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Speakers for the NASW - Alabama Chapter Annual Conference:

Keynote Speakers Biography

Jeremiah Castille
Jeremiah Castille

Jeremiah Castille, born to Joseph and Mary Castille in Columbus, Georgia is the 8th of 9 children.  Growing up with older siblings gave Jeremiah the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and gave him the ability to recognize how to make the right decisions with his life at a very early age. In 1979, Jeremiah received a football scholarship to the University of Alabama.  God used the mentorship of Coach Bryant to help him grow from being an 18-year-old boy into a 22-year-old young man.  Coach Bryant who instilled courage, discipline, vision, leadership, character, class and humility in midst of success tremendously impacted his life.  

In the 1983 NFL Draft, Jeremiah was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the dream he had shared with Sister Veronica had come true. Jeremiah’s first year in the NFL allowed him to go back to the University of Alabama and finish his undergraduate degree in Broadcast Communications. Jeremiah says that when he looks back on his life, he can see how God prepared him for the ministry work he does today.  He knows that God used his mother and Coach Bryant to influence his life to help his fellow man. In 1995, Jeremiah moved to Birmingham to coach and teach at Briarwood Christian High School. The experience God gave him coaching and teaching helped prepare him for his ongoing ministry.

In 1999, Jeremiah was ordained as a minister at The Church at Brook Hills and he and Jean founded Jeremiah Castille Foundation with Isaiah 61:1-4 as the foundational scripture.  In 2001, Jeremiah became the chaplain for the University of Alabama football team and continues to serve in that capacity today. Jeremiah feels privileged and honored to serve the team and coaches at his alma mater, and where the dreams of a second grader came to fruition.   

Bennet Wright
Bennet Wright

Bennet Wright serves as the Executive Director of the Alabama Sentencing Commission and is also the Vice President of the National Association of Sentencing Commissions. Mr. Wright also serves as the Commission's liaison to the Alabama Legislature and chairs the Commission’s Standards Committee tasked with developing the state’s sentencing guidelines. Mr. Wright was a member of the Alabama Prison Reform Task Force and now sits on the Alabama Criminal Justice Oversight and Implementation Council to monitor implementation of the omnibus Justice Reinvestment legislation aimed to reduce Alabama’s prison population while improving community based supervision and treatment options.

Prior to joining the Commission, Mr. Wright worked for the federal judiciary at the United States Administrative Office of Courts in Washington, D.C. and before that taught courses including Statistics, Sociology, Criminology, and Deviance at Auburn University. Mr. Wright received his undergraduate degree in criminology and his graduate degree in sociology. Mr. Wright is a native of the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana.

 Judge McPherson
Vanzetta Penn McPherson

 

Vanzetta Penn McPherson devoted a 30-year career as a civil rights lawyer and a federal magistrate judge to the passionate pursuit of equal justice for all. Retirement ushered in her avocation, now spanning a decade, as a widely acclaimed columnist for The Montgomery Advertiser, writing bi-weekly commentary on public affairs with the same intellectual vigor, mastery of language, and analytical prowess that marked her legal career. After spending a year at a Wall Street law firm, Judge McPherson returned to Montgomery in 1975 to become an Assistant Attorney General.

During the course of 16 years in solo law practice, Attorney McPherson honed her expertise in domestic relations law, but she spent the majority of her time in federal court, helping clients to secure rights and remedies guaranteed by the Constitution and federal anti-discrimination laws. As a respected civil rights lawyer, she battled employment discrimination in public and private workplaces. In 1992, McPherson earned her own promotion with a merit-based appointment as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Middle District of Alabama. She served with distinction for 14 years, presiding over criminal and civil cases, including a nationally publicized challenge to the continued use of outdoor hitching posts as punishment for Alabama prisoners.

Judge McPherson has also led an active civic life, participating in the inaugural class of Leadership Montgomery, the 20th class of Leadership Alabama, and the boards of directors for the Alabama State Council on the Arts, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Alabama Educational Television Foundation Authority, Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Alabama World Affairs Council. She has received numerous professional and civic awards, and she is a life member of the NAACP and the National Council of Negro Women.

Shante Miller

Shante Miller

Shante Miller is the Region IV Regional Resource Consultant at the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health in Atlanta, GA. She has been working with community based AIDS Service Organizations in Philadelphia for the past seven years. Shante’s experiences include the study of and creation of educational tools that teach HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and overcoming stigma. She also has worked on the development of digital health and digital literacy curriculum for community members in the City of Philadelphia. Shante specializes in instructional technology, and bridging the digital divide in urban communities. Shante is proud to have been able to work on the ground with Philly KEYSPOTS to educate both youth and adults about utilizing technology as a resource for finding reliable health information. Shante holds a M.A. in Humanities and a B.A. in Communications from Pennsylvania State University.

Tina Reuter headshot 

Tina Reuter

Dr. Tina Kempin Reuter is the Director of the Institute for Human Rights and Associate Professor in the Departments of Government and Anthropology, specializing in human rights, peace studies, and international politics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Her research focuses on human rights with a particular emphasis on the struggle of vulnerable and marginalized populations, including minorities, persons with disabilities, refugees and migrants, women, children, the LGBTQ community, and people dealing with the consequences of poverty. She is also an expert on ethnic conflict and peace making with a geographical focus on Europe and the Middle East.

Before joining UAB, Dr. Reuter was the Director of the Reiff Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution and Associate Professor of international and comparative politics at Christopher Newport University. She was formerly associated with the Solomon Asch Center for the Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict, University of Pennsylvania, the Institute of Public International Law at the University of Zurich and the Center for Security Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.  

Dr. Kempin Reuter holds a Ph.D. in International Relations and International Law and an M.A. in Contemporary History, Economics, and International Law from the University of Zurich, Switzerland. She is the author of numerous publications in her field and has been awarded multiple prizes and grants to expand her research and teaching.