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General Sessions

Wednesday, August 28

Reducing Poverty: Policy and Practice

Join panelists for an engaging discussion around the use of policy and programmatic practice to reduce poverty.

Gary MacDougal, Speaker and Author
Mr. MacDougal served as CEO of a Fortune 1000 company for 17 years, was a partner of McKinsey & Company, served as General Director of the New York City Ballet and was Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. He was also Assistant Campaign Manager and Senior Advisor in the ’88 Bush campaign and was appointed by the President to serve as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations. He is Founder and a Director of the $400 million America for Bulgaria Foundation, Advisory Director of Saratoga Partners LLC, an advisor to governors on state human services reform and a writer and speaker on government reform and personal development.

Bryan Duncan, Executive Director, I-CARE, Inc.
Bryan is the Executive Director of I-CARE and the Chair of the Community Action Partnership board. He has been with Community Action for over 25 years, serving as an Executive Director of more than 10 years. Bryan also serves as the SEACAA Representative to the North Carolina COmmunity Action Association Board. Bryan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from UNC-Chapel Hill, is a Certified Community Action Professional, and a Certified ROMA trainer. Additionally, he is involved in several community organizations including the Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce.

Matt Weidinger, Resident Fellow in Poverty Studies, American Enterprise Institute 
Matt is a resident fellow in poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he focuses on safety-net policies, including cash welfare, child welfare, disability benefits, and unemployment insurance. He began his career on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant for Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL) and has also served on the staff of multiple House Committees and Subcommittees, including the 2012 Republican Platform Subcommittee on Economy, Jobs, and Debt. Matt has an M.A. in political science from the University of Chicago and a B.S. from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Moderator: Denise Harlow, Chief Executive Officer, Community Action Partnership
Denise, CCAP, is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Community Action Partnership, a national hub that links the nation’s 1,000+ Community Action Agencies to each another and to federal, state, and local leaders looking to connect Americans to greater opportunity. She was appointed the Partnership’s CEO in 2014 after serving as Senior Director of Training and Technical Assistance and Interim Chief Operating Officer. Working with Community Action Network partners, Denise was instrumental in the design and deployment of network-wide Organizational Standards and was a leader in the recent update to the Community Action performance management framework.

Building Belonging in a Time of Othering

The challenge of othering and belonging is the challenge of our time. Putting these ambitious changes on the agenda for equity advocates cannot be more critical.

john a. powell, Director of the Haas Institute, UC Berkeley
john powell is the Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, a UC Berkeley research institute, holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion, and is a Professor of Law, African American Studies, and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. john has written extensively on a number of issues including structural racism, racial justice, concentrated poverty and urban sprawl, opportunity based housing, voting rights, affirmative action in the United States, South Africa and Brazil, racial and ethnic identity, spirituality and social justice, and the needs of citizens in a democratic society. He is also the author of several books, including his most recent work, Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society.

A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty

Join panelists for a discussion on how Community Action can further build its capacity to address the social and environmental factors that impact health outcomes.

Christine James-Brown, President and CEO, Child Welfare League of America
Christine is President and CEO of the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) in April 2007, assuming leadership of the nation’s oldest and largest membership-based child welfare organization. Prior to her position at CWLA, Christine served as President and CEO of the United Way International (UWI) and was responsible for the efforts of UWI’s worldwide network of United Way nonprofit member organizations–spanning six continents and serving communities in 45 countries and territories. Throughout her career, she has worked tirelessly to help nonprofit health and human service organizations grow and expand their ability to serve children and families through foundation and corporate philanthropy.

Benard Dreyer, M.D., Director, Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, NYU School of Medicine
Benard is Director of Pediatrics at Bellevue Hospital, and also works as a hospitalist. After graduation from NYU School of Medicine and chief residency at Jacobi Hospital, he stayed as Director of Emergency Medicine, starting the first Emergency Medicine Residency in New York State. For over 30 years he led a primary care program at Bellevue, including co-located mental and oral health services and clinics in homeless shelters. Benard was president of the Academic Pediatric Association (APA), and founded and chairs the APA Task Force on Childhood Poverty and the APA Research Scholars Program. He also hosts a weekly radio show on the Sirius XM Doctor Radio Channel, On Call for Kids, in addition to serving on multiple health-related committees.

