Killinger, Woods to speak at SAU commencements


For The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Two commencement ceremonies for St. Ambrose University students take place Saturday, May 20, in the Vibrant Arena at The Mark in Moline, Illinois. The graduate and doctoral hooding ceremony begins at 9 a.m. and the undergraduate ceremony at 1 p.m.


Commencement speakers are Lisa Killinger (morning ceremony) and Jabari Woods (afternoon ceremony). They were selected for their “outstanding examples of faith, social justice and service,” according to the St. Ambrose website. President Amy Novak said both speakers will be recognized with honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees for their significant philanthropic and humanitarian efforts.

Killinger is a 1983 graduate and professor of clinical sciences at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport. In 1999, she was responsible for developing the original chiropractic program for the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration as the first chiropractor hired by the U.S. government.


She has authored 10 book chapters, contributed to more than 100 scientific publications and made more than 300 presentations at scientific conferences around the globe.

She continues to spearhead important work on diversity, peace and social justice in her personal endeavors. She has collaborated with the Sisters of St. Benedict-Rock Island, Illinois to host interfaith dialogues and currently partners with the Diocese of Davenport as outreach chair for the Muslim Community of the Quad Cities. She was the community’s first woman, non-immigrant and convert elected president and was re-elected three times.

Woods is a 2002 St. Ambrose University graduate with a B.A. in business management and organization.


While on campus, Woods served as Black Student Union president, a resident life community advisor, homecoming king, campus ministry volunteer and as a member of the campus activities board. Woods returned to SAU to earn a master’s degree in social work in 2005.

Today, Woods works as associate director of human resources and equity, Title IX coordinator and ADA program administrator for the Davenport Community School District. In 2008, he founded and became the CEO of YAH’s Dollar Project, a nonprofit that generates funds to help neighbors in need. His faith inspired him to write YAH’s Book of Psalms in 2019 and ultimately found YAH’s Unlocking Treasures Ministry, extending his impact through prayer, fasting and poetry.

Woods has centered his career on embracing diversity, inspiring solution-driven change and modeling peaceful collaboration. St. Ambrose University said his work has changed the lives of thousands of students and families in the community.

Commencement activities

May 19:

  • Commencement Mass in Christ the King Chapel, 4:30 p.m.
  • Nursing pinning ceremony in Galvin Fine Arts Center’s Allaert Auditorium, 7 p.m.

May 20 commencement ceremonies – Vibrant Arena at The Mark:

  • Graduate and doctoral hooding and commencement ceremony, 9 a.m.
  • Undergraduate commencement ceremony, 1 p.m.

No tickets are required for either ceremony and both will be livestreamed.

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