November 6, 2017 – Steve Willich

Steve was raised in a tiny farming community in northeastern Colorado. From a young age, he knew that he was different, and that his difference set him apart from his community. Steve has been serving as the Director for the LGBTQ Student Resource Center on the Auraria campus for seven years now. The Center serves the campus community in various ways, but Steve feels that its most important function is to provide a space where LGBTQ students can build their own community on campus, a place where they feel they belong.

In our discussion, we disagreed on the meaning of the word “community” and debated whether the word itself has been diluted through overuse.


Questions to continue the discussion: 

  1. If you moved to a city or town where you knew no one, how would you find like-minded individuals?
  2. Are there communities you have considered yourself a member of in the past that you no longer feel connected to? If so, why?
  3. Does the word “community” resonate with you? Why or why not?
  4. How do the groups of people you engage with on a regular basis—perhaps co-workers, neighbors, fans of a particular sports team, etc.—deal with difference in the group?

Please continue the conversation, in real life and/or below!  


September 13, 2017 – Nadeen Ibrahim

Nadeen Ibrahim migrated from the Palestinian Territory with her family when she was seven months old, and moved to Colorado in 1997. She was raised in Wiggins, Colorado – a northeastern rural community of less than 1000 individuals. She recently graduated from the University of Colorado Denver, and will begin her graduate studies in Public Policy at the University of Oxford in England this Fall 2017.

Fluent in Arabic and a community organizer for the Muslim community in Colorado, Nadeen actively advocates for Muslim Americans in Colorado, especially resettled refugees. Working with entities like the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Attorney, District of Colorado, Nadeen organizes events and workshops empowering Muslim Americans of their civil rights and personal narratives. She also publishes e-newsletters showcasing the positive engagement of Muslim Americans in their Colorado community through the Colorado Muslim Connection she founded.

She also serves as a commissioner on the Denver Immigrant & Refugee Commission – a team of 20+ commissioners in providing recommendations to the Denver City Mayor on creating a more inclusive, safe environment for Denver’s immigrant and refugee communities – and as an At-large Representative on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Board of Health – a State Governor commissioned board promulgating rules and regulations related to public health.

Nadeen strongly advocates for serving immigrants and refugees in ways that build community through cultural and language preservation and sustainable asset-based community development.

In her talk, Nadeen emphasized that allyship with Muslims is key and that allyship looks different to different communities and even to different members within those communities. It’s important to ask questions rather than to make assumptions and generalizations about how to best serve as an ally and be in solidarity.


Questions to continue the discussion: 

  1. What questions do you still have about Muslims?
  2. What is one small step you can take in your everyday life to correct misperceptions among your friends, family, neighbors, and/or co-workers about Muslims?
  3. After reflecting on Nadeen’s talk and/or exploring some of the resources in the list above: What are you most surprised to learn about Muslims?
  4. What are some ways you could support a Muslim target of bullying or discrimination?

Please continue the conversation, in real life and/or below!  


Supper & Salon – dates, speakers, and topics pre-June 2017

April 5, 2017 – Dr. Andrew Pantos on the semantics of “American”

February 1, 2017 – Dr. Lunden MacDonald on the intersections of personal, community, and national identity

December 1 – Dr. Andy Thangasamy on making sense of the 2016 Presidential election

October 3, 2016 – Dr. Kathryn Young on white-splaining

September 1, 2016 – Dr. Lisa Suter on gendered rhetorics

August 2, 2016 – Tamara Carlson on personal branding and social media

June 2016 – Elizabeth Kleinfeld, Kristen Macintyre, Kelcie Scott, Abby Wright, Lauren Rickel, and Keturah Barchers on envisioning a salon

June 6, 2017: Abry Deshong, Social Entrepreneurship

maiawhistleAbry Deshong is a social scientist and the founder of Maia Whistle, a company that designs functional jewelry to raise awareness for ending sexual assault. Her jewelry is designed to be both functional, acting as a rape whistle, and a conversation starter around the topic of sexual violence. Abry started our discussion by sharing how she got involved preventing domestic/sexual violence. We then transitioned into broader conversation about rape culture and how to combat it.

Social entrepreneurship is taking action to solve social and cultural issues through startup companies and the like.

Learn more about the Maia Whistle at the website or Facebook page.



  • There are several TED Talks on sexual assault. Ione Wells’s talk, “How We Talk about Sexual Assault Online,” is particularly relevant to the focus of Abry’s presentation.
  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network): This national organization hosts programs against sexual violence, works to inform national policy on sexual violence, and helps operate a hotline for survivors and those affected by sexual violence.
  • The Blue Bench: Denver’s support center for survivors and those affected by sexual violence.
  • Forbes’ list of 30 social entrepreneurs making a difference: This list gives a good sense of the breadth of work social entrepreneurs engage in. 
  • Falling Whistles: These whistles are made by a non-profit organization to raise money and awareness for the people of The Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Talking about sexual violence

Below are discussion questions from Abry, most of which we didn’t have time to address. Feel free to use these to start conversations or to dedicate more thought to, and of course, you can post your thoughts here.

  1. If you were wearing the MAIA whistle necklace and you received a compliment, would you feel comfortable starting a conversation about ending sexual assault?
  2. Can you think of any particular group in your community who would not be comfortable sharing about the meaning behind this whistle? Why?
  3. What tools do you personally feel are missing in order for you to feel effective in ending sexual assault in your community?  
  4. For the academics in the room, how have you seen sexuality and sexual violence shifting on campuses as of late?
  5. Do you have any ideas or dreams of creating a social entrepreneurial endeavor? Want to share?
  6. What might be the downfall of a social entrepreneurial approach to changing sexual violence in our culture (versus traditional routes such as social service, advocacy, prevention education)?
  7. Since the recent presidential election, what are some ways that you have taken personal agency / action in ensuring resources and values in your community are in place and in line with your values?

Please continue the conversation, in real life and/or below!  


Five evenings a year, people who likely identify with the glasses-wearing, buck-tooth emoji unite to satiate their appetites for food and knowledge. Clever 17th century French nerds developed the concept of the “salon,” a gathering designed to be both social and philosophical, centered on intelligent and exploratory conversation. Supper & Salon follows this tradition, providing a safe space for nerds to unabashedly engage in academic conversation for fun.