African -American activist, author, journalist
Opening Plenary Speaker
Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is an African American Civil Rights Movement leader and icon. He is an author, organic chemist, United Church of Christ ordained minister, PBS TV Executive Producer/Host of The Chavis Chronicles, and Executive Producer/Host of The Good News on the CBS Radio Network. Dr. Chavis has been President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) since 2014.
Chavis worked side by side with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as Youth Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in the 1960s. As a political prisoner member of the Wilmington Ten in NC, he spent the majority of the 1970s unjustly in prison. In 1982, Chavis coined the term “environmental racism.” In 1993, he was elected as Executive Director and CEO of the NAACP.
Chavis has earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of North Carolina, Duke University and Howard University.
Professor of Practice in International Diplomacy at the University of Michigan and former Foreign Minister of Mali
Ambassador Kamissa Camara serves as a Professor of Practice in International Diplomacy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan. In her role, she brings real-world experience to the theoretical underpinnings of international diplomacy studies. Parallel to this, she contributes her expertise as a Senior Africa Advisor at the United States Institute of Peace and as a Non-Resident Scholar at the Middle East Institute.
Ambassador Camara has held strategic roles within the Malian government. She notably served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as Chief of Staff to the President of Mali. These high-profile positions cemented her status as a leading authority on African politics and international relations.
Beyond academia and public service, Ambassador Camara is an influential voice in global media circles and contributes to CNN, Aljazeera and BBC, among others, on African and global politics. Ambassador Camara is finalizing her doctoral studies in political science at the University of Oxford, underscoring her commitment to blending academic rigor with practical diplomacy.