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D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership

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Lecture Series 2008–09

immaculeeImmaculée Ilibagiza, Author, Rwandan Genocide Survivor

Sept. 22, 2008

Immaculée Ilibagiza is a living example of faith put into action. Ilbagiza's life was transformed dramatically during the 1994 Rwandan genocide where she and seven other women spent 91 days huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor's house. Ilibagiza entered the bathroom a vibrant, 115-pound university student with a loving family—she emerged weighing just 65 pounds to find her entire family had been brutally murdered (with the exception of one brother who had been studying out of the country).

Ilibagiza credits her salvage mostly to prayer and to a set of rosary beads given to her by her devout Catholic father prior to going into hiding. Anger and resentment about her situation were literally eating her alive and destroying her faith, but rather than succumbing to the rage that she felt, Ilibagiza instead turned to prayer. She began to pray the rosary as a way of drowning out the negativity that was building up inside her. She found solace and peace in prayer and began to pray from the time she opened her eyes in the morning to the time she closed her eyes at night. Through prayer, she eventually found it possible, and in fact imperative, to forgive her tormentors and her family's murderers.

Ilibagiza's strength in her faith empowered her to stare down a man armed with a machete threatening to kill her during her escape. She also later came face to face with the killer of her mother and her brother and said the unthinkable, "I forgive you." Ilibagiza knew, while in hiding, that she would have to overcome immeasurable odds without her family and with her country destroyed. Fortunately, she utilized her time in that tiny bathroom to teach herself English with only the Bible and a dictionary; once freed she was able to secure a job with the United Nations.

In 1998, Ilibagiza immigrated to the United States where she continued her work with the United Nations. During this time she shared her story with co-workers and friends, who were so impacted they insisted she write it down in book form. Three days after finishing her manuscript she met best selling author, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, who, within minutes of meeting her, offered to publish her book. Dyer is quoted as saying, "There is something much more than charisma at work here—Immaculée not only writes and speaks about unconditional love and forgiveness, but she radiates it wherever she goes."lefttotell1

Ilibagiza's first book, Left to Tell; Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust (Hay House) was released in March 2006. Left to Tell quickly became a New York Times Best Seller. To date it has been translated into 15 languages worldwide. Ilibagiza's story has also been made into a documentary titled The Diary of Immaculée. She has appeared in numerous media including 60 Minutes, CNN, EWTN, The Aljazeera Network, The New York Times, USA Today, Newsday, and many other domestic and international outlets. She was recently featured in Michael Collopy's "Architects of Peace" project, which has honored legendary people like Mother Teresa, Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Lama.

Ilibagiza has received honorary doctoral degrees from The University of Notre Dame and Saint John's University. She has been recognized and honored with numerous humanitarian awards including: The Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace 2007; a finalist as one of Belifnet.com's "Most Inspiring People of the Year 2006," and a recipient of the American Legacy's Women of Strength and Courage Award. Left to Tell has received a Christopher Award "affirming the highest values of human spirit," and been chosen as Outreach magazine's selection for "Best Outreach Testimony/Biography Resource of 2007." Left to Tell has been adopted into the curriculum of dozens of high schools and universities, including Villanova University, which selected it for the 2007–08 "One Book Program," making Left to Tell mandatory reading for 6,000 students.

Ilibagiza recently hosted a documentary titled Ready to Forgive, An African Story of Grace, a project sponsored by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. The film focuses on the Acholi people of Northern Uganda and their desire to forgive their tormentors. Ready to Forgive has been broadcasted on NBC and the Hallmark Channel.

Ilibagiza recently signed a contract with MPower Pictures to produce a major motion picture about her story.

Today Ilibagiza is regarded as one of the world's leading speakers on peace, faith, and forgiveness. She has shared her universal message with world dignitaries, school children, multinational corporations, churches, and at many conferences. She works hard to spread her message and to raise money for her Left to Tell Charitable Fund which directly benefits the children orphaned by the genocide.

Co-sponsored by Friends of the La Crosse Public Library. 


Oct. 29, 2008 – Sylvia Nasar, Author of A Beautiful Mind

Sylvia Nasar is the first James S. and John L. Knight Professor of Business Journalism at Columbia University and co-directs the M.A. program in business journalism with James B. Stewart, Bloomberg Professor of Business Journalism, and Bruce Greenwald, the Robert Heilbrunn Professor of Finance and Asset Management at Columbia's Graduate School of Business.

