Monday, October 26

Opening Plenary

12 pm - 1 pm EDT

Spark Speaker: Uplifting Indigenous Communities, Protecting Tribal Sovereignty

  • Danielle Hill, Founder of Heron-HIll LLC, Co-Owner of Wampanoag Trading Post and Gallery, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

Opening Keynote: Calling in as a Leadership Skill

In this turbulent and partisan political climate, learning techniques for building a welcoming, non-judgmental environment for stakeholders is critical in achieving the group's or organization's goals. This presentation will share several helpful ways to turn Call-outs into Call-ins while working towards honesty, transparency, and accountability in the human rights movement.

  • Loretta Ross, Advocate and Author, Reproductive Justice: An Introduction

Concurrent Block A

1:30pm - 2:15pm EDT

Counter Stories from the Frontlines of Early Care and Education 

Black and Brown women provide early care and education for America’s children, this session centers their stories and how they are leading advocacy efforts in their communities.

  • Dr. Michelle Gomes Sanchez, Principal, Epiphany School

  • Maurice Sykes, Executive Director, Early Childhood Leadership Institute at the National Center for Urban Education

  • Lauren Kennedy, Co-Founder, Neighborhood Villages

  • Moderator: Josette Williams, Program Manager, Countdown to Kindergarten Boston

Communities Birthing Justice: Advancing Maternal and Child Equity

Diving into examples of how communities are serving as villages to support families as they bring babies into the world with dignity.

  • Jaye Clement, Director of Community Health Program and Strategies, Henry Ford Health System

  • Nneka Hall, Maternal and Infant Health Advocate, Boston Breastfeeding Coalition

  • Indra Lusero, Director, Elephant Circle and President, Birth Rights Bar Association

  • Moderator: Dr. Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha, Associate Professor, Tufts School of Medicine

Using Data for Action: The Healthy Neighborhood Study

**Spanish interpretation available / La interpretación en español estará disponible

In this session we will share strategies for using data for action from the Healthy Neighborhood Study, a Participatory Action Research project in Eastern MA that has brought together resident researchers, community organizations, and academic and regional organizational partners to use research to help build healthy communities. We will share how we have collected and used our data to drive changes in New Bedford, MA and send key messages to residents about neighborhood changes due to development and climate changes.

  • Reann Gibson, Senior Research Fellow, Conservation Law Foundation

  • Gail Rodrigues, Grants Manager, Southcoast YMCA

  • Dina Abreau, Resident Researcher, Healthy Neighborhoods Study


Emergent Strategy in These Times (90min) *Limited Seats

In this session, participants will explore the core principles and elements defined within Adrienne Maree brown’s work “Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds” with an emphasis on transformative justice and resilience.

  • Mia Herndon, Mason of Abundance, Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute


Group Peer Support for Parents: Inviting Parents to Share Deeply About What's Most on Our Minds (120min) *Limited Seats

Come learn the evidence-based, trauma-informed, community-tested GPS Group Peer Support model for bringing parents together and provide support to the parents you work with that can really make a difference. 

  • Liz Friedman, Co-Founder and Co-President, Group Peer Support (GPS)

  • Tessa Smith, Training Specialist, Group Peer Support (GPS)

Concurrent Block B

2:45pm - 3:30pm EDT

Wake Up: How to Become an Advocate for Dismantling Racism within the Early Childhood System

As our country continues to wrestle with the social unrest in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the growing understanding of how disparities are being exacerbated by COVID-19, the early childhood community needs to wrestle with the systemic racism built into systems of early childhood. In this workshop we will look at how white privilege and implicit bias has impacted the cultural development of all children and take a look at what we can do within the early childhood classrooms to change that. We will have an open authentic conversation about accountability in dismantling systemic racism and what needs to be included as we rebuild an equitable early childhood system where all children thrive.

  • Dianne Haulcy, Senior Vice President for Family Engagement, Think Small

Authentic Community Engagement for Health, Justice, and Racial Equity

**Spanish interpretation available / La interpretación en español estará disponible

We know that engaging our community is important, yet we are often challenged with not gaining the trust of our community. How do we honor, respect, value, and leverage community wisdom for meaningful change in public health? Learn about Praxis’ Principles for Health Justice & Racial Equity, identify opportunities to apply them to your organization’s community engagement approaches, advance health and racial justice.

