fisher and Christine Cooley will present on the art of improv, the ways that it cultivates connections, and how to apply improv to life.

    After a talk and performance, Fisher and Cooley will lead a series of improv games to illustrate the concepts and give everyone a chance to experience it themselves.

    AML Talks: Cryptocurrency Laundering Risk and Partnership

    Rebakah PratherTuesday, September 27th | 12:30 p.m. | I-HACK 309

    Panel of four speakers: law enforcement (FBI), banking sector (PNC Bank), financial crime association (ACFCS), and private sector (GWTrade in Cyprus)

    Panelist Names: Rebekah Prather, Lee Sullenger, Anna Stylianou, and Jon Elvin

    There have been many publications and professional discussions claiming that criminals and terrorists use crypto as a preferred currency in their laundering activities because of its anonymity, usability, and lack of government regulations. However, all crypto transactions are being recorded on the ledgers and, as many real-life cases of crypto laundering show that, the established links between criminals and these crypto transactions have been on the rise. This event will bring together four professionals across multiple domains to discuss current trends in crypto laundering and how each organization is tacking those issues.

    Dr. Julia Mack (Program Director of the Criminal Justice program) and Dr. Musa Tuzuner (Program Director of the Anti-Money Laundering program) will serve as moderators

    Co-Sponsors: Anti-Money Laundering Certificate Program, Applied Intelligence Program, and Criminal Justice Program                

    Core Ensemble (Los Valientes)

    Core EnsembleMonday, October 3rd  | 8 p.m. | Schuster Theatre

    Returning to Gannon’s campus for a third time, the CORE Ensemble continues its mission of intercultural dialogue. This performance, translated as ‘The Courageous Ones,’ will feature Victor Vazquez in the roles of Mexican painter Diego Rivera, Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, and Mexican American desperado Joaquin Murrieta and focus on each historical figure’s artistic and political passions.

    This performance is free and open to the public. Tickets can be reserved by going to the Schuster Theatre website. Please use the code DIEGO to reserve your free ticket.  Doors open at 7:30PM. Walk-ins will be accepted at the door pending availability.

    Gannon READS (Author Mohammed Al Samawi)

    Mohammed Al SamawiTuesday, October 18 th  | 7 p.m. | Warner Theater

    Winner of the 2019 Nautilus Book Awards and finalist of the 2019 National Jewish Book Awards. The Fox Hunt tells one young man’s unforgettable story of his harrowing escape from Yemen's brutal civil war with the help of a daring plan engineered on social media by a small group of interfaith activists in the West. The story of an improbable escape as riveting as the best page-turning thrillers, The Fox Hunt reminds us that goodness and decency can triumph in the darkest circumstances.


    CHESS Speaker Series Header SP22

    Gannon University's College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences prepares students to positively impact the world around them by engaging them in opportunities for meaningful knowledge-building, critical and innovative thinking, and exploring some of today's complex global challenges through an array of educational programming experiences.

    A hallmark of the College's work in carrying out this mission is its annual CHESS Speaker Series, which engages both Gannon and broader Erie community members in important and timely conversations that impact our neighbors across the world.

    As we navigate a world altered by the unprecedented events of the past year and a half, it can be difficult to know how to begin healing.  The College of Humanities, Education, and Social Sciences presents this year-long series with events centered on artistic expression, exploration of our varied heritages, and emphasis on the self as well as our connections with one another. Together, we will regain our footing in a changed world.

    The Need for Multilingual Signage in Erie

    Ashley Yochim headshotTuesday, February 8th  | 7 p.m. | Waldron 219

    Dr. Ashley Yochim, an Associate Teaching professor in English at Penn State Behrend, will present a workshop centering on a linguistic landscape analysis of Erie’s public signage which includes exploring the linguistic diversity of the city’s past and current generations of newcomers. This analysis indicates that in Erie, all official public signage is in English only, with the only multilingual signs being in new American-owned private businesses, places of worship, and street murals. Thus, there is a need for more multilingual signage in Erie, including directional signposts to help guide new American residents and students in the community. After the presentation, Gannon’s multilingual students will create signs in their own languages that will be posted around campus to accommodate the University’s multilingual student population.

