The Speakers

Margarita Cabrera created Arbol de la Vida: Memorias y Voces de la Tierra, a true collaborative art project that has brought the diverse community of San Antonio together to give sculptural form to individuals’ local stories that transcend time. More than 700 people, 700 stories! Read about her below and hear some of these stories online in the World Heritage Festival, starting the second week of September, 2021. The Arbol is near Mission Espada and Sister Martha Ann Kirk will share on the ministry of the Incarnate Word Sisters at Mission Espada School. Read a story of Archbishop Gustavo Siller and a film of students of St. Anthony’s Elementary School inviting people to care for God’s creation under the Abol See the photo above.

Cary Clack

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Whether editing the first anthology of Black Texas writers to be published in the Wittliff Collections' book series through Texas A&M University Press or putting south Texas daily news in larger perspectives of social justice and the common good, Cary Clack blesses thousands of us as a storyteller and compassionate friend. He received Gemini Ink’s Award for Literary Excellence in 2020. He was applauded as a San Antonio Peace Laureate in January, 2021. In the midst of pandemics of COVID and revealed racism, his consistent and courageous work is creating a better future for our city and our society. In 2017, Clack was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters, an Honor Society founded in 1936 to celebrate Texas literature. This includes the state’s most respected writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, journalism, and scholarship.

Clack graduated from St. Gerard’s High School, then got a BA in Political Science from St. Mary’s University in 1985. He worked as a Scholar-Intern at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, in Atlanta where Clack wrote CNN commentaries for Coretta Scott King. His history at the San Antonio Express-News began in 1994 and he eventually he was the first African-American on the editorial board of a San Antonio daily as well as the first metro columnist. He has won numerous awards for his writing Clowns and Rats Scare Me a book of his columns was published by Trinity University Press in 2009.

Clack has served in communications with Joaquin Castro, Mayor Ivy Taylor, and with Merced Housing Texas. Fortunately for us ordinary citizens who want to know the stories and the deeper stories daily, Clack has circled back to regular columns and the Editorial Board of the San Antonio Express-News. See a list of this recent writing

Lionel Sosa and the documentary, "Living in My Skin," stories of Black men


LIVING IN MY SKIN, an exhibit of paintings and documentary of the Black men portrayed will be discussed by the creator of this project, Lionel Sosa. Sosa has been a long-term friend of UIW helping the school grow substantial through his extensive ability in communications and marketing. Lionel Sosa founded the largest Hispanic advertising agency in the United States, Bromley Communications. In 2005, TIME magazine named him one of the twenty-five most influential Hispanics in the United States. His brother Robert Sosa served in the UIW Development Office and assisted the university in raising millions of dollars to help students. He was a major force behind the location and the naming of UIW Optometry clinic. This eastside clinic remember Artemisia Bowden, an outstanding leader in education for Black youth who developed St. Philip's College.

Before this series of stories of Black men, in 2012 Lionel and Kathy Sosa, together with KLRN public television in San Antonio and Jesus Ramirez and his My Story, Inc., wrote and produced a twenty-part documentary series titled Children of the Revolución: How the Mexican Revolution Changed America's Destiny. Both of Sosa’s grandmothers were among the one million people who migrated north from Mexico during the Mexican Revolution to escape the violence. Listen to Lionel and Kathy's introduction to the series. All stories are important. Many were women and children without the men. This exodus jump-started the growth of the U.S. Latino population, a group which now numbers well over 50 million. These political refugees began to flourish in the U.S. Countless numbers of their descendants, now American citizens, are highly accomplished individuals, including both community and national leaders. Learn more of the series here and its accompanying book. Lionel Sosa founded the largest Hispanic advertising agency in the United States, Bromley Communications. In 2005, TIME magazine named him one of the twenty-five most influential Hispanics in the United States.

Sosa explains that he and his wife saw a sign in a shop, “You can’t be anti-racist, unless you’re actively anti-racist.” This was just a month after millions around the world had watched George Floyd, a Black man, arrested and choked to death by a white policeman. The issue of race and race relations was on everyone’s mind. Feelings were raw. I couldn’t stop thinking about that poster – it spoke to me. It told me to do something.

But what?

“My late brother, Robert, had been actively anti-racist all his adult life. He never missed an MLK March, visited all the places in the south where Black history was made, and even created and taught a course at University of the Incarnate Word on Civil Rights History. Me? All I ever did was to visit the Martin Luther King statue in DC. It made me feel empty.

That same morning, I was scheduled to meet with Brandon Logan and Seymour Battle, both Black professionals, to discuss a real estate transaction. I mentioned the poster and the effect it made on me and asked ‘What’s it like to live as a Black man in San Antonio?’ Brandon replied, ‘Let me tell you about the daily challenge of living in my skin.’

The stories from the two men that followed blew me away. As a Latino and person of color, I’ve had a few experiences with discrimination, but nothing like this. Chills ran through me as I listened and tried to put myself in their shoes. The answer to my ‘But what?’ became apparent. Then and there, Kathy, Brandon, Seymour and I decided that the stories of Black men in San Antonio must be told.”

The Black population of San Antonio is only 7%, yet it hosts the largest MLK march in the nation. Additionally, 63% of our citizens are Hispanic, making us a majority-minority city. Many perceive San Antonio to be culturally enlightened and highly evolved. Is it?

The purpose of this project is to shine a light on today’s reality, what it’s like to be a Black man or boy in San Antonio, and to help bring about a better understanding of each other as a community. “Living in My Skin” features over 30 oil-on-linen portraits by Lionel Sosa of Black men, ages 10 to 90, as well as a two-part film documentary which premiers on PBS station KLRN in February 2021 during Black History Month. The series can be streamed at the KLRN streaming site. Hear raw and sometimes heartbreaking stories about what it’s like to be a Black man or boy in San Antonio. Thirty-three Black males, ranging in age from 10 to 90, tell stories they seldom share with people outside their race. This two-part series aims to create a deeper understanding of race relations in our community, and foster a deeper cultural understanding of each other’s lives and feelings.

“Transforming Moral Injury into Communal Healing” shared by Dennis Patrick Slattery, Ph.D.

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Dennis Patrick Slattery, Ph.D., is the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of thirty volumes as well as over two undred articles in books, magazines, newspapers and online journals. He has for the past twenty-seven years been a Core Faculty member in the Mythological Studies Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, CA, where he holds the rank of Distinguished Professor Emeritus. He has taught for the past fifty-two years at the elementary, secondary, undergraduate, and graduate levels. From 1984-87, he taught teachers the classics of literature in the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture’s Summer Program for Teachers. He also taught for six years at the Fairhope Institute of Humanities and Culture’s Summer Program for high school teachers under the direction of Dr. Larry Allums, former director of the Dallas Institute. He has also taught at Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University and the University of the Incarnate Word.

His writings include: The Idiot: Dostoevsky’s Fantastic Prince (1984); The Wounded Body: Remembering the Markings of Flesh (2000); A Pilgrimage Beyond Belief: Spiritual Journeys through Christian and Buddhist Monasteries of the American Wes (2017); Harvesting Darkness: Essays on Literature, Myth, Film and Culture (2006); With Glen Slater he coedited Varieties of Mythic Experience: Essays on Religion, Psyche and Culture (2008); with Jennifer Selig he co-edited Reimagining Education: Essays on Reviving the Soul of Learning (2009); An Obscure Order: Reflections On Cultural Mythologies (2020); with Deborah Anne Quibell and Jennifer Leigh Selig, he has coauthored Deep Creativity: Seven Ways to Spark Your Creative Spirit, which won first place in the 2020 Nautilus Book Awards under the category “Creativity and Inspiration.” He has also published seven volumes of poetry and one novel. He offers (W)riting Retreats on personal mythology using the writings of Joseph Campbell and others to Jungian groups and other organizations in the United States and Europe. Additional information can be found at

See his new book The Way of Myth: Stories’ Subtle Wisdom. Explore the act of reading, the importance of stories as it relates to one’s personal myth. In “The Social Fabric of Stories,” are essays on the classroom as sacred space, uncertainty, the fact of myth, compassion, moral injury, peace, the gifts of conversation, and more. See his blog at

Session Description

I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story truth is truer sometimes than happening truth.” Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried.

This presentation will engage the growing phenomenon of moral injury that is inspired by the work of Larry Kent Graham’s Moral Injury: Restoring Wounded Souls. My interest in moral injury grew out of our national malady that accelerated under the last administration and now has a life of its own in the form of fantasies that continue to dissociate so many from a common shared reality. Alternative realities now have a life of their own. Divisiveness is the wounding consequence of such dissonance that corrodes the shared mythology that we thought we could take for granted.

Graham’s solution, followed by my own reflections in the spirit of healing into wholeness, includes the three-part processes of 1. renewal, 2. hope, and 3. repair. The consequence of such a recognition is a validation in a person’s ability “to reclaim the experience of that deepest part of themselves and work on healing the wound, as Graham asserts.

The presentation will conclude with a “Ritual Act of Forgiveness.”

Dr. Jim C. Harrington

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Dr. Jim C. Harrington, an attorney and advocate, founded the Texas Civil Rights Project in 1990, having been inspired by and involved with the United Farm Workers’ movement in the Rio Grande Valley. He directed TCRP for twenty-five years, fighting for the rights of Texans with disabilities, immigrants, workers in need of fair labor conditions, and more.

As a young person Harrington was influenced by his faith and summers working with migrant farm workers in Michigan. He wanted to help the disadvantaged, so he entered the seminary. After eight years, he came to believe that he could help more by being an attorney than by being a priest. After getting a law degree, he moved to Texas and began working for the Texas branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. With his education in social justice, he fought for worker's rights alongside Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers. Harrington had a reputation for taking on powerful adversaries, including the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas State Bar. He worked on a variety of cases, including civil rights, worker's rights, racial discrimination, as well as many cases under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Harrington was an adjunct law professor at University of Texas, popular with students who sought more than a theoretical perspective. Working with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, they secured farm workers' rights to sanitary facilities, toilets, and drinking water in the fields. They also secured unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation, and the right to know about dangerous chemicals used in the workplace. They won a Texas ban on the use of the short-handled hoe, which went into effect in 1981.

Since retiring from being the director of the TCRP, Harrington has served at St. James' Episcopal Church in Austin directing Proyecto Santiago and was ordained to the priesthood. Listen to him reflect on stories “With Job, Harriet Tubman, and John Lewis on the 4th of July” At Trinity Church in Austin. Study the path of others to make your way easier and more abundant. Lean toward the whispers of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates. Know that the truth always leads to love and the perpetuation of peace. Its products are never bitterness and strife. Clothe yourself in the work of love, in the revolutionary work of nonviolent resistance against evil. Anchor the eternity of love in your own soul and embed this planet with goodness. Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won. Choose confrontation wisely, but when it is your time don’t be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice. And if you follow your truth down the road to peace and the affirmation of love, if you shine like a beacon for all to see, then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation, a world community, and a Beloved Community that is finally at peace with itself.” -- John Lewis with Brenda Jones, Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America (Hachette Books: 2017, 2012), 208.

Co-leading the Morning Process of Transformation and sharing “Stories of La Llorona (the Woman Weeping) and the Truth about Race” Dr. Arturo Chavez

Dr. Arturo Chávez is nationally recognized for his efforts to combat racism and poverty, Catholic Charities USA recognized him as “…a national champion of the poor” with the 2010 “Keep the Dream Alive Award” in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Additionally, he served on President Obama’s Council for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This year Dr. Chavez began serving as the Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the University of the Incarnate Word Mission and Ministry.

