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Meet our 2016 National Dialogue Award Winners

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court Don J. Williams, St. Olaf College, Class of 2018 Bre Swims, Alumna, The University of Alabama

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court

Ruth was born in Brooklyn, New York, March 15, 1933. She married Martin D. Ginsburg in 1954, and has a daughter, Jane, and a son, James. She received her B.A. from Cornell University, attended Harvard Law School, and received her LL.B. form Columbia Law School. She served as a law clerk to the Honorable Edmund L. Palmieri, Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, from 1959-1961. From 1961-1963, she was a research associate and then associate director of the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure. She was a Professor of Law from 1963-1972, and Columbia Law School from 1972-1980, and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California from 1977-1978.

In 1971, she co-founded the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, and served as the ACLU’s General Counsel . from 1973-1980, and on the National Board of Directors form 1974-1980. She served on the Board and Executive Committee of the American Bar Foundation from 1979-1989, on the Board of Editors of the American Bar Association Journal from 1972-1978, and on the Council of the American Law Institute from 1978-1993. She was appointed a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980. President Clinton nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and she took her seat August 10, 1993.


Don J. WilliamsSt. Olaf  College, Class of 2018

Majors: Dance, Women’s and Gender Studies

Don J. Williams, born March 8, 1996, is a Dance and Women’s and Gender Studies double major at St. Olaf College. Williams was one of the first Sustained Dialogue moderators at St. Olaf. After being exposed to the Sustained Dialogue program, dialogue has become an intricate aspect not only in his professional life, but also in his personal life. Williams noticed the transparency of intersectionality in his community at St. Olaf; with the urge to have more intersectional, inclusive campus he challenged his fellow peers, faculty, and staff to dialogue about what he believes is the root of understanding identities: stereotypes.

As a result, he created St. Olaf’s first De-Stereotype Me Day, bringing the community together to share their experiences with stereotypes. Williams powerfully expressed a vision of a diverse yet unified community through a short documentary that featured how stereotypes impacted students’ identities. As Co- President of the Diversity Awareness House, Student Co- Coordinator of Sustained Dialogue, and Class Assistant for the Dance Department, he uses these spaces to continue the efforts of valuing the difference of identities that allow for a more inclusive community. Don was nominated by Sindy Fleming, the Director of St. Olaf’s Center for Multicultural and International Engagement, Dan Hofrenning, Political Science professor, and Director of the Institute for Freedom & Community, and Joshua Lee, Assistant Director of Residence Life.


Bre Swims, Alumna, The University of Alabama

Bre Swims, originally from Woodstock, Georgia, is a longtime participant and advocate of Sustained Dialogue. After being introduced to the program as a freshman at the University of Alabama, she quickly moved from a participant to moderator. During her second year of moderation, she led her group to action by hosting the Mental Health Monologues, a student-performed presentation design to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

After completing her undergraduate degree, Bre accepted a position with the University of Alabama’s Crossroads Community Center to transform Sustained Dialogue process to a classroom model. Over the course of two years, she taught hundreds of students how to communicate across the lines of difference on a campus that was deeply polarized. Bre also took her dialogue skills to Maun, Botswana, where she spent five weeks with the nonprofit Leadership Exchange, facilitating dialogues with high school students regarding cultural difference and barriers.

After completing her Master’s degree in Gender and Race Studies from the University of Alabama, Bre relocated to Washington, DC, where she now serves as the Scheduler and Office Manager for Congressman David Scott (GA-13). She is also involved with the Women’s Information Network (WIN), a networking group for pro-choice, democratic women in the DC area. She continues to utilize the skills she learned in Sustained Dialogue, navigating the political climate in a way that is patient, inclusive, and understanding. In the future, Bre hopes to purse a PhD in Feminist Philosophy and open a foundation. Bre was nominated by former NDA awardee Lane McLelland, Director of the Crossroads Community Center at the University of Alabama.


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