Cardinal O'Connor Conference on Life

The largest collegiate pro-life conference in the nation

Saturday, January 20, 2018


The breakout sessions at the Cardinal O'Connor Conference on Life are meant to educate attendees on the great variety of life issues and to encourage discussion. Each breakout typically focuses on a specific life issue, such as the death penalty, euthanasia, or abortion.

Below were the breakout speakers for the 2017 Conference. The speakers for the 2018 Conference will be posted soon. 

Nancy Valko, RN ALNC

I have been a registered nurse since 1969 and currently I am a spokesperson for the National Association of Prolife Nurses ( In 2015, I received the 2015 USCCB People of Life Award.
I have also been a past President of Missouri Nurses for Life and past co-chair of the St. Louis Archdiocesan Respect Life Committee. 

After working in critical care, hospice, home health, oncology, dialysis and other specialties for 45 years, I am currently working as a legal nurse consultant ( and volunteer as well as writing a blog “A Nurse’s Perspective on Life, Healthcare and Ethics” at  

I have served on medical and nursing ethics committees and give speeches and workshops around the country on medical ethics issues. I have also served on the board of the Saint Louis Down Syndrome Association in the past and I am still active in the field of disability advocacy. I have worked as a volunteer for children with disabilities, people with severe brain injuries, and bereaved parents.

I have also appeared on many radio and television shows on various medical, ethical and pro-life topics and I have written on these topics for The National Catholic Register, The National Catholic Bioethics Center, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, First Things magazine, Magnificat and other publications. 
I have personally cared for many relatives with a variety of physical or mental disabilities, including my mother with Alzheimer’s and terminal cancer and a daughter, Karen, who was born with Down Syndrome and a severe heart defect. Although both are now deceased, the influence of my mother and daughter has positively motivated my activities in medical ethics and working for greater support for people and families dealing with such issues as disabilities, chronic illness and terminal conditions. 

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Daniel K. Williams

Daniel K. Williams is a professor of history at the University of West Georgia and the author of two books published by Oxford University Press: Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-Life Movement before Roe v. Wade (2016) and God's Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right (2010).  His scholarship on the intersection of religion and politics in modern America has won praise for its “meticulous” research and “evenhanded” approach from reviewers on all sides of the contemporary political debate, receiving positive reviews in both the New York Times and Christianity Today.   
Dr. Williams holds a Ph.D. in history from Brown University and a B.A. in history and classics from Case Western Reserve University.  In 2011-12, he held a residential fellowship at Princeton University as the James Madison Program’s William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion in Public Life.  
He has published articles on modern American religion and politics in a wide variety of popular venues, including the New York Times, Politico, and Time magazine, as well as historical journals such as U.S. Catholic Historian, Fides et Historia, and the Journal of Policy History.  He serves on the board of the Conference on Faith and History.  
Dr. Williams is also a committed classroom teacher, and has won teaching awards from both his department and his college.  He is an active member of an evangelical (pro-life) church in his community.  He lives in Carrollton, Georgia, with his wife (Nadya) and their two young sons.

Sister Mary Margaret Hope, SV

Sr. Mary Margaret Hope, SV originally from Toronto, Canada, entered the Sisters of Life in 2011 after completing a Masters degree in Astronomy at Harvard University. She was drawn to the Sisters of Life, founded in 1991 by John Cardinal O'Connor, in order to dedicate herself to his vision of prayer and apostolic works on behalf of the sacredness of all human life. Sr. Hope currently serves at the Visitation Mission in New York City, where she accompanies pregnant women, providing support and practical resources to those in crisis. Other apostolic works of the Sisters of Life include a “Holy Respite,” where pregnant guests are welcomed to live in the spiritual environment of a religious house, and hosting a variety of retreats and evangelization efforts to uphold the Culture of Life and to invite those who have suffered from abortion back to the Lord’s merciful love.

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Joshua Evans

Josh Evans is Assistant Professor of Health Care Ethics at Regis University--Colorado's Jesuit, Catholic University--where he teaches ethics courses to undergraduate and graduate students in nursing, pharmacy and physical therapy.  Prior to Regis, he was a Professorial Lecturer in the Department of Theology at Georgetown University, Visiting Assistant Professor of Moral Theology at Marymount University, and FYE Fellow at The Catholic University of America.  

Josh's academic work is at the intersection of historical theology and contemporary ethics, and his current research focuses on the moral theology of Augustine of Hippo, along with issues in bioethics. His Ph.D. in moral theology/ethics is from The Catholic University of America, and his MA in women's, gender and sexuality studies in religion is from Yale Divinity School.  

For five years Josh was a Chaplain-in-Residence at Georgetown University, where he, his wife Jamila, and their children lived on campus and were devoted members of Holy Trinity parish and school. 