  • Dr. Xavier Morales, Executive Director, The Praxis Project

  • Jenna Gaarde, Program Director, The Praxis Project

Feeding Our Babies for the Future (60mins)

Normalizing breastfeeding for Black and Brown mothers, while also supporting them through the process.

  • Lonias Gilmore, Childhood Obesity Prevention Specialist, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

  • Paige Belevieau, Project Manager, Center for Health Equity, Education, and Research at Boston Medical Center

  • Moderator: Charlene Fraser, Peer Counselor, Boston Breastfeeding Coalition

Revolutionary Self-Care (60mins)

Going beyond the spa and nail salon to discover self-care practices that liberate all people. This session will explore why traditional forms of self-care that are rooted in privilege are not working for you and what you can do about it.

  • Melita Quance, Mind Over Border Program Manager & Family Therapist, La Coccina

Concurrent Block C

4:00pm - 4:45pm EDT

Taking Education into Our Own Hands: Parental Leadership for Equity

**Spanish interpretation available / La interpretación en español estará disponible

Parents are their childrens’ first teachers, this session will explore how parents are mobilizing and advocating for educational equity in communities across the country.

  • Jitu Brown, National Director, Journey for Justice Alliance

  • Tommy Luna, Co-Chair, Newark for Education Equity and Diversity (N.E.E.D.)

  • Moderator: Latoya Gayle, Co-Director, Social Justice Mediation Program (SJMP)

Centering the Dignity of Children: New Approaches to Child Welfare

Child Welfare as it is does not work for children and families; this session focuses on reimagining child welfare that works for our families from a fresh perspective.

  • Conrad Robinson, Area Resource Coordinator, Department of Children and Families

  • Maryellen Santiago, Director, HEROES Youth Leadership

  • Moderator: Charles Daniels, Co-Founder and  Executive Director, Fathers' Uplift

It's Our Planet Too: Recentering the Fight for Environmental Justice (55 min)

When we think of environmental justice urban communities don’t usually come to mind, but it’s our planet too.  During this session we’ll hear from leaders across the country who are combating systemic racism in the fight for environmental justice.

  • Roseann Bongiovanni, Executive Director, GreenRoots

  • Adela Gonzalez, Health Equity Corps Organizer, GreenRoots

  • Maricela Escobar, Food Justice Organizer, GreenRoots

  • Isha Clarke, Co-founder and Activist, Youth Versus Apocalypse

  • Jose Oliva, Campaigns Director, HEAL Food Alliance

Lessons from Social Justice Mediation: Navigating Power Dynamics *Limited Seats

Join us for a brief introduction to social justice mediation, a tool for breaking down power dynamics in relationship building and conflict resolution. We will explore some basic skills and present an example from working with the youth leaders of BPHC (Boston Public Health Commision) Violence Intervention and Prevention Program.  

  • Anusha Chaitanya, Co-Director, Social Justice Mediation Program (SJMP)

  • Victoria Xiao, Social Justice Mediator, Social Justice Mediation Program (SJMP)

  • Jasmine Lee, Social Justice Mediator, Social Justice Mediation Program (SJMP)


Little Uprisings: Move for the Movement (30 min)

A virtual workshop for kids to explore storytelling, music and the concepts of how our bodies are the means for protest and healing.

  • Tanya Nixon-Silberg, Founder and Director, Little Uprisings 

  • Mar Parrilla, Founding Artistic Director, Danza Orgánica

Closing Plenary

5pm - 5:30pm EDT

Closing Keynote: Reimagining Child Wellbeing Together: The Role of Race, Love and the Power of Partnership

A conversation on child health advocacy in the era of the Trump Administration, COVID-19, and amidst a national reckoning on racial injustice. Through community research, model programs and a bit of her personal story, she will offer opportunities to strengthen a collective agenda for advancing child health and wellbeing.

  • Mayra Alvarez, President, The Children's Partnership


What does a society that values community leadership look like? 

 What resources does it need to transform its immediate and long-term futures?

Learn more about our workshop and panel offerings below! 


Please note that titles and scheduled times are subject to change. Certain sessions (*) have limited capacity and are first-come, first-serve. Sessions are 45-minutes unless noted.

Simultaneous Spanish interpretation services will be available for plenaries and selected breakout sessions (**). / La interpretación simultánea en español estará disponible para las conversaciones de apertura  y algunas otras sesiones.

