Saint Mary's Announces "Inspired" 2013 Jan Term Speaker Series

"Inspired" Theme Explores Black Catholic Gospel Traditions, Indie Culture and the Catholic Church, Leadership to Change the World and Modern Day Slavery

Inspiration is at the root of creativity, intellectual achievement, religious expression, political change and making a difference in the world. For those reasons, "Inspired" is the theme for the 2013 January Term Speaker Series at Saint Mary's College of California.

The featured guest speakers for the "Inspired" Jan Term lecture series include Jason Connell, who heads up Ignited Leadership, a dynamic Washington, D.C.-based human service organization dedicated to building a better world, one leader at a time, and an evening of programming devoted to African American Catholic faith traditions with Soulful  & Sacred: Celebrating the Black Catholic Experience. Part of the College's sesquicentennial programming, the event recognizes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and includes an address by Fr. Edward Branch, a Catholic Chaplain for students at historically black colleges in Atlanta and a concert by Oakland's St. Columba Catholic Gospel Choir, directed by noted gospel composer Rawn Harbor

The month-long series includes a presentation by Kaya Oakes, the celebrated author of Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture, the poetry collection Telegraph and Radical Reinvention: An Unlikely Return to the Catholic Church. Oakes will offer observations on popular culture and on how a lapsed Catholic rediscovers her faith. Additionally, the Speaker Series will feature reflections from noted humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine, author of Slavery, who will share her stories about traveling the world for two years documenting human trafficking and the horror of modern day slavery.

The speaker series is an annual staple of the College’s intense month-long “Jan Term,” when students are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones, explore new intellectual territory and take classes that often embody the Lasallian tradition of social action.  All lectures are free and open to the public and, unless otherwise noted, will be in the Soda Activity Center at Saint Mary’s College of California, 1928 St. Mary’s Road, Moraga, CA 94556.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013, 7 p.m.

Jason Connell
“Changing the World 101”
Soda Activity Center

Jason Connell is the executive director of Ignited Leadership, a dynamic Washington, D.C.-based human service organization that is dedicated to building a better world, one leader at a time. Jason has volunteered in some of the world's poorest regions and has learned first-hand of the dire challenges – and profound rewards – of truly making a difference.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Father Edward Branch & the St. Columba Gospel Choir
“Soulful  & Sacred: Celebrating the Black Catholic Experience”
Soda Activity Center & College Chapel

Rev. Edward Branch is the Catholic chaplain for the Lyke House at the Atlanta University Center (AUC), a consortium of historically African American institutions of higher education that boasts the largest concentration of scholars of African heritage in the world. He has served as university chaplain and director of campus ministry at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and Grambling State University in Louisiana. In recognition of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Fr. Branch will speak on the distinctive experience and journey of Black Catholics in America.

6:30 p.m.  Reception honoring Saint Mary’s African American Alumni.

7:30 p.m.  Concert in the Chapel. Celebrate the joyful wonder of Black Catholic gospel music with a special January Term cultural celebration by Oakland’s Saint Columba Gospel Choir, directed by Rawn Harbor, one of the nation’s preeminent African American Catholic liturgists.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013, 7 p.m.

Kaya Oakes
“Unlikely Inspiration”
Soda Activity Center

Kaya Oakes is the author of Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture, the poetry collection Telegraph and Radical Reinvention: An Unlikely Return to the Catholic Church. Oakes is also co-founder of Kitchen Sink, winner of the Utne Independent Press Award for Best New Magazine. She teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, and lives in Oakland.

Thursday, January 31, 2013, 7 p.m.

Lisa Kristine
"Shining a Light on Modern-Day Slavery"
Soda Activity Center

Acclaimed humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine specializes in images of remote indigenous cultures in more than 100 countries on six continents. Lisa spent a year traveling the world to document modern-day slavery – into the heart of broiling brick kilns, down rickety mine shafts, and into the hidden lairs of sex slavery.
Her recent book, Slavery, has received global attention. She will share the stories behind her images - and how she bore witness to horrible abuses and to astonishing glimpses of the indomitable human spirit.

Background: January Term, or "Jan Term" for short, is an intensive four-week academic experience at Saint Mary’s College. A hallmark of the session is the Speaker Series, which brings provocative speakers from the worlds of art, politics, science and technology to the campus. During the day visiting speakers meet with several classes and engage in lively roundtable discussions with students and in the evening they present their ideas to the entire community at a free public lecture. For more information contact the Jan Term office at 925-631-4771 or

Michael McAlpin
Director of Media Relations
(925) 631-4222 office
(925) 878-9535 cell

About SMC
The Saint Mary’s College of California experience inspires learning that lasts a lifetime. For nearly 150 years, the College has provided students with a rigorous education that engages their intellect and spirit, and awakens a desire to transform society. Guided by the Christian Brothers, the Catholic Church’s oldest order dedicated exclusively to teaching, the College enrolls more than 3,800 students in undergraduate and graduate liberal arts and business programs. For more information visit Saint Mary’s College at and just 23 miles east of San Francisco.