Transatlantic Conversation


Macarena Hernandez
Macarena Hernández is a journalist and educator. She’s covered U.S. Latino issues such as immigration and education extensively.

Her work has been published in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Latina, and many other publications throughout the United States. Her essays and columns have been anthologized in both college and high school textbooks.  Her video work has been featured on Frontline/PBS and numerous media websites.

Kübra Gümüsay
Kübra Gümüsay is the first hijabi professional columnist in Germany, in 2011 she was listed as the Top 30 Journalists under 30 and her blog "Ein Fremdwörterbuch" was nominated for the Grimme Online Award - the most prestigious award for online journalism. This year she was also listed as one of the Top 50 German-Turks by the Ministry for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (Turkey), the book portraying the Top 50 Turks “50 Yil 50 Insan” was published in July 2012.
As a freelance journalist she works for media outlets such as Die Tageszeitung (Taz) and Die Zeit, a renowned weekly newspaper, reporting from Egypt, Turkey, UK and Germany. Besides her work as a journalist, she is also involved in different communities to empower young immigrants as a role model and mentor. In 2010 she has co-founded Zahnräder Network, a network of young and successful Muslim academics, social entrepreneurs, media personalities and artists that has earned several awards for its innovative and sustainable work.
Kübra is also a public speaker, having spoken at several respected institutions and is now based in Oxford, where she is working on a couple of projects, such as a Graphic Novel and the Hijabi Monologues in Germany.

Nelly Rosario
Nelly Rosario was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Brooklyn, New York.  She received a BA in engineering from MIT and an MFA from Columbia University, where she currently is an Adjunct Professor. 

She has received numerous awards, including a 1999 Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Fellowship, The Bronx Writers' Center Van Lier Literary Fellowship for 1999-2000, two National Arts Club Writing Fellowships, the 1997 Hurston/Wright Award in Fiction, and the 1988 National Teachers in English Writing Award.  She was named “Writer on the Verge” by the Village Voice Literary Supplement in 2001.  Her debut novel Song of the Water Saints, which traces the lives of three generations of Dominican women, won a PEN Open Book Award in 2002. 

She is currently at work on her second novel.

Diana Lopez
Diana López is the author of the adult novella, Sofia’s Saints and the middle grade novels,Confetti Girl and Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel (to be released in 2013).   Her new young adult novel, CHOKE, will be published by Scholastic in July 2012.  She is also featured in the anthologies Hecho en Tejas andYou Don't Have a Clue. She has been a guest on NPR’s Latino USA and is the winner of the 2004 Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Award and the 2012William Allen White Award. Diana teaches English and works with the organization, CentroVictoria, at the University of Houston Victoria.

Nellie Ugarte
Nellie Ugarte was born in Juarez, Chihuahua, but was raised in El Paso, Texas from an early age.  She has been teaching Language Arts for 24 years in El Paso.  She is a fellow from the West Texas Writing Project where she has been involved in several projects, such as directing the New Teacher Institute and conducting staff development for El Paso English teachers.  Currently she works at Mission Early College as the Instructional Curriculum Coach and teaches Research Writing and Analyzing Literature at El Paso Community College.  She also works at UTEP with the Educational Talent Search addressing the needs of students from the underprivileged areas of El Paso.

Eric Ellman
Eric Ellman has been a U.S.-Mexico Border based community organizer for over 20 years.  In 1998, with  funding from the North American Fund for Economic Cooperation he built a demonstration alternative wastewater treatment system in Naco, Arizona that gave birth to a crafts industry headquartered across the border in the Agua Prieta, Sonora jail.  Prisoners who’d done their time but lacked funds to pay their fines earned enough money from the sale of bird feeders made from wastewater-grown gourds to buy their freedom. 

In 2000 the Rensselaerville Institute recruited him to identify appropriate candidates among hundreds of Hidalgo County, Texas colonias to lead neighborhood-based construction of first-time water and wastewater services to their homes.  The first threshold to investment required the community to write a collective letter evaluating their need, documenting resources (residents who owned tools and a backhoe, friends who operated pipe yards, etc.), committing to future service payments and creating a community-managed fund to accept contributions beginning with the resident’s own.  By coaching residents to couch their projects as success stories in the making, over $400,000 in outside funds were raised, resulting in 200 homes connected with sanitary service.

