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vitalvoices Speaker Series

2016 - 2017 Academic Year


April 19, 2017 from 1:30-3:00 p.m. in C-100, Commerce Building

Homeless Youth: Serving an Invisible Population

Runaway and homeless youth are often disconnected from family, and underserved by communities, left to fend for themselves on the fringes of our society. Dr. Natasha Slesnick will discuss how research has informed service efforts in her community.


March 23, 2017 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. in C-100, Commerce Building

"Mija, tu vas a ir a la universidad": Advocating to Broaden the Participation of Latina/o Students in S.T.E.M.

Presented by Sylvia Celedon-Pattichis

The presentation will center on approaches that teachers can implement to advocate for all students, in particular bilingual Latina/o students, in their classrooms and communities. These approaches will be discussed within the context of my own personal story as a Latina emergent bilingual who came to the United States as an eight-year old and as someone who is strongly committed to advocacy for access, equity, and empowerment in S.T.E.M.


February 8, 2017 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in C-100, Commerce Building

The Era of Magical Thinking: Youth in the Adult Criminal Justice System in Texas and Beyond

Michelle Deitch, University of Texas, School of Public Policy

Professor Detch will discuss her research on the characteristics of youth tried as adults, what happens to them in adult jails and prisons, sentencing law affecting youth tried as adults, and national and Texas policy trends. 


Wednesday, October 19, 2016 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in C-100, Commerce Building

Symposium of Supported Scholarship and Creativity


Dr. Heather Goltz, Social Work
Dr. Judith Harris, Criminal Justice
Dr. Laura Mitchell, Urban Education
Dr. Rebecca Pfeffer, Criminal Justice
Dr. Bernardo Pohl, Urban Education

Dr. Jacqueline Sack, Urban Education


October 18, 2016 2:30-4:00 Robertson Auditorium (A350)

alpha phi sigma: interdiction to addiction

panel: substance abuse from a criminal justice perspective

  • Donal Cooper, Counseling Supervisor, Harris County Community Supervision and Corrections Department Outpatient Counseling
  • Jeanette Kolarik, Program Director, Felony Mental Health Court
  • Peter Mott, Program Director, Gateway Foundation of Texas


September 22, 2016 from 2:00-3:30 p.m. in C-100, Commerce Building

Texturing with Multimodal Texts Across Content Areas: A Multiliteracies Approach to Teaching and Learning

Presented by Lucia Cardenas


2015-2016 Academic Year


January 27, 2016 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. at the Robertson Auditorium (A350)

Not in Our Backyard: A Conversation With Local Experts About Combating Modern-Day Slavery in Houston.

This event will feature dialogue between local experts about human trafficking in Houston. Topics will include the scope of the problem, the strategies local and federal law enforcement partners are taking to address the problem, and the important ways that police, prosecutors, and victim service providers work together to restore victims’ lives and bring traffickers to justice. The panel will also discuss the unique needs of human trafficking survivors and the services available in Houston for them, as well as to explain what we can do as community members to stop this crime from occurring in our city.


November 18, 2015 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. at the Robertson Auditorium (A350)

Pulitzer Prize Winner Lisa Falkenberg will present:

The story that changed Texas justice

Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg explains how a series of powerful columns on one man's wrongful conviction helped free him from death row, ban Texas' archaic grand jury system and won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in commentary. Come learn how to harness great stories to influence opinions and achieve social change.  

Lisa Falkenberg will also be receiving the Person of the Year Award from the Program in Social Work.


October 12, 2015 from 1:10-2:30 p.m. at the Robertson Auditorium (A350)

Journey of Hope...from Violence to Healing is an organization that is led by murder victim family members that conducts public education speaking tours and addresses alternatives to the death penalty.


For further information contact Steven Villano, Director of the Center for Public Service and Community Research at