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Civic Engagement Summit

The Civic Engagement Summit is an annual gathering sponsored by the Leduc Center for Civic Engagement at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.  The Summit is designed to strengthen the social fabric of our community, region, and Commonwealth through conversations and dialogues. Speakers engage the audience in thought-provoking discussions designed to improve the quality of life in our communities through a collective process.  At a time when many communities, nationwide, are troubled and traditional “solutions” no longer provide the needed relief, a new paradigm must be embraced in order to create true solutions to our communities' current and future problems.  That paradigm begins with a true understanding of what we consider our assets as well as reliance on our neighbors and collaboration with one another to build stronger communities from within.  Join us for a dialogue that makes a difference.

On April 25th, over 200 faculty, staff, students, and community members convened for the Fifth Annual Civic Engagement Summit. We started the day with a Presidential Panel composed of chancellors and presidents from local universities. To view the panel, please click here. The panel was followed by our keynote speaker, Dr. Ira Harkavy, founding director of the Netter Center at the University of Pennsylvania. To view Dr. Harkavy's speech, please click here.


We would like to extend our thanks to all who attended and participated!




Previous Keynote Speakers 

2013: Ira Harkavy 

Ira Harkavy is Associate Vice President and founding Director of the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania. As Director of the Netter Center, he has helped to develop service-learning courses as well as participatory action research projects that have fostered university-assisted community schools in University of Pennsylvania's local community of West Philadelphia. He teaches in the university’s departments of History, Urban Studies, and Africana Studies. Dr. Harkavy is a member of numerous boards, including the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (CEOSE); Harvard College National Advisory Board for Public Service; Widener University Board of Trustees; the International Consortium on Higher Education, Civic Responsibility, and Democracy (US Chair); Anchor Institutions Task Force (Chair); and Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development (Co-chair). He received his B.A. and his Ph.D. in history from the University of Pennsylvania.



2012: Robert Caret, UMass President 

Robert L. Caret was elected President of the five-campus, 68,000-student University of Massachusetts system on January 13, 2011.  President Caret, a native New Englander, assumes the presidency of the University of Massachusetts after completing highly successful presidencies at San Jose State University and Towson University. President Caret presided over periods of significant growth at both universities and gained national acclaim for eliminating race-based graduation disparities at Towson.  From 2003 to 2011, President Caret was president of Towson University where he also served as a faculty member, dean, executive vice president, and provost during his more than 25-year tenure at the university.  Between 1995 and 2003, he left Towson to assume the presidency of San Jose State University.  Dr. Caret is credited with helping to reinvigorate both the Towson and San Jose State University campuses, and he championed a joint city/university effort to build the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in San Jose.  As president of Towson University, President Caret created partnerships with regional business and non-profit and civic organizations, raised student graduation rates, and undertook a capital fundraising and building campaign.


2012: Shirley Sagawa

Shirley Sagawa PhotoShirley Sagawa is the author of the recent book, The American Way to Change:  How National Service and Volunteers are Transforming America, and co-author of two award-winning books, The Charismatic Organization and Common Interest, Common Good.  She is co-founder of sagawa/jospin, a consulting firm that has, since 2001, provided strategic counsel to nonprofits and foundations.  Sagawa also serves as a visiting fellow at the Center for American Progress, where she is a leading expert on national service policy, and blogs regularly for the Huffington Post.  In the field of social innovation, Sagawa was the lead architect of legislation creating AmeriCorps and the Social Innovation Fund.  Sagawa served as a presidential appointee in both the first Bush and Clinton Administrations, and led the Obama Transition for the Corporation for National and Community Service.  As Special Assistant to President Clinton for Domestic Policy, she drafted the legislation that created AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service. After Senate-confirmation as the Corporation’s first managing director, she led the development of the new agency and its programs.  She also served as Deputy Chief of Staff to First Lady Hillary Clinton.  Sagawa was the founding executive director of the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of national education associations.  She served as the Chief Counsel for Youth Policy for the Senate Labor Committee and as senior counsel to the National Women’s Law Center.  She serves on numerous nonprofit boards and advisory councils.



2011: Alan Khazei

AlanKazhieIn 1987, as a young graduate from Harvard Law School, Alan Khazei co-founded a nonprofit organization called City Year with his friend, Michael Brown. City Year works to unite young adults, ages 17-24, from all backgrounds for an intensive year of full-time community service mentoring, tutoring, and educating children.  It served as the model and inspiration for President Clinton’s AmeriCorps program and now operates in 20 U.S. cities, as well as Johannesburg and London.  When AmeriCorps faced a drastic funding cut in 2003, Alan joined with other service leaders to organize the “Save AmeriCorps” coalition, an effort that led to an increase of $100 million worth of funding for the program. Inspired by the success of the Save AmeriCorps campaign, Alan launched Be the Change, Inc., a nonprofit organization that creates national issue-based campaigns by organizing coalitions of non-profit organizations, social entrepreneurs, policymakers, private sector leaders, academics, and citizens.  In 2009, ServiceNation, the first campaign to be launched from this platform, played a key role in the enactment of the strongly bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.  Alan is also the author of Big Citizenship: How Pragmatic Idealism can Bring Out the Best in America


2010: John L. McKnight

John L. McKnight is professor of Communication Studies and co-director of the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute at the Institute for Policy Research (IPR), Northwestern University. Before joining the university in 1969, he directed the Midwest office of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He was one of the first faculty fellows hired at IPR shortly after it was developed as the Center for Urban Affairs and played an important role in building it. McKnight is internationally recognized for his critique of the ways in which social service and other organizations “problemize” people. In his view, seeing “needs” instead of “capacities” and “assets” cripples not only those supposedly being helped, but their communities as well. By focusing on meeting needs and deficiencies, these organizations were seeing the glass as being half empty—instead of half full.  By shifting their paradigm from needs-based to asset-based, communities and organizations could maximize their “human resources.” To aid communities and organizations in this transition, he co-founded the Asset-Based Community Development Institute with John Kretzmann in 1995 under the aegis of IPR. Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets (1993), which he co-wrote with Kretzmann, has become the “bible” of asset-based community development.  


2009: Tom Sander

Since its founding in 1996, Tom Sander has been Executive Director of the Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America, a program of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, that has brought together leading practitioners and thinkers for a multi-year discussion to develop broad-scale, actionable ideas to fortify our nation's civic connectedness. He was the project manager on the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey - the largest survey of social capital to-date (surveying over 30,000 Americans in 41 communities in 2000)  Prior to taking this position, he was Director of the Fund for Social Entrepreneurs at Youth Service America and served as a senior policy advisor on national service for the U.S. Senate’s Labor and Human Resources Committee, where he played a major role in the enactment of the 1993 National Service Trust Act. In addition, he has assisted Harvard University’s president in negotiating and consummating some of the first debt for education swaps in the world. Sander received his J.D. from Harvard Law School and A.B. from Brown University.

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