Poverty, Equity, and Migration

Learn about immigration history, myths, and facts impacting families. Additionally, racial bias and cultural stigma will be highlighted alongside culturally informed strategies for family success.

Robert Moore, Journalist
Bob is an independent journalist writing for both national and regional media including the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, The Guardian, and the Houston Chronicle. Focused particularly on issues related to the U.S.-Mexico border, Bob has broken numerous stories concerning the death of children in government custody and his reporting for Texas Monthly during the family separation crisis helped drive record web traffic.

Dylan Corbett, Director, Hope Border Institute
Dylan is the founding director of HOPE. Previously, Dylan worked as a staffer to the bishops of the United States at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development as well as with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the national anti-poverty and social justice program of USCCB. He has worked in the international development and nonprofit sectors in Washington DC, Central America, and South Asia, and has studied at the Catholic University of America.

Dalitso Sulamoyo, Chief Executive Officer, Champaign County Regional Planning Commission
Dalitso, hailing from Malawi, is the current Chief Executive Officer of the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission and served as president and CEO of the Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies (IACAA) for 16 years. His work includes outreach for the Affordable Care Act, developing affordable housing projects and safe drinking water systems. He has received numerous awards, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Awards, holds two Master’s degrees and a PhD, and is also a published author and professional speaker.

Laura Ponce, Executive Director, Project Bravo, Inc.
Laura Ponce, MPA, CCAP, leads the operations of Project BRAVO, Inc., a Community Action Agency (CAA) with an annual budget of $8 million and a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization with a mission to maximize resources for an improved quality of life for the economically disadvantaged residents of El Paso County. Project BRAVO provides programs and services such as employment development, adult basic education, weatherization, utility bill assistance, and case management services to people living in poverty. Laura coordinates, manages, and plans all aspects of CAA operations, monitors finances, human resources, fund development, and all programs under the CAA initiative and mission.

Thursday, August 29

Legislative Update

Get the latest information from Washington, D.C. as well as an update on CSBG and other key funding streams for Community Action.

David Bradley, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, National Community Action Foundation
David has been one of Washington’s leading advocates on behalf of low-income programs for more than 30 years. He helped found the National Community Action Foundation (NCAF), a nonprofit representing funding and policy interests of the nation’s 1000 community action agencies before Congress and the Executive Branch. In his role at NCAF, David was the primary architect of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG). His other legislative activities include the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Head Start, and job training programs.

National Partners Panel Discussion

Join us to hear the latest updates in programming, training, and technical assistance from the Community Action network’s national partners.

Jenae Bjelland, Executive Director, National Association for State Community Services Programs
Jenae is the Executive Director of the National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP). Prior to accepting the position of Executive Director, she was the Director of Healthy Homes for NASCSP and previously the Director of Research for NASCSP. Janae brings seventeen years of experience in the anti-poverty and energy efficiency network – working at the local, state and national level. She is results-driven, adept in analyzing process management, data, and technology needs and is certified as a National Results Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA) trainer.

Allison Ma’luf, Deputy Director and Senior Counsel, Community Action Program Legal Services
Allison Ma’luf, Esq. is Deputy Director and Senior Counsel at CAPLAW. She advises community action agencies on a wide range of legal issues, including board responsibilities, Head Start, employment law, and tax-exempt organization law requirements. Prior to joining CAPLAW, Allison practiced law as a corporate associate at Goodwin Procter LLP in Boston, Massachusetts and Troutman Sanders LLP in Atlanta, Georgia where she represented public and private companies and nonprofit organizations in general corporate matters. Allison received her undergraduate and law degrees from Wake Forest University.

Katrina Metzler, Executive Director, National Energy & Utility Affordability Coalition
Katrina is the Executive Director of the National Energy & Utility Affordability Coalition and brings more than 20 years of experience in the fields of energy, education, and poverty-fighting programs to the position. As an advocate at the local, state, and now federal level, she has supported legislation for programs such as LIHEAP, WAP, CSBG, and SEP. Previously, she was the Energy Policy Analyst, State Services Director, and Energy Services Director for the National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP).

