Recap of the 46th Annual Conference in Denver

The 46th Annual Conference, themed “Our Responsibility for a Better World,” was a resounding success, drawing over 300 dedicated attendees. The event, held in Denver, Colorado, from October 19 to 22, 2023, showcased 130 enlightening presentations that spanned various formats, including roundtable discussions, poster presentations, general sessions, and impactful plenary sessions.

Fueled by the Fulbright spirit and a shared commitment to global betterment, the conference focused on critical issues. Delegates passionately addressed topics such as Climate Change & the Environment, Social Justice & Prejudice, Health & Education, and Food & Water Insecurity. These discussions aimed to contribute to ongoing global efforts to drive positive change in these vital areas.

Throughout the event, Fulbrighters from diverse backgrounds and experiences came together, sharing insights, research findings, and practical solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. The collective dedication to making the world a better place was evident in every session and presentation.

The 46th Annual Conference not only fostered meaningful dialogue but also ignited a sense of shared responsibility among attendees. It served as a reminder that, as Fulbrighters on a continued mission, they have a crucial role to play in building a brighter and more equitable future for all.

View Photos and Watch all Plenaries


Opening Keynote – Julieanna L. Richardson – Watch on YouTube

Julieanna L. Richardson has a diverse background in theatre, television production, and the cable television industry that created a unique path to founding the largest effort to record the African American experience since the WPA Slave Narratives of the 1930s. Founded in 2000, The HistoryMakers is a national, 501(c)(3) non-profit educational institution headquartered in Chicago committed to preserving, developing and providing easy access to an internationally recognized, archival collection of thousands of African American video oral histories.

Richardson discussed the importance of preserving Black history and the challenges faced in doing so. She highlighted the erasure of Black history and emphasized the need to tell diverse stories within the community. Richardson also touched on issues like colorism, the impact of critical race theory bans, and the importance of education in understanding the complexities of Black history. Despite the challenges, she remained optimistic about the potential for change. The keynote emphasized the richness of individual and community stories and the urgency of preserving and correcting historical narratives.


Climate Change & the Environment/Food & Water Insecurity Panel – Watch on YouTube

The panel, moderated by Heather Godsmark, discussed critical issues like climate change, food insecurity, and water insecurity. It featured participants – Counselor Clinton White from USAID, Erin Pulling, CEO of the Food Bank of the Rockies, Senator Michael Bennett, and Mike Krueger, President of the Colorado Solar Storage Association. Senator Bennett emphasized Colorado’s challenges due to droughts, wildfires, and climate change. He discussed the importance of the Inflation Reduction Act, a significant climate legislation, highlighting Colorado’s potential to lead in renewable energy. Mike Krueger added insights on the state’s solar industry. The panel expressed hope for a sustainable future.

Firstly, the panel stressed the significance of addressing food insecurity and supporting organizations like food banks. Secondly, they emphasized the importance of inspiring and involving young people in tackling current challenges, particularly in the renewable energy sector. Encouraging them to pursue careers in trades and green industries can have a significant impact on our transition to a more sustainable future. Lastly, they advocated for the promotion of trade education and the inclusion of community colleges in discussions about workforce development. Overall, the panel highlighted the need for empathy, community engagement, and a long-term perspective when addressing complex issues.


Fulbright Stories – Sponsored by Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences | University of Arkansas – Watch on YouTube

Visiting the Home Country of a Partner as a Fulbright Scholar
Eric Olson — Metropolitan State University of DenverWe built a secondary school in rural Uganda!
Judy Shepherd — Retired (University of Alaska Fairbanks, San Diego State University)How my Fulbright experience launched a green alternative protein company
Kathleen Hefferon — Cornell University
Humanitarian Disasters and the Power of Community Resilience in West Africa
Karen Barton — University of Northern ColoradoOffering a new perspective in Ireland during the #BlackLivesMatter movement
Kimberly Reyes — University of Nebraska–LincolnOtherness and Identification through the Fulbright Experience
Anne Crylen — DePaul University


2023 Selma Jeanne Cohen Dance Lecture Awardee – Tria Blu Wakpa – Watch on YouTube

The 2023 Selma Jeanne Cohen Dance Lecture celebrated the Selma Jean Cohen Fund for International Scholarship on Dance, honoring dance historian Selma Jean Cohen’s contributions. The fund, established in 2000, supports international dance endeavors, emphasizing Cohen’s experience in Russia. The lecture featured Tria Blu Wakpa, an assistant professor specializing in decolonizing dance studies at UCLA. Her research centers on indigenous peoples’ engagement with various movement forms. She discussed the significance of indigenous dance as a decolonial practice, its spiritual aspects, resistance, sovereignty, community building, and its role in nurturing relationships between humans and the natural world. The lecture emphasized the diverse and dynamic nature of native dances within the US.

In the second part of the lecture, the focus shifts to a workshop on North American hand talk, highlighting its international and decolonial significance. North American hand talk, often misunderstood as a sign language only used by indigenous people with disabilities, is actually a common language in Native America. It has served intertribal and intratribal communication purposes, bridging language barriers in diplomacy, trade, and more. The workshop emphasizes the inclusivity and cultural importance of hand talk. It also explores the historical context of Native American hand talk, exemplified by the silent film “Buffalo Dance,” where Lakota dancers incorporated hand talk into their performance. The lecture ends with a land acknowledgement in North American hand talk, promoting respect for indigenous lands, culture, and people.


Social Justice & Prejudice/Health & Education Panel – Watch on YouTube

The panel, moderated by Stacey Nickson, discussed social justice, health & education. It featured participants – Senadora Julie Gonzales, Senator for Senate Dist. 34, Lucille A. Echohawk, Advisor & Advocate for Denver’s Native Community, Dr. Kristin Deal, Assistant Vice Chancellor for DEI Partnerships & Operations, DU, and Tom Gonzales, MPH Public Health Director for Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE).

The panel discussed how Fulbrighters, with their diverse experiences, can bridge gaps in social justice, public health, and education. They should leverage their cross-cultural insights to foster global dialogue on equity issues. In public health, their international knowledge can address local disparities and advocate for evidence-based policies. In education, they can promote inclusive practices and cross-cultural understanding. Fulbrighters are catalysts for change, using their unique experiences to bridge divides, promote equity, and drive positive social change in their host communities and beyond.

The panel discussion explored challenges in the digital age, where traditional authority figures have lost influence, and civil society groups must adapt to engage in the information war. Senator Julie Gonzales highlighted the difficulty of open debate due to social media’s impact on politics. She emphasized fostering relationships and facilitating tough conversations. In education, she discussed the need to re-imagine higher education to promote diversity and critical thinking. Speakers advocated for inclusivity in schools and expanding voting rights for incarcerated individuals. The discussion urged attendees to engage in politics, consider policy outcomes, and prioritize justice and equity in policymaking.


Chapter Award Winners

Outstanding​ Chapter Leader​ Award

Julia Totskaya​

South Florida Chapter​


Outstanding Former Chapter Leader Award​

Ruie Pritchard

North Carolina Chapter​


Programming of the Year Award​

Minnesota Chapter​

Virtual Program of the Year Award​

New Hampshire Chapter’s

Genocide Webinar Series​


Excellence in Diversity Award​

Fulbrighters with Disabilities Chapter ​


Excellence in Advocacy Award​

Glen Harrison​

​Arkansas Chapter​


Excellence in Service Award​

Colorado Chapter​


Thank you to our Sponsor & Exhibitors

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