The Trotter Distinguished Leadership Series is a student-centered program that promotes civic engagement throughout U-M by inviting speakers from the political and public service sectors of national and international note.
This session will feature panelists who will discuss the different perspectives of U.S. Immigration, their journey, and resources.
Dr. Silvia Pedraza (Professor of Sociology and American Culture at the University of Michigan) - She was born and raised in Cuba, from where she immigrated with her family at the age of 12. Her research interests include the sociology of immigration, race, and ethnicity in America, and the sociology of Cuba's revolution and exodus. Her work seeks to understand the causes and consequences of immigration as a historical process that forms and transforms persons and nations; as well as social revolutions’ rupture with the past and attempt to create a different present. With a B. A. and M. A. from the University of Michigan, Silvia Pedraza has long been a Wolverine. She holds a Ph. D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago, where she specialized in Demography as well as Stratification, and in Latin American Studies.
Rebeca Ontiveros-Chavez (Managing Attorney at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center’s) - She serves children who entered the United States and are detained in federal custody in facilities contracted by the Office of Refugee Resettlement and children who have been released to sponsors in Michigan. She has also represented individuals in the metro Detroit area on a variety of immigration matters. In 2019, she was appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court to the Foreign Language Board of Review as the Limited English Proficiency Populations Advocate. She is the co-founder of the Immigrant Justice Lab, an interdisciplinary lab that brings students together from different disciplines at the University of Michigan and MIRC attorneys to work on various projects that advance client needs and improve legal services. She also advocates for equity as a member of the Michigan Advocacy Program’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Melanie Grund (Senior Advisor on Immigrant Affairs, Food Security, and Housing for the Oakland Executive) - She is the founder of GCB Global Strategies, a global entrepreneur specializing in strategic planning and project management for non-profit organizations as well as political mentoring for foreign-born populations in southeast Michigan. As a young peace activist, she worked with children from both sides of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. She went on to work for Congressman Sander Levin and built a comprehensive outreach plan for the wide variety of foreign-born populations in his district, particularly on refugee issues and resettlement. She left government work in January 2015 to start GCB with the mission of “leaving the world better than she found it.” Currently, Melanie serves as the Senior Advisor on Immigrant Affairs, Food Security, and Housing for the Oakland Executive. She is a Core Member of the Southeast Michigan Regional Refugee Resettlement Collaborative and co-chairs the housing sub-group. In December 2023, she will graduate from the Ford School with her Master of Public Affairs where she focuses on immigration policy and food systems change.