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vitalvoices 2021-2022

The v​italvoices Speaker Series serves as a forum to bring scholars and practitioners alike to speak to students, faculty, alumni and community partners at UHD's College of Public Service. It is our hope that those we invite to speak will share, from the heart, their professional experiences, their knowledge, and how the work they do impacts society as a whole. We like to feature people whose work is interdisciplinary and touches upon the fields social work, criminal justice and urban education.

If a vitalvoices session was recorded, the titles below will link directly to its recorded presentation on our YouTube channel. Please enjoy.


Tackling the ​Silent Epidemic of Childhood Trauma and Grief: What Social Workers and Criminal Justice Professionals Need to K​now

April 12th, from 1:00pm-2:30pmDr. Julie Kaplow
Speaker​:  Dr. Julie Kaplow

Dr. Julie Kaplow returns to speak on how bereavement, which she describes as the silent epidemic manifests in juvenile justice youth. She will speak to specific data/information regarding this population. The pandemic has led to a silent epidemic of grief, or "psychological long COVID", among youth exposed to pandemic-related losses. In fact, over 25,000 Texas youth have experienced the death of a parent or caregiver due to COVID, with the majority of these losses occurring among Black and Hispanic families. Many of these families were already facing health disparities, racial traumas, and higher death rates prior to the pandemic, making them even more vulnerable to mental and behavioral health issues. This presentation will provide an overview of how trauma and grief can impact children and adolescents over time and what social workers and law enforcement officers can do to support youth who have experienced trauma and bereavement. 




Engaging Families and Communities in the Education Process​

March 7th, from 5:30pm-7:00pm

Speakers:  Dr. Ruth Lopez & Dr. Rhoda Freelon


Dr. Ruth Lopez and Dr. Rhoda Freelon of the University of Houston will speak on Engaging Families and Community Members in the Education Process Dr. Ruth M. Lopez and Dr. Rhoda Freelon focus on issues relevant to engaging families and communities in the education process.

 They draw from their research focused on family and youth engagement. They also share their approaches to teaching education leadership courses that aim to prepare educators to develop a strong sense of community in their schools and districts in a way that honors the assets of their students and families, particularly those from groups who have historically been disenfranchised in education. This approach to family engagement is critical in a time of intersecting societal crises—namely the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionally impacted communities of color, and amid heightened instances of racial injustice. They argue these events and other inequities impact the local issues and everyday practices of educational leaders in communities, schools, and districts. As a result, educators and other providers should consider these issues to be able to fully engage minoritized families and communities.



A Superintendent Roundt​able

March 1st, from 5:30pm-7:00pm

Speakers:  Roundtable Format


Join us to hear superintendents from five Houston area school districts speak on the factors, trends, and other forces outside the classroom that decision makers and thought leaders wrestle with as they shape educational policy and practice. The superintendents will discuss the issues facing education, specifically in relation to the field of teaching and associated educational positions that support the classroom. Through this event, we hope to provide our students with a larger perspective of the intricacies involved in creating quality schools that meet the distinct needs of our community.



Modern Day Slavery: Social Work and the Caste System in India

February 25th, from 11am-12:30pm

Speaker: Dr. Solomon


Dr. Solomon is an Assistant Professor of Social Work and Coordinator of Field Education at Madras Christian College, India and Visiting Scholar at the University of Michigan, School of Social Work. He has 2 decades of experience in training social work students including international social work students during through the field experience with tribal communities. . He has pioneered Field Action Programs in the department of Social Work and has a wide experience in working with Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs). Dr. Solomon continues to work towards Inclusion, Social Justice and empowerment of vulnerable communities and to make Social Work education relevant in our time.



Psychological Long COVID: Tackling the Silent Epidemic of Childhood Trauma and Grief

February 15th, from 6:30pm-8pm

Speaker: Dr. Julie Kaplow


The pandemic has led to a silent epidemic of grief, or "psychological long COVID", among youth exposed to pandemic-related losses. In fact, over 25,000 Texas youth have experienced the death of a parent or caregiver due to COVID, with the majority of these losses occurring among Black and Hispanic families. Many of these families were already facing health disparities, racial traumas, and higher death rates prior to the pandemic, making them even more vulnerable to mental and behavioral health issues. This presentation will provide an overview of how trauma and grief can impact children and adolescents over time and what parents, educators, and other adults can do to support youth who have experienced trauma and bereavement.



The Chapters of My Life

February 9th, from 5:30pm-7pm

Speaker: David Garlock


David Garlock is a criminal justice reform advocate. He grew up in a very dysfunctional family. Familial trauma intensified with sexual and physical abuse, then murder and years in prison. His story is unique and allows for deep conversation about the “criminal legal system”, abuse, special populations, reentry, and restorative justice. In prison he met Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative who helped he and others make parole and reenter society. After 13 1/2 years he was released. Join us to hear this amazing story of resilience and the power of redemption.



Reducing Deadly Force Usage in Police Work

October 27th, from 5:30pm-7pm

Speaker: Dr. David Klinger 


We hear much about the deadly use of force by police officers. But what are the facts behind the headlines? There’s certainly no denying what we see in the media. But, what is the whole story? What other options are available to police? Why aren’t they being employed? Or, are they? Dr. David Klinger, Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis has studied extensively on this subject. He has published scholarly manuscripts that address arrest practices, the use of force, how features of communities affect the actions of patrol officers, and terrorism. He has conducted three federally funded research projects dealing with the use of force by police officers; two on officer-involved shootings and one on police special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams. He is frequently sought after by the media for his analysis on policing. His book, Into the Kill Zone: A Cop’s Eye View of Deadly Force, was published by Jossey-Bass in 2004.


Voting Justice Matters

August 31st, from 7:30pm-9pm

Speaker: Dr. Suzanne Pritzker 


Dr. Suzanne Pritzker of the University of Houston will speak on the history of voting rights issues in the United States and why this discussion matters now. Joining her on the panel will be Dr. Liza Lane of UHD’s Social Work Program, Dr. Elizabeth Gilmore of UHD’s Criminal Justice Department and Dr. Diane Miller of UHD’s Urban Education Department. Dr. Pritzker began her professional career as a policy advisor for the Virginia Secretary of Education and as an analyst for the Virginia General Assembly. With a front-line view of the policy-making process, she developed a passion for educating and empowering vulnerable populations to participate in – and influence – public policy development and implementation. Her scholarship investigates how young people become civically involved and practice interventions to increase their empowerment and their engagement. Her research has focused on the impacts of interventions such as community-based participatory research, in the form of Photovoice, and service-learning on youth’s civic engagement.

Last updated 5/10/2022 1:46 PM