FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
2017 Peacemakers' Panel
Robert C. Koehler - moderator
Mr. Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist, former editor at Tribune Media Services and a nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound, is a collection of essays – secular prayers – about the world we are becoming if we reach out to one another in love and creative openness rather than stay imprisoned in fear and denial. We have two choices: to strive for power with one another or power over one another. Mr. Koehler also writes his own weekly internet column Common Wonders, http://commonwonders.com/
Gwendolen received an Instamatic camera for her 9th birthday and was hooked. Before venturing into film, she photographed countless public figures, from Rosa Parks to George Clooney. Her critically-acclaimed book "Indian Country" inspired Oprah to begin a series about Native Americans. Her first feature documentary "Water Flowing Together" about Jock Soto, a renowned Navajo-Puerto Rican principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, won several awards and was nationally broadcast on PBS Independent Lens. Her first collaboration with the Onondaga Nation was the award-winning short film "Guswenta," about the first treaty between indigenous people and European settlers. Gwendolen is currently working on a film about the Yezidis and other indigenous minorities of Iraq now undergoing genocide, for which she has traveled frequently to Iraq and Syria. She lives in New York City.
Assistant Director of the Center for Addictive Behavior in Tewksbury, MA. Louie Diaz has been in the field of human services for close to 20 years, currently working as a reentry specialist at Lowell House Inc. His job takes him inside prisons and jails preparing men for release. He is a support system for returning citizens when they are released to the community. Louie Dias has lectured and shared his life story at numerous schools including Salem State University, UMass Lowell, Boston University, Brown University, and many community colleges. He serves on the board of directors for Thrive Communities of Massachusetts and New Horizons to the Nations, a faith-based program from Chelsea. Louie Diaz, is the principal subject of Beyond the Wall, Feature documentary in the 2017 POEFF
Sociology professor University of Oregon specializing in political and environmental sociology. He is author of two books – most recent is Agents of Neoliberal Globalization - numerous research articles, and is presently working on a comparative study of energy industry networks. Awarded for distinguished university teaching in 2009, the Martin Luther King, Jr. distinguished service award in 2010, and numerous leadership awards in 2015, Professor Dreiling is also active in the nonprofit world to promote nonviolence, environmental care, and an economy that is fair for all. A Bold Peace – a feature documentary film coproduced with writer Matthew Eddy - depicts that vision of a better world.
Sam R. Harris is believed to be one of the youngest to survive the camps during the Holocaust, freed at age nine and a half. In 1958 he graduated from Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science, with a very successful carrier in Life Insurance. Active in community and scholastic affairs, he is a former board member of Spertus College of Judaica, has served on the Board of Directors for Forest Hospital, is currently on the Board of Directors of South Central Bank in Chicago, and a former officer of The Rotary Club of Northbrook, and a former President of Northbrook United Way. Sam Harris is President Emeritus of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Illinois for which he spearheaded its building.
Madaleno "Leno" Rose-Avila
Executive Director of Witness to Innocence. A long history of civil and human rights work, and many years in the movement to abolish the death penalty. In 1998 he joined with Sister Helen Prejean, one of the founders of WTI, and helped to developed and launch the Moratorium Initiative, which because on of the most effective strategies to reach out to politicians and the public on issues of abolition. While working for Amnesty international in Atlanta, he organized the largest meeting of national leaders in the African American Community on death penalty, including Coretta Scott King, Rev Joe Lowery, the National Black Police Assoc, Congressman John Conyers, and many others. He also worked with Cesar Chaves and other leaders of the historic United Farm Workers Union.
Suzanne Akhras Sahloul
Founder & president of the Syrian Community Network. She is also the founder of Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) Midwest Foundation, having served as its president from 2004- 2006. With a bachelors degree in history and education from the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC), and Masters of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) from Lewis University, Suzanne is currently pursuing a Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership at the Kellogg School of Management. Suzanne resides with her husband and three children in the West suburbs of Chicago and in her spare time she enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling.