We are excited to announce keynote speakers for the upcoming Peace Conference!

Friday - April 9, 2021

Derris Ross

Founder and CEO of the Ross Foundation, Derris Ross, will deliver a keynote speech titled "Why Not Me?" at 4:00pm EDT.


Image description: Derris Ross

The Ross Foundation was founded by Derris Ross, an Indianapolis native born and raised on the cities Far Eastside. Growing up as a kid, Derris was able to see how the community lacked youth programs and community involvement. Due to this, the rise in crime, drug usage, and poverty has taken a toll on the community. Now being older and a respectful leader of the community, he has decided to start his own foundation in order to give back to and repair his childhood community. He wants to let the youth know that you do not have to settle for being a product of your environment. You can achieve more. Derris has been recognized locally and nationally for his accomplishments in his community. Ross Foundation isn’t the end all for Derris, in 2019 he decided to run for city county council, which at age 29, made him the youngest person ever to make the general elections ballot! 

Tania Israel, PhD

Professor, author, and speaker Tania Israel, Ph.D. (University of California, Santa Barbara) will talk about her book "Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations that Work" with Lawrence H. Gerstein, Ph.D. (Ball State University) at 7:00pm EDT.

Tania Israel; Photo Credit: Will McClintock

Image description: Tania Israel. Photo credit: Will McClintock

Tania Israel is a Professor in the Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, a Masters degree in Human Sexuality Education, and a B.A. in Psychology and Women's Studies. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) and Past President of the Society of Counseling Psychology (SCP). Her scholarship on interventions to support the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ individuals and communities has been solicited by the Institute of Medicine, Congress, and the White House. She has received honors for her research and advocacy from the APA, the California Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, and her local LGBTQ community. She delivered a popular TED Talk on bisexuality and serves as the director of Project Rise, a research team at UCSB that develops and studies interventions to support the psychological health of LGBTQ individuals and communities.

Saturday - April 10, 2021

BSU President Geoffrey S. Mearns and the Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour will be the keynote speakers for our Town Hall event at 10:00am EDT on the second day of the conference. 

Geoffrey S. Mearns

BSU President Geoffery Mearns

Image description: BSU President Geoffrey Mearns

President Geoffrey S. Mearns serves as the 17th president of Ball State University. After joining the University in May 2017, President Mearns helped to develop a new strategic plan. Destination 2040: Our Flight Path establishes a long-range vision for the University that sets priorities across five key areas: undergraduate excellence, graduate education and lifetime learning, community engagement and impact, scholarship and societal impact, and institutional and inclusive excellence. During his tenure, President Mearns has pursued initiatives that have produced the largest freshman class in history and increased alumni engagement and fundraising. President Mearns has also strengthened the University’s relationship with the community, most notably through its innovative partnership with Muncie Community Schools.

Dan Ridenour

Image description: Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour

Mayor Dan Ridenour launched his campaign for the office of Muncie Mayor in August of 2018, determined to bring honesty back to Muncie's city government. His campaign team came out swinging, Dan wanted to focus on painting a picture of nurturing the city of Muncie back to health, focusing on infrastructure and effective communication between government, citizens, and law enforcement. His drive to see internal growth in his city and his 34+ years of managerial and finance experience won him the mayoral vote for the 2019 election. He is currently an AVP and works as a Regional Retail Lending Manager at Muncie based MutualBank. Dan also is a very active community volunteer for Muncie and Delaware County.