    An Exploration of Caribbean American Representation Onscreen: West Side Story and In the Heights 

    Friday-Saturday, February 11-12 th  | Zurn 104

    Carlos Mamani

    Film Society of NWPAThe Schuster Theatre Fringe Fest and Film Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania partner with the CHESS Speaker Series in order to shed light on issues of racial and ethnic representation in film musicals. From the 60th anniversary of the original film adaptation of West Side Story to the recent remake directed by Steven Spielberg and the film version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, Hollywood’s representation of Spanish-speaking Caribbean Americans remains a relevant and important issue. Join us for an event which features a panel discussion which will explore these issues and their effect on audiences.

    • Friday, February 11 - 7:30 p.m. Screening of In the Heights  

    • Saturday, February 12 - 12:30 p.m. Screening of West Side Story 

      3:00 p.m. Reception & 4:00 p.m. Panel Discussion on Hollywood’s Representation of Spanish-speaking Caribbean Americans featuring Jasse Camacho Vera, Dr. Carlos Mamani, and Dr. Rhonda Matthews

      Multicultural Dance Night

      Friday, March 11th  | 6 p.m. | Schuster Theatre

      Multicultural Dance

      One World. One City. Our City. Erie. 

      Let us come together and celebrate the rhythm of different steps from around the world. Join us for a multicultural dance night at the Schuster Theatre featuring dancers of many different disciplines coming together to showcase the universal connections of creativity in humanity. Register with the code "FREE" here.

      Thirty-Three Cecils

      Author Everett De Morier & Thirty-Three Cecils, the Best-Selling Novel Set in Erie Soon to be a Motion Picture

       Tuesday, March 15th  | 7 p.m. | Palumbo 3rd Floor

      Everett De Morier will share his broad experiences as a writer of musicals, non-fiction books, newspaper and journal articles, and, most recently, the novel Thirty-Three Cecils.  Mr. De Morier also wrote the screenplay based on his novel, set largely in Erie and with Gannon connections, and will visit us fresh from the film set. 

      Collins Lecture (Eric Cline): 1177 BC, The Year Civilization Collapsed

      Wednesday, March 23rd  | 7 p.m. | Online

      Could a globalized, complex, international world system collapse suddenly and without previous warning? Many are worried that it could happen today, but few realize that it has already happened before. Just such an apocalyptic disaster struck the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions a little more than 3,000 years ago in 1177 BC, followed by the world's first recorded Dark Ages.

      In this illustrated lecture via Zoom, Professor Eric Cline of George Washington University will examine this disaster and ask whether the collapse of those ancient civilizations might hold some warnings for our current society. Register here.

      Zoom Link:

      Beekeeping in the Goodwill Garden 

      Beekeeping -- Connie Walker 

      Thursday, March 31st  | 6 p.m. | Waldron 219 

      Join Ms. Connie Walker, local beekeeper and business owner (Black and Green), and Dr. Martha Kosir, professor in Gannon’s Global Languages program, who will speak on the importance of honey bees in the Erie community, how to take the first steps toward becoming a beekeeper, and the cultural significance of bees in Slovenia. There will be a question and answer period to provide you with the opportunity to dig deeper into this eco-friendly hobby. Ms. Walker and Dr. Kosir will also share exclusive details on the plans to install a hive in Gannon’s Goodwill Garden during our celebration of World Bee Day on May 20.

      What Brings You Hope?  Kai Roberts on Mental Health and the Power of Creativity Kai Roberts

      Thursday, April 21st  | 7 p.m. | Waldron 219 

      Kai Roberts was carrying a full load as a producer, recording artist, and educator, while attending Carnegie Mellon University as an undergraduate student when he began to experience the symptoms of extreme anxiety. He began his healing process, using music as a medication. Recording his thoughts and frustrations in the form of poetry, he was soon inspired to create an album that would encourage others in similar situations and enlighten society on the college experience often kept secret. Kai strives to show students that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that they are not alone. Through his message, he hopes to give people the courage to find their own outlets for achieving mental health balance. 

      In his high energy “Active Mic: Mental Health Through Music” presentation, Kai tells the story of his battle with panic attacks and Generalized Anxiety Disorder through interactive dialogue and hip-hop music. From the beginning, the audience moves with Kai through the origins of his anxiety and his GAD disorder and goes into his recovery, with a first-hand look at all of the emotions he experienced along the way . Be prepared for good music, meaningful messages, and an overall good time.