He was the President and Chief Executive Officer of MACC, the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, Texas, where he began as a faculty member in 2000. He led the organization from a Cultural Center to a Catholic College that offers B.A. and M.A. degrees in Pastoral Ministry.

Dr. Chávez has worked for over 28 years in a variety of ministries. As a teacher, youth minister, a chaplain to the incarcerated, and a community organizer. He founded a nonprofit youth organization called JOVEN and was instrumental in establishing other faith-based partnerships to address the urgent needs of families who are poor and disenfranchised. His commitment to community-based activism, education, and peace-building continues through his ministry as a teacher, facilitator, and international speaker.

Dr. Chávez holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Incarnate Word, a Masters degree from Oblate School of Theology of the Southwest, and a Ph.D. in Religious and Theological Studies, from the University of Denver and the Iliff School of Theology, with a focus on the relationship between religion and social change.

La Llorona SEE THIS

The traditional stories of La Llorona will be explored to examine how the history of systemic racism continues to plague communities, especially those most affected by the COVID pandemic. What truths does this folk tale teach that can lead to personal transformation and systemic change?

Co-leading the Morning Process of Transformation and Relationship Building, Rev. Ann Helmke, City of San Antonio Faith Based Office Liaison

The Rev. Ann Helmke is an ordained Lutheran (ELCA) minister who has been serving in San Antonio community for over 30 years. She has served in a congregational setting and is one of the co-founders of the San Antonio peaceCENTER 25 years ago, where she continues to serve in this all volunteer and interfaith organization as the animating director.

Ann also served for seven years as director of spiritual services at Haven for Hope, a San Antonio homeless transformational center. Since 2017, she has been serving as the "Faith Liaison" for the City of San Antonio in the Department of Human Services. In that role hundreds have been unified to work together in improving lives of families and communities most in need via relational coordination, intentional partnerships and network activation between the faith community, government agencies, nonprofits and community groups.

In her position as Faith Liaison, Rev. Helmke helps the City understand the concerns of its congregations and other faith-based groups, and vice versa. She explains that there are about 1,400 congregations in San Antonio of all kinds: Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Indigenous, and others.

Committed to community service and with the 25+ years of a committed core team with the San Antonio peaceCENTER, for last 10 years they have carefully nurtured within our grassroots the Charter for Compassion movement in San Antonio. In 2017 the Mayor and City Council officially declared San Antonio as a Compassionate City globally along with ~100 other cities by the signing into action of the Compassionate San Antonio Resolution.

Today that number of Compassionate Cities is near 450 to which San Antonio is a piloting leader in terms of the education of compassion as well as the policy and decision making of our civic leaders. Today the San Antonio peaceCENTER is doing-business-as Compassionate San Antonio to ensure that our Compassionate City survives and thrives beyond election cycles.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg's sharing with 30 Canadian mayors and city leaders is a glimpse of amazing compassionate action in the City of San Antonio and Rev. Helmke is a main organizer growing the SA Compassionate Institute.

Dr. Alfredo Ortiz Aragón co-leading a Storytelling Process each morning

"From Storytelling to Story Doing: Moving from experience to action to become health equity allies" Wednesday, Aug. 4

In the Wednesday morning session we will explore two community engagement processes from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)-funded Action Research for Community Health and Wellbeing (AR4CHW) initiative—a collaboration between UIW and San Antonio Metro Health’s “Healthy Neighborhoods” program. We will share:

1) A two-semester collaborative engagement between UIW Health Professions students and LGBTQ+ community members to help “Rewrite the Script” from poor to positive experiences with the health care system, to improve the chances of equitable health care for this community.

2) A year-long engagement with parents of children with autism, focused on creating digital stories to help parents feel heard, connected, and motivated to action through the digital storytelling process.

More importantly, we will share how we have used digital storytelling and data visualization to not only tell stories but find a way to turn the stories into a form that other people can use and share to strike up new conversations. Like with this event, we are trying to awaken our consciousness by sharing stories, but also thinking through how we can use this knowledge to actually affect change. Our session is therefore focused on how we might move from thinking to action, from storytelling to “story doing”.

All will be involved in story circles to create our own traveling stories.

"Giving our stories wings: Helping our stories travel by creating visuals from our experiences to connect with others" Thursday, Aug. 5, 10 - 11 am


In this session we will draw from stories we have heard or shared in the previous day to create simple visuals of elements of those stories that will help us share them with others.


As people, our experiences (positive, negative and in-between) occur in communication with others—our stories are narrative; they exist in stories of lived experience. Storytelling is uniquely suited in form and social function for learning about our experiences and connecting with others in empathetic ways. Creating simple visuals from stories may allow them to travel differently and keep the story alive as a tool for communication and, ultimately, advocacy. When people use the stories and visuals to strike up conversations with others, the story travels, generates empathy and interest, and an openness to engage on topics that are not as easy to generate interest or are otherwise tabu.


We will surface stories we have heard or shared, create simple visuals and brief explanations inspired by the stories (using a software called Padlet), that each of us could use to go out to strike up a conversation with someone to take the conversation further. We will then ask people to print out their visuals and explanations and use them to strike up a conversation before the next morning (Friday), where we will share what we learned.

Dr. Alfredo Ortiz Aragón and Dr. Arthur Hernandez of the UIW Dreeben School of Education are leading the "Health and Well-Being Project," a major grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The $229,000 grant is supporting the Community Participation in the Health and Wellbeing Project, a pilot project to support design, testing and evaluation of action research approaches that increase participation and strengthen existing community health and wellbeing efforts with target groups.

Dr. Ortiz is an action-researcher and designer / facilitator of organizational change processes, working in international and local development contexts for the last 18 years. He prioritizes critical reflection on how power relationships between people enable and constrain “desirable” and “feasible” change. He believes that increased awareness of the role all people play in including and excluding diverse ways of understanding and acting in the world can lead to new perspectives and increased inclusion of marginalized people, causes, ideas and ways of knowing. He recently co-authored Action Research, 5th edition, with Ernest T. Stringer. The book provides research that produces practical, effective, and sustainable outcomes to real-world problems.

“The Cajita Project as a Contemplative Activity” shared by Dr. Sandra Guzman Foster SEE THIS

Contemplative practices are the tools that foster a reflective, insightful dimension to the pedagogic experience. The “cajita project” is a contemplative, arts-based pedagogy. A cajita is a sacred box, a knowledge canvas, a creative vessel, or an artistic canvas. Cajitas allow a space for students and anyone to develop a cultural autobiographical story told in carefully selected artifacts such as family photos, personal jewelry, newspaper articles, candles, food, and prerecorded music. The stories people create through their cajitas honor ancestry, family struggles, and triumphs, as well as the contributions of different family members (Pulido 2002).The cajita project is designed to assist a person to become reflective, socially conscious. Understanding that the cajita is a highly personal reflective box that one designs and builds using one’s own creativity and life experiences is imperative. Each cajita is unique to each individual. Thus, no two cajitas are alike.

Dr. Sandy L. Guzman Foster is the Sister Theophane Power Endowed Chair and an Associate Professor in the graduate studies department in the Dreeben School of Education at the University of the Incarnate Word. She was recently became the UIW Moody Professor for 2021-2022, an honor for outstanding teaching, research, and excellence as a faculty member. Dr. Guzman Foster is a primary researcher on progress in the City of San Antonio efforts to be a Compassionate City and give models for other cities globally. See information on the growing Compassionate Institute and hear Mayor Ron Mayor Nirenberg speak to mayors and leaders of two dozen cities in North America on how we learn the discipline of compassion and work on it in our city on the fourth anniversary of the City Resolution. Dr. Guzman Foster is working on the case study that the mayor mentions.

She conducts workshops on topics related to critical reflection, the 3Ds (discussion, debate, and dialogue), inclusive education, equity, diversity, and social justice. She is a proponent of transformative learning education opportunities and is a strong believer in building bridges, not walls when it comes to racial, cultural, and interfaith understanding. She was recently invited to be on the Editorial Board of the Journal for Trauma Studies.

Dr. Sandra L. Guzman Foster earned her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Arizona State University where she was also a Gates Millennium Scholar and a Spencer Interdisciplinary Fellow. Prior to joining UIW, Dr. Guzman Foster worked with the Institute for Transformational Learning at the University of Texas Systems developing and producing competency-based instructional materials. Dr. Guzman Foster brings experience in online and hybrid pedagogy, curriculum development, teacher education, program evaluation, and educational research. Additionally, Dr. Guzman Foster has taught at the K-12 level, community college level, and at the university level in Texas, Arizona, and Colorado over the past 20 years. Her research interests are Educational Policy, Critical Pedagogy, Social Justice, Historical, Political and Social Contexts of Education, Critical Multicultural Education, Reflective Practice, Transformative Dialogue, Urban Education, Educational Philosophy, Youth Empowerment, and Technology Integration in Education.

See the photo at the top of the Arbol of 700 stories created by Margareta Cabrera. Enjoy some of the these stories online in the World Heritage Festival, starting the second week of September, 2021.

“Stories through Arts Inviting Community, Compassion, and Justice” a conversation with Margarita Cabrera, Kathy Vargas, and Margaret Mitchell

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Margarita Cabrera received an MFA from Hunter College in New York, NY. Her recent work includes an exhibit at the El Paso Museum of Art, a show entitled “Pop Departures” at the Seattle Art Museum. Her work has been included in galleries such as 516Arts, Sara Meltzer, Walter Maciel, and Synderman-Works. Her work has been included in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; the McNay Museum San Antonio; the Sweeney Art Center for Contemporary Art at the University of California, Riverside, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, and El Museo del Barrio, NYC, LA County Museum of Art, CA. In 2012 she was a recipient of the Knight Artist in Residence at the McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte, NC. Cabrera was also a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant.

Margarita Cabrera will invite people to the Arbol de la Vida: Memorias y Voces de la Tierra, a true collaborative art project that has brought the diverse community of San Antonio together to give sculptural form to individuals’ local stories that transcend time. More than 700 people, 700 stories, 700 sculptures have been created by the local community honoring and celebrating the world heritage Site Mission San Fransisco de la Espada bringing to light to its rich, natural and cultural environment. The creative process included story telling / dialogues, and ceramic sculpture workshops throughout the City, and a coming together and an unveiling celebration to honor our cultural history, our diversity, and our newly bonded community.

Deepen in the wisdom of your story as you connect with Margarita Cabrera in early August. Stories from the Arbol will be celebrated in the 2021 World Heritage Festival in September which remembers the significance of our Missions which are UNESCO designated World Heritage Sites. Learn details of the festival where the Arbol is located at the Press Conference on Aug. 24, 10 am, Mission Espada, 10040 Espada Rd., San Antonio, Texas 78214. The event will include invited guest speakers, special cultural performances, and details on this year’s festival as a preview of what attendees can expect at the 6th Annual World Heritage Festival.