Tuesday, October 27

Opening Plenary

12pm - 1:15 pm EDT

Opening Keynote: Building a Movement to Birth a More Just and Loving World

  • Jennie Joseph, Advocate, Founder and Executive Director of Commonsense Childbirth Inc.

Acknowledging the Four Direction in our Lives (1:00 - 1:15PM EDT)

Engaging communities in equitable and time sensitive data to guide our response to the twin pandemics: COVID-19 and racial injustice.

  • Colleen Roan, McKinley County Early Childhood Coalition, Navajo Nation

  • Emerson Toledo, McKinley County Early Childhood Coalition, Navajo Nation

Concurrent Block A

1:30pm - 2:15pm EDT

Stakes is High: Meeting the Urgency of this Moment (90mins) *1:15pm EDT START TIME

The year is 2020. A nation struggles to battle a global pandemic and at the same time undo centuries of systemic racism, all while hurtling toward one of the most consequential elections in its history. It sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel, but this is our reality. For some, the impacts of this moment are mostly viewed through our phones and televisions. However, for others, the pain is much closer to home and the stakes are much higher. This workshop will focus on how we as individuals and collectively through our work can meet this moment with the urgency that it requires, especially for the people who are counting on us most.

  • Dr. Raul Fernandez, Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, Boston University

Data for Equity During the Twin Pandemics and Beyond

Engaging communities in equitable and time sensitive data to guide our response to the twin pandemics: COVID-19 and racial injustice.

  • Dr. Phil Fisher, Professor and Director, EC-Rapid, University of Oregon

  • Meme Styles, Founder and President, MEASURE

  • Moderator: Dr. Stephanie Curenton, Director, Center on the Ecology of Early Development

Community Journey's to Self-Healing (60mins)

**Spanish interpretation available / La interpretación en español estará disponible

Healing and growth often starts from within - what does it look like for a community to heal itself?  This session explores the ways in which communities across the region are coming together to transform themselves on a journey to collective healing and civic power.

  • Dave Ellis, Executive Director, Office of Resilience at the New Jersey Department of Children and Families

  • Rosario Ubiera-Minaya, Executive Director, Amplify Latinx

  • Shondell Davis, Community Trauma Healing Specialist, The Corey Johnson Program

  • Kali Geddes, Advocate Supervisor, Boston CASA

  • Dr. Sunday Taylor, Senior Consultant, Root Cause 

Strengths-based Approaches to Equitable Community Engagement

How do we activate community-driven solutions to promote wellbeing across the lifespan?  This session will describe strategies for cross-sector partnerships and elevating community partnerships and sustainable neighborhood assets reviewing the successes of Denver's Dahli Campus for Health and Wellbeing and Lifespan Local.

  • Dr. Lydia Prado, Executive Director, Lifespan Local


Pandemic to Protest to Power

This presentation will discuss how social justice issues have evolved over time in New Jersey, are impacted by things such as a global pandemic and the importance of advocacy today to ensure our children have power tomorrow.

  • Ashanti Jones, Community Engagement Manager, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice

Concurrent Block B

2:45pm - 3:30pm EDT

Self-care: Self-love is not selfish *Limited Seats

**Spanish interpretation available / La interpretación en español estará disponible

In this conversation, we will be taking a genuine look at frontline workers (parents, caregivers, social workers, direct care providers) and how they care for themselves to be best able to care for others. Participants will learn about comparison fatigue, vicarious trauma, and strength-based strategies to curtail burnout. In addition, participants will leave understanding character strengths and a road map that could help to create a dream board goals and a self-love action plan.

  • Dacia Thompson, Founder and Lead Facilitator, Truss Training Institute LLC

  • Kira Riley, Facilitator, CSR Visitation Program

Beloved Community in Practice (60 min) *Limited Seats

What would it look like if our early childhood education institutions honored the dignity and voice of all children of color and their families? This interactive session, led by Networks of Opportunity for Child Wellbeing Learning Community-supported coalitions, operationalizes dignity and beloved community as key strategies for dismantling structural and systemic racism within early childhood and community health policies, institutions, and systems. Participants will explore transformative practices that two coalitions, Berkeley Education and Early Care Collective and Voices and Choices for Children Coalition, have led to advance community-driven legislation, align systems of care, and create supportive networks to sustain momentum.

