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Peace Lecture Series 2024

Register Here for Saturday’s Justice Symposium!

See Schedule Below

Click here to Livestream tonight’s 7:00 pm Peace Lecture

Click here to Livestream Saturday’s Justice Symposium

The Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR) invites you to the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Lecture Series, featuring Christina Swarns, Executive Director of Innocence Project.  Christina will speak at Bethel College, North Newton, KS in Memorial Hall at 7:00 pm on Friday, March 1, 2024.  On Saturday, March 2, 2024, the first Justice Symposium will be held at Bethel College in Krehbiel Auditorium and the Will Academic Center.  Christina will serve as a keynote panelist for this event.  The symposium is free and open to the public.  

As director of Innocence Project, Christina works to free the innocent, prevent wrongful convictions, and create fair, compassionate and equitable systems of justice for everyone. Since its inception, Innocence Project has used DNA and other scientific advancements to prove wrongful conviction. To date, Innocence Project has helped to free or exonerate more than 240 people who, collectively, spent more than 3,600 years behind bars.  These efforts have led to the passage of more than 200 transformative state laws and federal reforms.

Christina previously served as the President and Attorney-in-Charge of the Office of the Appellate Defender, Inc. (OAD), one of New York City’s oldest providers of indigent appellate defense representation.  Prior to joining OAD, Christina was the Litigation Director and Criminal Justice Project Director for the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), where she oversaw LDF’s economic justice, education, political participation and criminal justice litigation, organizing, public education, communication and other advocacy strategies.  Christina argued, and won, Buck v. Davis, a challenge to the introduction of explicitly racially biased evidence in a Texas death penalty case, in the United States Supreme Court.  In a February 2017 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a 6-2 majority, vacated Mr. Duane Buck’s death sentence and denounced the “noxious strain of racial prejudice” that infected the case after an expert witness testified that Mr. Buck was more likely to commit criminal acts of violence in the future because he is Black.  Christina was the only Black woman to argue in that Supreme Court term, and is one of the few Black women to have argued before the nation’s highest court.

Prior to joining LDF, Christina served as a Supervising Assistant Federal Defender and Assistant Federal Defender at the Capital Habeas Unit of Philadelphia’s Federal Community Defender Office where she represented numerous death-sentenced prisoners whose convictions and/or death-sentences were vacated, including Nicholas Yarris, the first death sentenced prisoner in Pennsylvania to be exonerated by DNA evidence.  Christina began her legal career as a Staff Attorney with the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Division in New York.

Christina speaks and writes about race and criminal justice. She has authored multiple op-eds, including “The Supreme Court Should Reject Arizona’s Death Penalty Gambit” and “Dylann Roof Shouldn’t Get the Death Penalty,” both of which were published in the New York Times, and “Why the Dangerousness Standard is Racist,” which was published in the New York Daily News.

Christina earned a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a B.A. from Howard University.


Peace Lecture/Justice Symposium Schedule and Presenters


Friday, March 1 – Peace Lecture

7:00 pm – Peace Lecture, featuring speaker,  Christina Swarns – Memorial Hall, Bethel College

9:00-9:30 pm – Post Lecture dessert reception

Saturday, March 2 – Justice Symposium at Bethel College

8:00-9:00 am –  Justice Symposium registration & continental breakfast – Krehbiel Auditorium

9:00-10:30 am – Panel discussion:

10:45-11:45 am – Q&A and Panelist Discussion

Noon – Lunch – Will Academic Center

1:00-2:15 pm – Breakout session 1 – Will Academic Center

  • Restorative Kansas
  • Death Penalty Abolition in KS/KCADP and ACLU – Led by Mark McCormick and Kelson Bohnet
  • Julia Huxman Ronnebaum – Trial Attorney with VSCP Law

2:30-3:45  pm- Breakout session 2 – Will Academic Center

  • Bethel College Student Panel
  • Death Penalty Abolition in KS/KCADP and ACLU – Led by Mark McCormick and Kelson Bohnet
  • Julia Huxman Ronnebaum – Trial Attorney with VSCP Law

4:00-5:00 pm – Closing Ceremony – Will Academic Center, Atrium



March 1 @ 7:00 pm
March 2 @ 5:00 pm
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