Forum Speakers and Honorees

Photo of Algernon Austin

Algernon Austin

Economist at Dēmos focusing on the racial wealth divide

Algernon is an economist working on race, economics, and public opinion. He was the first Director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC. Prior to joining the Economic Policy Institute, Austin was a Senior Fellow at the Dēmos think tank and assistant director of research at the Foundation Center. From 2001 to 2005, he served on the faculty of Wesleyan University. Algernon is a member of the Board of Directors of Building One America.

Algernon’s book, America Is Not Post-Racial: Xenophobia, Islamophobia, Racism, and the 44th President, analyzes the 25 million “Obama Haters” in America. He has discussed racial inequality on PBS, CNN, NPR, and on other national television and radio networks.

Paul Jargowsky

Director, Center for Urban Research and Urban Education at Rutgers University

Paul A. Jargowsky’s principal research interests are inequality, the geographic concentration of poverty, and residential segregation by race and class.  His book, Poverty and Place: Ghettos, Barrios, and the American City (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1997), is a comprehensive examination of poverty at the neighborhood level in U.S. metropolitan areas between 1970 and 1990. The Urban Affairs Association named Poverty and Place the “Best Book in Urban Affairs Published in 1997 or 1998.”  In August 2015, The Century Foundation published Dr. Jargowsky’s report, The Architecture of Segregation: Civil Unrest, the Concentration of Poverty, and Public Policy.  The report received much attention in the media an social media, summarized here.

Marc Bayard

Institute for Policy Studies’ Black Worker Initiative

Associate Fellow and Director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Black Worker Initiative. Marc is the founding Executive Director of the Worker Institute at Cornell University, he is a leading expert on racial equity and organizing strategies with extensive experience in building partnerships between labor, faith groups, and civil rights communities.

Marc is one of the leading activists, writers and thinkers on the African American worker’s role in the labor force in this country and the central and pivotal role black workers have played as members and leaders in the building of a powerful labor movement in America. 

Clayola Brown

President, A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), AFL-CIO

Building One America 2017 - Opportunity America Award

Clayola Brown, is the National President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), AFL-CIO; Vice President, Workers United-SEIU. The Civil Rights Director under the repositioned union Workers United, an SEIU affiliate, member of the General Executive Board of Workers United since its formation in March 2009. Former member, AFL-CIO Executive Council, and current Director of the Amalgamated Bank.

Ms. Brown’s lifelong commitment to labor activism began in her hometown of Charlestown, South Carolina, where she—alongside her activist mother—campaigned to organize the Manhattan Shirt Factory. In 1995, she was elected to the AFL-CIO Executive Council, where she served for 10 years. Clayola Brown began serving as National President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, located in Washington, D.C., in August 2004 -- the first female to serve in that role.

Rohan K. Hepkins

Mayor of Yeadon, and Board Chair of Building One Pennsylvania

Rohan K. Hepkins is Mayor of Yeadon, Pennsylvania and is the Board Chair of Building One Pennsylvania.  Mayor Hepkins currently serves as Sr. Pastor to the Chapel of the Good Shepherd in Yeadon and he is a Director of the Delaware River Port Authority Pennsylvania & New Jersey. He began his career as a bus driver and served in a number of management positions with SEPTA. Previously, Hepkins was a board member on the Delaware County Christian School Board of Trustees from 1991 to 2007, working on education planning and policy. From 1994 to 2001, Mayor Hepkins worked as an adjunct professor at Eastern College teaching Human Resources & Supervision, Leadership, Business Ethics, and Bible Studies courses.  

Robert Kleidman

Coordinator of Building One Ohio and Associate Professor Sociology at Cleveland State University

Dr. Robert Kleidman is Coordinator of Building One Ohio and Associate Professor Sociology at Cleveland State University.  His research and service center on ‘public sociology,’ developing intellectual and institutional relationships between academia and organizing. His major areas of interest are the study of social movements and community organizing, and secondary areas including urban sociology.