      After the event, a working piece of art that allows individuals to answer the question, "What brings you hope?" created by Gannon students, faculty and staff will be on display. The art will be traveling around campus as a living installation and will be unveiled for the first time at this event. 

      Co-sponsored by Gannon’s chapter of Active Minds.

      Gannon's 45th Annual Writing Awards Night

      Friday, April 22nd  | 7:30 p.m. | Yehl Ballroom

      Join us for Gannon University’s 45th Annual Writing Awards Night where students will be recognized for their accomplishments in research, journalism, and poetry. We are honored to have 2021-2022 Erie County Poet Laureate Sean Dougherty as our featured speaker of the evening.

      Past Lecture Series Events Fall 2021 

      Las Magnificas Performance

      Monday, September 20th | 8 p.m. | Schuster Theatre

      Women Guitar Player

      Returning to campus for another indelible show in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the CORE Ensemble continues its mission of intercultural dialogue. This performance will feature Nadya Encarnacion in the roles of Chavela Vargas, Celia Cruz, and Violetta Parra, three transformative and influential figures in Latin American cultural history.

      Co-sponsoring with the Schuster Theatre through the Clemente fund

      Equitable Erie Walk

      Thursday, September 29th |  4:30 p.m., | AJ's Way

      Join members of the Gannon community as we explore and ask questions about spaces on our campus and the larger downtown community. This guided walk will visit several downtown staples such as the Warner Theatre, the Erie Playhouse, the Erie Art Museum, and Perry Square among others all while asking who these places and spaces are perceived to be in service of and accessible to. Does everyone desiring to experience these assets and amenities have equitable access? Does what we offer through programming reflect the racial and cultural diversity of our community? Does everyone feel welcomed and accepted? These are the questions that Gannon and Erie Arts & Culture are interested in answering in both the university’s setting and in Erie as a whole.

      Frenemies: How to Interact with Those We Love but Disagree With

      Thursday, October 7th, | 7 p.m. | Yehl Ballroom

      Berny and Geston

      Friends since middle school, Berny Jacques and Geston Pierre are both children of Haitian political refugees who fled political instability that put their families at risk.  Despite their shared family immigration story, they clash on just about everything to do with social and political issues in the U.S.  Join Berny and Geston as they show us how people who profoundly disagree can maintain beautiful "frenemy-ships" through love, respect, honesty, and humor.

      View Recording

      Food as Healing with Shane Bernardo

      Thursday, October 28, | 3 p.m. | Palumbo Academic Center (3rd Floor Open Space)

      Shane Bernardo

      Creating local food systems and sustainable foodways are important entry points into the realm of food justice.  "Food as Healing" seeks to unearth how cultivating, celebrating and practicing food-based rituals nourishes us emotionally, intellectually and spiritually in ways that conventional comfort foods cannot. Shane Bernardo will present virtually to a live audience on Gannon’s campus as well as to those who join via Zoom. Attendees will learn how reclaiming our sense of tradition, culture, identity and ancestry can root our movements centered upon healing and increase our capacity to resist and push forward.

      Shane Bernardo is co-founder of Food As Healing, a grower, facilitator and food justice organizer based in Detroit, Michigan that uses food and storytelling as mediums for healing and decolonizing.

      Unpredictability and Presence in Creative Action

      Saturday, November 6th | 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. | Grounded Printshop (1902 Cherry Street, Erie, PA)

      Ashley Pastore

      We begin with an artist talk by master papermaker Ashley Pastore and printmaker Alex Anthes. They will show some of their work, share their artistic philosophy, and talk about “being present” through creative action in the form of printmaking as a counter to the unpredictability of life. They will then give a printmaking demonstration, explaining specific presses and processes. Finally, they will lead a printmaking workshop with up to 20 participants (RSVP required). In the first part of the workshop, participants will create a print on the letterpress. In the second part, participants use the monotype process, which involves painting onto a sheet of plexiglass and then running the letterpress print. Each participant in the workshop will get to keep a copy of the print they make. All are welcome to attend the talk and to watch the demonstration, both of which are free and open to the public; however, the printmaking workshop costs $5 per person and is limited to 20 people.

