November 5: Children's Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman to Speak at MSU

Department of Family and Child Studies 1st Annual Conference:

Addressing the Needs of Families

Rebuilding and Sustaining Communities: Lessons from Katrina

The College of Education and Human Services’ Department of Family and Child Studies is sponsoring its first annual conference, “Rebuilding and Sustaining Communities: Lessons from Katrina.” It will take place on Thursday, November 5, 2009 from 9:00am – 12:30pm in Memorial Auditorium at Montclair State University. The conference is co-sponsored by The Beloved Community, a community organization in Montclair.

The conference will open with a keynote address by Marian Wright Edelman. Mrs. Edelman is a lifelong advocate for disadvantaged Americans and is the President of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF). Under her leadership, CDF has become the nation's strongest voice for children and families. She has received many honorary degrees and awards including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Heinz Award, and a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship. In 2000, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her writings. Her latest book is The Sea is So Wide and My Boat is So Small: Charting a Course for the Next Generation , which is a call to action for all Americans to address the urgent needs of the country's youth.

Mrs. Edelman’s address will be followed by a panel presentation featuring representatives from various charitable and philanthropic organizations, who will discuss their work with families in New Orleans post-Katrina. Panelists will include:

  • Victoria Goff, Habitat for Humanity - The Gulf Recovery Effort is Habitat for Humanity International’s response to the destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 when the two storms struck the southeast U.S. coast of the Gulf of Mexico. While Habitat for Humanity cannot be the answer to all low-income housing needs created by the hurricanes, Habitat expects to assist thousands of people and to work together in partnership with other organizations to serve as a catalyst in the rebuilding process.
  • ZeKenya Perry, Make It Right Foundation - The Make It Right Foundation, started by actor Brad Pitt, strives to be a catalyst for redevelopment of the Lower 9th Ward, by building a neighborhood comprised of safe and healthy homes that are inspired by Cradle to Cradle thinking, with an emphasis on a high quality of design, while preserving the spirit of the community's culture.
  • Dr. Gwen Parker-Ames, The Beloved Community Mission Project - The Beloved Community, built on the ideals of Martin Luther King, is dedicated to increasing the life chances of twenty children affected by Hurricane Katrina. This collaboration between individuals and organizations in the Montclair area is dedicated to ameliorating the lives and futures of these children via an ongoing program that addresses issues related to child welfare, education, and healthcare. The key components of this program (face to face contact with the children and their families, educational support, and monitoring of educational progress), are aimed at encouraging those children to achieve the milestone of graduating from high school. 
  • Dr. David Abramson, National Center for Disaster Preparedness Mailman School of Public Health
  • Dr. Michelle M. Thompson, University of New Orleans - Department of Planning & Urban Studies

The conference schedule will be as follows:

  • 9:00 – 9:30am Memorial Auditorium Open
  • 9:30 – 11:00am Marian Wright Edelman
    Keynote Address
    Question & Answer Period
  • 11:15am – 12:30pm Panel Presentation
    Question & Answer Period

The conference is free and open to the public. For more information regarding the conference, please contact Dr. Katia Goldfarb at

Please note that if you plan to attend this event and use a wheelchair for mobility, please RSVP to no later than Monday, November 2.

To reserve self-paying parking in the Red Hawk Deck for this event, please RSVP via email to