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CHAMPAIGN — The second annual Chaz & Roger Ebert Symposium will focus on diversity in advertising, communication, journalism and film.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 27, at the I Hotel and Conference Center.

It’s free and opt to the public, but registering at is encouraged.

The morning sessions will include a keynote talk given by Stacy Smith, founder of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, a think tank that studies inequality in entertainment.

There are three panel discussions scheduled throughout the day, followed by a “special session” at 3:30 p.m. moderated by Chaz Ebert, widow of film critic Roger Ebert, and Nate Kohn, director of the annual Ebertfest film festival.

The panelists on the diversity in film discussion include:

— Cael M. Keegan, a professor of women, gender and sexuality studies and of integrative, religious and intercultural studies at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

— Samantha N. Sheppard, a professor of performing and media arts at Cornell University.

— Gordon Quinn, a documentary filmmaker and the artistic director and a founding member of Kartemquin Films.

— Allyson Nadia Field, a professor of cinema and media studies at the University of Chicago and interim director of its Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture.

The panelists on the diversity in journalism discussion include:

— Abrar Al-Heeti, a staff reporter for CNET’s culture team, as well as a Champaign native and Illinois journalism alumna.

— Janice Marie Collins, a UI professor of journalism.

— Ben Holden, a UI professor of journalism.

And the panelists on the diversity in advertising and communication discussion include:

— Shazzia Khan, the global chief of staff and chief talent officer for Havas Health and You, a public-relations and marketing company.

— Ericka Riggs, the foundation and inclusion manager for the Advertising Club of New York.

— Adrianne Smith, the founder of the Cannes Can: Diversity Collective, a nonprofit created to address the lack of diversity in the advertising and marketing industries.

— Lincoln Stephens, founder of the Marcus Graham Project, an organization focused on bringing more diversity to the advertising industry.


Ben Zigterman is a reporter covering business at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@bzigterman).