Announcing the plenary speakers for 2022 Welcoming Interactive

Welcoming America is thrilled to announce the three speakers to present at the plenary sessions of the 2022 Welcoming Interactive taking place in-person in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Westin hotel from May 18-20:

  • Jerry Hawkins is the Executive Director of Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (DTRHT) in Texas. As part of a national 14-place initiative by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, its mission is to create a radically inclusive city by addressing race and racism through narrative change, relationship building, and equitable policies and practices. Jerry is also a co-founder of The Imagining Freedom Institute, a national research-based leadership group that helps organizations and institutions understand the historical context to contemporary issues of place, race, and racism. He is active in several community and leadership initiatives, including the Dallas County Historical Commission, Dallas’ Racial Equity Advisory Council, and the United Way. In 2021 and 2022, Jerry was selected as one of the Dallas’ 500 Most Powerful Business Leaders in North Texas by D CEO/D Magazine.
  • Leyla McCalla is an acclaimed Haitian American musician. She was formerly part of the Grammy award-winning African American string band, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and came to prominence through the collaborative project, Songs of Our Native Daughters, released in 2019 via Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. Her current project, Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever, leverages multidisciplinary music, dance, and theater to uncover the history of Radio Haiti, Haiti’s first privately owned Creole-speaking radio station. She sings in English, French, and Haitian Creole and currently considers New Orleans her adopted home.
  • Luis Alberto Urrea is an award-winning writer and storyteller. Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and an American mother, Luis grew up in San Diego, California writing poems at an early age listening to rock music. The author of sixteen books, he has published extensively in various genres and received many prestigious awards for books like The Devil’s Highway, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and historical novels The Hummingbird’s Daughter and Queen of America. In 2017, his novel Into the Beautiful North was adapted into a theater production. Luis’s latest, The House of Broken Angels, focuses on the passing of time, the inevitability of death, and border politics.

On participating in the 2022 Welcoming Interactive, Jerry Hawkins says: “I am excited to be in community with people all over this country who are working directly and indirectly on issues of welcoming. As a part of the national truth, racial healing and transformation movement, [my organization] Dallas TRHT uses a framework that explicitly names immigration and migration as ways to build connections with all communities, because every human has an immigration and/or migration story. I can't wait to connect with local leaders, culture workers, and organizers who are thinking about the intersections of immigration and/or migration to transform our country to a more welcoming one.”

Luis Alberto Urrea says: "I am thrilled to have the opportunity to support the wisdom and leadership of the Welcoming Interactive. Worldwide, everyone has an opinion about immigration. But this organization is addressing the issues and questions directly and creating a workable and fresh frame of reference, knowledge, and understanding that lead to action and transformation.”

To hear these speakers and more experts on immigration, inclusion, and belonging, join us at the Welcoming Interactive next month.