Professor Nasar is the author of the bestselling biography, A Beautiful Mind, which has been published in 30 languages, including Farsi, Turkish, Russian, and Hindi, and inspired the Academy Award-winning movie directed by Ron Howard (2001).

Trained as an economist, Nasar was a New York Times economics correspondent (1991–1999), staff writer at Fortune (1983–1989) and columnist at U.S. News & World Report (1990). Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Newsweek, The New York Times Sunday Book Review, FastCompany, London Telegraph, and numerous other publications. She has lectured frequently on topics ranging from globalization and economics to mental illness and mathematics. Nasar co-edited The Essential John Nash (2001) and is currently writing a narrative history about 20th century economic thinkers titled Grand Pursuit.

She is the recipient of many honors including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography (1998) and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in biography (1998). She has held visiting fellowships at the Russell Sage Foundation (2006–2007), the MacDowell Colony (2006), Yaddo (2005), the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (2002-2003, 1995–1996); and Kings and Churchill Colleges, Cambridge University (2000). She has served as a judge for the National Book Award, Anthony Lucas Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, Dow Jones Newswires, and SABEW and serves on the advisory board of TeenScreen.

Nasar was born in Bavaria in 1947 to a German mother and Uzbek father. Her family immigrated to the U.S. in 1951 and lived in New York and Washington, D.C. before moving to Ankara, Turkey in 1960. In 1965, she returned to the U.S. on her own and attended Antioch College where she majored in literature. She also spent a year at the University of Munich. After working for several years, she entered the Ph.D. program in economics at New York University, completing a master's degree in 1976. For four years, she did research with Nobel Laureate Wassily Leontief at the Institute for Economic Analysis. 

randyIs Hunting Good for Kids?

Nov. 19, 2008 – Randall Eaton, Author, Film Producer

For over 20 years, Dr. Randy Eaton studied orca whales in the Pacific Northwest. He and his research volunteers actually befriended wild orcas. His video, Orca: The Sacred Whale and his book, The Orca Project—A Meeting of Nations, examine the unique behavior of orcas and their exceptional relationship with humans across time and space.

Eaton's communications have appeared everywhere from Science and Evolution to Sports Illustrated and Magical Blend. He has been interviewed in Sports Illustrated, Saturday Review, Omni, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. He gave a speech on ecological problems in the U.S. that was broadcast by CBS TV National News, and PBS Nova interviewed him about endangered species.

Eaton has held faculty positions in zoology, psychology and humanities at the University of Washington, the University of Georgia, Florida Atlantic University, etc. He was a winner of two national book awards as well as numerous writing and film awards.

Eaton is producing The Next Kid in the Woods for national TV, a documentary which will communicate why traditional outdoor recreation is the ideal medicine for nature deficit disorder.

The keynote address he gave on why hunting is good for bad kids at the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters annual convention resulted in national and international publicity ranging from an appearance on Canada AM to interviews on CBC, BBC Radio worldwide news, in all the national papers of Canada and several Toronto radio stations. Thousands of parents contacted Eaton to know how to get their sons involved in the outdoors. He has given seminars and/or keynotes at the annual conferences of Safari Club International, CIC, Mzuri Safari Club, B.C. Wildlife Federation, Florida Outdoor Writers Association, Outdoor Writers Association of America, SEAFWA, Quality Deer Management Association, Southeast Outdoor Press Association, Western Hunting/Conservation Expo, etc., and will be speaking at Texas Outdoor Writers Association and Ducks Unlimited's Leadership Conference. He was invited by OFAH to deliver the keynote at the 2009 International Hunter Education Association annual conference in Toronto. 

curtLeopold's Land Ethic in an Age of Consequences

Feb. 2, 2009 – Curt Meine, Author of Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work

Curt Meine, Ph.D., is the director at the Center for Humans and Nature, based in the Baraboo, Wis., office. Meine is a conservation biologist, historian, and writer. He received a bachelor's degree in English and History from DePaul University in Chicago and a graduate degree in land resources from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During his conservation career over the last 20 years, Meine has worked on projects involving topics ranging from biodiversity conservation planning, sustainable agriculture, and international development, to crane and wetland conservation, prairie restoration, and development of community-based conservation programs. He has worked in Europe, Asia, and across North America, in partnership with organizations including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Conservation Union, the World Wildlife Fund, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. He has served on the Board of Governors of the Society of Conservation Biology and on the editorial boards of the journals Conservation Biology and Environmental Ethics.

