2009
Noted children's advocate to address public at civic leadership conference

Noted children's advocate to address public at civic leadership conference
February 10, 2009

Phil Brozynski, Media Relations Manager
(630) 829-6094
pbrozynski@ben.edu

The statistics are numbing. Each day in America, four children are killed by abuse or neglect, five children or teens commit suicide, eight children or teens are killed by firearms, 155 children are arrested for violent crimes, 296 children are arrested for drug crimes, 2,421 children are confirmed as abused or neglected and 2,483 babies are born into poverty. Marian Wright Edelman has worked tirelessly for more than 35 years to ensure that every child has a chance to grow up free from poverty, abuse and neglect with the help of caring families and communities. On Wednesday, March 25, Edelman brings that fight to the western suburbs. Edelman, the founder of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is the featured speaker at the Fourth Annual Civic Leadership Conference and Youth Government Day sponsored by the Center for Civic Leadership and Public Service at Benedictine University. The Center, founded by former Illinois Attorney General and Benedictine University Distinguished Fellow Jim Ryan, invites hundreds of area high school students every year to participate in civic engagement activities that highlight the importance of civic competence and public leadership. As part of the conference, Edelman will present “American Children in Poverty: A Call to Action,” at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25 in the Rice Center on the campus of Benedictine University. Edelman’s appearance is sponsored by the Center and by the Department of Political Science. Edelman is a graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga. and Yale Law School. She was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar and directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Miss. She also served as counsel for the Poor People’s Campaign organized by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and founded CDF parent Washington Research Project. Edelman 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 which include eight books. She is a board member of the Robin Hood Foundation, the Association to Benefit Children and City Lights School, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. The CDF is a nonprofit child advocacy organization that works to ensure a level playing field for all children. The CDF champions policies and programs that lift children out of poverty, protects them from abuse and neglect, and ensures their access to health care, quality education, and a moral and spiritual foundation. The Center for Civic Leadership and Public Service was established by Ryan to shape a new generation of public leaders and responsible citizens. Edelman’s presentation is free and open to the public.

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Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.