      Alex Anthes

      Past Lecture Series Events Spring 2021

      Where do we Go From Here? Howard Thurman, MLK and the Beloved Community Today

      Tuesday, February 23 | 7 p.m. | Zoom Livestream

      Howard Thurman

      Prominent Interpreter of both Howard Thurman and Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, author, pastor and theologian Dr. C. Anthony Hunt will present the promise of Dr. King’s “Beloved Community” in light of the perils of covid-19 and structural racism. A panel of Erie respondents will be moderated by Rev. Dr. Charles Mock, pastor of Community Missionary Baptist Church and past president of Inter-Church Ministries of Erie County, a sponsoring partner in this presentation.

      View Event Recording

      Sponsored by the Inter-Church ministries of Erie County, Gannon Philosophy Department and the College of Humanities, Education and Social Science

      Ain’t I a Woman!

      Thursday, Feb. 25 | 7 p.m. | Zoom Livestream

      Shinnerrie Jackson

      Multi-talented actress Shinnerrie Jackson, a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, heads this one-woman theatrical performance where she plays historical figures Fanny Lou Hammer, Clementine Hunter, Sojourner Truth and Zora Neal Hurston. Jackson has headlined this show in performances all across the country.

      Sponsored in part by Gannon University’s Alex Clemente Fund for the Performing and Related Arts

      A Conversation with Samantha Fuentes: Uplifting the Voices of the Silenced

      Tuesday, March 2 | 7 p.m. | Zoom Livestream

      Samantha Fuentes

      On Feb. 14, 2018 a gunman wielding an AR15 entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and fired on students, faculty and staff. Seventeen people lost their lives, and many others were wounded. Samantha Fuentes was among the injured in the Parkland tragedy. While fortunate to be alive, she is still battling the physical and mental ramifications of that day. Despite these tragic events, Fuentes is committed to delivering a poignant message in today’s conversation: to make sure that no child or adult is devastated by senseless and preventable gun violence ever again.

      Sponsored by Aetna and the Crime Victims Center

      Madam Vice President: How the Election of Kamala Harris Changes – and Doesn’t Change  – the State of Race in America

      Wednesday, March 10 | 7 p.m. | Zoom Livestream

      Daniella Gibbs Leger

      Daniella Gibbs Léger, executive vice president for Communications and Strategy at American Progress, will analyze the implications of the election of Vice President Kamala Harris. Léger has written for Essence ,, and Huffington Post and has served as a special assistant to the president and director of message events in the Obama administration.

      View Event Recording

      Dr. Uche Blackstock

      Uche Blackstock

      Wednesday, March 24 | 7 p.m. | Zoom Livestream

      This discussion features emergency physician and founder of Advancing Health Equity Uche Blackstock, Ph.D. Blackstock is committed to advancing equity in health care and addressing specific racial inequalities within the health care system. Her work has been featured on a national scale in publications and in the media.

      Co-sponsored by the Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences

      44th Gannon Writing Awards Program: Featuring Distinguished Poet Sherwin Bitsui

      Friday, April 16 | 7:30 p.m. | Zoom Livestream

      Sherwin Bitsui

      Sherwin Bitsui is the author of three books of poetry and the winner of the 2010 PEN Open Book Award, an American Book Award, and a Whiting Writers Award. He has been published in Narrative, Black Renaissance Noir, American Poet, The Iowa Review, LIT, and elsewhere. “...The only way to read Bitsui is to trust his poetic momentum and embrace his brilliant work.”— Booklist

      Bi-Cultural, Mixed-Race, and Returnee Experiences in Japan and the US


      Past Lecture Series Events Fall 2020

      From 1619 Virginia to 16503 Erie: The Constitutional Path to Black Lives Matter

      Tuesday, Aug. 25, 7 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      Longtime Gannon faculty member Parris Baker, Ph.D., examines how racism was ingrained in the founding of the United States and the historical events that have led to the current Black Lives Matter movement. The focus on making reflective and reflexive change and the desire to re-evaluate processes at the micro and macro level are two areas Baker believes can result in significant change.

      Co-sponsored by the Center for Social Concerns. 

      View Event Recording

      Post Globalization: The Struggle for a Post-Pandemic Future

      Wednesday, Sept. 9, 10:10 - 11:05 a.m., Zoom Livestream

      Renowned professor Walden Bello of the State University of New York at Binghamton will speak on the COVID-19 pandemic, why 'connectivity' is a second stage of globalization, and how it has facilitated the spread of the novel coronavirus. Bello will go on to discuss three post-pandemic scenarios and why exclusionary forces have the political advantage.

