Thursday 8, 2011
            MARQUETTE, Mich.—The sixth annual UNITED Conference at Northern Michigan University will be held Sunday, Sept. 18-Thursday, Sept. 22. UNITED stands for Uniting Neighbors in the Experience of Diversity. This year’s featured speakers will address broad topics, including the architectural career of Marquette native and NMU alumnus John Lautner, efforts to aid military families, lessons in leadership, turning away from hate—as viewed by a former white supremacist—and eating well.

The conference incorporates seven tracks: art, dance/music, diversity, film, food, research/scholarship and service. For a full schedule, visit www.nmu.edu/united. Featured speakers follow (all of these presentations will be held in the University Center):

            The conference opens with Dutch architects Jan-Richard Kikkert and Tycho Saariste, who will discuss the buildings of NMU alumnus John Lautner at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18. Since 2007, they have been researching Lautner's buildings and developed a course about the architect that included a research trip to Los Angeles with students to view more than 80 Lautner buildings in 10 days.           

Patty Shinseki, a board member of Joining Forces and the Military Child Educational Coalition, will speak about her work with military families at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 19. She is the spouse of retired four-star general Eric Ken Shinseki, who is currently serving as the seventh U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

            Ramsey Jay Jr., author of Weekly Life Lessons in Leadership and adviser to business leaders, will present at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19. He motivates people to transform their dreams into entrepreneurial reality. 

Celebrity chef Michelle Bommarito, who has competed on the Food Network six times, winning gold in 2006, will speak on eating well at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20.

            Tom “TJ” Leyden, who spent 15 years as a neo-Nazi white supremacist activist and recruiter, will present “Turning Away from Hate” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20. Leyden turned his back on the white power movement and started working with the Task Force Against Hate at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He has spoken at the White House and co-authored Skinhead Confessions.