Debra Marquart is a professor of English at Iowa State University.She teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment at Iowa State University and the Stonecoast Low-Residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. Marquart's work has appeared in numerous journals such as The North American Review, Three Penny Review, New Letters, River City, Crab Orchard Review, Cumberland Poetry Review, The Sun Magazine, Southern Poetry Review, Orion, Mid-American Review and Witness. Her memoir, The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere, was published by Counterpoint Books in 2006. It received the “Elle Lettres” award from Elle Magazine and the 2007 PEN USA Creative Nonfiction Award. Marquart also performs with a jazz-poetry rhythm & blues project, The Bone People, with whom she has released two CDs: Orange Parade (acoustic rock), and A Regular Dervish (jazz-poetry).
List of 2009 speakers.
Representative Kevin Killer is a rising star in South Dakota politics. A Native American Leadership Program alum and trainer, Kevin Killer took time off from college in Colorado to work as a field organizer at the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota for Senator Tom Daschle's 2004 re-election campaign. That year, he helped raise voter turnout by 50 percent on the reservation. Instead of returning to Colorado, Kevin transferred to the local tribal college to mobilize the students there. Since then, Kevin has brought Campus Camp Wellstone to the Oglala Lakota colleges, and voter registration among Oglala Lakota tribal college students has increased 15 percent. His impressive track record won him a senior fellowship with the leadership program Young People For (YP4). As part of this fellowship, he helped launch Wellstone Action's National Native American Leadership Program. Additionally, Killer has served as Student Senate President for Oglala Lakota College and Wakpamni District Treasurer. In 2009, Kevin became state representative for District 27 in the South Dakota House. His platform included working toward a living wage, improving education, and bringing green jobs to South Dakota by tapping into its remarkable wind power. Given his demonstrated passion for his community and impressive leadership record, his potential as a force for change in South Dakota politics is huge.
Victor Vasquez was appointed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development on May 13, 2009. Vasquez has had more than two decades of experience in government and private sector in community and economic development at the local, state, federal and international levels. Most recently, Vasquez served as Deputy Assistant Commissioner for the Department of Transitional Assistance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition to Massachusetts, he has worked in state governments in New York, Oregon and Washington. Vasquez received his Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Oregon and holds an MPA from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has also pursued coursework toward a Ph.D. in Community and Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University.
John Holzhauer is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in Biological Aspects of Conservation. He will be graduating in December 2010 and hopes to enter the Rural Medicine Program at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. He has lived in Wisconsin all his life and enjoyed a mixed experience of rural and urban perspectives. He calls home the Kickapoo River Valley in the "Driftless" area of southwestern Wisconsin. It is unique in its geography in that glaciers never flattened the landscape of hills, bluffs and valleys.
Jonathan Beutler is a program associate at Renewing the Countryside and a vocal advocate for rural youth. He was an associate editor of Youth: Renewing the Countryside – a showcasing of fifty young leaders; farmers, artists, activists, entrepreneurs, and environmentalists working revitalize their rural communities. Growing up in northern Wisconsin familiarized him firsthand with the issues facing rural youth, and the factors that are driving young people to leave the communities where they were raised. Jonathan has a B.S. in Environmental Policy from the University of Minnesota and works on youth outreach projects for Renewing the Countryside, MOSES, the Women’s Environmental Institute, and the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota.
Joshua Preston is from Montevideo, Minnesota, and is currently a junior at the University of Minnesota–Morris, where he is studying Political Theory and Economics. Besides being involved in both state and local politics as a grassroots organizer for the Democratic Party, Joshua is also on the Board of Directors for Clean Up the River Environment, a western Minnesota environmental advocacy organization. In his spare time he enjoys reading and writing poetry about growing up on the prairie.
Julia Soap works at the Potawatomi Community Health Clinic and is a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation in Mayetta, Kansas. She is also affiliated with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and Kansas Kickapoo. She graduated from the University of Arizona in 2008 with a degree in Molecular and Cellular biology and minors in Chemistry and American Indian Studies. She worked with the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas in a small border-town and noticed the health clinic located on the reservation was not meeting the needs of tribal citizens. She moved back to Kansas with the goal of pursuing a joint M.D./MPH program. She hopes to practice as a physician and also help tribes restructure their health care systems to better meet the needs of their citizens.
Sarah Cline is an AmeriCorps*VISTA at Rural Dynamics, Inc., in Great Falls, Montana, where she works on asset development and policy with the Northern Plains Initiative. Her projects have included helping launch the statewide asset building coalition BEST Montana: Building Economic Strength Together; organizing rural, urban Indian, and reservation policy roundtables; and researching and writing reports and recommendations for the Northern Great Plains. After serving another year, she hopes to pursue an M.A. in Geography, with a focus on Rural Community and Environmental Planning, at the University of Montana.