2015 Expert Speakers

Mary Meg McCarthy

Mary Meg McCarthy is the executive director of Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), one of the nation's leading immigrant and human rights advocacy organizations. Under her leadership, NIJC has grown to a staff of 50 who serve 10,000 immigrants and their families each year through an unparalleled network of more than 1,500 pro bono attorneys. With its unique combination of direct service, impact litigation, and advocacy, NIJC promotes due process protections before the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress, and the executive branch. NIJC is a founding member of the Illinois Task Force on Unaccompanied Immigrant Children, the Freedom Network, and the Department of Homeland Security-Nongovernmental Organization Enforcement Working Group, which NIJC co-chairs. Recently, NIJC spearheaded an innovative immigration court help desk for immigrants in deportation proceedings.


Ms. McCarthy has testified before congressional committees on human rights and immigration detention reform, speaks frequently at national and international conferences on human rights and immigration law, and is regularly quoted in leading news outlets such as The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Ms. McCarthy has met with members of the Mexican Congress, academics, and civil society to address migration issues facing the region. She has toured detention centers throughout the U.S. and gathered evidence of chilling civil rights abuses which permeate the U.S. government's immigration detention system. She is a commissioner for the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration and a member of the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights steering committee.


Prior to joining NIJC in 1998, Ms. McCarthy practiced civil litigation and served as a pro bono attorney for NIJC's asylum project. Earlier in her career, she worked in Chile helping local communities safeguard the rights of individuals living under a dictatorship. She is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Pax Christi 2013 Teacher of Peace Award, the Robert Bellarmine Award for distinguished alumni from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, the American Immigration Lawyers Association Chicago Chapter's Joseph Minsky Mentor Award, Lawyers Trust Fund's Esther Rothstein Award, and the Federal Bar Association's Sarah T. Hughes Civil Rights Award. She recently delivered the keynote address at the University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies Trans-Border Institute's 18th Annual Sister Sally Furay Lecture on the politics of immigration reform and refugee protection.

Maria Socorro Pesqueira

Maria Socorro Pesqueira is the President and CEO of Mujeres Latinas en Acción, one of the longest standing Latina human service organizations in the nation. Under her leadership Mujeres received the prestigious ORBA Award for Nonprofit Financial Management Excellence; moved Mujeres' main office to a newly renovated 14,000 square foot facility and opened two additional satellite offices. Before coming to Mujeres, Maria was the Director of Development for the National Museum of Mexican Art where she started and grew the Museum's resource development office, and completed its $7.5 million capital and endowment campaign.


Pesqueira's awards include being named by Chicago Magazine as one of six Chicagoans of the Year 2006; the 2005 National Organization for Women's (NOW) Women Who Dared Award; The 2003 Thomas Jefferson Award; Accento Magazine's "Woman of the Year" for 2002; and the Crain's Chicago Business "40 under 40" for the year 2000. She was selected as a member to The Chicago Network, a premier organization of diverse, professional women in the Chicago area who have reached the highest echelons of business, the arts, government, and academia.


Her record of civic and community involvement spans two decades. She serves as Board member of the Community Memorial Foundation, a private independent health conversion foundation; has served as Executive Committee Board member for the National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Latino civil rights organization based in Washington DC and is a member of the National Advisory Committee for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. In addition, she has been appointed to City and State level Commissions. Pesqueira was appointed to the Illinois Human Services Commission, the Governor's Advisory Council on Domestic Violence and appointed to the Mayor of Chicago's Advisory Council on Domestic Violence. She is the Chair of the Illinois Partners for Human Services, a network of organizations that advocate for high quality, responsible, and sustainable approaches to providing human service in Illinois. She is the Vice-Chair of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, a state-wide coalition of member organizations dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society.


Ms. Pesqueira has a BA from DePaul University. She is also a graduate of the Harvard University JFK School of Government Executive Program, the Center for Creative Leadership and St. Thomas University MiniMBA program in Nonprofit Management.


Maria and her husband David are the proud parents of son David Ollin.

Carole Segal

Carole Segal is the co-founder of Crate and Barrel, the founder and former CEO of Foodstuffs, and the president of the Segal Family Foundation. She is co-chair of the Steering Committee of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition (IBIC), a growing and diverse set of businesses and business associations promoting sensible, comprehensive federal immigration reform to benefit the people and economy of Illinois. She also is co-chair of the Immigration Task Force for the Chicago Council of Global Affairs, a bipartisan group comprised of thought leaders drawn from the business, civic, religious, advocacy, and educational sectors across the Midwest, working to forge consensus around sensible immigration policy at the state and national levels.


