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Announcing Keynote Speakers for Race Matters Conference

Registrations for the Race Matters conference are filling up fast, and we are proud to announce that Dr. Robert Simmons, Dr. Paul Gorski and Dr. Camika Royal will be keynote speakers for this event.

Click here to read about the objectives of the event.

The Race Matters conference takes place December 3-4 at the UNO Alumni Center. Following are the biographies for Dr. Simmons, Dr. Gorski and Dr. Royal:



Teacher, urban educator, researcher, and innovator in education

Robert W. Simmons III is the founding director of the Center for Innovation in Urban Education and an associate professor of urban education and African American Studies at Loyola University Maryland. A former middle school science teacher in the Detroit Public Schools, his teaching & administrative career in Washington DC, Detroit, Minnesota, & the Dominican Republic, included being nominated twice as the Walt Disney National Teacher of the Year, once for the Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Foundation Outstanding Educator Award. A former college football player, Robert has been part of a team of educators who started a STEM focused middle school for boys, a board member at one of the few public Montessori schools in an urban community, and the founder of a mentoring program for African American boys in Minnesota.

Robert has been a fellow with the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation where he conducted environmental research in the rainforest of Costa Rica, and participated in the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund. The author of numerous publications and co-edited book, Talking About Race: Alleviating the Fear (Stylus Publishing, 2013), his research focuses on the experiences of African American males in public and Catholic schools, urban education, and the role of race in understanding the social context of schooling. Robert’s next book, Interrupting the School to Prison Pipeline: African American Males as Critical Scholars and Intellectuals, is part autobiographical reflecting on his fathers’ incarceration while offering insights into the educational experiences of African American males. The author and evaluator of over $1.5 million in grants, including serving as a co-PI on an NIH funded project designed to support the development of virtual science labs for K-12 students and teachers, Robert has delivered workshops and lectures throughout the United States and Europe on his research. Robert is a renowned motivational speaker who openly shares his life experiences in Detroit during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic, the mental incarceration he experienced for much of his life due to the physical incarceration of his father, and the significant challenges he faced leaving his childhood home in a neighborhood where drugs and drug dealers were the norm to being one of the few African American students at an elite Jesuit high school.


Founder, EdChange and the Multicultural Pavilion

Paul Gorksi is an associate professor of Integrative Studies in George Mason University’s New Century College, where he teaches classes such as Poverty, Wealth, and Inequality; Social Justice Education; Animal Rights; Social Justice Consciousness and Personal Transformation; and Environmental Justice. He recently led the design and development of the new Social Justice and Human Rights undergraduate and graduate programs at Mason as well. Paul is a Research Fellow for the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being and is serving his second term on the board of the International Association for Intercultural Education. He has been an active consultant, presenter, and trainer for nearly twenty years, conducting workshops and providing guidance for schools and community organizations committed to equity and diversity. He created and continues to maintain the Multicultural Pavilion, an award winning Web site focused on critical multicultural education. He has published more than 50 articles and eight books, focusing most recently on topics like poverty and educational opportunity, racial equity, and activist resiliency. He also has taught for the University of Virginia, the University of Maryland, Hamline University, and the Humane Society University. He lives in Washington, DC, with his cats, Unity and Buster.

Areas of specialty:

  • Equity literacy framework
  • White privilege and racial equity in schools and school districts
  • Poverty and class equity in schools and community organizations
  • Research-based, holistic strategies for addressing achievement (or opportunity) gaps
  • Activist burnout and resiliency
  • Leadership development and the training of trainers for equity and diversity


Assistant Professor of Urban Education at Loyola University Maryland 

Dr. Royal has served urban communities as an educator since 1999. She began her career 15 years ago teaching middle school language arts for the Baltimore City Public School System. Dr. Royal also writes about contemporary education issues, and she has been a recurring education contributor to Al Jazeera America TV and the web show Huff Post Live. She is a heavily sought after speaker, and recently, she has given talks for Chatham County Public Schools in Pittsboro, North Carolina; the National School Board Association’s Council of Urban Boards of Education in San Diego, California; the Congressional Black Caucus’s Pre-Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, DC; the Network for Public Education Conference in Austin, Texas; and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her research interests include:
  • Social and Political Context of School Reform Policies
  • Urban Educators
  • Educator Efficacy and Resilience
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Historical Foundations of Schooling


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