The mission of the Al Filipov Peace & Justice Forum is to promote peace and justice among all people and to demonstrate the power of an individual to make a positive difference in the world. Held annually in September, the Forum invites a distinguished individual to speak about his or her work and vision.

Speakers are drawn from a variety of backgrounds and faith traditions, but all share the commitment of a life actively engaged for a more peaceful and equitable world. The Forum’s goals are to challenge and engage the audience, to deepen the understanding of the issues, and to encourage listeners to work for social justice in their own lives, their communities, and in the world. 


Past Speaker Profiles
in reverse chronological order

Rev June Cooper

2020 Reverend June R. Cooper: Good Troublemakers Needed - through the mass protests following the police killing of George Floyd, many Americans experienced an awakening to long existing, systemic injustice. The Black Lives Matter demonstrations and demands for change, in tandem with the stark racial and socioeconomic inequalities spotlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, has sparked difficult conversations and inspired many to reckon with our nation's festering inequities. Reverend Cooper shared details from her life on the front lines and how we can support the larger goals of social and racial justice in America.


Lois Gibbs

2019 Lois Gibbs: Environmental Justice Pioneer & Icon - in 1978, as a young mother in Niagara Falls, she led the grassroots fight for justice at Love Canal, resulting in the evacuation of over 800 families and the creation of the first EPA Superfund site. Since then she has worked tirelessly to train and support local activists of environmental causes around the nation. She is currently the Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice in Washington, D.C.


Breaking barriers to youth success

2018 UTEC:Breaking Barriers to Youth Success - UTEC works with young adults (ages 17-25) from Lowell, Lawrence, and Haverhill to reduce recidivism, increase educational attainment, and increase employability. Their mission and promise is to ignite and nurture the ambition of proven-risk young people to trade violence and poverty for social and economic success.


Michael Murphy, MASS Design Group

2017 Michael Murphy, Design That Heals - architect, co-founder, executive director of MASS Design Group, whose mission is to research, build, and advocate for architecture that promotes justice and human dignity. MASS collaborates with communities to design buildings that serve and improve people's lives in measurable ways, advocates to advance a movement that demands more from architecture, does research to investigate how architecture affects lives, and promotes local training to empower emerging leaders with our methodology. Among their most noted collaborations is the recently opened National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL.


The Parents Circle

2016 The Parents Circle-Families Forum - Palestinian Bassam Aramin and Israeli Robi Damelin have both lost immediate family members due to the Arab-Irsraeli conflict and their joint presentation promotes education, public awareness, and advocacy to foster humanization and empathy between groups in protracted conflict, planting seeds of peace by listening to and understanding one another, person-to-person.



2015 Malika Saada Saar - co-founder and Executive Director of the Human Rights Project for Girls (Rights4Girls), a human rights lawyer and advocate leading efforts in the U.S. to shut down the trafficking of children for sex, ending the federal practice of shackling pregnant mothers behind bars in U.S. prisons, and securing millions of dollars in federal funding for treatment services for at-risk families. Newsweek named Malika as one of "150 Women Who Shake the World".



2014 Dr. James O'Connell - Founder & President of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP), Dr. O'Connell is a tireless advocate for dignified, compassionate, and skilled health care for people experiencing homelessness, delivering skilled medical care with a respectful touch for current and former street dwellers at the only clinic of its kind in the country. He also tends to patients down alleyways, on hospital wards, in apartments, and at the organization's health center in Boston's South End.



2013 Margaret Regan - journalist and author of The Death of Josseline:  Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands.  Having witnessed the many sides of human migration through the Arizona-Sonora region, Ms. Regan put a human face on the tragedy of migrant deaths in the Arizona wilderness, within the context of economic, political, and historical factors that have impacted our border policy with Mexico.



2012 John Hockenberry - journalist and advocate, host of the nationally syndicated radio news program The Takeaway. A paraplegic since an auto accident at age 19, Hockenberry's most recent book is the memoir, Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs and Declarations of Independence, and he spoke about the specific complexities, challenges, and rewards of his career as a journalist traveling around the world.


 2011 The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr. - founder, Healing of the Nations Foundation. As Senior Pastor of The Riverside Church (1989-2007) and a key figure in wide-reaching interfaith efforts across the city, Dr. Forbes has ministered for many years to the people of New York. He offered an insightful perspective on the events of September 11, 2001, and their continued impact on the city, nation, and world over the past decade.


2010 Rye Barcott - co-founder Carolina for Kibera, author of It Happened On the Way to War: A Marine's Path to Peace. CFK works to prevent ethnic and gender violence and promote healthcare and youth employment through sustainable development in Kibera, one of Africa’s largest slums. CFK was founded on the belief that with the right kind of support people in desperate places can take control of their lives and create breathtaking change.


2009 Jessica Jackley - co-founder of Kiva.org, the world’s first peer-to-peer online micro-lending website. Worldwide in scope, Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. Since its founding in 2005, Kiva has facilitated $315 million in loans with a 98.95% payback rate.


2008 James Yee - author of For God and Country. West Point graduate, Captain Yee served as Muslim chaplain at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, where he was falsely accused of espionage and aiding alleged Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisoners in 2003. Chaplain Yee spoke of his imprisonment, Guantanamo, Islam, and the challenges of protecting both national security and civil liberties.


2007 Jack DuVall - President and founding Director of the International Center on Non-violent Conflict, and Executive Producer of A Force More Powerful. In the face of global problems that defy traditional ideas about conflict and power, Mr. DuVall discussed new strategies for non-violent action that are being used to achieve democratic self-rule and human rights.


2006 Jessica Stern - author of Terror in the Name of God, Why Religious Militants Kill. Probing the roots of faith-based militancy spreading throughout the world, Dr. Stern provided insight into the origins of religious extremism and the underlying similarities that characterize them, while exploring how U.S. military action may adversely serve to catalyze groups that, despite conflicting agendas, unite in a common fight against globalization and Western culture.


2005 David Smock - Director, United States Institute of Peace, an independent, nonpartisan, national institution established in 1984 and funded by Congress. The USIP’s mission is to prevent and resolve violent international conflicts, promote post-conflict stability and development, and increase conflict management capacity, tools, and intellectual capital worldwide. The USIP empowers others with knowledge, skills, and resources to promote peace and engages directly in peacebuilding efforts around the globe.


2004 Loung Ung - author of First They Killed My Father. Cambodian born, Ms. Ung is the national spokesperson for the Campaign for a Landmine Free World. She described her compelling personal experiences during the Khmer Rouge genocide and the aftermath of war, and her current mission to rid her homeland and the world of landmines.


2003 Jim Wallis - author of Faith Works and God’s Politics, founder of Sojourners magazine, international commentator on ethics in public life. A life-long activist, Rev. Wallis has been a catalyst for social change focusing on the intersection of faith, politics and culture. He founded “Call to Renewal,” a national federation of churches and faith-based organizations dedicated to overcoming poverty, dismantling racism, affirming life, and rebuilding family and community. Now one organization, Call to Renewal and Sojourners seek ways to put faith to work for justice.


2002 Paul Loeb - author of Soul of a Citizen, Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time. A champion of citizen responsibility and empowerment, Paul Loeb spoke of the power of an individual to make a difference in his or her community. His book is regarded as the how-to guide for social activism.



Photo Credit: Richard Pasley