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Otterbein University Hosts Regional Summit

March 5, 2012


Opportunity Nation Summit at Otterbein focuses on Women and the New American Dream
Jo Luck, former president and CEO of Heifer International, keynotes event

Jo Luck
Westerville, OH—Jo Luck, a World Food Prize laureate, renowned poverty and hunger insecurity advocate and former president and CEO of Heifer International, will speak at Otterbein University at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 9, in Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove St. The event is free and open to the public.

Luck is the keynote address at Opportunity Nation: Women and the New American Dream, a regional summit to discuss the role of higher education in ensuring future opportunities for women. Otterbein is one of 12 colleges and universities across the country selected by Opportunity Nation to host a summit this year.

Luck has a distinguished record of public service and addressing issues of hunger, poverty and improved agricultural methods for small farmers. Luck joined Heifer International in 1989 as director of international programs and became president and CEO in 1992. She retired from that position in 2010. During that time, Heifer grew from a $7 million organization annually to $130 million, which translated into a significantly increased programmatic impact on the improvement of the quality of lives for millions who so richly deserved their personal dignity. Luck is a member of the presidentially-appointed Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD), whose primary role is to advise USAID on agriculture, rural development and nutrition issues related to global food insecurity. Luck is also a member of the Chicago Council’s Global Agricultural Development Initiative Advisory Group, the Farm Foundation’s Dialogue on Food and Agriculture Steering Committee and the DuPont Advisory Committee on Agriculture Innovation and Productivity. Luck was named a 2010 World Food Prize laureate and has received numerous other awards, including the Forbes Executive Women’s Forum Trailblazer Award; the International Women’s Forum Women Who Make a Difference Award; Rotary International’s Service Above Self Award.

At the Opportunity Nation summit, Women and the New American Dream, Otterbein will bring regional and national leaders together with students, educators and community partners on Friday and Saturday, March 9-10, to share, imagine, and build innovative new pathways for women’s social, political and economic mobility. These discussions will culminate in a strategic regional action plan for higher education and community partners to prepare women to succeed in the 21st century. The plan will be presented at a Town Hall meeting, hosted by MSNBC anchor Chris Jansing.

“We are expecting hundreds of community leaders, scholars and citizens to join us at Otterbein to inspire us as they share innovative and ambitious strategies for increasing opportunity for women and girls within their schools, businesses, organizations and communities,” said Melissa Gilbert, associate dean of experiential learning and director of the Center for Community Engagement at Otterbein.

Participants can choose between five tracks, including conversations about raising awareness of the institutional and structural obstacles facing women; developing new strategies in higher education that support the flourishing of women and girls; cultivating meaningful and sustainable community partnerships that help create more communities of opportunity; training a new generation to become social change agents in their own communities; and unleashing resources to transform the everyday experiences of women and girls.

Highlights of the events currently include a Student Leadership Institute for college students and an Ask Legal Series addressing key legal issues in social change work. At the IN/vent Tents, people can drop by and vent about obstacles facing women or share strategies to create new pathways for women. At the Community Action Poverty Simulation, participants will role-play as members of a family living in poverty or as community service providers. The World Café, will engage participants in intentional conversations about the powerful questions that matter to those committed to cultivating more opportunities for women and girls. At the Hunger Banquet, participants will share both the story and the average meal of a low, middle, or upper class person as they join others at lunch, experiencing first-hand the significant inequality that exists across the dining rooms of America

Additional speakers at the two-day event currently include national service expert Shirley Sagawa; American Association of Colleges and Universities Senior Vice President Caryn McTighe Musil; and MSNBC anchor Chris Jansing. Kerrii Anderson, former president and CEO of Wendy’s International, serves as honorary chair of the event.

Participants can register to attend at www.otterbein.edu/opportunitynation. Fees for participation are $25 for students and $75 for non-students. Registration includes attendance to a keynote event on Friday, March 9, and participation in workshops, lectures, lunch, a Hunger Banquet, a World Café, a poverty simulation and a Town Hall meeting on Saturday, March 10.

Regional partners for the event include American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland, National Association of Women Business Owners – Columbus, Ohio Campus Compact, One Girl, The Women’s Book, United Way, Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD) and YWCA. National partners include Be the Change and Opportunity Nation. For more information, visit www.bethechangeinc.org and www.opportunitynation.org. Sponsorship opportunities are available; call (614) 823-1305 for more information.