Mike Kruglik

Mike Kruglik, Board President of Building One America

Mike Kruglik is Board President of Building One America. Mr. Kruglik is a graduate of Princeton University (1964) and was Adjunct Professor of History at Northwestern and Roosevelt Universities in the early 1970’s. He has been developing grass-roots citizens’ power organizations since 1973 with the Industrial Areas Foundation, the Gamaliel Foundation and Building One America. In 1986 Mr. Kruglik was co-founder of the Gamaliel Foundation and from 1999-2009 served as its Director of Metropolitan Equity. 

Mike is probably best known for having hired, trained, and mentored Barack Obama as a community organizer on Chicago's South Side in the mid to late 1980s.

Lisa Rice

Executive Vice President of the National Fair Housing Alliance

Lisa Rice is Executive Vice President of the National Fair Housing Alliance in Washington, DC.  Rice has previously served as CEO of the Toledo Fair Housing Center and the Northwest Ohio Develoment Agency.  Rice currently serves on the Consumer Advisory Council of the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators and the Consumer Advisory Council of State Farm Bank.

Governor James Florio

Former Governor of New Jersey Senior Policy Fellow of Public Policy J.D., Rutgers’ School of Law-Camden

Governor James Florio is a Founding Partner of Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Fader and is based in the Phillipsburg, New Jersey office. Mr. Florio is Chairman of the firm’s energy, environmental law, government and regulatory affairs and the healthcare law groups.

Mr. Florio is a Senior Fellow for Public Policy and Administration at the Edward J. Bloustein Graduate School of Public Policy at Rutgers University. He also served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Federal Home Loan Bank New York, as Chairman of The Pinelands Commission in New Jersey, and on the Board of Directors of NJ Future. Mr. Florio was the founder and CEO of XSPAND, an asset management company based in Morristown, New Jersey.

Currently, Mr. Florio serves on the Board of Directors of the NJ Health Care Quality Institute, is Co-Chairman of the Regional Plan Association’s New Jersey Committee, and a member of the Board of Trustees Fund for New Jersey.

Mr. Florio entered public service in 1969 serving three terms in the New Jersey General Assembly. He served as the 49th Governor of the State of New Jersey from 1990 through 1994 and in the United States House of Representatives from the 1st Congressional District from 1974 – 1990.

Congressman Charlie Dent, Representative, 15th District, Pennsylvania

Congressman Charlie Dent

Representative, 15th District, Pennsylvania

Building One America's 2017 - Steve LaTourette, Unified America Award.

A lifelong resident of Allentown, PA. Congressman Charles (Charlie) Dent, was first sworn in to the United States House of Representatives in January 2005. He is currently serving his sixth term representing Pennsylvania’s working-class 15th District. Congressman Dent serves as the Chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee for the House Appropriations Committee.

As co-chair of the Tuesday Group and a leader in the Republican Main Street Partnership, Congressman Dent has pursued bipartisan consensus and demonstrated a common sense approach to governing and seeking solutions that are in the interest of working families and a growing American middle class.

Congressman Dent will be the recipient of the Steve LaTourette Unified America Award for Outstanding Bipartisan Leadership. The late Steve LaTourette, President and CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership and former Congressman from Ohio's 14th District was the first recipient of this award now given in his in honor for his extraordinary efforts to bring our country and its leaders together

Eva Henry

Commissioner, Adams County, Colorado

Building One America 2017 - Inclusionary America Award

Eva Henry, Commissioner, Adams County, Colorado.  A lifelong resident of Adams County and single working mother, Eva Henry started her career in politics in 2007 when she successfully ran for Thornton City Council. She served in that capacity, winning re election in 2011, until being elected Commissioner for Adams County District 1. In both roles, Eva represented a solidly middle- to working-class, increasingly-diverse, and very bipartisan district. During her time, she has been a tireless and effective champion for inclusion and social equity in housing, jobs, education and transportation.

Kenneth E. Rigmaiden

General President, International Union of Painters & Allied Trades

Building One America 2017 - Opportunity America Award

Mr. Rigmaiden, began his career with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades in 1977 in an apprenticeship training program at Local 1288 in San Jose, California. Mr. Rigmaiden was elevated to the position of Executive General Vice President for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades in 2002, and unanimously elected to the office of general president by the IUPAT General Executive Board in March 2013. He is the first African American General President in the history of IUPAT.