Meine has edited and authored several books. His biography Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work, published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 1988, was the first full-length biography of Leopold, and was named Book of the Year by the Forest History Society. He has edited the volumes The Essential Aldo Leopold: Quotations and Commentaries and Wallace Stegner and the Continental Vision. His most recent book is Correction Lines: Essays on Land, Leopold, and Conservation (Island Press). Meine is a recipient of the Bay Foundation's Biodiversity Leadership Award and the Quivira Coalition's Outstanding Conservation Leadership Award.

In addition to his work with the Center for Humans and Nature, Meine currently serves as Senior Fellow with the Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo, and as research associate with the International Crane Foundation, also located in Baraboo. He is adjunct associate professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is active locally as a founding member of the Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance in Sauk County, Wis.

This event is part of the 2009 Humanities Symposium.


Manya Friedman, Holocaust Survivor

March 26, 2009

Manya Friedman was born in Chmielnik, a small Polish town that had a Jewish community dating back to the 16th century. Her father owned a furniture shop and her mother took care of the home. Friedman had two younger brothers, David and Mordechai, and was surrounded by many close relatives. She attended both public and Hebrew schools and had many friends.

In 1938, Friedman's family moved to Sosnowiec, a larger city located near the German border. There she had her first experience with antisemitism. Signs appeared urging Polish citizens to boycott Jewish businesses. The following year, German troops invaded Poland. On Sept. 4, 1939, at 2 p.m., Sosnowiec was occupied. That same day, local Jews, including Friedman's father, were rounded up. The following morning, they were marched to a factory, where their heads and beards were shaved. They were held overnight without food or water and then selected for forced labor. Friedman's father was assigned to build army latrines. A month later, her mother was arrested for violating the curfew.

In 1941, Friedman was forced to work for a German company that produced military uniforms. The following year, the Nazis began deporting Jews from Sosnowiec to the Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center. Friedman and her family were saved temporarily from deportation because of their work permits. In March 1943, however, she was forcibly taken to the Gogolin transit camp, and from there to the Gleiwitz forced labor camp. She never saw her family again; they were deported to Auschwitz. In January 1945, as the Soviet army approached, the prisoners were evacuated on a death march.

Friedman and the other prisoners were transported for 10 days in open freight cars in the bitter cold to the Ravensbruck concentration camp. During the journey, she shielded a sick friend from being crushed in the overcrowded car. Friedman's arms were bruised and swollen. Later she was taken to the Rechlin camp, where she was rescued by the Swedish Red Cross in April 1945. In 1950 she emigrated from Sweden to the U.S. Friedman is currently a volunteer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and is an active member of the Museum's speakers bureau.

"Teaching the Holocaust" A Workshop for Middle and High School Teachers

March 26–27, 2009

This workshop is designed for middle and high school teachers who want to learn more about teaching the lessons of the Holocaust in their schools. Participants are eligible to receive one graduate credit upon completion of course requirements.

To learn more, click here

johnsonTemperance is the New Black

April 2, 2009 – Gregory Paul Johnson, Author of Put Your Life on a Diet

Gregory Johnson is the founder and director of Resources for Life, an outreach and public interest organization based in Iowa City.

Johnson’s home, the Mobile Hermitage, has received national media attention. The Mobile Hermitage is a low energy small home that was designed and built by Jay Shafer of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.

As a technology consultant, Johnson works for the University of Iowa as well as clients served by his consulting firm, the Technology Services Resource Group. He serves as a coordinator and contact person for some of the organizations found on the Resources for Life website including the Technology Services Resource Group and the Consumer Defense Resource Group.

Johnson grew up in the Washington, D.C., area and then moved to Iowa City where he completed his undergraduate education, earning a B.A. from the University of Iowa. He currently provides computer and technology support to clients in the Iowa City area and around the world.

Johnson has an interest in promoting simple and sustainable living. His study of Urban and Regional Planning with the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA) included travel to several South American countries including Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. He johnsoncoverhas also traveled to Israel, Spain, Mexico, and Canada.

Johnson is also known for developing a Holistic Life Management System which integrates all areas of life into an efficient daily and weekly schedule—the Schedule for Life. He has distinguished himself by offering his writings, photography, inventions, systems, time management methods, empowerment resources, course materials, information tools, research, and other intellectual developments to the world-community through a very lenient copyright policy which is similar to public domain.


April 2–4, 2009

Conference on the Cardinal Virtues
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