Sam Rasoul represents the Eleventh District in the General Assembly House of Delegates and has won The Roanoker magazine’s Platinum Award for “Government Person Who Gets It” for the past two years. After receiving his BBA from Roanoke College and MA in International Business from Hawaii Pacific University, he became a small business owner and later the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of a non-profit healthcare firm. Sam channeled his passion for healthcare reform into finding more compassionate ways to care for our seniors and helping with maternal and child health in East Africa. Delegate Rasoul helped organize a #RealRoanoke rally to demonstrate to residents and beyond that Roanoke is a welcoming city that celebrates diversity. The #RealRoanoke movement continues with multicultural events in the region such as Taste of Culture and Local Colors. Sam also currently has his own small business that helps organizations become more successful through developing better business plans and through investing in their employees.
Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson is author of The Warmth of Other Suns, the New York Times bestseller that tells the true story of three people who made the decision of their lives during the Great Migration, a watershed in American history. The book won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Award for Nonfiction, the Lynton History Prize from Harvard and Columbia universities, the Stephen Ambrose Oral History Prize and was shortlisted for both the Pen-Galbraith Literary Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Wilkerson spent 15 years working on The Warmth of Other Suns, interviewing more than 1,200 people to tell what she calls one of the greatest under-reported stories of the 20th Century. A gifted storyteller, Wilkerson captivates audiences with the universal human story of migration and reinvention, and examines what we can glean from the Great Migration to better inform present-day racial issues. In her lectures she expertly explores the need for a modern reconstruction to help reconcile America’s troubled racial past—an idea she recently expressed in a widely-shared New York Times op-ed. Wilkerson won the Pulitzer Prize for her work as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times in 1994, making her the first black woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first African-American to win for individual reporting in the history of American journalism. She has lectured on narrative writing at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University and has served as professor of journalism at Princeton University, Emory University and Boston University. Her work has garnered seven honorary degrees, most recently from Bates College and Southern Methodist University. She has appeared on national programs such as CBS’s 60 Minutes, PBS’s Charlie Rose, NPR’s Fresh Air, NBC’s Nightly News, MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, and others.