Lee Sherman, President and CEO, National Human Services Assembly
Lee is the President and CEO of the National Human Services Assembly (NHSA) based in Washington, DC and brings more than 25 years of executive-level experience in both the nonprofit and corporate sectors. Prior to joining NHSA, Lee was President and CEO of the Association of Jewish Family & Children’s Agencies (AJFCA) where, under his leadership, the organization more than doubled its corporate sponsorships; created a new civic engagement initiative for next generation leaders that serves as a national model for organizational sustainability; and successfully advocated with colleague organizations for a federal grant for services to Holocaust survivors.

Yasmina Vinci, Executive Director, National Head Start Association
Yasmina is the Executive Director of the National Head Start Association. She was the founding director of NACCRRA (now Child Care Aware of America) and consulted with states in development of early childhood systems as Founder of EDGE Consultants. As principal and founder of EDGE Consulting Partners, Yasmina pursued local, national and global projects that utilized the knowledge, experience, and connections of her years in human services and early education to enhance the capacity of organizations to thrive as competent, strategic entities capable of influencing policy. Yasmina founded EDGE after receiving her Master in Public Administration degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Moderator: Denise Harlow, Chief Executive Officer, Community Action Partnership
Denise, CCAP, is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Community Action Partnership, a national hub that links the nation’s 1,000+ Community Action Agencies to each another and to federal, state, and local leaders looking to connect Americans to greater opportunity. She was appointed the Partnership’s CEO in 2014 after serving as Senior Director of Training and Technical Assistance and Interim Chief Operating Officer. Working with Community Action Network partners, Denise was instrumental in the design and deployment of network-wide Organizational Standards and was a leader in the recent update to the Community Action performance management framework.

55 Years of Community Action with Mark Shriver

Celebrating 55 years of Community Action, let’s reflect and recommit to the Promise of Community Action!

Mark K. Shriver, Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children Action Network
Mark Shriver is the Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Action Network, where he leads an effort to mobilize Americans to ensure that every child in the U.S. has access to high-quality early childhood education and that children around the world survive and thrive. He is also Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs & Advocacy at Save the Children. Mark was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1994 to 2002. In 1988, he founded the innovative Choice Program, which serves delinquent and at-risk youth through intensive, community-based counseling. His latest book, Pilgrimage: My Search for the Real Pope Francis, was published in 2016 by Random House and his New York Times and Washington Post best-selling memoir, A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver, was published in June 2012 by Henry Holt.

Leading the Campaign for Affordable, Accessible Energy for All

Community Action and our partners can act on today’s historic shifts in technology and policy to advance the “energy equity” agenda. This agenda means everyone can afford and access the energy they require to be safe and to participate in an electricity-powered world. It also means a fair distribution of benefits and burdens from energy production and consumption, not only market-based access. This session will explore the challenges and demonstrate ways the Community Action Network can play a significant role in delivering greater energy equity at home and nationwide.

Demond Drummer, Co-Founder and Executive Director, The New Consensus
Demond is an organizer and civic innovator whose work in Chicago has been recognized by the Obama White House, Code for America and the Aspen Institute. He is currently co-founder and executive director of New Consensus. Demond’s notable projects include CoderSpace, a computer science learning lab where high school students develop leadership skills for a changing world, and LargeLots.org, a community-driven effort to reclaim and repurpose city-owned vacant lots in Chicago. An alumnus of Morehouse College, Demond was a field organizer for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. Demond lives with his wife and one-year-old daughter in Chicago.

Dr. Joyce Dorsey, President/CEO, Fulton Atlanta Community Action Authority
Dr. Joyce J. Dorsey has been the President and CEO since FACAA’s inception in 1991. Deeply committed to improving the lives of Atlanta’s low income community, she works with a staff of advocates and community leaders who work face to face with the grassroots and public leaders to make the mission of the agency a reality. Advocate, Administrator, Public Speaker and Inspirational Leader, Joyce demonstrates her commitment to the needs of the low income citizens of Atlanta and Fulton County on all levels of government, civic affairs, ecumenical relations and media awareness of their needs and aspirations. Joyce serves on the Board of Directors for several non-profit organizations including the Regional and State Community Action Associations.