      View Event Recording

      Congress on Campus: Racial Justice Conversation

      Monday, Sept. 21, 7 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      Join Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD) and Congressman Charles Boustany (R-LA) in a wide-ranging discussion about "Racial Justice." These long serving former members of Congress will offer context and wisdom on this most important issue. Sponsored by the School of Public Service & Global Affairs, the duo are speaking to Gannon as part of the Congress to Campus program. The mission of Congress to Campus is to engage students to increase civic literacy and participation by directly connecting them with former members of Congress in the hopes of strengthening their participation in the democratic process.

      View Event Recording

      Defund, Disarm, Dismantle: Examining the Movement Against Police Violence

      Friday, Sept. 25, 11:15 a.m. - 12:10 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      Dr. Judah Schept, Associate Professor at Eastern Kentucky University, will examine the uprisings against police violence in every state, sparked by the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Drawing from more than a decade of research into the re-formation and expansion of, as well as opposition to, the carceral state in both the Midwest and Appalachia, his talk examines and contextualizes the call to defund the police and offers some insights into the broader politics of abolition.

      View Event Recording

      From Slavery to Police Brutality: The History of United States Racist Policing

      Thursday, Oct. 8, 3 - 4 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      Dr. Jason Williams, an Assistant Professor at Montclair State University, will present US Policing as Racialized Social Control: Canvassing Baltimore and Ferguson. His talk will intersectionalize our understanding of policing and recommend the need for a more historical and complicated approach toward policing practice and understanding. Dr. Viviane Saleh Hanna, Professor and Chairperson of Crime and Justice Studies at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, will examine police and vigilante white supremacist violence using her research on black feminist hauntology and abolitionist theory of crime.

      View Event Recording

      Champions of Justice

      Wednesday, Oct. 28, 11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      Social Work and Criminal Justice students will present their character synopsis of diverse individuals, including but not limited to, Victoria Earle Matthews, Carrie Steele, and Mohammed Ali, who have made often unrecognized or under-appreciated contributions to creating a more just and equitable society.

      43RD Annual Gannon Writing Awards featuring Distinguished Poet Allison Joseph

      Friday, Oct. 9, 6:30 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      View Event Recording

      Walking with Pope Francis: Encouraging Dialogue and Friendship at Gannon

      Tuesday, Oct. 27, 7 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      Join three Gannon leaders for a discussion of justice, diversity, and inclusion at Gannon, in the context of Catholic Social Teaching from Fratelli Tutti.  Gannon faculty, staff, students, and alumni are invited to participate in the conversation.

      The Annual St. Albert the Great lecture sponsored by the Philosophy Department invites colleagues to present their current research in the spirit of interdisciplinary learning and exploration in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.


      Dr. Lori Lindley, Dean of the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences

      Rebecca Perry, Director of the Center for Social Concerns (Co-chairs of Gannon's Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion Steering Committee)

      Dr. Eric Dart, Chair of the Theology Department and the Liberal Studies Task Force

      View Event Recording

      Building an Equitable Community: A Discussion on Inclusive Programming in the Arts

      Thursday, Oct 29, 7 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      As part of an initiative with Erie Arts & Culture promoting an equitable community, this virtual roundtable event offers a space for open discussion on inclusive programming and diversity in the arts. This discussion will be moderated by William Steadman (Concert Band Director, Gannon University) and features a panel from the artistic community throughout the city of Erie and the broader region:

      Robert Deemer, Professor of Music Composition, State University of New York @ Fredonia; Director, Institute for Composer Diversity

      Patrick Fisher, Executive Director, Erie Arts & Culture

      Kate Neubert-Lechner, Executive Director, Erie Playhouse

      Ceasar Westbrook, Freelance/Teaching Artist; Art Teacher, Erie School District

      Bill Williams, Immediate Past President, Erie Playhouse; Vice President, Martin Luther King Center

      View Event Recording

      The 2020 Election: Where are we? Where are we headed?

      Thursday, Nov 5, 7 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      The Jefferson Educational Society and Gannon's School of Public Service & Global Affairs are teaming up for a moderated discussion about the 2020 election, its results, and the path forward. Ben Speggen will moderate a discussion featuring experts on the recent history of the Republican and Democratic Parties. Plus, a diverse range of students will offer their experiences and observations.

      View Event Recording