Work together that we may have the Arbol de la Vida Digital App to listen to the stories as we stand under the sculpture. Her story is one of deep nonviolent love, may we listen to and learn such stories. She explains, “My work centers on social-political community issues including cultural identity, migration, violence, inclusivity, labor, and empowerment. I create sculptures made out of mediums ranging from steel, copper, wood, ceramics, and fabric. I have worked on a number of collaborative projects at the intersection of contemporary art practices, indigenous Mexican folk art and craft traditions, and US-Mexico relations. In addition to studying and preserving endangered cultural and craft traditions, these projects have served as active investigations into the creation of just working conditions and the protection of immigrant rights. My emphasis is on creating a social consciousness through my work, generating solutions to these problems through my art and empowering all members of highly diverse communities.”

Kathy Vargas, artist/photographer from San Antonio, Texas, received her MFA from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1984. She has had one person exhibits at Sala Uno in Rome, Galeria Juan Martin in Mexico City, Centro Recoleta in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and retrospectives at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio and Universitat Erlangen in Germany. Group shows include "Hospice: A Photographic Inquiry" a national traveling exhibit commissioned by the Corcoran Gallery and “Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation (CARA)”.

She is in the collections of the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, the Toledo Art Museum, the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Sprint Collection. Named 2005 Texas Two-Dimensional Artist of the Year by the Texas Commission on the Arts, she also received a Lightwork Residency in 1993 and Art Pace Residencies in 1997. Her papers are housed at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. She is currently professor of art/photography at the University of the Incarnate Word.

Margaret Mitchell has designed costumes and scenery professionally for over 30 years, and she is a Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, TX. Her professional credits include Ballet Idaho, Dallas Shakespeare, Austin Shakespeare, and The Zach Theatre, among others. Ms. Mitchell's design work has represented the United States at the Prague Quadrennial three times and at World Stage Design. Her costume designs are published in Rebecca Cunningham's book, The Magic Garment, and in Brockett and Ball's The Essential Theatre.

With Oscar Brockett and Linda Hardberger, Ms. Mitchell is a co-author of Making the Scene: A History of Stage Design and Technology in Europe and the United States; this book received two national book awards. Ms. Mitchell is also a contributing author to Performance Costumes: New Perspectives and Methods. She serves as a general editor for TD&T and as an editorial board member for the international journal, Studies in Costume and Performance.

How does a little child begin a path of transformation in a federal prison on her first communion day? Professor Margaret Mitchell discusses her first community service project that turned into friendships of real commitment and love while visiting three incarcerated people separated from their own children.

“The Truth of Disastrous Destruction of Creation, Transformation Through Embracing the Sustainable Development Goals” shared by Melinda Adams, Ben Miele, Judy Ruvuna, Ana Vallor, and moderated by Dr. Ricardo Gonzalez, Director of the Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and Sustainability


New ways of thinking and acting are emerging around the globe as the human family embraces the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. At UIW we inaugurate a multi-disciplinary Concentration in Sustainability. Planetary and personal hope is found as we transform towards cooperation, compassion, and collaboration. As Laudato Si reminds us, it is CRITICAL than we do this now. Hear UIW faculty teaching classes in the new Concentration, moderated by Dr. Ricardo Gonzalez, Director of the Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and Sustainability. Share conversation about your ways of living.

Melinda K. Adams, Ph.D. is a Full professor and program chair of the Juren Sullivan Fashion Management Program. She has received certifications in Sustainability in Fashion and Sustainability: Concepts, Practices, and Applications for Fashion. Dr. Adams teaches the Sustainability in Fashion class in the Fashion Management program. In her class, students learn about how the clothes we wear impact the lives of those who make them as well as the planet. She has worked on research relating to sustainability and fast fashion.

Dr. Ben Miele is Associate Professor of English at UIW. He studies and teaches early modern British literature and culture, and has research interests in surveillance studies, the reception of the classics, and sustainability studies. This coming year, he will assume the role of Chair of UIW's Sustainability Advisory Board. He is leading the Concentration is Sustainability.

Judy Ruvuna M.Arch. is an Assistant Professor in the Interior Design department at UIW. She teaches architecture courses including Environmental Systems and Sustainability. He is a designer with a diverse background in Architecture, Interior Design, Historic Preservation, and Textile Technology and Design. She is an Assistant Professor for Interior Design at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. She holds a Master of Architecture and Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation from the University of Texas at San Antonio, a Certificate in Interior Design from the University of Alabama at Huntsville, and a Bachelor of Science in Textile Technology and Design, from the University of Bradford, UK. Judy Ruvuna has over 25 years of industry experience and is the owner and Project designer for J R Interior Solutions. She invites students to discuss how our actions impact the planet and what it means to be sustainable. She has them review ideas from sources such as the 2030 Challenge, UN Global Compact, and Cradle to Cradle She focuses on UNSDGs 10, 11, 12, 13, and 17 and how collaboration accountability, empathy, and transparency provide a way forward to a more sustainable future.

Dr. Ana Vallor is the current Chair of the Department of Biology and the Sr. Joseph Marie Armer CCVI Endowed Chair in Natural Science. She is an inaugural fellow of the SA Compassionate Institute 2020. first-generation college graduate born in the Texas Rio Grande Valley. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas. She received her Ph.D. in Molecular Virology and Microbiology from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Dr. Vallor has been involved in conducting microbial studies in mother-infant microbial transmission, antifungal drug testing and diagnostics, and assessment of probiotic microbial species in prevention of sexually transmitted pathogens in women. Currently, her research involves the investigation of in anti-parasitic drug biotransformation and discovery of new antimicrobial compounds produced by South Texas soil microorganisms. Along with conducting research with her undergraduate students, Dr. Vallor loves. football, classic films (avid Star Wars fan), the history of science, and vacationing on the Texas coast with her husband and daughters.

Please consider joining enthusiastic colleagues for the Sustainability Studies Workshop on August 10, 11, and 12 from 9 to noon! We will discuss UIW's newest academic Concentration, Sustainability Studies, and generate ideas for incorporating sustainability pedagogy into courses in a variety of fields. Join us for a fun and enriching experience! Stipends are available to participants. For more details, please contact Ben Miele at

“Living our Lives using the Three R’s: It’s Time to Reflect, Reconnect, & Rediscover” shared by Bishop Trevor Alexander, Dr. Doshie Piper, and Dr. Ron Washington with contributions from Chris Gokelman


Session Description

Chris Gokelman, who is pursuing an MA at the Cleveland Institute of Music, shares composers/musicians from underrepresented communities discussing the importance of inclusivity in music. See With so much going on in our communities, we need opportunities to Reflect on where we have been, to Reconnect to our passion and compassion that speaks to our human dignity, and to Rediscover who we are and how we want to be. When we think about the word, “REFLECT,” we sometimes associate this word with remembering, becoming aware of past events, or examination of conscious. Using the Sankofa Approach, we will “look back,” (Reflect) at where we have been, ground us in our present reality, (Reconnective stage), and then move to (Rediscover) or moving forward to the greater wholeness.

Bishop Trevor Alexander was born in Romford, Essex, in England. He and his wife Emma have three wonderful girls. Bishop Trevor holds an undergraduate degree from the University of the Incarnate Word, in Psychology (holding an emphasis on family) and Religious Studies, alongside a Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Ministry from Oblate School of Theology, and a Doctor of Divinity Degree from St. Thomas Christian College & Seminary in Jacksonville, Florida.

Bishop Alexander is currently serving at the University of Incarnate Word as the Protestant Chaplain and Adjunct Faculty at the University of the Incarnate Word. He is also a retiree from the U.S. Army, where he was a Combat Engineer and a Drill Sergeant. Amongst his other accomplishments he is the Senior Pastor of True Vine Church and the Southwest Texas Regional Bishop for the Kingdom Council of Interdependent Christian Churches & Ministries.

Bishop Trevor has published serval articles on matters pertaining to the African American community and has presented in numerous conferences, locally, nationally and internationally. On February 15, 2016, he was inducted to the San Antonio BlackBook Worship Hall of Fame. During the month of February in 2018, Bishop was recognized by the University of the Incarnate Word, Black History Month Committee, with the Alumni of Distinction Ward.

Dr. Piper shares in this session and join her in the "Networking" Session, Aug. 6, 4 pm, to consider the Interfaith Coalition Action Network

Dr. Doshie Piper is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of the Incarnate Word. She earned her Doctorate of Philosophy in Juvenile Justice from Prairie View A&M University. She also holds a Master’s of Science and a Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati. A specialist in community corrections, Dr. Piper is particularly interested in the intersection of reintegration and faith community’s capacity to deal with reentry challenges.

Her teaching experience includes Drugs and Crime in Society; Women and Crime; Restorative Justice; Probation, Parole and Community Corrections and Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice. Dr. Piper is interested in engaging students outside of the classroom. Her courses typically included a service learning component to expose students to the realities of justice work.

As a scholar Dr. Piper has engaged in numerous opportunities to publish. She has published An Empirical Analysis of Female Juvenile Offending from the National Youth Survey; Relationship Building in Criminal Justice, Psychology and Community Corrections; The Ethics of Gender and Family; The Female Thief; and Policing America’s Educational Systems in books, journals, and newspapers. Her research agenda has primarily been gender specific and responsive. She is currently researching gender in juvenile justice and schools.

Dr. Piper holds memberships with international, national, regional, and local criminal justice organizations. She is a member of the American Society of Criminology (ASC) and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS). Within both of these organizations she is part of various sections and divisions: Juvenile Justice Section; Minorities and Women Section; Restorative Justice and Community Justice Section; the Division of People of Color and Crime (DPCC) and Women and Crime.

Dr. Piper serves the community with membership to Source of Light (SOL) Center where she has been on Executive Committee. She also a part of: the San Antonio Sponsoring Committee; the San Antonio Police Department Recruitment and Training Advisory Board; Eastpoint Promise Prevention Coalition@ San Antonio Fighting Back and the San Branch of the NAACP. Additionally, she is a committee member on the Bexar County Faith Based Re-Entry Committee.

Ron Washington, Ph.D. is the Coordinator of the Management Information Systems department in the UIW HEB School of Business. Before coming to UIW in 2013, he was at Bank of America as a Senior Business Control Specialist, AVP and with the Wells Fargo Corporation as an Operational Risk Consultant, AVP. He served in the United States Air Force, 1982 – 2005.

Dr. Washington has published “Enabling Change: Faculty and Student Perceptions of Blended Learning,” “The Information Gap amongst the Generations and the Implications for Organizations” in the International journal of digital literacy and digital competence; and “Cultural critical pedagogy as an alternative teaching methodology in the African American community.”

He holds a Ph.D. Organizational Leadership from UIW and an M.S. Technology Systems Management and a B.S. in Information Systems Management both from the University of Maryland. His research interests include information privacy, information security, and operational risk.

"Young Women’s Global Leadership Program- Facing and changing gender inequality one girl at a time" shared by Dr. Joan Labay Marquez, Erika Haskins, Linda Gjergji

Dr. Joan Labay-Marquez is the Graduate Studies Coordinator for the Dreeben School of Education (DSE) and serves on the NASPA Review Board for the NASPA Journal of Women and Gender in Higher Education. She is a lawyer and her teaching focuses on law and social justice in higher education. She is an inaugural fellow of the SA Compassionate Institute 2020, serves as advisor to the Compassionate Student Peer Organization at UIW and is part of a phenomenal team of faculty, administrators, community leaders, graduate students and mentors that are organizing "Young Women's Global Leadership Program San Antonio and Girls Global Leadership Summit. Read of what is developing Would you like to be involved? Involve your students, involve the young people in your life.