Nathaniel Smith, Founder and Chief Equity Officer, the Partnership for Southern Equity
Nathaniel Smith is the Founder and Chief Equity Officer/CEO of the Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE). Before becoming the CEO of PSE, Nathanial served as Director of Partnerships and Research for Equitable Development at Emory University’s Center for Community Partnerships where he facilitated scholarship opportunities with community organizations to achieve balanced, sustainable, and inclusive growth throughout Atlanta. He also served as the Public Policy Manager at the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership where his advocacy, research, and coalition building activities supported the creation of innovative policies encouraging equitable distribution of mixed income communities. Nathaniel holds a Masters of Science degree from the New School for Social Research and has received notable fellowships including the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for Public Policy and International Affairs.

Chandra Farley, Director of Just Energy, the Partnership for Southern Equity
Chandra is the Director of the Just Energy Program at the Partnership for Southern Equity. Through this work, Chandra helps to engage and empower diverse communities around issues of energy equity and environmental justice. Prior to this role, Chandra worked at Southface leading the Grants to Green program, which highlights impactful energy and water efficiency improvements that can save non-profit organizations money that can then be used to further their mission-based work. Chandra was instrumental in recruiting over 100 Boys & Girls Clubs of America and other nonprofits into Grants to Green, saving upwards of $1 million in annual utility expenses.

Friday, August 30

Making the “Count” Count

This session will highlight the role that data plays in understanding the needs of families and strategies for effective data collection, reporting, and analysis.

Ellisa Johnson, Area Regional Census Manager, Chicago Regional Census Bureau
Ellisa Johnson currently serves as the Area Regional Census Manager, overseeing the Partnership Program for the Chicago Regional Census Bureau. She has worked for the Census Bureau since December of 2008, and prior to that she worked for Cook County Government as the Grants Coordinator for the Department of Planning and Development. Her primary focus was the management of the county’s federal grant programs which included the Community Development Block Grant Program, the HOME Investment Partnership Program and the Emergency Shelter Grant Program. Mrs. Johnson was selected by Ebony Magazine as one the 30 future Black leaders of America, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications/Political Science with emphasis on Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma.

Lindsay Marsh, Senior Associate, Special Projects – Census Engagement, Community Action Partnership
Lindsay comes to the Partnership from the Office of Community Service at the US Department of Health and Human Services. Her previous work has taken her across the country working issue and political campaigns, organizing, doing data research, and fundraising. Lindsay co-founded a social media company specializing in online fundraising and social justice work.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs and a Master’s degree in Political Management, both from the George Washington University. She is based out of Denver, Colorado.

Criminal Justice System Reform

Despite growing national attention to the large number of Americans confined in state and federal prisons, significantly less attention has been paid to local justice systems, where the criminal justice system primarily operates and where over-incarceration begins. Join panelists as they discuss their work to address over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails, implementing policy changes, and deploying effective programming.

Laurie R. Garduque, Director, Criminal Justice, MacArthur Foundation
Laurie joined the MacArthur Foundation in 1991 after serving as Director of the National Forum on the Future of Children and Families, a joint project of the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine. From 1984 to 1987, she was the Director of Governmental and Professional Liaison for the American Educational Research Association in Washington, D.C. This position followed the year she spent, from 1983 to 1984, as a Congressional Science Fellow in the U.S. Senate. From 1980 to 1985, Garduque held a faculty position as an Assistant Professor in Human Development at the Pennsylvania State University.

Thelma French, President/CEO, Total Community Action, Inc.
Thelma has long been an advocate of early childhood development, equitable education and employment access, criminal justice reform, and opportunity for all. Mrs. French serves as the Secretary of the Board of the Orleans Public Education Network (OPEN) and is a board member of BENOLA, a Black-led nonprofit organization whose mission is to support Black educators and schools to ensure an education that creates better outcomes and opportunities for Black children in New Orleans, Louisiana.