Ms. Segal is a trustee of Rush University Medical Center and chairman of the Board of Governors at Rush University. She is a trustee emeritus of Bates College and is a life trustee of Illinois Institute of Technology.


Ms. Segal, a graduate of Northwestern University, is a member of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors and a trustee of Chicago Theological Seminary.


She is a member of the Board of Directors of WBEZ-Chicago Public Media, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Lincoln Park Zoo, and Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.


Carole Segal, Co-founder of Crate & Barrel, on injustice of our immigration policy (YouTube video)

Michele Wucker

Michele Wucker is the vice president of studies at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Previously she was president of the World Policy Institute, a New York based center for global policy thought leadership, where she led strategic planning, programming, and execution; raised millions in funds for operations; and collaborated with diverse organizations around the world. In 2007, she oversaw the re-incorporation of the World Policy Institute as a free-standing organization after its separation from the New School University.


Her new book, The Gray Rhino: Why We Keep Missing the Most Obvious Threats -and How We Can Get Out of their Way, will be published in Fall 2015 by St Martin's Press. She also is the author of LOCKOUT: Why America Keeps Getting Immigration Wrong When Our Prosperity Depends on Getting It Right (Public Affairs 2006/paperback 2007; a Washington Post Book World "Best Nonfiction of 2006″ Selection) and Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians and the Struggle For Hispaniola (FSG/Hill & Wang, 1999).


Wucker received a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship for her work on changing views of citizenship. She is a 2009 Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, a 2008 Young Leader of the American Council on Germany, and a 2008 Womens Media Center Progressive Womens Voices alumna.


A sought-after public speaker, Wucker speaks frequently about immigration, the global economy, and leadership. She has been a source for major US and international media including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Reuters, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, MSNBC, and National Public Radio.


Formerly Latin America bureau chief for International Financing Review and a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wucker has written for many US and Latin American publications including AmericaEconomia, CNN, The Guardian, Internationale Politik, Newsday, The New York Times, Texas Observer, Valor Economico, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and World Policy Journal.
She is a graduate of Rice University and of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, where she has been an Adjunct Associate Professor. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, PEN, and the Authors Guild, and a member of the advisory board of the Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring (DREAM) Project.

2015 Master of Ceremonies/Moderator

Alison Cuddy

Alison Cuddy is Associate Artistic Director with the Chicago Humanities Festival. Alison joined the CHF staff in May 2014. Before coming to the Festival, she spent more than 10 years at WBEZ 91.5 FM, the NPR affiliate in Chicago. There she helped launched Odyssey, a nationally syndicated talk show of arts and ideas, hosted the morning newsmagazine Eight Forty-Eight and reported on arts and culture. 


Prior to joining WBEZ, Alison worked in the Immigration Department of ThoughtWorks, Inc. in Chicago, and was an adjunct professor at DePaul University as well as a teaching fellow at the University of Pittsburgh.


Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Cuddy moved to Chicago in 1999. She holds a Masters of Arts in English from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Studies from Concordia University, Montreal. She is on the advisory board of the Chicago Film Archive and The Moth, and currently hosts Strange Brews, a podcast about the culture and community around craft beer.

Past Speakers

2014 Keynote: Michèle Ledgerwood, Senior Associate, Center for Strategic and International Studies (Topic: "Seven Revolutions: Global Trends and the Role of Women in 2035"). Michèle is also a senior speaker in the Abshire-Inamori Leadership Academy's Seven Revolutions lecture series and consults regularly with both the Transnational Threats program and the Global Health Policy Center at CSIS...

2013 Keynote: Ellen Costello, Chief Executive Officer of BMO Financial Corp. and U.S. Country Head of Toronto-based BMO Financial Group (Topic: A Conversation - The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion and the Impacts of International Roles). BMO is one of North America's leading financial services providers. Ms. Costello is responsible for providing governance and regulatory oversight for all of BMO's U.S. businesses...

2012 Keynote: Sarah Robb O'Hagan, Gatorade president North America and global chief marketing officer, Sports Nutrition of PepsiCo (Topic: "From the Sidelines to the Workplace: The Increasing Relevancy of Female Leadership") PepsiCo owns the world's largest portfolio of billion-dollar food and beverage brands, including 19 different product lines, each of which generates more than $1 billion in annual retail sales each. With net revenues of approximately $60 billion, PepsiCo employs nearly 300,000 people worldwide...