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Sirico Parables book

For four days each June, Acton University brings together nearly 1,000 people to explore the intellectual foundations of a free society. This year, we’re opening up each evening’s dinner and plenary session for those who cannot attend the full conference!

Purchase single tickets or sponsor a table and bring a group of friends. Join us for one evening or all four. Unable to travel to Grand Rapids? Every plenary will be available via livestream too. Hit the Register Now button to purchase tickets for any of the evening plenary sessions!

Registration Closed

Click on a night for more information:

Tuesday Night | June 18 - Mari-Ann Kelam

Wednesday Night | June 19 - Jonah Goldberg

Thursday Night | June 20 - Deltan Dallagnol

Friday Night | June 21 - Rev. Robert A. Sirico



Tuesday Night Plenary

Socialism has been tried and it has failed. Yet socialism is on the rise again, proposed as the solution to society’s problems. As a child born in exile to Estonian parents, Mari-Ann Kelam knows first-hand how the perceived promises of socialism square with the reality of life under an oppressive government. In her plenary address, Kelam will share the story of how this small Baltic nation’s “singing revolution” broke the Soviet stranglehold on their country.

Mari-Ann Kelam
Mari-Ann Kelam
Estonian Parliament

Former Member

Mari-Ann Kelam was raised in the United States by Estonian parents who had survived World War II only to find their homeland occupied by the Soviet Union at the end of the war. She grew up with an acute appreciation for the Estonian language, culture, and people and served as Vice President of the Estonian American National Council during the last years of the Soviet Empire.

In this role she lobbied Congress and U.S. Presidents on behalf of the Baltic nations and Estonian prisoners of conscience held in the USSR. Her first trip to Estonia was in 1990 as a US delegate to the Congress of Estonia, the alternative parliamentary body elected by the citizens of Estonia living under Soviet oppression. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Kelam moved to Estonia and worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and served for several years in the Estonian Parliament. She is still active in Estonian and European politics today. She is married to Tunne Kelam, a hero of the Estonian independence movement and current Member of European Parliament, and she has two adult children and five grandchildren.

Wednesday Night Plenary

You may know Jonah Goldberg from his weekly, nationally syndicated columns and his writing in National Review. Or perhaps you’ve seen him as a contributor on Fox News. He holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute. His books have topped the New York Times and Amazon bestseller charts. Now, he’s coming to Acton University to deliver a plenary address you won’t want to miss.

Jonah Goldberg
Jonah Goldberg
American Enterprise Institute

Asness Chair in Applied Liberty

Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a Senior Editor at National Review and a Fellow at the National Review Institute. A best-selling author, his nationally syndicated column appears regularly in over a hundred newspapers across the United States. He is also a weekly columnist for the Los Angeles Times, a member of the board of contributors to USA Today, a Fox News contributor, and a regular member of the “Fox News All-Stars” on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

He was the founding editor of National Review Online. The Atlantic magazine has identified Goldberg as one of the top 50 political commentators in America. Among his awards, in 2011 he was named the Robert J. Novak Journalist of the Year at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). He has written on politics, media, and culture for a wide variety of leading publications and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs. He is the author of the recently-released New York Times bestseller “Suicide of the West” (Crown Forum, 2018), as well as two previous New York Times bestsellers: “The Tyranny of Clichés” (Sentinel HC, 2012) and “Liberal Fascism” (Doubleday, 2008). 

Thursday Night Plenary

Deltan Dallagnol  knows a thing or two about cleaning up corruption. As the lead prosecutor in Brazil’s “Operation Car Wash”, Dallagnol hung the bad guys out to dry (including four former presidents, dozens of congressmen, and high profile businesspeople). His fight to build a free and virtuous society through the rule of law has earned him international acclaim – hear his story and be inspired!

Deltan Martinazzo Dallagnol
Deltan Martinazzo Dallagnol
Federal Public Ministry of Brazil


A Harvard-trained attorney, Deltan Dallagnol gained international attention as the lead prosecutor in Operation Car Wash, one of the largest corruption probes in Latin American history. The Car Wash investigation implicated four former presidents and dozens of congressmen and high profile businessmen in Brazil. The case spread to nearly all Brazilian states and more than 12 countries, involving 14 presidents and former presidents. Dallagnol’s team was responsible for reaching agreements to recover more than 3 billion dollars.

Beyond his work on the Car Wash case, Dallagnol has been a primary leader in driving national campaigns against corruption, seeking to reform laws and policies and restore integrity in the rule of law.

In recognition of his action against corruption and the unprecedented results of the Car Wash case, Dallagnol and his team received several national and international awards, such as the Transparency International anticorruption award in 2016, and the Special Achievement Award from the International Association of Prosecutors in 2018.

Friday Night Plenary

Rev. Robert Sirico, Co-founder and President of the Acton Institute, will address Acton University participants at the closing dinner. A dynamic speaker and author, Rev. Sirico’s address is one of the most popular and anticipated events of Acton University. Save your seat or reserve a table now!

Rev. Robert A. Sirico
Rev. Robert A. Sirico
Acton Institute


Rev. Robert A. Sirico is the president and co-founder of the Acton Institute and pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Grand Rapids, Mich. His writings on religious, political, economic, and social matters are published in a variety of journals, including: the New York Times, the Wall Street JournalForbes, the London Financial Times, the Washington Times, the Detroit News, and National Review.

Rev. Sirico is often called upon by members of the broadcast media for statements regarding economics, civil rights, and issues of religious concern, and has provided commentary for CNN, ABC, the BBC, NPR, and CBS' 60 Minutes, among others. In his popular book, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy, Rev. Sirico shows how a free economy is the best way to meet society’s material needs. Rev. Sirico holds dual Italian and American citizenship.

Event Details

Start Date

End Date


DeVos Place
303 Monroe Avenue NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
United States


5:30pm Doors Open 

6:00pm Dinner

7:00pm Evening Plenary

8:30pm Hospitality


$75 per person 

$1,000 table sponsorship (10 guests, VIP Seating, Recognition)

Table sponsorships should be confirmed by June 17th in order to be included in print materials. 


Paid Parking lots are available nearby.

The closest parking garages are located in DeVos Place off of Lyon Street, and City Hall/Calder Plaza off of Monroe Avenue.