Christopher Niedt

National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University

Christopher W. Niedt is the Academic Director at the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University. A partner in shaping the center’s mission and priorities, Christopher Niedt is currently an Assistant Professor of Applied Social Research in Hofstra’s Department of Sociology. He brings to NCSS a passion for suburban studies and strong academic credentials earned as a researcher, writer, and teacher at the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his Ph.D. in geography. He has special expertise in fields of labor and housing, and has conducted research on the living wage; gentrification; and the politics of class, race, and geographic inequality in older suburban communities.

Lorraine Minnite

Rutgers University, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Director of Ph.D. Program, and Department Chair

Lorraine C. Minnite’s research is concerned with issues of inequality, social and racial justice, political conflict and institutional change. She is the author and co-author of two books on electoral rules and racial and class politics in the U.S., The Myth of Voter Fraud, published by Cornell University Press in 2010, and Keeping Down the Black Vote: Race and the Demobilization of American Voters, published by The New Press in 2009, and co-authored with Frances Fox Piven and Margaret Groarke.

An experienced survey researcher, Dr. Minnite has also published on various aspects of political participation, immigration, voting behavior and urban politics. She has taught at New York University and Barnard College/Columbia University, and served as Associate Director of the Center for Urban Research and Policy at Columbia University, and as Research Director for the voting rights and policy organization, Project Vote. Dr. Minnite has served as an expert witness on several voting rights cases, and consulted with various labor, advocacy, academic and governmental organizations and political campaigns which have relied on her skills as a political analyst and researcher and her expertise in public policy.

Congressman Donald Norcross

Representative, 1st District, New Jersey

Congressman Norcross represents New Jersey’s First Congressional District, which includes 52 towns throughout Camden, Gloucester, and Burlington Counties.

Born and raised in South Jersey, Donald Norcross is an electrician by trade, working for years installing power lines in refineries and on the tops of bridges. He became assistant business manager for Local 351 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and President of the Southern New Jersey AFL-CIO. He served as chairman of the Camden County United Way, and a member of the Home Port Alliance, which was instrumental in bringing the Battleship New Jersey to Camden’s Waterfront. He also managed a non-profit organization that connected local families with community resources.

Congressman Norcross previously served in both the New Jersey General Assembly and State Senate. He is currently a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. He serves as Assistant Whip in the 115th Congress, and was appointed by the members of his Caucus to the Steering & Policy Committee, and the Communications Committee. He is also a founding member of the bipartisan Building Trades Caucus.

Bruce D. Haynes

University of California, Davis, Professor of Sociology, Senior Fellow, Urban Ethnography Project, Yale University

An authority on race, ethnicity, and urban communities, his publications include The Ghetto: Contemporary Issues and Controversies, and RED LINES, BLACK SPACES: The Politics of Race and Space in a Black Middle-Class Suburb (Yale University Press 2001). Currently, Haynes is contracted with New York University Press for a book entitled "Hear O' Israel: Voices of African American Jews" about Black Jews in America. This work explores Blacks and Jews as racial projects, while it challenges popular and academic assumptions that don’t imagine Black Jews to exist. His work uses mixed methods to uncover how historical processes of racialization that shape the present.

Haynes, with co-author Syma Solovitch, is under contract with Columbia University for an auto-ethnography about his Harlem roots.

Haynes teaches courses focused primarily race and ethnic inequality, racialized spaces, ethnic communities, and urban society. He is a member of the Community Development and Geography graduate groups at UCD. He has a strong record mentoring students and providing the guidance and support to produce high quality researchers and community leaders.

Michael Palis

Provost, Rutgers University, Camden Campus

Michael Palis assumed the role of provost on July 1, 2015 and serves as chief academic officer for the campus, which enrolls more than 6,500 students in 36 undergraduate majors and 29 graduate programs. A professor of computer sciences at Rutgers University–Camden, Palis previously served as interim dean of the Rutgers–Camden Faculty of Arts Sciences.  He is internationally recognized for his research in algorithms and parallel and distributed computing, having served on the editorial boards of leading journals in the area including the IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems and the Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing. He is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).