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2012 National Conference: Morning Plenary Session

Building Personal, Public and Spiritual Will to Protect Children —Our Poorest Americans

If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters . . . Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

— Frederick Douglass

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

The ultimate test of American democracy is whether we can protect our voteless, most vulnerable group – children – without whom there is no future.

— Taylor Branch, historian

This is not a talk but an act conference. Over these past days we have heard about the huge economic, racial and education inequities and anti-democratic forces threatening our children and nation’s well-being. We have learned about growing hate crimes, racial profiling, the Cradle to Prison Pipeline™ and mass incarceration which threaten to undermine the last half century of racial and social progress. But we also have heard about the latest research, about what works, and about best practices and community building models you and others are mounting across America that are making a difference in the lives of many children.

Our challenge now is to close the gap between what we know works and what we do in policy and practice. How do we have consistent quality and sustainability, and move to scale the comprehensive continuum of care every child needs everywhere in our rich nation? And how do we strengthen the voice and political base for investing in children who are 100 percent of America’s future? This session will share some of the essential ingredients and strategies for ensuring a powerful voice for children.

Co-Moderators:

  • Wendy Puriefoy, President, Public Education Network; CDF Board Member - Washington, D.C.
  • Barbara Best, Director of Foundation Relations and Special Projects, Children’s Defense Fund - Cambridge, Mass.

Speakers:

  • Lan Bentsen, Vice Chair, CDF Board of Directors - Houston, Texas
  • Jeff Johnson, Journalist, social activist and political commentator - Washington, D.C.
  • Peggy Lewis, Assistant Professor, Broadcast Sequence Coordinator at Howard University; Communications Consultant, Children’s Defense Fund, Washington, D.C.
  • Fred Senn, Founding Partner, Fallon Worldwide - Minneapolis, Minn.
  • The Rev. Al Sharpton, President, National Action Network (invited) - New York, N.Y.
  • Kent Wong, Director, Center for Labor Research and Education, University of California, Los Angeles, Calif.

 

Activist Jeff Johnson wants to make sure advocates are making change and not just talking. Johnson reminds the crowd of 3,000 at the “Building Personal, Public and Spiritual Will” session at CDF’s 2012 National Conference that voter education, investing in reform and building political candidates from the streets and to take communities back is how activists stay engaged in the fight for social justice. This is an instructive tool to build your action plans around. This is just a clip -- the entire session is available for purchase by itself or as a full DVD set from the Children’s Defense Fund’s National Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Jeff Johnson is a Washington, D.C. based award-winning journalist, social activist and political commentator. Johnson is a commentator on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show tackling issues on politics, entertainment and social policy issues. Johnson has spent the last decade merging the worlds of politics and popular culture including his work as Senior Advisor for Media and Youth Outreach for People for the American Way, National Director of the Youth and College division of the NAACP, and an appointment by Russell Simmons as the Vice President of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN). Recognized for his socio-political influence and media adeptness, Jeff has earned a reputation as the “conscience voice” of BET Networks for his positive force among youth and young adults. Johnson has released Everything I’m Not Made Me Everything I Am (Smiley Books/Hay House).


 

Fred Senn from Fallon Worldwide talks about creating the provocative advertising images of the “Be Careful What You Cut” campaign for the CDF. People need to be “emotionally punched in the nose,” he said, and Senn tells the 3,000 people gathered at the “ Building Personal, Public and Spiritual Will” session of the CDF’s 2012 National Conference how riveting pictures help start and sustain essential conversations about poverty in America. This is just a clip -- the entire session is available for purchase by itself or as a full DVD set from the Children’s Defense Fund’s National Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Fred Senn is a Founding Partner in Fallon Worldwide, one of the world’s most critically acclaimed and creatively driven branding companies. Clients include Sony, Nestlé Purina, Travelers, TIME Magazine, NBC Universal, Holiday Inn Express, and New York Stock Exchange. Fallon Worldwide is a global network of Publicis Groupe, based in Paris, and has 500 employees worldwide. The company has offices in Minneapolis, London, and Tokyo. Fred’s many roles at the agency included Director of Account Services and later, Chief Learning Officer, running Fallon University, and guest lecturing at the University of Minnesota.


