Skip to content
Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.
Event Series Event Series: Reframing the Conversation

Reframing the Conversation: Where Do We Go From Here?

Reframing the Conversation: Where Do We Go From Here?

January 17 @ 12:00 pm 1:00 pm MST

260 Central Campus Drive
Salt Lake City, Utah 84112
+ Google Map
Celebrating 40 Years of MLK Week, Where do we go from here? January 13 -19, 2024

Reframing the Conversation is a monthly series that brings together experts from across the campus and community to spark important conversations around equity, othering, and safety. More than half a century after Dr. King wrote the first draft of his book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, many are still asking the same question. Challenges continue to persist, creating inequity and fueling divisions and conflict. But the University of Utah is committed to answering Dr. King’s critical question with actions that reinforce and deepen our connections—building a campus community where everyone knows they belong. In alignment with this year’s MLK Week theme, at the January installment of the Reframing the Conversation series, panelists will discuss what may be next in the ongoing fight for civil rights in Utah and across the country.

Reframing the Conversation is a monthly hybrid series. Attendees can join in person at the Hinckley Caucus Room (GC 2018) or virtually on the Reframing the Conversation webpage.

ASL interpretation will be provided and auto-captions will be available. All requests for event access support and other questions or concerns may be directed to


portrait of Emma E. Houston

Emma E. Houston

Assistant Vice President for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion
The University of Utah


Emma E. Houston brings significant experience in working with teams to create inclusive spaces and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion to create a positive impact across the community. She is a longtime community advocate and volunteer who serves on several boards and commissions. AVP Houston is the former diversity & inclusion director for Salt Lake County Government, the former chair of the Utah MLK Jr. Human Rights Commission, and a member of the Utah COVID-19 Task Force. She was honored with a 2022 Individual Human Rights Day Award by the Human Rights Commission and Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office in December 2022.

Eden Cortes-Lopez smiles while wearing a suit and tie

Edén Cortés-López

Director of Research and Climate; Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion
The University of Utah


Dr. Edén Cortés-López is the director of research and climate in the division of Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (EDI) at the University of Utah—and an Assistant Professor (clinical) in the Department of Education, Leadership, & Policy (ELP) in the College of Education. His work examines the institutional barriers that influence college student departure and affect college access for students of color. He brings more than a decade of experience in higher education to his research and practice, including his previous position with the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE). As a special projects coordinator at USHE, Cortés-López oversaw the state-wide transfer site, Senate Bill 196 (Concurrent Enrollment QL Mathematic Competency Initiative), and provided expertise on transfer-related policies and initiatives. He is the author of several research papers focused on transfer students’ experiences, national reverse credit transfer initiatives, and equity assessment—as well as access to higher education for incarcerated persons.

Iradukunda Esperance smiles with her arms crossed in front of her chest

Iradukunda Esperance

Undergraduate Student
The University of Utah


Iradukunda is a 4th-year student double-majoring in Political Science and Gender Studies. While at the U, she has participated in Operation SUCCESS, served as a School for Cultural and Social Transformation Student Ambassador, and worked on the groundbreaking Dignity Index coding team. Iradukunda plans to become a civil rights attorney where she can advocate for marginalized communities, challenge systemic injustices, and work towards a more equitable and inclusive society.

Byron Russell smiles in a suit and tie

Byron Russell

Byron Russell LLC and Byron Russell Venture Partners


Byron founded Byron Russell LLC and Byron Russell Venture Partners following years of experience in academics, national and international politics, journalism, fundraising, banking, higher education, public relations, philanthropy and social advocacy and enterprise.

Utah became home in 1992 at the Utah Symphony in Development while launching the Zoo Arts and Park Parks campaign. Then after working as Vice President for Zions Bank, Byron was a Zions Bank loaned executive to the Salt Lake Chamber, creating new programs and planning the Salt Lake Cultural District. Following Vice President of Development at Western Governors University, Byron established BR LLC and BRVP. 

Byron served on boards and commissions such Co-Chairing the Utah Multicultural Commission, Co-Chair of the Utah Multicultural Committee to the COVID-19 Response, Chair of PBS Utah, Utah Symphony and Opera, ZAP Tier I, Encircle, and of course Westminster. Currently, Byron is President of the Alta Club, Chairs the Governors Mansion Foundation, Co-Chairs the Christian Center of Park City National Advisory Board, is on the Salt Lake Education Foundation and the Utah Economic Opportunity Commission’s Growth and Transportation Committee. 

Recently, Byron has engaged with the establishment of Redemption Bank and will serve on the board upon its creation. Utah’s Redemption Bank will be the only MDI (Minority Depository Institution) between Los Angeles and the Mississippi.

Eddy Thompson Jr smiles in an Under Armor University of Utah Athletics jacket

Eddy Thompson Jr.

Global Trade Compliance, L3Harris
Utah MLK Human Rights Commission
Utah Alumni Board of Governors


Eddy Thompson Jr (he/him) is a graduate of the University of Utah – Class of 2004, and has worked 18 years at L3Harris Technologies.
He serves as the Western Region Director for L3Harris Employees of African Descent (LEAD) employee resource group at L3Harris.

Eddy is passionate about his community, serving as an advisor on the Utah Martin Luther King Human Rights Commission, as a member of the France A. Davis Scholarship Foundation, and with the University of Utah Alumni Board of Governors. Eddy works tirelessly to unite his community, building bridges, educating through bookclubs community volunteering opportunities through (LEAD), advocacy, directing Black History Programs, and providing opportunities for our youth! Eddy is the son of Ed Thompson Sr, and former Education specialist Dr. Jackie Thompson. He is husband to Carmen Thompson, and father of Serenity, Taj, and Evangelyne Thompson.