Damian J. Geminder 

Damian Geminder serves as Communcations Coordinator at Feminists for Life of America and Editor of The American Feminist, FFL's biannual magazine. A former FFL intern who worked on FFL's Annual Capitol Hill Briefing, both the main FFL and "Raising Kids on a Shoestring" websites, and "Pro-Woman Answers to Pro-Choice Questions™," Damian continued to serve as a volunteer on the editorial board for FFL's magazine and led the tweetfest during a debate at the Yale Political Union that resolved "Pro-life is Pro-woman." Shortly thereafter, he joined FFL's staff on Susan B. Anthony's 196th birthday, 2016. He served as editor for "Innovation: New, Revolutionary, and Best Practices"; "Voices of Women -- and Men -- Who Mourn," about the spectrum of reproductive loss and healing from infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, adoption, abortion, and the loss of a dream after rape; and "MANIPULATION: Shattered Dreams, False Choices, Eternal Hopes," which revealed and analyzed the internal and interactive training documents and multimedia elements developed by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Consortium of Abortion Providers as they attempted to normalize abortion and win over counselors who have qualms about abortions. Damian holds a bachelor's in communications from Adelphi University and a master's in journalism from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

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Alexandra Carroll

Alexandra Carroll is the Director of Communications for Catholic Mobilizing Network. Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN) is a national organization working, in collaboration with the USCCB and inspired by the mission of the Congregation of St. Joseph, to end the use of the death penalty and promote a more restorative criminal justice system. Through education, advocacy, and prayer, CMN proclaims the Church’s pro-life teaching and prepares Catholics for informed involvement in the public debate to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice. Working where justice and mercy meet, CMN works to promote the dignity of all life. Alexandra came to CMN after receiving her Masters in Theological Studies (M.T.S.) with a focus in Theological Ethics and Human Rights from Boston College. While living and studying in Boston, Alexandra became a weekly volunteer with the Catholic prison ministry at the Suffolk County House of Corrections. Her encounters with the women and men she met while volunteering is what inspired Alexandra to get involved with work to end the use of the death penalty. Originally from Southern California, Alexandra got her Bachelor of Arts (B.A) in Theology & Religious Studies and Politics from Saint Mary’s College of California, located in Northern California.

Alex Kelly

Alex is the Director of Community Engagement for Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN) and is excited to bring his skills and expertise to CMN's mission. Alex was a seminarian for the Diocese of Lincoln for four years where he received his BA in Philosophy from St. Gregory the Great Seminary. After graduating from the seminary, he found his passion working in public policy. Before joining CMN's team as the Director of Community Engagement, Alex worked for Nebraska's anti-death penalty political campaign and then for CMN as its Nebraska State Coordinator. Alex is excited to bring together his skills in political organizing and zeal for the Catholic faith.

Fr. Kevin T. FitzGerald

Kevin T. FitzGerald, S.J., Ph.D., Ph.D., is the Dr. David Lauler Chair of Catholic Health Care Ethics in the Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University. He is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Oncology at the Georgetown University Medical Center. He received a Ph.D. in molecular genetics, and a Ph.D. in bioethics, from Georgetown University. His research efforts focus on the investigation of abnormal gene expression in cancer, and on ethical issues in biomedical research and medical genomics. He has published both scientific and ethical articles in peer-reviewed journals, books, and in the popular press. 

Fr. FitzGerald has given presentations nationally and internationally, and often been interviewed by the news media, on such topics as human genetic engineering, cloning, stem cell research, and personalized medicine. He is a founding member of Do No Harm, a member of the ethics committee for the March of Dimes, the Genetic Alliance IRB, and the Stem Cell Research Commission for the State of Maryland. In addition, he served until March 2009 as a member of the DHHS Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health, and Society. 

Before coming to Georgetown, Fr. FitzGerald held positions as Assistant Professor at the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy, Strich School of Medicine and the Department of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Medical Center. Additionally, he was a Research Associate in the Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, and Medical Humanities Program, Loyola University Medical Center. 

Fr. FitzGerald has been a Corresponding Member of the Pontifical Academy of Life since 2005, and has been a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Culture since 2014. He serves as the Chair of the Ethics Advisory Board for the Clinical Genomics Research Program of the Geisinger Health System, as well as the Chair of the Georgetown University Medical Center Conflict of Interest Committee.

Amy McInerny

Amy McInerny is the Executive Director of Human Life Action, an initiative of NCHLA. She holds a law degree from the Columbus School of Law of the Catholic University of America Law School as well as a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgetown University.

Mrs. McInerny has served the pro-life movement in various capacities. Prior to joining Human Life Action, she helped to found a crisis pregnancy center and maternity home in Washington, D.C. She also served as Director of the Respect Life Program for the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. Following that Mrs. McInerny worked with an abortion-malpractice law firm which sought to recover damages for women injured by abortion. That experience led her to found Women’s Injury Network, Inc. a not-for-profit organization designed to support abortion-injured women as they pursued justice through the court system. Prior to becoming Executive Director in 2015 Mrs. McInerny worked for NCHLA as a research consultant.

Mrs. McInerny lives in Dumfries, Virginia with her husband Daniel, to whom she has been happily married since 1994 and their three children.