Erika Haskins is a doctoral student at University of the Incarnate Word in the Dreeben School of Education where she also earned a Bachelor’s in Business and a Master of Arts in Religious Studies. She earned a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. Erika’s research focus includes women’s and girl’s leadership and leadership in early Spanish, Mexican and Texas history.

Her most recent academic research, Linda Marie Pace, has been published in The Handbook of Texas Women. As the former Executive Director for the Hispanic Heritage Center of Texas, she served as principal investigator on the travel exhibition, Las Damas de Tejas: Notable Women in Texas where she presented to numerous schools and museums around the state of Texas. She has served as a historical consultant on the History Channel and as a consultant for an official San Antonio Tricentennial project. In 2010, under the leadership of Sister Dorothy Ettling, under the traveled to Mongu, Zambia where she taught leadership, business, computer technology and theology workshops.

Most recently, Erika presented “Youth-Led Advocacy for Gender Equality: A Model for Global Summits” at the 65th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Her current dissertation study, Examining High School Girls Experiences in a Mentorship Program: A Qualitative Exploratory Case Study, examines the positive benefits of participating in young female leadership programs.

Erika serves in many capacities as a volunteer in various organizations. She currently serves on the advisory board of the San Antonio Area Foundation Women’s and Girl’s Development Fund Committee and UIW’s Young Women’s Global Leadership Program and Summit which both seek to empower girls and women to advance as leaders in the community.

Linda Gjergji is pursuing her PhD in Adult Education, Social Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at the University of the Incarnate Word. She is currently working as a Program Specialist for PTAC Center, part of the Institute for Economic Development at UTSA, and coordinates the procurement assistance for 37 counties in San Antonio area. She has earned a Master’s in Business (MBA) from the University of Incarnate Word in 2017, and Bachelor’s degree in Banking, Finance and Accounting from University of Prishtina. She is USAID fully funded scholar for the Transformational Leadership Program in Kosovo. Her research interests are related to: Women entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship in developing countries, and Women issues in developing countries. She established of a Non-Profit organization for women empowerment in Kosovo in 2017, which has enhanced the participation of woman in community engagement, in small communities in Kosovo. Linda believes that increasing women’s education, leadership and business involvement is the first step towards improving gender gaps in access to economic opportunities in developing countries.

Session Description

The Young Women’s Global Leadership Program and Summit is a international citizenship leadership training program that provides girls and young women the opportunity to discover how they can influence and create positive change at home and abroad. This leadership program supports the mission and ministry of the University of the Incarnate Word, by teaching our young women about the university’s strong commitment to service, the responsibilities of global citizenship and how entrepreneurship can create social change.

The Feeling Behind Our Stories: Understanding Metaemotion and its Pedagogical Implications by Dr. LuElla D'Amico

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LuElla D'Amico is an Associate Professor of English and Coordinator of the Women’s and Gender Studies program at the University of the Incarnate Word. Before coming to UIW, she worked for three years as an Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. There, she was trained in Intergroup Dialogue, a pedagogical framework she uses in her classes. Intergroup dialogue provides a structured model designed to help facilitate conversation between members of two or more identity groups with the end goal of achieving empathy and deeper understanding. At UIW, Dr. D’Amico regularly hosts speakers and facilitates conversations on campus about Women’s and Gender studies topics, including but not limited to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on women, romance culture on Catholic college campuses, body positivity, and boys’ experiences of masculine socialization in the U.S.

Dr. D’Amico’s primary research interests lie in girlhood and girl culture in early and nineteenth-century American literature. She studies sentimental literature during this timeframe with a particular focus on Christian feminist rhetoric. She has published articles in Girlhood Studies, Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, Children's Literature in Education, and the collections Who Writes for Black Children?: African American Children's Literature Before 1900 and Nineteenth Century American Women Writers and Theologies of the Afterlife, among other venues. She also has edited a volume about the history of girls’ series books in the U.S. titled Girls’ Series Fiction and American Popular Culture, and is co-editor of Reading Transatlantic Girlhood in the Long Nineteenth Century. Dr. D’Amico currently serves as President of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Society and is the “Year in Conferences” director for ESQ: A Journal of Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture.

Session Description

"Interfaith Peace Building: One Story at a Time" by Rev. Wyndee Holbrook and Dr. Dhawn Martin with Lisa Epstein, Damaris Cavazos Fike, and Fulya Seker

During the pandemic, weekly faith leaders have come together, not only responding to needs but growing together as people of compassion. The City of San Antonio Faith-Based Office led by Rev. Ann Helmke coordinated as the Mayor expressed the greatest needs for that week. Join in a conversation with people from the Raindrop Foundation of San Antonio, the Jewish Community Relations Council, Bridges to Care, and others. San Antonio’s faith community is stronger together. Damaris Cavazos Fike shares the incredible work and stories of congregational COVID vaccinations clinics across our city.

Rev. Wyndee E. Holbrook directs Interfaith San Antonio Alliance (ISAA) and serves as the Pastor in Residence for Laurel Heights United Methodist Church. With a passion for people, she moved in 2017 to San Antonio from a lifetime in Kentucky to expand her world. The richness of San Antonio's diverse culture has provided ample opportunity for new awareness and friendships. ISAA participants represent Baha'i, Catholic and Protestant Christians, Hindu, Mandaean, Muslim and Sikh congregations coming together to foster relationships for the public good. The current ISAA Friendship Among Faith Leaders project is Interfaith Dinner Parties where 8 people of diverse faiths enjoy a meal together in an ISAA member's home. Additionally, ISAA has been promoting Affordable Housing as a civic engagement project since 2018.

UIW is actively linked with ISAA which is a part of the Religious Leadership and Civic Engagement Project initiated by Rabbi Steve Gutow in New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Dhawn B. Martin is the Executive Director of the Source of Light (SoL) Center of San Antonio, an interfaith education and peace building center. Dhawn’s research interests focus on the intersections of faith commitments and political activism. She is co-editor of the volume, Ecological Solidarities: Mobilizing Faith and Justice for an Entangled World (Penn State University Press, 2019). Her publications include, “A Cosmopolitical Theology: Engaging ‘The Political’ as an Incarnational Field of Emergence,” in Common Goods: Economy, Ecology, and Political Theology and “A Provisional Politics: Reclaiming Grace at the Intersections of Religion and Politics,” Crosscurrents, 64, no. 3. She serves on the board of SACRD—San Antonio Community Resource Directory. Dhawn enjoys playing guitar, walking, and writing.

Lisa Epstein is the Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio. The JCRC is the community outreach and public affairs arm of the Jewish Federation. She has a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and has worked as both a professor and a community advocate.

Damaris Cavazos Fike is the Social Action Pastor at CityChurch San Antonio. She has dedicated her life to rally and lead teams to serve vulnerable people in San Antonio and around the world. With a background in design and communication her purpose is to use those tools in partnership with her faith to share the good news of service, kindness, and love for ALL. Whether it is fighting hunger through raising thousands of meals for the local food bank or creating access to lifesaving vaccinations, her goal is to inspire individuals to be a part of a local and global force for good.

Fulya Seker is an Australian-born journalist, educator, translator, and voice-over artist. Born and raised in Sydney, she holds a degree in Communications with a specialization in Journalism, a Graduate Diploma of Education, and a Master of Arts in Islamic Studies. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Southern Cross University, Australia. Her doctoral thesis focuses on representations of democracy within the Turkish Press. Fulya Seker worked for many years as a teacher, educational leader, and public speaker in Australia and as a journalist/columnist at Turkey’s leading English newspaper. In 2007, she was invited to contribute to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) publication, Mosaic: Favourite Prayers and Reflections from Inspiring Australians. Fulya was chosen as one of the few youth representatives who personally met with the 14th Dalai Lama on his 2007 Australian Tour.

"Listen to Stories from the South. Learn to Listen More Deeply" shared by Dr. Larry Hufford and Dr. Gabriel Saxton-Ruiz

Dr. Gabriel Saxton-Ruiz, deeply embedded in Latin American Literature with family roots in Peru, shares story from there inviting empathy. Dr. Larry Hufford, who began taking students to Central America four decades ago, shares stories with insights from the field of International Studies.

Larry Hufford, Ph.D., joined St. Mary’s in 1993 as a Professor of Political Science and International Relations. Before St. Mary’s, Hufford taught Political Science and Peace and Justice Studies at Incarnate Word College for 20 years. He previously worked with the United Farm Workers during the Talisman Sugar company strike in 1972 and was a VISTA volunteer in Robstown, Texas, in 1966 and 1967. In 1967 to 1968, Hufford was an Instructor of Government at Texas A&M University in Kingsville.

In past years, Hufford has been invited to lecture at universities in Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Bangladesh, Mexico, England, Spain, Taiwan, Vietnam and Sweden. He has served as an official NGO observer for presidential elections in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala. He is the past president of the International World Council for Curriculum and Instruction, a Peace Education NGO with B Status in UNESCO, and past president of the Economic and Business Historical Society. In addition to his presidencies, he has held leadership positions in a variety of organizations. He has served as a board member of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Social and Economic Justice, the Society of Mary Committee for Social Justice and Global Awareness, MERCED Housing of Texas, board member and president of the San Antonio Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Christians for Peace in El Salvador (CRISPAZ), North American Communities: United for Equity (NAC:UE).

Hufford has authored five books and co-authored four. The titles are Educating For A Worldview: Focus on Globalizing Curriculum and Instruction; Educating for Balance: Science Technology and the Human Spirit; Meet the Professor: Essays in Philosophy by Sean Burke; The United States in Central America: An Analysis of the Kissinger Commission Report; D.B.: Reminiscences of D.B. Hardeman; Bridging Two Cultures: Multidisciplinary Readings in Bilingual Bicultural Education; Sweden’s Power Elite; Sweden: The Myth of Socialism; Icke-Våld (Nonviolence).

Regarding service to the City of San Antonio, Hufford has in the past served as chairperson of the City Land Use and Transportation Committee, appointed to serve on the City Planning Commission (1981-1984), served as chairperson of the research task force for the City Community Revitalization Action Group (CRAG) (1997-1999), and was a member of CRAG II (1999-2001), chairperson of the Alternatives to Violence Issue Team, member of the City Educational Facilities Corporation, City Blue Ribbon Committee on Redistricting, and the City/County Task Force on Tax Abatement Policy. He was appointed by then-Texas Gov. Anne Richards to serve on the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners District IV Review Committee (1994-2000).

Hufford received the St. Mary’s University Alumni Association’s Distinguished Faculty Award in 1997 and 2002, the Marianist Heritage Award (2005), was Danforth Foundation Associate (1977-1983), named a Piper Professor of Texas (1983), Moody Foundation Professor (1988-1990), and was a Visiting Researcher at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Sweden (1984-1985). Community awards Hufford has received include the Douglas Foundation Community Leadership Award (1993), Baha’i Unity of Humanity Award (2012), and the Dialogue Institute Friendship Award (2017).

Hufford has authored 31 articles that have appeared in the National Catholic Reporter, Texas Observer, Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Current Research on Peace and Violence, America, Essays in Economic and Business History, Journal of Interdisciplinary Education, Hispanic Outlook, International Journal of Curriculum and Instruction, Revista Espaco Academico (Brazil), Race Today (England). Opinion pieces have appeared on the editorial pages of the Christian Science Monitor, San Antonio Express News, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Oregonian, Newsday, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Amarillo News-Globe, San Antonio Current, the now-defunct San Antonio Light, Rivard Report and the Baltimore Evening Sun.

