History


Since 1999 Boise Valley residents have known Kessler-Keener Foundation for public events that educate and inspire through presentations and workshops by scholars, authors, clergy, and civil rights leaders. The focus has always been human rights and justice.

Currently cross-cultural understanding and respect creation is our goal.  We are privileged to gather peoples from many cultures to celebrate diversity and our common humanity.

Who were Harry S. Kessler and Julia Margaret Keener? Click here to find out.


2018 – Seventh Annual Spring Native Non-Native Retreats in Garden Valley, bringing together Native and Non-Native people in order to create trust and respect. Focus was on Cultural MAPPing.

2018 – Mentor Artists Three Day Residency in Duck Valley. Professional actors read student-written plays to the Owyhee student body, K-12. We then engaged each class in drama and creative workshops.

2018Mentor Artists Playwriting Workshop at Trio Upward Bound at Boise State University. Thomas Kellogg, Director.

2018Cultural Mapping Workshop Leaders Training.

2017 – Spring and Fall Native Non-Native Retreats in Garden Valley, bringing together Native and Non-Native people in order to create trust and respect. Focus was on Cultural MAPPing.

2017Mentor Artists three day residency at Owyhee School in Duck Valley.

2017Cultural MAPP workshops at Boise State University.

2017 – Mentor Artists Playwrighting Workshop, Thomas Kellogg Director, at Trio Upward Bound program at Boise State University.

2016 – Creation of the Cultural MAPPing Workshop to engage participants in cross-cultural dialog. We come together to hear one another’s stories.

2016 – Mentor Artists Playwright’s Project three day residency at Owyhee School in Duck Valley.

2015 – 4th annual Native Non-Native Retreat in Garden Valley, bringing together Native and Non-Native people in order to create trust and respect.

2015 – Native panel reflecting on Sherman Alexie and other Native writers and poets.

2014 –  Our second conference on Native American Presence in Southern Idaho Before and After European Contact held at Boise First Presbyterian Church. The meal was provided by Red River Powwow Association. There were two Native speakers each from Ft. Hall and Duck Valley reservations. The keynote was delivered by Angelique Townsend Eaglewoman, Indian College of Law, University of Idaho Law School.

2014 – 3rd annual Native Non-Native Retreat in Garden Valley, bringing together Native and Non-Native people in order to create trust and respect.

2013 – During Martin Luther King Week the Borah High young artist plays were read in Performance Readings at Borah High, The College of Idaho, BSU, and a month later for the Idaho Refugee Conference.

2013 – 2nd annual Native Non-Native Retreat in Garden Valley, bringing together Native and Non-Native people in order to create trust and respect.

2012 – We produced our first Mentor Artist Playwright Project (MAPP) workshop at Borah High School Students.  Teacher Molly O’Shea was the lead organizer of our first cross-cultural playwright experience.

2012 – 1st annual Native Non-Native Retreat in Garden Valley, bringing together Native and Non-Native people in order to create trust and respect.

2010 – Bridging Pathways Native Non-Native Conference featured Phill Allen, Nez Perce, speaking on Native life now; and Robbie Paul, Nez Perce, speaking about historic trauma among Native Americans. Thomas Kellogg, Director of the (MAPP), brought professional actors to present readings of one act plays written by Native students from Lapwai and Couer d’ Alene reservations. Meals provided by Red River Powwow Association.

2008 – Boise State University and First Presbyterian Church hosted Palestinian legislator, activist, and scholar Hanan Ashrawi for a locally controversial lecture. She is the first woman elected to the Palestinian National Council.

Hanan-Ashrawi

2007 – Episcopal priest, theologian, and progressive author Matthew Fox conducted a lecture and workshops at the Cathedral of the Rockies. Matthew was an early and influential exponent of Creation Spirituality.

2006Rabbi Arthur Waskow spoke at the Shalom Center with his wife, Rabbi Phylis Berman. He is an American author and political activist associated with the Jewish Renewal movement. 

Arthur-Waskow

2006 – We hosted both a lecture and three-day workshop from Joanna Rogers Macy, environmental activist, author, scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. She is also the author of eight books.

Joanna-Rogers-Macy

2005 – The featured lecturer was Neil Douglas-Klotz, Ph.D. world-renowned scholar in religious studies, spirituality and psychology. He is also co-founder of the International Network of the Dances of Universal Peace.

2004 – We enjoyed a lecture from Dolores Huerta, labor leader and civil rights activist who was an early member of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW).

Dolores-Huerta

2003 – Our next Extraordinary Witness lecturer was Bruce Feiler, author of six consecutive New York Times nonfiction best-sellers. His book Walking the Bible describes his perilous, 10,000-mile journey retracing the Five Books of Moses through the desert.

2002 – Nobel Peace Prize winner, author, and activist Elie Wiesel spoke to nearly 2,000 at the Morrison Center. He also dedicated a tree for the Anne Frank Memorial in honor of Margaret and Keith Keener.

Elie-Wiesel

2001Morris Dees, co-founder and chief trial counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center, followed as the next Extraordinary Witness. Just before the lecture in September of 2000, Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center won a $6.3 million judgment against Aryan Nations, a white supremacist organization based in Hayden Lake, Idaho.

Morris-Dees

1999Myrlie Evers-Williams was the first speaker in the Extraordinary Witness lecture series. Myrlie is the widow of civil rights activist Medgar Evers who was assassinated in Mississippi in 1963. The lecture was held at First Presbyterian Church.

Myrlie-Evers-Williams

1997 – Pastor Mark Davis awoke in the night from a dream that Boise First Presbyterian Church and the Keener family could create a lecture series to continue the legacy of lifelong church member Margaret Keener. Through conversations with the family, Harry Kessler, father of Margaret was added to the name, and a non-profit was formed called Kessler-Keener Lectures, Inc.  The mission was to feature lectures and workshops by persons who are motivated through their faith to take extraordinary actions for human rights and justice.  The lectures series was named Extraordinary Witness.