Auburn Conversations features visionary voices, artists, and uplifting leaders of faith and moral courage to inspire and lead us in intimate conversations for such a time as this.

Auburn Conversations is sponsored by the May and Samuel Rudin Foundation.


Paulina Helm-Hernandez

Coming soon  . . .   A conversation with Paulina Helm-Hernandez is a queer femme artist, trainer, political organizer, strategist & trouble-maker-at-large from Veracrúz, Mexico. Paulina grew up in rural North Carolina, and was the Co-Director of Southerners on New Ground (SONG) for 11 years. She has a background in farm worker and immigrant / refugee rights organizing, cultural work, youth organizing, anti-violence work, and liberation work that centers people most affected by violence, poverty, war and racism.


The Difference Women Make

Moderated by The Rev. Dr. Katharine R. Henderson

On Tuesday, February 27th we hosted a conversation with Vivian Silver, from the grassroots movement Women Wage Peace, a group of tens of thousands of Jews and Arabs across the political spectrum in Israel, with our President, The Rev. Dr. Katharine R. Henderson. The discussion was followed by a Q&A with the audience.

Watch the entire talk now:

Vivian talks about “another way,” towards peace, and how the movement grew from 20 to 32,000:

-Facebook Live recording-

About the Speakers

Vivian Silver For more information about Women Wage Peace, watch this short video that was screened at the beginning of the program.

Rev. Dr. Katharine R. Henderson is president of Auburn Seminary, a multifaith leadership development and research institute that equips bold and resilient leaders of faith and moral courage to build communities, bridge divides, pursue justice, and heal the world.


Evaluating our Spiritual Relationship to the Land: An Evening with Dallas Goldtooth

Moderated by LJ Amsterdam

On Thursday, February 15th we hosted a conversation at the intersections of environmental justice, feminism, indigenous rights, activism, and ritual. The discussion was followed by a Q&A with the audience.

Watch the talk now:

Dallas says, “We were planning for a camp,” says Dallas, just not for 10,000 people! And (that) “there came a point, where we became outnumbered.”

-Facebook Live recording-

About the Speakers

Dallas Goldtooth is a the Keep it in the Ground Organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network.  He is a Dakota cultural/language teacher and co-founder of the Indigenous comedy group, The 1491s. He is also a poet, traditional artist, powwow emcee, and comedian. Many learned of Dallas’ work because of his leadership at Standing Rock.

LJ is a trainer, dancer, and youth organizer born and based in occupied Lenape territory (NYC). For the past decade, she has created making-spaces and mobilizing-spaces for young people to interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. LJ also has extensive experience in working in solidarity with Indigenous communities, and in 2016, she was invited to lead what-she-calls “come correct” trainings at Oceti Sakowin in Standing Rock. Subsequently, she co-founded Standing Rock Solidarity Network to disseminate decolonization resources for non-Native people wanting to support Native struggles. A longtime trainer, LJ trains in direct action tactics, de-escalation, and community safety strategies, concentrating on prison abolition and anti-militarist struggles. She is currently a staff member of The Ruckus Society.

Auburn Conversations are sponsored by the May and Samuel Rudin Foundation.

Dallas Goldtooth [photo by by Matika Wilbur]
Dallas Goldtooth [photo by by Matika Wilbur]
LJ Amsterdam


The Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle Presents: An Evening with Melissa Harris-Perry & Andrea Jenkins

Moderated by Lisa Anderson, Vice President, Embodied Justice Leadership

On Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017 we hosted a conversation between celebrated author, professor, and television personality Melissa Harris-Perry and transgender, poet, activist, and politician Andrea Jenkins, sharing reflections on racial justice, women’s leadership, and gender identity.

This event was the culmination of a day-long Auburn community celebration of the lives and leadership of the second cohort of the Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle, specifically focused on the wholeness and wellness needs of Black transgender women activists of faith and moral courage.

The discussion was followed by a Q&A with the audience.

Watch a clip now:

Learn more: Read our Voices story on this moving event.

About the Speakers

Melissa Harris-Perry is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University. There she is the Executive Director of the Pro Humanitate Institute and founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center. She hosted the television show “Melissa Harris-Perry” from 2012-2016 on weekend mornings on MSNBC. She is also the author of the award-winning Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, and Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America.

Andrea Jenkins has more than 25 years of public service experience as a Minneapolis City Council policy aide, nonprofit executive director, and consultant. She is also an award-winning poet, writer, and performer, having earned fellowships from the Bush Foundation, the Givens Foundation, and the Playwrights Center, among others. Andrea is a well-known public speaker and has delivered keynote addresses on college campuses and at conferences throughout the country. In 2015, she became the first Oral Historian for the Transgender Oral History Project of the Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies at the University of Minnesota.