From August 1972 through Fall 2019, Hufford presented 89 papers at professional conferences including conferences in Canada, Mexico, Sweden, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Japan, The Netherlands, Egypt, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, Australia, Spain, Vietnam, Israel, West Bank Palestine, Northern Ireland and England. Hufford has held six photo exhibits illustrating global experiences at Defiance College (Ohio), Augsburg College (Minnesota), Grinnell College (Iowa), St. Mary’s University (Texas), Providence High School (Texas).

Gabriel T. Saxton-Ruiz is Professor of Spanish (Latin American Literature & Culture) at the University of the Incarnate Word. Before coming to UIW, he was Associate Professor of Spanish & Latin American Studies and Vice Chair of Humanistic Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Saxton-Ruiz has always placed a strong emphasis on cultural diplomacy in his teaching, research, and campus/community service. At UW – Green Bay, Saxton-Ruiz created the Scholar-in-Residence program which hosted Peruvian and Spanish novelists, sustainability researchers from Chile and an Argentine journalist and human rights activist. The visiting scholars would spend two months on campus teaching and giving public lectures, and upon returning to their home countries, would finish teaching their classes via Skype.

His classes are designed to provide many opportunities for international dialogue that range from Q&A events with Nicaragua’s former Vice President, Sergio Ramírez, or workshops with cartonero publishers who use recycled materials to create books, to more informal activities such as the virtual conversational Spanish groups with UIW’s affiliated campus in Mexico City. A strong proponent of study abroad, Saxton-Ruiz has organized faculty-led immersion programs to Alicante, Spain on several occasions.

He received his BA in Spanish and French from Virginia Tech, and his MA and PhD in Modern Foreign Languages from the University of Tennessee. His research interests include twentieth and twenty-first century Latin American literature, popular culture studies, cultural gastronomy and representations of violence in various types of cultural productions. He has published Forasteros en tierra extraña (2012), a study on contemporary Peruvian literature and political violence, and co-edited the monograph La narrativa de Jorge Eduardo Benavides: Textos críticos (2018). Saxton-Ruiz is also the Editor-in-Chief of Stories from Peru, an online magazine of Peruvian literature in translation into English. His scholarly articles and translations have appeared in diverse publications in the UK, USA, Cuba, and Peru including Words Without Borders, Revista Hiedra, Palabras Errantes and Revista Conjunto-Casa de las Américas.

“Writing Reflections, Left-brained and Right-brained Approaches” with Dr. Susan Hall

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Dr. Susan Hall is a professor in the Dreeben School of Education and the Director of UIW's Center for Teaching and Learning. She has special interests in methods of faculty development, early literacy, and service learning.

The Center for Teaching and Learning supports UIW faculty in their teaching role through workshops, individual consultations, and other development activities.

Weekly Dr. Hall publishes ideas for good teaching. Throughout the pandemic, the Center has constantly supported teachers giving them multiple ways to help students. Not only does she provide fine content in workshops, but her warm style of encouraging people and drawing forth ideas is a model of good classroom practice.

"Story and Forgiveness" with Mary Lynne Gasaway Hill


Mary Lynne Gasaway Hill, Ph.D., FRSA, is a professor in the Department of English Literature and Language at St. Mary’s University, for which she also serves as the graduate program director.

Session Description

How do we forgive each other? What are ways to move toward forgiveness?

One way is to listen closely to each other’s stories. In this workshop, we will explore the dynamics of forgiveness through intentional story work, with a focus on metaphor and point of view. Some of the stories we engage in may be fact-based truth; others may be what Tim O’Brien calls “story truth.” All of them will offer the opportunity for us as a community to listen and learn from each other.

She and her students have engaged in storytelling in the tradition of Tenx9, a storytelling event where nine people have up to ten minutes each to tell a true story from their own life. Founded in Belfast, Ireland, in 2011 by Paul Doran and Pádraig Ó Tuama. As we get to know each others' stories, we can build a more compassionate world

"The Intercollegiate Civil Disagreement Partnership" shared by Dr. Andrew Hill


Andrew J. Hill is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at St. Philip's College in San Antonio, Texas, and he was a 2019 Fellow in the Global Studies Division of Stanford University. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Philosophy from St. Mary’s University, where he spent summers doing volunteer healthcare work in Mexico and Costa Rica. He earned a Master of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of St. Thomas, and the Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans. He received the NISOD Excellence Award from the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin for his innovative teaching at St. Philip’s College in 2018. He received the Teaching Excellence Award for Philosophy from the Philosophy Faculty of St. Philip’s College in 2021.

Session Description

The Intercollegiate Civil Disagreement Partnership (ICDP) is a consortium of five colleges and universities in the U.S. committed to reducing polarization by teaching students how to connect across political difference. The funding for the program is the result of a grant from the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, which seeks to strengthen teaching and research about pressing ethical issues.

Our goals are: (1) To bring together students from a range of public, private, two-year, and four-year institutions in order to develop their abilities to engage in and lead conversations about difficult, important topics across political difference; (2) To strengthen student-led initiatives seeking to reduce polarization on partner institutions’ campuses; and (3) To contribute to research on important civic indicators like efficacy and engagement by documenting and measuring the effects of the program’s efforts.

Eight students from St. Philip’s College have been named the inaugural Fellows by the Intercollegiate Civil Disagreement Partnership (ICDP), which is a new consortium of five institutions: California State University, Bakersfield, CA; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; St. Philip’s College, San Antonio, TX; Santa Fe College, Gainesville, FL; and Stanford University, Stanford, CA. The students were drawn from a wide range of backgrounds, and all expressed a willingness to engage in dialogue with others across a diversity of opinions and experiences.

The Fellows will participate in a fully remote program will enable them to collaborate on developing skills to engage and facilitate conversations across political differences at their respective colleges and universities. The students will receive training in facilitation, engage in deliberative conversations within the Fellows group, and have opportunities to interact with speakers from different sectors over the course of the academic year.

In addition to acquiring real-world skills to become practitioners in facilitating civil disagreement, Fellows will have special opportunities to interact with the community of scholars connected to the ICDP. Fellows will also have access to a wide range of additional online programming offered by the five partner institutions throughout the academic year in support of their academic, professional, and personal development. To learn more about the ICDP and the first cohort of Fellows from the five institutions, click here:

See Dr. Hill and the St. Phillip’s students.

"Stories That Shape Us" with Karen Ball

Karen Ball has an undergraduate degree in the Administration of Justice and a Masters degree in Criminology. Trained in Mediation and Community Organizing, Karen engages with peace and justice movements grounded in nonviolent action. Current work has Karen studying how trauma-informed civic engagement and a grounding in the ethic of compassion (a.k.a The Golden Rule) can co create communities of care and regenesis. She is serving with Community Engagement VISTA 2021-2022. She has been assisting the City Faith Based Office.

Session Descriptions

Karen Ball will share their experience of personal agency within complex systems. She will reflect on what stories have shaped her activism around the abolishment of nuclear weapons.

August 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb. Now the global Treat for the Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons has been ratified. Nuclear Weapons are illegal in the world. Can we unite as law abiding global citizens. Learn about the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons – UNODA

"Fighting for Housing Justice: The struggle to preserve, protect and develop affordable housing for the working poor in San Antonio" shared by Monica Cruz and Kayla Miranda

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Monica Cruz is a community researcher and housing justice advocate. She has served on the For Everyone Home initiative for the City of San Antonio, which will develop an Anti-Displacement Agenda to preserve and protect affordable housing in the community. She believes housing is a human right and has worked collaboratively with housing justice advocates to highlight the need for deeply affordable housing in our city. She recently earned her Ph.D. in Applied Demography where her research focused on the effects of place-based economic development policies on communities with high concentrations of poverty. She currently works as a Special Research Associate at the Institute “Institute for Demographic and Socioeconomic Research” (IDSER) at UTSA.

Kayla Miranda is a mother of 4 and Housing Justice Organizer on the Westside of San Antonio. As a tenant organizer, she has led numerous protests and public comment sessions. She writes for LaVoz de Esperanza, a magazine published by Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, as well as her own blog, and is currently recording the pilot episode for Radio Esperanza’s 96.5 FM station new housing justice talk show with the same name, Westside Defender. She is a founding member of the Coalition for Tenant Justice and board member of Historic Westside Residents Association.

Session Description

The Alazán-Apache Courts, also known as “Los Courts” were built between 1939 and 1942 on San Antonio’s Westside and is the largest and oldest public housing development still in existence in the United States. Managed by the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA), it has 685 units and houses approximately 1,000 tenants who have average household incomes of $10,000 a year. Last year, SAHA leadership and the board of directors proposed to demolish Los Courts and replace them with a mixed-income development where only a small fraction of the units would be for families currently living there. Threatened with the possibility of being displaced, residents organized and fought to save the place they call home. SAHA has since reversed their decision to demolish Los Courts and this presentation will tell the story of how local housing justice advocates have fought to preserve, protect, and develop affordable housing for the working poor in San Antonio.

Considering Refugees' and Immigrants' Stories presented by

Dr. Lopita Nath and Sister Adriana Calzada

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Dr. Lopita Nath, Professor and Chair of the History Department and the Coordinator of the Asian Studies Program at the University of the Incarnate Word. She has worked over 13 years organizing service-learning program with the resettled refugee community in San Antonio. Her students from the Global Refugee course works every year with refugee families helping them make the transition to life in America, through her Mentoring a Refugee Family program and with community partners Catholic Charities and CIELO Unity in Action. These experiences have created many beautiful stories of building relationships, cultural understandings, interfaith learning and diversity. This presentation will bring you some of those heartfelt experiences, highlighting the compassion and understanding that goes into her work with the refugees. She has taught for over 31 years in the fields of Asian and World History, Migration Studies, Refugee Issues and Human Rights. Dr. Nath is a Fulbright Scholar and the recipient of the Social Science Research Council Award. At UIW she was awarded the Edward A. Zlotkowski Faculty Award for Service Learning (2020), Minnie Piper Award UIW Nominee (2020-21, 2015), Presidential Teaching Award (2019) and the Moody Professor Award (2015), Her research expertise is on Migration in Asia, human displacement, refugees, citizenship, and human rights. Her current research focuses on the Bhutanese Refugee Resettlement in the USA. Since 2010, she visited the Bhutanese Refugee Camps in Nepal three times to understand the Bhutanese refugee crisis, and also worked with resettled refugees in Columbus, Ohio, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is working on her book on the Bhutanese Refugee Resettlement in the United States.

Sister Adriana Calzada Vasquez, CCVI, serves on the Incarnate Word Sisters Committee furthering assistance to immigrants and refugees through a grant from the Conrad Hilton Foundation which is linking many religious groups in solidarity with God’s global family. She studied Engineering in her native Mexico City, but was attracted to two years of volunteer service in indigenous villages which was sponsored by the IW Sisters lay volunteer program. Through this work, she grew in solidarity with God’s global family and decided to explore being an IW Sister. She had opportunities to study that path among IW Sisters in Peru and in the US. As an IW Sisters, she has served as a university campus minister and as a teacher in various cities in Mexico. More recently Sr. Adriana completed an MA at the Chicago Theological Union before coming to pursue a Ph.D. in the UIW Dreeben School of Education. Since the pandemic broke out, she was a leader in setting up a program “Somos Tierra” for almost 200 people in five counties to study and discuss Pope Francis plea to care for creation, “Laudato Si.” She serves as a Graduate Assistant in the Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and Sustainability and has been doing youth ministry.

