expaND Speaker Series

Student Government will be hosting the first expaND speaker series on Saturday, February 29, 2020.

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expaND is a speaker series that was developed this year by the Department of Student Life. It will include short talks on a variety of topics such as education, religion, the environment, gender issues, race and ethnicity, and business. The series seeks to present the Notre Dame student body with the opportunity to hear diverse ideas from unique speakers and an educational experience apart from their regular classes that can expand their minds, hearts, and worlds.

The theme for expaND 2020 is “The Change You Wish to See,” exploring Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” As 2020 will prove to be a year of change, expaND asks its participants: What is the change you wish to see? What are your visions for the future? What are the possibilities? The challenges? What will it take for us to create that change?  

The Notre Dame Student Government is proud to announce the speakers selected for the inaugural expaND speaker series below.


Elsa Barron

Elsa Barron, a junior, will be discussing the benefits of environmental peacebuilding. The world is at a critical point in deciding how it should deal with the rapidly growing issue of climate change. While looking at the issue of climate change can lead some to make massive lifestyle changes and seek sweeping reforms, it can also appear extremely daunting and nearly impossible to solve for the typical individual. Barron calls for a shift in the narrative surrounding climate change to center on environmental peacebuilding. Environmental peacebuilding presents a win-win situation for countries of the world as they can seek greater collaboration and cooperation among one another as they take  on one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century


Ann Marie Conrado

Professor Conrado, an associate professor of industrial design here, will be speaking about the importance of empathy with those we may attempt to serve in the future. Notre Dame students are incredibly motivated to go out and change the world, but those who we are attempting to serve are not ready or willing to adopt such changes. Oftentimes, this stems from a lack of consideration of the very people we are trying to assist. Professor Conrado wants to encourage students to take a step back and possess a willingness to think more broadly and creatively about the challenges the people of the world face.


Elisabeth Greer

Elisabeth Greer, a Notre Dame alumnus, will be talking about her background in civic engagement as she worked to save her children’s elementary school, National Teachers Academy (NTA) from being shut down. Greer led protests against the Chicago Public School system from creating new zoning laws that would shut down NTA, which primarily educated black, low-income students, in favor of a high school that would cater to predominantly white, affluent students. After successfully saving NTA from closure, Greer co-founded a nonprofit, Chicago United for Equity, to promote racial justice within Chicago public schools. Greer believes that her experience in rallying individuals to take on major challenges, like segregation within a school system, can be applied to all movements of social change and hopes all students can learn to find ways to stand up to injustice within their own communities.


Michael Griffin

Dr. Michael Griffin, Vice President of Holy Cross College and a proud triple-domer, will be discussing how the Christian concept of penance can be incorporated to reform our current criminal justice system. Dr. Griffin displays how penance is one of the key tools of reconciliation and can motivate one to lament, take responsibility for one’s actions, and repair the wounds caused by sin. Dr. Griffin will also address how even Christian morality can be applied to non-Christians as even religious people have faced all the same challenges to the human community that everyone has.


Cameron Hunter

Cameron Hunter, a senior, will be speaking about the extensive disparities in access to quality education among students of different socioeconomic backgrounds. Hunter outlines how students of low-income backgrounds are significantly disadvantaged not only in their educational upbringing through K-12 but also in their ability to gain access to higher education, especially at highly selective institutions. With experience working with low-income high school students matriculating to college, Hunter believes that this is all tied to one root issue: lack of information. Going forward, Hunter describes current strategies aimed to solving the issue and other solutions to consider.


Nancy Michael

Dr. Nancy Michael, a professor in behavioral neuroendocrinology at Notre Dame, will use her background in neuroscience and behavior to describe the nature of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and how the distance between what our nervous system expects and what it experiences can leave us vulnerable as human beings. Likewise, this shapes behavior and impacts mental states later in life; it can be considered one of the stronger roots leading to things commonly experienced in adulthood such as depression, obesity, and others. Ultimately, Dr. Michael will help us understand how we can use a better understanding of the brain and why certain behaviors are shaped to create a better sense of self belonging and safety to do so for our communities.


Gabriel Ramos

Gabriel Ramos, a sophomore, will be describing his racially-blended identity as a person of both Dominican and Italian descent, the unique experiences that come from being a mixed person, and how we can be more open-minded and considerate of individuals of all backgrounds and identities. Looking at the anthropological and sociological perspectives that focus on race and identity, Ramos illustrates how much we still have to learn and how we can be more mindful in our interactions with one another. Specifically, Ramos outlines how this change in mindset will look in a “bubble” like Notre Dame.




Tiffanie Cappello Lee
Director of Communications

Abby Smith
Co-Director of Student Life

Connor Whittle
Co-Director of Student Life