Los Caminos del Rio hired Eric in 2006 to resuscitate the organization’s mission to create the nation’s first bi-national National Heritage Area and to incorporate economic development into their cultural heritage agenda.   Pairing up under-utilized resources (e.g., the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo for paddling, unique biota and the nation’s greatest avian biodiversity for bird watching), Los Caminos projects including the first binational canoe and kayak races on the Rio Grande and the “Outasight Song Birders Tournament” for the blind) made headlines in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN and others.
As Executive Director and Chair of North American Operations for the Big River Foundation, he prompts residents and other non-profits to appreciate, use and take better care of Laredo’s under-appreciated riparian resources.  Working with select teachers and special needs populations he organizes projects  that expand the collective imagination of what individuals can help make possible for Laredo.

Rene Perez
Rene S. Perez II was born in Kingsville, Texas, and raised in Corpus Christi. He received a BA from the University of Texas and an MFA from Texas State University. He is the winner of the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation Award. His first book, a collection of short stories entitled Along These Highways was published in February by University of Arizona Press as part of their Camino del Sol imprint. He is a lecturer of English at the University of Houston Victoria.

Riem Spielhaus
Riem Spielhaus is research fellow at the Erlangen Centre for Islam and Law in Europe of the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. Previously she has been working at the Center for Islamic Thought, University of Copenhagen and for the Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and
Integration of the German Federal Government. Spielhaus was a member of several working groups, which were set up by the German government, local administrations and civic organizations to negotiate with representatives of the Muslim population like the first “German Islam Conference”
(2006-2009). Her main area of research is Muslim minority studies with a focus on production and dissemination of Islamic knowledge, identity politics, institutionalization of Islam, and religious practice of Muslims in Europe. Recently her interest in the formation and configuration of knowledge on Muslims within academia is growing. Her dissertation “Who is a Muslim anyway? The emergence of a Muslim consciousness in Germany between ascription and self-identification” was rewarded the Augsburg
Science Award for Intercultural Studies 2010.

Delancey Gustin
Delancey Gustin is a Policy Analyst with the USCIS Office of Citizenship, responsible for research and analysis of naturalization trends and coordination with international partners on integration issues. Prior to joining the Office of Citizenship, Ms. Gustin was a Program Associate with the Immigration and Integration Program of the German Marshall Fund (GMF) of the United States .  During her three years at GMF, she was the Project Manager of the Transatlantic Trends: Immigration (TTI) survey, a large-scale poll of Americans, Canadians, and Europeans on issues related to migration, such as perceptions of immigrant groups and preferences for national immigration policies. She also helped to organize the Transatlantic Forum on Migration and Integration for young leaders, which was held in Nuremburg , Germany (2008), Austin/San Antonio, Texas (2009), and Izmir , Turkey (2010), as well as several other migration-related events in Washington , DC . She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Columbia University.

Sven Speer
Sven Speer is the founding Chairman of the Forum Open Religious Policy, an
advocacy network campaigning for the opening of the state for all religions
and secular outlooks. He is scientific staff member at the German Bundestag
focusing on integration and Islam. He has worked at the Institute for
Migration Research and Intercultural Studies at the University of Osnabrueck
and the Cluster of Excellence ‘Religion and Politics’ at the University of
Muenster. He was fellow with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom
and with the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Washington, D.C.

Czarina Wilpert
Czarina Wilpert originates from Los Angeles, California .A resident of  Berlin, Germany , Wilpert is a sociologist attached to the Berlin University of  Technology (Technische Universität Berlin., Centre for Technology and Society.    Wilpert has been actively involved in interdisciplinary research on a national and international level over twenty-five years.
Dr.Wilpert coordinated a 12 country interdisciplinary study of the European Science Foundation on “The Cultural Identity of the Second-Generation”.  Wilpert has focused on issues of citizenship, racism and institutional discrimination, inter-ethnic relations and social and ethnic identity alternatives amongst the descendants of immigrants. Earlier research studied the social organisation of the Turkish migration to Germany, educational and occupational aspirations of the descendants of migrant workers, gender specific issues facing women immigrants and their descendants in education, occupational training, labour market participation and self-employment.
Dr. Wilpert was responsible for a study completed in 2010 funded by the EU  on, Gender, Race and Citizenship“. Which addressed the implementation of the Anti-discrimination Legislation in 6 European countries  with respect to the Intersectionality  of gender and  racialised / ethnicised discrimination  in Germany. In addition to Germany research teams participated from Bulgaria, England, France, Sweden und Spain..
Czarina Wilpert  is also  co-founder and board member of the  Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen (ISI) an educational center that exists since 1991 for immigrant women of  all ethnic/ national backgrounds   Dr. Wilpert is also co-founder (1996) and  chair of  the board  „Eine Welt der Vielfalt“ Berlin e.V., a diversity and anti-bias consulting and educational program.