Session Description

“Most Refugees are ordinary people living extraordinary lives: driven from their homes by fear, conflict and persecution, they have had to give up jobs, possessions, dreams, even families in their struggle to survive. They remain one of the most vulnerable people in our societies. They need assistance and protection. And they need understanding”… Kofi. A. Annan

“Companion of People Pushed to the Edge, let me stand with the least and the lost. I will reach out my hand and welcome them. “ This is the prayer of Joyce Rupp as she invites us to continue our efforts to alleviate the suffering of people who are on the move. Many groups and organizations are reaching out with compassion, motivated by a sense of social justice. You are invited to learn how members of the Incarnate Word community are working alongside others in this network.

"Storytelling for Social Justice: Helping Parents of Children with Disabilities Discover Services and Support through Action Research in San Antonio" shared by Jeff Neal, Kimberly Cox, Michelle Vasquez

Jeff Neal is a retired United States Air Force veteran that served his country with over 24 years of service. He joined the Air Staff as a Joint Planner Assistant and later served as Special Assistant of Joint Matters for the Director of Joint Staff. His assignments span from NORAD, Iceland, Turkey, Little Rock AFB, and Scott AFB, serving in the capacity as Executive Assistant to the Vice Commander of Air Mobility Command. Jeff retired from the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency as the Executive Assistant to the Command Chief. He is a survivor of the September 11, 2001, Pentagon terrorist attack.

Jeff is a doctoral student pursing a concentration in Student Services and Higher Education Administration in the Dreeben School of Education at the University of the Incarnate Word. He earned his BA in Organizational Development and MS in Organizational Leadership. As an alumnus of UIW, he is actively involved on campus by serving as Graduate Assistant in support of the UIW Strategic Priorities Planning Initiative, UIW Alumni Board Member, PACE Veteran Peer Advisor, Vice President of the UIW Compassionate Student Peer Organization, and Student Researcher at the UIW Action Research Working Group in the Graduate Studies Program. Jeff is also an alumnus of the Alamo Federal Executive Board Leadership Program.

His passion for education as a lifelong learner is to serve students in underserved communities by facilitating experiential learning processes inside and outside of the classroom. Jeff enjoys spending time with his family and volunteering at his local parish.

Kimberly S. Cox, MS, RN, NE-BC. Kimberly currently serves as the Accredited Provider Unit (APU) Director and the Registered Nurse (RN) Refresher Program Coordinator and Instructor at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio (UTHSA). In these roles, she leads the nursing continuing professional development program, ensuring quality educational activities for nurses and other health professionals’ lifelong learning and assists RNs in returning to practice after career breaks. Before joining UTHSA, Kimberly retired as a Colonel after serving 30 years in the United States Air Force in various clinical and executive roles. Although too many roles to mention here, highlighted positions included those of Chief Nursing Executive at the 59th Medical Wing, where she was responsible for the supervision of nursing standards and practice of approximately 1400 personnel contributing to the missions of healthcare, graduate medical education, and clinical investigations. Additionally, she served as an Executive Nursing Fellow, where she managed professional development initiatives for over 19,000 Air Force medics worldwide. Kimberly is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of the Incarnate Word and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Master of Science degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Michelle C. Vasquez is a communications coordinator and PhD student pursuing a concentration in adult education, social innovation and entrepreneurship in the Dreeben School of Education at the University of the Incarnate Word. She has a bachelor’s degree in computer graphic arts and a master’s degree in administration with a concentration in communications. For over fifteen years, she worked as a web developer and digital communications professional in the higher education industry with expertise in strategic planning. Michelle has facilitated professional development training courses on website management and digital storytelling. She received her digital storytelling facilitator certificate through StoryCenter to focus on educational and advocacy initiatives. She is currently leading an action research study using digital storytelling as an arts-based research method focused on learning how parents of children with disabilities gain access to federal programs, social services and support. Her research interests include disabilities, health equity, inclusion, social justice and advocacy.

Michelle is a UIW board leader of the National Society of Leadership and Success, the largest collegiate honor society in the U.S. for academic achievement. She is also a newly elected board member of Texas Parent to Parent, a nonprofit organization committed to improving the lives of Texas children who have disabilities, chronic illness, and/or special health care needs. Michelle is a grant recipient of the Social Security Administration’s Analyzing Relationships between Disability, Rehabilitation and Work (ARDRAW) Small Grant Program and a member of the Graduate Studies Department’s Action Research Initiative Working Group. She was selected to join the 2021-2022 Texas Partners in Policymaking cohort, an advanced leadership development training program for self-advocates and parents of children with developmental disabilities.

Session Description

This session will focus on community-based participatory research approaches examining how parents of children with disabilities—specifically with autism spectrum disorder—gain access to federal programs, social services, and support. Empowering these parents, to attain access to services can dramatically improve the quality of life for a child and their family. Utilizing action research can help parents share their experiences through digital storytelling, revealing a cycle of feeling heard, connected, and motivated to leverage their stories to support their own access to important services at the local, state and federal level. As people share and connect their stories, the process may ultimately lead to action addressing important challenges and barriers expressed through the stories. We will share lessons learned and limitations in the “feeling heard, connected, motivated to action” cycle that was inspired by the initial phase of this project. This research is supported by the University of the Incarnate Word’s Graduate Studies Action Research Working Group in the Dreeben School of Education. It is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Social Security Administration’s ARDRAW Small Grant Program.

"Stories of an Alternate Everyday World: The LGBTQ+ Experience" facilitated by William Anthony and Deborah Myers

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William Anthony is a DEI intern at the University of the Incarnate Word. William graduated from the University of the Incarnate Word with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science where he was a student representative on the President’s Council for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. During his undergrad William spent two semesters studying abroad in Spain. He is currently pursing a Master of Education with a concentration in higher education student services.

Deb Myers has called San Antonio home since 1984. She has been engaged in social justice ministry for over 30 years in a wide variety of organizations and programs. She worked with AVE(Anti-Violence Effort), an interfaith coalition through the San Antonio Archdiocese to bridge communities and neighborhoods, served on the Archdiocesan Justice and Peace Commission for 10 years. She has been active in Pax Christi both locally and nationally. She also served on the Mayors Commission for a More United San Antonio post 911. Her longest and most dedicated work has been with Dignity (LGBTQI Catholics and allies) . She has served on the local, regional, and national boards of the organization and has been one of the core animators of the local chapter for 35 years. She coordinates a network of GLBT friendly clergy, churches, and lay people in San Antonio, called PRO (Progressive Religious Organization) San Antonio. Professionally, she is a physical therapist, working most of the week rehabilitating a diverse patient population at University Hospital, and the rest of the time she is a clinician and clinical evaluator for people with ALS at UT Health. Her inspiration to be an activist comes from her partner of 35 years, Nickie Valdez. Read about Nickie in National Catholic Reporter. They were legally married in 2015. Nickie passed away December 25, 2020 after an 8 year battle with Multiple Myeloma. Deb is passionate about the environment, loves gardening and photography.

Members of the local Dignity Chapter will join the conversation and they invite people to join them in prayer each Sunday.

A little of the heroic story of Father Mychal Judge, killed as he helping at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, will be shared by Kevin Salfen, UIW Music Professor. He has just created the Stations of Mychal, a series of songs. This gentle Franciscan priest was known for his ministry among the LGBTQ community and his association with the Dignity Chapter in NYC, as well as being chaplain for the fire department. Learn about the performance at UIW Aug. 28, and get free tickets Read of the plans to perform this in New York at Fr. Mychal’s church (St. Francis of Assisi) on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

"Seven rabbis from Montreal help us to support generosity at home" shared by Sharon Gubbay Helfer

Dr. Sharon Gubbay Helfer is a professional oral historian specializing in life stories and a researcher/practitioner in the area of difficult dialogues and listening skills. Following a PhD in Jewish Studies focusing on Montreal’s Reconstructionist Synagogue (Concordia U, Montreal), she carried out postdoctoral research in Jewish-Catholic dialogue at the Université de Montréal. She then worked on the major Oral History Centre project “Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by Wars, Genocides and Other Human Rights Violations” (Concordia), where her work included creating a Palestinian Canadian Life Stories pilot project. Dr. Gubbay Helfer is a certified facilitator with the Compassionate Listening Project and with the Compassionate Integrity Training curriculum. She has offered Compassionate Listening workshops and Circles to participants in the US, Canada, Europe and Israel.

Session Description

Research shows that we tend to attribute much more homogeneity to “other” groups than we do to our own. We know what “they” are like: bigoted, inflexible, narrow-minded, insensitive, etc. whereas our side is more complex, more real.

Exploring the issue of “us” and “them” in a recent interview, journalist Krista Tippet encouraged us to focus first on the diversity and contradictions that we know exist in our own intimate circles. She suggests that acknowledging our own complexity may help us to be aware that the “others” may be, in fact are, equally diverse and nuanced.

Oral historian Dr. Sharon Gubbay Helfer helps us explore Krista Tippet’s suggestion with the help of a set of life story interviews she carried out recently in her hometown of Montreal. In this workshop we will begin by viewing clips from the life stories of seven rabbis, with widely divergent practices and lifestyles. This will highlight the diversity that exists beneath the label “rabbi”. (We all have an idea of what a rabbi is, right?)

Through individual journaling and small and large-group interactions, we will then be invited to reflect on the diversity within whichever group we consider to be “us”, and to share our findings. …. The long-term goal is to support generosity in our understanding of and approach to people outside our own group.

"Art a Lens to Reality, Art an Invitation to Transformation," Alejandro Abarca, Dr. Sean Cassidy, Theresa Newsome, and Elva Salinas, photographers


See the images of Alejandro Abarca, an emerging documentary photographer. He has moved among our unsheltered brothers and sisters and listened to their stories. See his images of Black Lives Matter.. ​Abarca is completing a degree at the University of the Incarnate Word and studies with Kath Vargas.

Born in Corpus Christi, raised in San Antonio. Alejandro Abarca's photography shows the injustice within America and uses photography to bring awareness to those afflicted by systematic injustice, as well as those suffering across the world.