  • Richie Simone Lee, Program Facilitator, Berkley County First Steps

  • May Losloso, Community Engagement Director, Children’s Defense Fund–Minnesota

  • Adrienne Troy-Frazier, Executive Director, Berkeley County First Steps

  • Nilsy Rapalo, Clinical Specialist, Mental Health Department of South Carolina

Pivoting in the Pandemic: A Tool to Support Good Decision Making *Limited Seats

Use your organization’s mission, vision, and values to craft a decision-making framework. A decision making framework helps you evaluate opportunities and ensure that they are in keeping with the most important aspects of your organization’s culture and identity - even when the future is uncertain. This breakout session is geared towards learners of all styles; you’ll get the most out of it if you come with a working knowledge of your organization’s mission, vision, and values. 

  • Liz O'Connor, Founder and Principal, Strategy Matters

  • Katie Steward Dorfman, Senior Consultant, Strategy Matters

The Roadmap for Community Transformation (75min) *2:30pm EDT START TIME

What does equitable economic and educational recovery look like?  Learn more about the innovative strategies and nontraditional partnerships that organizations are using during the COVID-19 Pandemic to promote community wellness, address structural racism and promote community transformation.  

  • Mark Culliton, Founder and CEO, Dorchester College Bound 

  • Mimi Graney, Civic Design & Engagement Strategist, City of Chelsea

  • Matthew Parker, Director of Organizing, Union of Minority Neighborhoods

  • Gladys Vega, Executive Director, Chelsea Collaborative 

  • Moderator: Karleen Porcena, Vice President Relationship Manager, Berkshire Bank

Concurrent Block C

4:00pm - 4:45pm EDT

Moving Beyond Organizational Goals: Promoting Internal, Sustainable Racial Equity Policies in Early Education

The wide-ranging disparities in access, affordability, quality, and compensation for communities of color within the early education system are fairly well known. Often less known, is the connection between the long-standing systemic and structural barriers that perpetuate racial inequity and the people and organizations who drive research and funding, develop legislation, and implement policies. Join this workshop as I discuss how communities of color are impacted by this connection; share organizational and individual level recommendations to promote sustainable internal racial equity practices; and explain how implementing these recommendations can better equip organizations to develop equitable early education policy solutions.

  • Alycia Hardy, Policy Analyst, Child Care and Early Education, The Center for Law and Social Policy

Narrative Justice for Maternal Equity - Mamatoto Village

How does narrative change inspire social transformation? This session will introduce the Mamatoto Village model for creating career pathways for Women of Color in the field of public health and human services; and providing accessible perinatal support services designed to empower women with the necessary tools to make the most informed decisions in their maternity care, their parenting, and their lives. The session will highlight strategies for uplifting asset and strengths-based narratives for community leadership for birth justice.

  • Aza Nedhari, Co-founding Executive Director, Mamatoto Village

Language Justice: Advocating in the Language of Your Heart

**Spanish interpretation available / La interpretación en español estará disponible

Understand the history of language oppression and how language justice can be a used as a strategy for achieving equity, justice, and community.

  • Indira Guzman, Co-Founder and Director, Community Language Cooperative

A New Kind of Leadership: Youth Civic Engagement and Advocacy

How are youth are leading recovery efforts and community transformation during COVID-19? How are organizational leaders adapting their infrastructure and models to make room for youth leadership.

  • Nurys Camargo, Founder and Board Chair, Chica Project

  • Shaneka Boucher, President and Founder, Social Responsibility Through ME

  • Alicia Garcia Rivas, Youth Organizer, Social Responsibility Through ME

  • Eva Vanterpol, Youth Organizer, Social Responsibility Through ME

  • Moderator: Sana Fadel, Deputy Director, Citizens for Juvenile Justice

Little Uprisings - Move for the Movement! (30 min)

A virtual workshop for kids to explore storytelling, music and the concepts of how our bodies are the means for protest and healing.

  • Tanya Nixon-Silberg, Founder and Director, Little Uprisings 

  • Mar Parrilla, Founding Artistic Director, Danza Orgánica

Closing Plenary

5pm - 5:30pm EDT

Closing Keynote: The Confluence: Racial Justice and Child Well-Being

  • Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, President and CEO of Deaconess Foundation and incoming President and CEO of Children’s Defense Fund

Vital Village is a network of residents and organizations committed to maximizing child, family, and community well-being. Vital Village is based at Boston Medical Center.



A Spanish version of our website is underway! We are very excited to practice language justice and appreciate your patience. Thank you!  

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