This opening program set the stage for our dialogue, with insight and inspiration from visionary poet and community activist Janice Mirikitani.

Special Guest: Janice Mirikitani

Janice Mirikitani is recognized as a poet, editor, community activist, leader, and visionary. Interned as an infant with her parents in a World War II-era camp for Japanese Americans, her struggles with identity have, throughout her life, informed her activism and art.

Mirikitani is San Francisco’s second poet laureate, appointed in 2000. She has authored five books of poetry (Awake in the River; Shedding Silence; We, the Dangerous; Love Works; and Out of the Dust) and is the editor of nine landmark anthologies that provide platforms for writers of color, women, youth, and children. Mirikitani has also worked in civil rights causes for various multiethnic communities, including the struggle for redress for Japanese Americans incarcerated during WWII.

Mirikitani is founding president and co-founder of the GLIDE Foundation, through which she and her husband, Reverend Cecil Williams, have achieved worldwide recognition for their groundbreaking work toward empowering San Francisco’s poor and marginalized communities to break the cycle of poverty and dependence. Across more than 50 years, they build over 90 comprehensive programs to provide education, recover support, primary and mental health care, job training, housing, and human services. Mirikitani’s passion is creating programs for women and families as they struggle with issues of substance abuse, rape, incest, domestic violence, the AIDS crisis, single parenting, childcare, health/wellness, education, and job development.

Mirikitani has been serving as a commissioner on the San Francisco Arts Commission since 1996 and was reappointed by former mayor Gavin Newsom in 2004. She is the recipient of more than 40 awards and honors, including the Governor and First Lady Maria Shriver’s Conference on Women and Families’ Minerva Award, San Francisco State University’s Distinguished Alumnae Award, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement Ebbie Award, the prestigious American Book Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature, and the University of California at San Francisco Chancellor’s Medal of Honor Award. Mirikitani graduated from UCLA, cum laude, and received a teaching credential from UC Berkeley. She has been awarded three honorary doctorate degrees.


Will Ross, MD Associate Dean for Diversity and Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine

A longtime advocate of public health and health care for the medically underserved, Ross oversees diversity affairs, directs clinical outreach programs that promote community-based health care, and teaches courses in public health. Ross has produced educational materials focused on reducing health care disparities and has helped establish free local medical clinics such as the Saturday Free Clinic and Casa de Salud. Ross is past president of the Mound City Medical Forum, a leading minority medical organization that promotes elimination of medical disparities, and he currently serves as a commissioner for the St. Louis Regional Health Commission and board member of the Missouri Foundation for Health. He is co-author of Living with Dignity—A Guide to African American Health.

Ross earned a bachelor’s from Yale University and an MD from Washington University School of Medicine. He also completed an MS in epidemiology at Saint Louis University.

Adrienne Davis, Vice Provost, William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law, School of Law

Adrienne Davis is renowned for her scholarship and teaching on gender and race relations, theories of justice and reparations, law and popular culture, and feminist legal theory. She is the co-editor of the book Privilege Revealed: How Invisible Preference Undermines America (1996). Davis also directs the Black Sexual Economies Project at the law school’s Center for Interdisciplinary Study of Work and Social Capital, and she coordinates university-wide diversity programs in her role as vice provost. In 2009, Davis founded the Law & Culture Initiative at the School of Law to facilitate scholarly engagement and exchange on the intersection of legal, cultural, and other interdisciplinary studies. Davis earned her bachelor’s degree from Yale College and her JD from Yale Law School.


Joe Loewenstein Professor of English, Director of the Humanities
Digital Workshop and the Interdisciplinary Project

in the Humanities Joe Loewenstein’s two most recent books—The Author’s Due (2002) and Jonson and Possessive Authorship (2002)—are studies of Early Modern intellectual property, the prehistory of copyright, but he is also interested in prosody and poetics. Most of his scholarly energy is now devoted to an edition of the Complete Works of Edmund Spenser for Oxford University Press, a project in which a number of undergraduates and graduate students, from Arts & Sciences and from Engineering, are involved. He is also working on a study of the material props of the Self in Early Modern England—spectacles, watches, commonplace books, signet rings, and poems: his working title for this undertaking is “Accessorizing the Renaissance.” He teaches courses on Shakespeare, Milton, and Spenser; on literature and skepticism; on the cultural poetics of the book; and on the ways writers read. He earned his PhD from Yale.

Ruby Arora College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2018

Ruby Arora is a biology and political science major in Arts & Sciences and chair of the Diversity Affairs Council (DAC), a student resource providing programming that empowers students to take a proactive role in diversity-related issues. Arora has served on the Commission on Diversity and Inclusion and hopes to go on to medical school. Arora is also a residential advisor, a student advisor in the College of Arts & Sciences, and a peer health educator. Through her leadership roles, she hopes to foster a more inclusive environment on campus.

Kevin Garza Second-Year Student, School of Medicine

Kevin Garza is a second-year medical student and a member of the Commission on Diversity and Inclusion. He also serves as the community service chair for the Washington University chapter of the Latino Medical Student Association, a national student group whose vision is to unite and empower medical students through service, mentorship, and education to advocate for the health of the Latino community. The organization promotes Latino leadership and volunteerism, and encourages recruitment and retention of Latino students at all levels. Garza is also active in the university’s chapter of the Student National Medical Association. Garza earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Washington University in 2014, with a minor in film. During his undergraduate years, he was an active member of the Annika Rodriguez Scholars Program, the Campus Kitchen Project,
and Mixed.