"Humanity in Black and White; Photography of the Homeless and Black Lives Matter," an exhibit of his photography in the UIW Kelso Fine Arts Center, August 30-September 30, 2021. IMAGO DEI: How do we learn to recognize the face of God? Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 at 5:15 pm. In the exhibit, a conversation between students, faculty, and friends who have moved among the unsheltered and the vulnerable. Alejandro Abarca and Kathy Vargas, Photography; Dr. Hans Bruntmyer with students and faculty from the UIW School of Osteopathic Medicine involved with Street Medicine; Sister Martha Ann Kirk, Religious Studies; Dr. John Kainer and Dr. Sean Vina, Sociology; Dr. Mark Boston, Compassionate Citizen. Conversation led by Dr. Arturo Chavez, Associate Vice-President for Mission and Ministry, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, with the Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and Sustainability. More events will be planned with the exhibit to promote conversations on issues of social justice, see

Theresa Newsome (b. 1993) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work explores concepts of racial identity, history, and gender. Through her practice, she explores significant instances of Black history and its underlying effects on black culture. Her work has been exhibited in Blue Star Contemporary in San Antonio, 500x Gallery in Dallas, TX, and multiple galleries and institutions throughout the United States. Newsome has also been featured in the 2019 Fotoseptiempre SAFoto Festival in San Antonio and most recently has received the 2020 John Herrin Memorial Scholarship. She is currently working as a fine arts photographer and instructor in San Antonio, TX. See more

Dr. Sean Cassidy, taught film, video and photography classes at Lewis-Clark State College, Incarnate Word College, and Trinity University over a span of 40 years. He recently retired and is focusing on his photography (pun intended). He is a Professor Emeritus of Lewis-Clark State College, Lewiston, Idaho where he began teaching 1994. He has won several honors throughout his career. He received a Fulbright Scholarship to teach a semester in Bahrain in the Persian Gulf (2011-12), received the President’s Award for Outstanding Teaching at LC State (1999), the Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching at LC State (2006), and the LC State International Club’s International Enlightenment Award (2008). He also was the lead coordinator for the college when it received the Partnership Achievement Award by the National Park Service for its work with the Nez Perce National Historical Park on the digital site survey, and was a producer/instructor of two “Local Legacies” projects that were part of the Library of Congress Bicentennial Celebration (2000). Sean served on several committees and was chair of the Faculty Development Committee (2000-01), Technology Advisory Committee (2001-02), and Student Affairs Committee (1994 and 1997). Sean earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of North Texas. He earned a doctorate in Telecommunications & Film at the University of Oregon in 1992. When he was faculty at Incarnate Word, he shared his skills as a videographer assisting Sr. Martha Ann Kirk in films of religious dance and drama which were popular among the publications of Sheed and Ward.

Sean Cassidy gathers materials and ideas for his photographs from his garden and on his walks. As a result, his photographs have a seasonal flavor, shaped largely by what is blooming in his garden or has fallen on the ground. Most of his ideas for photographs come from something interesting he finds in his wanderings. Sometimes it seems that the objects he finds and photographs have spirits within them. At other times, Cassidy likes to transform bits and pieces of flowers and leaves into new and whimsical creatures or stories. What emerges when the camera is pointed at these creations is sometimes beautiful, sometimes grotesque, but usually different from what you might have expected if you saw them scattered about in your own wanderings.

Elva Salinas writes "In my passion to understand and appreciate people and culture, I use the camera as my tool of investigation. My approach to the studio, camera, and editing comes from an intuitive relationship I develop with the people that surround me, along with my culture, environment, memories, and dreams. My background in Fine Art, Chemistry, and Latin American studies helped solidify a synthesis of artistic experimentation with the study of culture. Such interests underpin my intuitive visual experimentation with mixed-media processes in both traditional/contemporary photography and digital manipulation, accompanied by the investigation of human emotions and relationships in sociocultural contexts.

In my work I explore cultural dynamics surrounding identity. My work reflects the emotional dimensions of personal memories, collected histories, and cultural myths through digital photomontages integrating portraits, cultural icons and individuals. In my work, such imagery seeks to simultaneously investigate the origins of cultural ideology and communicate them as imaginative narratives."

Elva Maria Salinas is an artist and an artistic educator currently living in Boerne, TX. Elva grew up in Del Rio, TX, a small town on the U.S./Mexico border, which gave her a unique insight and perspective of both Mexican and American culture.

Elva received an M.F.A in Photography in May 2013 from Texas Woman’s University. Previous to that, she earned a B.F.A in Photography at The University of the Incarnate Word in 2007. Since 2002, she has dedicated her creative vision to photography and mixed-media arts. Her background in fine art, chemistry and Latin American studies helped solidify a synthesis of artistic experimentation and the study of culture. Such interests underpin her intuitive visual experimentation with mixed-media processes in both traditional/contemporary photography and digital manipulation, accompanied by the investigation of human emotions and relationships in sociocultural contexts. Elva has a record of national exhibition and awards for her Fine Art.

Salinas’ most recent work explores cultural dynamics surrounding the identities of Mexican-American women. This work reflects upon the emotional dimensions of personal memories, collected histories, and cultural myths through digital photomontages integrating portraits of Mexican-American cultural icons and individual women. In this work, such imagery seeks to simultaneously deconstruct the origins of cultural ideology, and rebuild cultural ideals as empowering narratives.

Link to my work.

Join in a conversation and consider contributing to the virtual Compassion Community Art Project.

Stories of Transformation in Student's Service Learning Experiences and Clips & Captions by Lorena P. Cestou and Priscilla A. Salazar

Lorena P. Cestou is pursuing her PhD in Adult Education, Social Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at the University of the Incarnate Word. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (EC-6) and her Master’s degree in Bilingual Education at Texas A&M International University. She is the current Graduate Research Assistant for the Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and Sustainability and serves as a board member for the Texas chapter of the National Association of Multicultural Education.

Prior to the pandemic, Cestou was the coordinator for Discovery Gateway, an inter-cultural, intergenerational and biliterate learning center at the border of Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. At Discovery Gateway, community partnerships embraced diversity to form a learning space that promoted social justice via education, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, community-building, and culture simultaneously. She is a firm believer that teaching for change can be established by the intersection of literacy skills, partnerships, and cultural awareness.

Priscilla A. Salazar is pursuing her PhD in Adult Education, Social Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at the University of the Incarnate Word. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Science and Disorder at Texas A&M International University and a Master’s degree in Deaf Education and Hearing Science from The University of Texas Health Science Center. She is currently a Deaf education Teacher in SugarLand Texas and a Graduate Research Assistant for the Dreeben School of Education at the University of the Incarnate Word.

Session Description

While service learning is an excellent way to provide students with authentic experiential learning experiences, there are often questions on how these experiences can be assessed to evaluate student learning. In this session Lorena P. Cestou and Priscilla A. Salazar will share their own service-learning experiences, in India and the Dominican Republic, and how these changed their lives. Additionally, presenters will share how “Clips and Captions”, a tool used to critically analyze student learning, was used to analyze their own service-learning opportunities.

Compassion and our Circle of Compassion Shared by Yesenia Garza Alcalá

Yesenia Garza Alcalá is doctoral student pursuing a concentration in Adult Education, Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the Dreeben School of Education at the University of the Incarnate Word. She is a UIW Alumni that earned a BBA, concentration, International Business, minor Religious Studies and MBA. She is employed at Valero Energy Corporation in San Antonio, TX for the past 13 years and a Diversity Ambassador helping to foster a safe & supportive work environment where cultures and backgrounds are valued. Her interest and mission are to raise awareness for vulnerable communities in San Antonio and across borders. For the past two years she has been developing a friendship with the Shipibo-Konibo women’s tribe leader, Karina Pacaya from the Amazonian Rainforest. Their friendship helps them stay in touch with the women’s groups in Lima & Pucallpa, Peru and promote their artisan work worldwide. Future collaboration workshops with the Shipibo women are in progress. During this past year with the pandemic arising she was able to create a website ( to market some of the Shipibo art, which helps the Shipibo women gain exposure in social media and internet platforms.

She presented this year in March, 2021 at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65) along with fellow UIW colleagues & San Antonio Youth-Led Global Summit members, title of the presentation was Human Rights Advocacy: Educating & Empowering Women’s Voices. Her topic consisted of raising awareness for the Shipibo-Konibo women and participating in the United Nations Virtual Artisan Market. Other topics and projects of interest: migrant farm workers, indigenous peoples & cultures, LGBTQ+, and Homelessness in San Antonio.

Session Description

The circle of compassion will be the source of discussion that places awareness on how we are connected by all those living and gone before us. How we can widen our circle of compassion and how compassion is empathy in action. This session will be based on my experience and what I learned in the Compassionate Integrity Training (CIT) course taken at the University of the Incarnate Word, June 2021 along with my continuation in CIT by participating in the 2021 SA Compassionate Virtual Institute.

"Let’s talk about Common Humanity" Shared by Valentina Rada

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Valentina’s professional experience includes twenty years of experience in market research, retail and restaurant industries as research analyst and project manager. She is a Project Management Professional and an Agile Certified Practitioner. She has a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of the Incarnate Word. She is currently pursuing her education as a PhD student in Organizational Leadership at the University of the Incarnate Word. Valentina is also volunteering for the Alamo Project Management Institute supporting the Development of PMI exams preparation and since 2017 she is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.

Session Description

In this session attendees will discuss about compassion and how common humanity should bring us together. What makes us different and how to leverage those differences to accepting others. How, in today’s society, we should learn to rather be responsive than reactive showing that way compassion and mindfulness.

At the end, there will be 5 minutes spent in a common humanity meditation session.

"Compassion Student Peer Organization: “Rooted in Compassion” a photovoice presentation on compassion" with Jeff Neal and Mary J. Guerrero-Muñoz

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Jeff Neal is a retired United States Air Force veteran that served his country with over 24 years of service. He joined the Air Staff as a Joint Planner Assistant and later served as Special Assistant of Joint Matters for the Director of Joint Staff. His assignments span from NORAD, Iceland, Turkey, Little Rock AFB, and Scott AFB, serving in the capacity as Executive Assistant to the Vice Commander of Air Mobility Command. Jeff retired from the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency as the Executive Assistant to the Command Chief. He is a survivor of the September 11, 2001, Pentagon terrorist attack.

Jeff is a doctoral student pursing a concentration in Student Services and Higher Education Administration in the Dreeben School of Education at the University of the Incarnate Word. He earned his BA in Organizational Development and MS in Organizational Leadership. As an alumnus of UIW, he is actively involved on campus by serving as Graduate Assistant in support of the UIW Strategic Priorities Planning Initiative, UIW Alumni Board Member, PACE Veteran Peer Advisor, Vice President of the UIW Compassionate Student Peer Organization, and Student Researcher at the UIW Action Research Working Group in the Graduate Studies Program. Jeff is also an alumnus of the Alamo Federal Executive Board Leadership Program. His passion for education as a lifelong learner is to serve students in underserved communities by facilitating experiential learning processes inside and outside of the classroom. Jeff enjoys spending time with his family and volunteering at his local parish.

Mary J. Guerrero-Muñoz, is a graduate from Incarnate Word College with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nuclear Medicine, as well as a Masters of Arts in Administration with a concentration in Organizational Development from the University of the Incarnate Word. She currently works as the Director of Clinical Safety for the University of Texas Health Science Center/UT Health, an adjunct instructor for the School of Nursing and Health Professions at the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW), and a PhD student at UIW. In addition, Mary serves as the president of the Compassionate Student Peers Organization at UIW and the 2021 recipient of the Mission Support award for the Dreeben School of Education.

Session Description

Today, compassion is recognized as an essential instrument needed in education, justice, religion, and healthcare.  For over 150 years, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word have dedicated their lives toward enriching students with the core values of education, truth, faith, service, and innovation, which are vital in a student’s journey towards the completion of a degree.  However, with the growing issues of racism, rioting, a federal budget deficit and the pandemic; there surfaced the need to add the instrument of compassion to the student’s educational foundation. ​

Our story centers around listening to the needs of our fellow students, which has resulted in planting the seeds of compassion, which have rooted into a student peer’s compassion organization entitled Compassionate Student Peers Organization (CSPO);created to provide peer support to the students at the University of the Incarnate Word, beginning with the graduate students of the Dreeben School of Education. While the benefits of incorporating self-compassion into the educational framework of graduate students is one of the goals of the Compassionate Student Peers Organization; another is demonstrating the value of compassion, which we hope will transform their way of thinking, give them courage to share their voice, and help them to develop a strong commitment to service to their fellow students and the community.  