 

Lan Bentsen, vice chair of the CDF’s board of directors, tells a crowd of 3,000 at the “Building Personal, Public and Spiritual Will” session at CDF’s 2012 National Conference how to make legislative change. Bentsen walks the audience through the process of creating strategic, unlikely partnerships with others to demand justice. This is just a clip -- the entire session is available for purchase by itself or as a full DVD set from the Children’s Defense Fund’s National Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Lan Bentsen is co-founder of Frontera Resources and served as a director and executive vice -president from 1996-2011. He chairs the Compensation Committee of Frontera’s Board and is also a member of the Audit Committee. Prior to Frontera, Bentsen co-founded and served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Security National Bank, Houston, Texas. He founded and operated Lan Bentsen Interests, a national real estate development company, as well as Sovereign National Management, a national real estate and assets manager. He has served on the boards of three publicly traded NASDAQ companies: BMA Insurance, Lab Holdings and Seafield Capital. A graduate of Harvard Business School, Bentsen serves as the Republic of Georgia’s Honorary Consul to the United States. He is a member of the American Leadership Forum, the World Presidents Organization and chairman of the Children Defense Fund (CDF)Texas’ advisory board. He is a vice chair of CDF’s Board.


 

Peggy Lewis, assistant professor at Howard University and communications consultant for the CDF, knows strong advocacy requires being informed, and challenges all activists to learn to research, respond and report every day. She told an audience of 3,000 at the “Building Personal, Public and Spiritual Will” session at CDF’s 2012 National Conference exactly what tools to use in 21st century advocacy. Lewis tells how, by using social media, we can spark conversation about important issues, get our friends involved and get them activated. This is just a clip -- the entire session is available for purchase by itself or as a full DVD set from the Children’s Defense Fund’s National Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Peggy Lewis is an Assistant Professor and Broadcast Sequence Coordinator in the Department of Journalism. She teaches courses in Broadcast Journalism. She took her first class in Broadcast Journalism at Howard when she was an undergraduate, and spent nearly 20 years as a broadcast journalist before embarking on a career in public service which included working for President William Jefferson Clinton, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman, and Children’s Defense Fund Founder, Marian Wright Edelman. She began teaching at Howard part-time in the fall 2002. Lewis was the Director of Communications for the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) from September, 1999 to May 2002. She was responsible for CDF’s overall communications efforts, including public relations, marketing, publications, and the website. She oversaw Marian Wright Edelman’s activities with national, state and local media as well as the organization’s media outreach on all policy and grassroots initiatives. Lewis studied at Howard University and Trinity College.


 

Kent Wong, director of the Center for Labor and Research Education, passionately tells the story of courageous undocumented immigrant students who risked it all to get an education. Wong tells the 3,000 people at the “Building Personal, Public and Spiritual Will” session at CDF’s 2012 National Conference talks about the brave fight undocumented immigrants took on to get Congress to address the Dream Act, and then pressure the Obama administration to create the biggest change for immigrants in more than two decades. Wong encourages all to build a grassroots movement to carry on the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; shake up the status quo, demand change, and dismantle injustice. This is just a clip -- the entire session is available for purchase by itself or as a full DVD set from the Children’s Defense Fund’s National Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Kent Wong is Director of the UCLA Labor Center, where he teaches Labor Studies and Ethnic Studies. He previously was staff attorney for the Service Employees International Union in Los Angeles. Kent served as the Founding President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO. He has also served as the President of the United Association for Labor Education. Kent is currently a vice president of the California Federation of Teachers, and has been active in supporting the immigrant youth movement.