Past Conferences

2017 Richland Honors Conference


The purpose of the annual Richland College Honors Conference is to enrich the academic lives of all Richland College students.

On March 23, 2017, the conference speakers and panelists, faculty and student facilitators, and student presentations focused on Human Trafficking. According to the recent "In You We Trust" exhibit in the Brazos Gallery at Richland College, "law enforcement and advocacy groups conservatively estimate that 100,000 children are enslaved in the sex trade in the United States. Many of these children are homeless or runaways. The Dallas Independent School District reports that six thousand of its students are homeless, and studies from the National District Attorneys Association estimate that one out of every three children will be approached by a pimp within 48 hours of being on the street. Staggeringly, this means that two-thousand children are potentially sold each year in Dallas County alone."

Plenary Address:

The Conference's Plenary Address was delivered by George Lynch, Chief Executive Officer, Traffick 911

As a son of a mother, husband of a wife and father of a daughter, George was stunned by what was happening to vulnerable young women in the community he lived and worked in. Lynch joined the board of DFW based Traffick911 in 2012. He grew his knowledge by serving on Traffick911’s Strategic Planning committee, becoming President of the Traffick911 Board, and ultimately CEO in 2014.

A voracious learner, his research and training on the vulnerabilities of trafficked youth and brain impact of their trauma prepares him as a voice for the causes and trends in the sex trafficking of domestic minors. He is the creator of Traffick911's Hooked: Porn's Hold on the Brain training program. His personal passion for seeing lives transformed is well served by the work of Traffick911. He serves on PureHope's advisory board and volunteers with The NetFW Men Against Sexual Exploitation (MASE) team.

Keynote Address:

The Conference's Keynote Address was delivered by Natalie Nanasi, Professor of Law at SMU and the Director of the Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Crimes Against Women. Her work involves teaching and supervising students who represent survivors of gender-based violence in a broad variety of legal areas, including, but not limited to, protective orders, immigration claims, family law matters, and post-conviction relief. Professor Nanasi's research interest is at the intersection of immigration, gender and feminist legal theory.

Prior to arriving at SMU, Professor Nanasi was a Practitioner-in-Residence and the Director of the Domestic Violence Clinic at American University, Washington College of Law (WCL), where she supervised students’ representation of survivors of intimate partner violence in family law and immigration cases. Before joining the faculty at WCL, Professor Nanasi was the Senior Immigration Attorney and Pro Bono Coordinator at the Tahirih Justice Center, where she represented immigrant women and girls fleeing human rights abuses such as female genital mutilation, domestic violence, human trafficking, forced marriage, honor crimes and sexual violence.

Richland College's participation was funded 100% ($1000) by an AANAPISI grant (PO31L150024) from the US Department of Education.

2016 Honors Conference

On March 31, 2016, the conference speakers and panelists, faculty and student facilitators, and student presentations focused on social entrepreneurs, including businesses and organizations that include human, social, and environmental responsibility and philanthropy as part of their business and organization plan.

Recent Conference Speakers
In 2016, Bethany Joy Clark shared her story about TOMS—“a mission with a company.” She was later joined by local social entrepreneurs for a panel discussion, and Richland students also spoke about social entrepreneurship.

Bethany Joy Clark (Keynote Address and Panelist)
As lead Ambassador and former Director of Community for one of the world’s most inspirational brands, Bethany Joy Clark plays a key role in the world of TOMS — and what a growing world it is. The One for One® company now gives to people in need in over 70+ countries, and sells its products (shoes, eyewear, handbags, and coffee) in 100+ countries. Bethany’s work focuses on guiding and supporting individuals and groups to create positive change in their communities.

Suzanne Smith (Panelist)
In 2009, Suzanne Smith founded Social Impact Architects, a registered Benefit Corporation, to reshape the business of social change. She combines her MBA know-how with two decades of experience as a nonprofit innovator to serve as a consultant, advisor and thought partner. She is also a highly sought-after public speaker at conferences nationwide, including being selected as a featured speaker at TEDxTurtleCreekWomen, and teaches as an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas. In this work, she has pioneered open-source frameworks for the creation of better social solutions, including layered logic models, ecosystem mapping and social alchemy.

Justin Nygren (Panelist)
Justin Nygren is co-founder and managing partner of The Grove, North Texas' social-impact focused co-working community. His strengths are focused in connecting people to the relationships and resources they need to pursue their dreams. He is currently leading efforts to launch the North Texas chapter of Unreasonable Labs, a 5-day hyper-accelerator for social entrepreneurs developing for-profit companies which address the systemic issues that prohibit human flourishing.

Devang Jhaveri (Panelist)
Devang “DJ” Jhaveri is an entrepreneur and independent technology, product strategy and marketing consultant based in Richardson, TX. He specializes in helping Fortune 500 clients bridge the gap between strategic business objectives and aligning technology initiatives to achieve those goals.

Aline Torres (Panelist)
Aline is a Dallas resident, artist, and recent graduate of Texas A&M University with a degree in Biology. She was involved in genetic research before she turned her attention to creating art-glass and volunteering at an East Texas goat rescue farm, which saves abandoned goats and turns their milk into artesian soaps.

Honors student presentations:

  • Muhamad Madhat “Online Social Marketplace”; Ezra Calado “Spending Ourselves to Death”; Egxona Ferati “The Question is not ‘Is it Possible?’ It is ‘Which Path to Take?’”
  • Qurrat-ul-ain Gul Muhammad “We Support Education”; Ashton Self “The Sky is No Longer the Limit”; Ezra Calado, Muaz Mohammed, and Mitchel Mike-Nmoka “Crowdsourcing Social Responsibility: A Digital Companion for Refugees”

This program is supported in part (approximately 50%, or approximately $2,500) by a grant (PO31L150024) from the US Department of Education, with the remainder (approximately 50%, or $2,500) provided from non-federal sources.

2015 Honors Conference

On March 20, 2015, the conference speakers, faculty and student facilitators, and breakout sessions focused on Human Rights issues, including health, education, culture, politics, and social justice.

Recent Conference Speakers

In 2015, Bill Holston and Luis Lemus provided the Honors Conference Keynote Address, and Rick Halperin provided the Honors Conference Plenary Address. Richland students also spoke about a variety of Human Rights issues.

"The Long and Winding Road: The Path to Becoming a Human Rights Lawyer"

Bill Holston became the Executive Director of Human Rights Initiative of North Texas in January 2012. Since 1987, Bill has provided pro bono legal representation for political and religious asylum applicants. Over the years he had clients from 20 countries in Immigration Court or before the Houston Asylum office. He volunteered his services to Human Rights Initiative of North Texas since the organization was founded in 2000. Bill is a Richland College graduate. His former client, Luis Lemus, escaped gang violence in El Salvador to come to this country.

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"There is no such thing as a lesser person."

Professor Rick Halperin is Director of the Southern Methodist University Embrey Human Rights Program (, and teaches courses at SMU including America's Dilemma: The Struggle for Human Rights; America and the Age of Genocide; and America Enraged: From Brown to Watergate, 1954-1974. Halperin has served on the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA from 1989-1995, and from 2004-2009; he served as Chair of the Board from 1992-1993 and again from 2005-2007. He is also a member of the National Death Penalty Advisory Committee, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (serving as President from 2000-2006 and from 2007-2008).

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