2016-2017 SEASON

Carla Gaskins-Nathan: June 28, 2017

Carla is Healer-in- Residence for the second cohort of Auburn’s Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle. She is a Licensed Massage Therapist, consultant and owner of Zelah LLC, which includes the private massage practice, Rooted Bodywork. Carla believes that “through caring for ourselves we are able to fully engage with our life, work and communities.” Using her years of experience working with non-profits and paring it with her skills as a practitioner Carla facilitates workshops and speaks to the mandate of self-care to a variety of audiences.  Her work is focused on LGBTQ communities of color, yet it is open to all that see the importance of holistic wellness.

Dr. Willie Parker: May 22, 2017

A committed Christian, Dr. Willie Parker didn’t perform abortions during the first 12 years of his ob-gyn medical practice. But after seeing the suffering of low-income women and meeting victims of incest and rape who were still forced to bear children, he became a full-time abortion provider. Not in spite of his faith, but because of it.

Dr. Parker spoke about his book, Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice.

You can read more about how Dr. Parker’s faith compels his work with abortion care via NewsweekRolling Stone, and the New York Times.

Caitlin Breedlove: April 5, 2017

Meet one of the most sought-after organizing minds in the U.S. today — and the newest addition to the Auburn team as the vice president of movement leadership — as she shares what’s next in immigration reform, LGBTQ equality, and racial justice.

Caitlin Breedlove joins Auburn this Spring as the Vice-President of Movement Leadership. Since 2003, Caitlin has been organizing and building movements in red states, working across race, class, culture, gender, sexuality and faith. Caitlin is known across social justice movements as a leader, strategist, and writer. 

She is the former Campaign Director of Standing on the Side of Love at the Unitarian Universalist Association where she served as a bridge between grassroots social movements and the denomination. She is also the former Co-Director of Southerners On New Ground (SONG), where for almost a decade she co-led innovative intersectional movement building work in the LGBTQ sector. Under Caitlin’s co-leadership, SONG led campaigns, trained hundreds of new LGBTQ organizers in the South, built a membership of over 3,000, and became the largest grassroots LGBTQ organization in the South.  Caitlin began her work in the South doing popular education and organizer training at the historic Highlander Center in Tennessee.


Wajahat Ali: February 25, 2017

Wajahat Ali is a journalist, writer, lawyer, an award-winning playwright, a TV host, and a consultant for the U.S. State Department, who is at the forefront of working to overcome Islamophobia and harmful stereotypes aimed at the Muslim community.

Wajahat also serves as Creative Director of Affinis Labs, where he works to create social entrepreneurship initiatives that have a positive impact for marginalized communities, and to empower social entrepreneurs, young leaders, creatives, and communities to come up with innovative solutions to tackle world problems.

He is also the author of The Domestic Crusaders—the first major play about Muslim Americans, post-9/11 and was also the lead author and researcher of “Fear Inc., Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” the seminal report from the Center for American Progress.

Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie: January 23, 2017

2017 kicked off with a powerful spoken word performance by Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie. Rabbi Amichai is an Israeli-born Jewish educator, writer, performance artist, and founding spiritual leader of Lab/Shul NY. Rabbi Amichai’s Storahtelling extolled to parables of the torah and applied principles to life in the 21st century. Through music and dance, Rabbi Amichai curated a community spirit, outlining the road to progress through solidarity.

Watch our Facebook livestream of Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie here.

“If we get to change the stories we tell and how we tell them, we might change the values that we believe in and the actions we take… Acknowledge that we inherited this [Torah] teaching, but make it our own in a new way, that speaks to peace, and tolerance, and compassion. And says no to hatred in the name of God.”
– Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie

Lyla June: December 11, 2016

Lyla June, Standing Rock activist, anthropologist, musician, and poet, lead a powerful session, engaging with conversation, music, and movement to feed our souls. June related her own powerful story of personal healing through faith to inspire others to find a sanctuary within themselves. A descendant of Diné (Navajo) and Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) lineages, she is dedicated to healing intergenerational trauma and ethnic division though love and prayer.

Watch our Facebook livestream of Lyla June here.

Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Sensei: October, 2016

Rev. angel Kyodo williams Sensei, is a Zen priest author, maverick spiritual teacher, master trainer and founder of Center for Transformative Change. She has been bridging the worlds of personal transformation and justice since the publication of her critically-acclaimed book, Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living With Fearlessness and Grace. Her book was hailed as “an act of love” by Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker and “a classic” by Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield. Rev. angel discussed her new book, Radical Dharma, which explores racial injustice as a barrier to collective awakening.

[1] “The Pastors, Preachers And Prophets We Need Now”, Huffington Post, Sept. 22, 2016