In listening to our story,  you can begin to envision how our seeds of compassion have been nurtured with awareness and understanding; transforming into an organization which will branch out toward helping students with its many leaves of integrity, love, and blessings.

"Compassion: Why We Need To Take A Breath" with Laura Briseno

Award winning, creative, and multifaceted in her fields of talent, Laura Briseno is on a lifelong journey to expand her knowledge of the relationship between humans and art. As an art professor and department chair for Navarro College, Briseno expounds her passion for art unto her students and actively seeks avenues to showcase their hard work. Briseno is in her third year of teaching as full-time faculty at Navarro College. She is part of the College Art Association of America, and Texas Community College Teachers Association. Briseno has spent 20 years working in the entertainment industry traveling and living abroad. During that time, she lived and worked in Macau, China for Franco Dragone Productions on a show called “The House of Dancing Water.” This allowed for travel to Mainland China, Thailand, Japan, and Taiwan. Her career path has allowed her to work with professionals from many different cultural backgrounds. Briseno continued to pursue her interest in cultures by studying Latin American art history in her M.F.A. program. This earned her the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Graduate Research Symposium 2018 Grant winner for Geographical 3D printing of Choquequirao, Peru. She traveled and studied in Peru in Summer of 2018. Briseno is currently attaining her Ph.D. at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Tx. She has a M.F.A. in studio art from University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley, and a B.A. in Fashion Design from UIW. Briseno is a multiple recipient of the ATAC Globe Award in Costume Design in Theater productions in San Antonio, TX. She has exhibited work at the Pearce Museum (2020), Dorthy and Kirk Clarke Gallery (2018), Red Door Arts Featured Artist (2017), Brownsville Museum of Fine Art(2017), and Parade (The Collective) Trifecta Gallery(2014). Navarro College Innovation Award (2020).

Session Description

“Compassion: Why we need to take a breath”: Understanding how we can connect the art of taking a breath to becoming more compassionate towards others. How to find your mark and make if flow, because it all begins with a dot.

Remembering Loved Ones Through Stories:

Compassion and Coincidence, a Tribute to Dr. Edward Gonzalez

presented by Christina M. Perez


Christina M. Perez is a Director of Innovation Health Programs at Community Family Medicine, P.A. in San Antonio, TX. Christina graduated from the University of the Incarnate Word in 2007 with a Bachelor's in Science and in 2017 with a Master's in Health Administration. She is currently in the Ph.D. Organizational Leadership Program at UIW. Her previous employments include UT Health Science Center of San Antonio, where she worked in the Immunology Department on HIV1. Then at Tenet Healthcare, known as Baptist in San Antonio, working with over 300 primary care physicians reporting to federal government quality of care programs and private entities. She is still affiliated with Tenet through their accountable care organization (ACO), which disperses 38 million dollars of incentives to local San Antonio physicians based on the quality of care. Speaking engagements include PCMH Congress and Texas Primary Care and Home Health Summit to educate the healthcare industry on federally mandated quality outcome updates. She has publications in the Journal of Health Science and Health Tech Magazine on healthcare topics. Christina Perez and her husband have two sons (ages 17,6) and a daughter (age 5). Christina Perez is also an active contributor at St. Luke Catholic Church and BASIS Northcentral primary school.

Session Description

Due to COVID-19 and the amount of loss we have seen, we have become desensitized. Two scientists, Deborah Small and Paul Slovic, have coined a term for the idea that when tragedy strikes large numbers of people, we become desensitized. They call it “the collapse of the compassion” We have to remind ourselves of ways to be compassionate without being overwhelmed. An article by Gouty (2020) says we must acknowledge our own feelings, do something to help, balance our intake of news with the other aspects of our lives, and practice gratitude. One missing component I believe that I would like to add is the storytelling of past loved ones. Compassion can be an emotional response to sympathy and creates a desire to help. We may not know what to do to help, but we can never forget a loved one by storytelling. This PhotoVoice story of compassion and coincidence brings the memory of our very own Dr. Edward Gonzalez, past faculty at the University of the Incarnate Word, Chemistry Department.

"InnerAlly - Emerging from the Pandemic as Your Own Ally" shared by Cynthia Phelps, PhD - Founder, InnerAlly

Cynthia Phelps, PhD, is a researcher, international speaker, coach, certified mindfulness instructor, and the Founder of InnerAlly, a company that builds evidence-based tools to improve resilience and wellbeing. She teaches about the power of having a kind and compassionate inner voice, and guides people to explore their own emotional landscape to create customized inner support language. Dr Phelps has 25 years of experience in digital interactive design and has been developing technologies from online classes to mobile apps to help people learn and change their behavior. You can join her and others in practicing self-compassion at or email

With the pandemic, we have all been through a collective trauma. As we embark on the uncertain path of emergence, we can consider what we want our re-emergence to look like. Your mindset and internal stories make a great deal of difference in how you experience the world. We will dive into your existing stories about emerging, and create personalized self-compassionate inner language that will nurture how you want to be and feel in the future. This wholehearted workshop will guide you with tools and techniques to be your own ally. Answering the question: How can we go back into the world with grace and compassion?

Compassion and the Power of One with Amy Migura

Amy Migura is a doctoral candidate in Higher Education at the University of the Incarnate Word. She obtained her master’s degree in Education from UIW and a Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas A&M University. A believer in life-long learning and the transformative power of education, she currently teaches Language Arts to middle school students at Holy Spirit Catholic School in San Antonio, Texas.

Session description

This presentation begins with an idea from Mother Teresa: “Not all of us can do great things, but we can all do small things with great love” and uses stories of compassion to explore the ways in which people are motivated to act.

Nation Building: An Exercise in Self, Culture & Community shared by Sheena Connell

Sheena Maria Connell serves as the Assistant Director of International Students & Scholar Services at UIW. She has been involved with the development of international education at public and private U.S. universities, Intensive English Programs, and secondary schools. She has more than 12 years of combined experience in an international education setting, SEVP regulations and policy, international enrollment management, recruitment initiatives, cross-cultural training, university-community partnerships, and student programming. She is a dedicated NAFSA: Association for International Education mentor and national leader in the field of international student and scholar advising..

As a current NAFSA Chair-Elect, Knowledge Community for International Student and Scholar Services (KC ISSS), previous two-term NAFSA Academy coach, and recipient of the NAFSA Region III Special Service to International Education Award, much of her career and personal development has been guided by knowledgeable and driven colleagues and mentors. As a NAFSA Trainer Corps member, she has trained over 50 workshops and session on topics such as culture, immigration, community partnerships and NAFSA Core Education Program. Connell strives to be a partner in facilitating new IE professionals' growth as they explore, uncover resources, and forge a bold and informed professional life in international education.

Session description

Join us for on a cultural trek as we explore surface & deep culture, identify cultural intersections, uncover your cultural lens and venture into the separation between self & culture. Create a new “Nation” with your fellow attendees using your understand of deep culture and collaboration.

"Making Stories Come Alive: Classroom Strategies" shared by Dr. Laura Cannon

Laura Cannon, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of history and the coordinator of the Social Justice and Peace concentration. She joined the University of the Incarnate Word faculty in August 2017. She specializes in Texas History, the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, Mexican American history, labor history, the history of civil rights, and the history of race and citizenship. Dr. Cannon has published articles on those topics in The Journal of South Texas, the West Texas Historical Review, and Media History. Dr. Cannon has presented her research at multiple conferences, including the National Association of Chicano and Chicana Studies, the Labor and Working-Class History Association, and the Texas State Historical Association annual meetings. Before coming to UIW, Dr. Cannon was an assistant professor of history at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She received her Ph.D. from Texas Tech University, her MA from Indiana State University, and her BA from UIW.

Dr. Cannon has presented on interdisciplinary instructional tactics at UIW and national conferences. This session will focus on teaching tools faculty can use to bring stories alive and humanize social justice issues. In particular, Dr. Cannon will discuss role-playing games, primary source research projects, and the Social Justice and Peace concentration.

Session Description

The session will focus on teaching tools faculty can use to bring stories alive and humanize social justice issues. Dr. Cannon will discuss interdisciplinary instructional tactics and the Social Justice and Peace concentration.

Stories of Southwest San Antonio in Murals guided by Sister Martha Ann Kirk

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Martha Ann Kirk, CCVI, Th.D., with a Th.D. in Theology and the Arts from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA, she has been a professor of Religious Studies and of the Arts at University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas, teaching over 7,000 students, writing six books, and visiting 32 countries often leading students. She is interested in furthering San Antonio’s flourishing as a City of Compassion within the global Charter for Compassion movement leading to respect and justice for all and for the earth itself. She is an SA2020 Ambassador encouraging progress towards a shared vision for a thriving San Antonio.

She has been the San Antonio Peace Laureate, the Texas Pax Christi Peacemaker of the Year, and recognized in various ways for building interfaith and intercultural bridges. She was included in the PBS Women, War, and Peace series as a “Teacher of Peace.” She promotes social justice and service learning within the University of the Incarnate Word Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and Sustainability. As a Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word of San Antonio, she serves as the Chair their International Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Committee.

Aug, 5, Wednesday, 5:45 pm Mural tour of southwest San Antonio led by Sister Martha Ann Kirk followed by a Potluck supper at Inner City Development. Please arrive with food (that you like with enough to share with seven other people) at Inner City Development, 1300 Chihuahua St., San Antonio 78207, between 5:20 and 5:45 pm. Introduction, car caravan, return to Inner City for reflection and supper about 7 pm. Questions: Call Sister Martha Ann Kirk 210-883-5934

This film is a 12 minute preview, "Creative and Compassionate Murals Invite San Antonio Citizens." Learn how the San Anto Cultural Arts Center has united people to tell challenging stories​ to call people to create a better future. San Antonio has had the highest percentage of people living in poverty among the 25 largest cities in the US and has been one of the most economically segregated cities. Sister Martha Ann Kirk explains and notes local realities in a context of USA information in the Social Progress Index. This index, inspired by research of Nobel-winning economists, measures quality of life in a country. The index collects 50 metrics of wellbeing — health, nutrition, education, the environment, safety, freedom, and more. The 2020 Index includes 163 countries.

Institute Coordinating Team

Alejandra Escobar, MS in Organizational Development and Leadership and BA in Psychology from the University of the Incarnate Word has experience in Service Learning through participating in service trips to the Rio Grande Valley, Mexico, and Peru. She is passionate about intercultural and interfaith awareness and has plans to continue working on building compassion in her community and throughout the world. She works as a counselor with Trinity University in a special program to guide and encourage high school students.

Lorena P. Cestou is pursuing her PhD in Adult Education, Social Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at the University of the Incarnate Word. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (EC-6) and her Master’s degree in Bilingual Education at Texas A&M International University. She has had service learning experiences in Laredo, Texas, the province of Barahona in the Dominican Republic, Maharashtra state in India, and is the current Graduate Research Assistant for the Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and Sustainability.

Sister Martha Ann Kirk, Th.D. promotes social justice leaders within the UIW Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and Sustainability which involves animating faculty, staff, administration, and students and connecting with the City of San Antonio Compassion movement. She is a Professor Emerita teaching part-time at UIW and serving as an International Compassionate Integrity Training Facilitator.