Symposium Program and Panelists
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Presented by Family Focus and
The University of Chicago
School of Social Service Administration
Monday, November 7, 2011, at BMO Harris Bank, Chicago
A conversation about the importance of
family support today and how changing demographics
are impacting families in the future.
Featuring Experts in the Field of Family Support
Phyllis Glink - Moderator
Phyllis Glink is Executive Director of the Irving Harris Foundation, where she works in the area of early childhood development and child and family welfare. Ms. Glink serves on several state and national advisory boards and councils for children, and she is a mentor for both the University of Chicago’s Harris School for Public Policy Studies and the National Black Child Development Institute’s leadership development initiative. Phyllis Glink has a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago's Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy Studies.
Sydney Hans is a Professor at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and in the University’s Department of Comparative Human Development. She studies how experiences in early life, particularly the relationship between mother and infant, influence development at later ages. She is particularly interested in using research to develop interventions and public policy that will benefit infants, young children, and their families. Professor Hans has a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University and received her Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard University.
Erwin McEwen is the former Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Family Advocacy Centers were created under McEwen’s tenure to offer families a way to ask for help, regardless of whether they were involved with DCFS. Strengthening Families Illinois, supported by the Department under McEwen, has been recognized as a national example of how child welfare can work with the early education and child care fields to help families and strengthen their social connections. Mr. McEwen has a B.A. in Economics from Illinois State University and a Master's degree from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, with a clinical concentration in family systems.
Bryan Samuels is the Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF). Samuels has spent his career formulating service delivery innovations and streamlining operations in large government organizations on behalf of children, youth, and families. Previously, Samuels served as the Chief of Staff for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and taught at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. Samuels has a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and a Master’s degree from the University of Chicago's Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy Studies.
Martin V. Torres
Martin V. Torres is the Policy Analyst at the Latino Policy Forum. As a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Public Policy Fellow, Torres served on the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. Following his fellowship, he worked at the Alliance for Excellent Education, a D.C.-based nonprofit research and advocacy group focused on secondary school reform. Torres holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana and an M.P.P. from the University of Chicago's Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy Studies.
Bernice Weissbourd is an early childhood educator, well known as an initiator and leader of the family support movement. In 1976, she founded Family Focus, a nonprofit agency providing comprehensive programs for children and their families from birth in diverse communities in the Chicago area. In 1981, Ms. Weissbourd created the Family Resource Coalition, later know as Family Support America, a national organization which served as a resource on family support programs and policies. Ms. Weissbourd has authored and edited numerous publications on family support policies and practices, and has co-authored two books, America’s Family Support Programs and Putting Families First: America’s Family Support Movement and the Challenge of Change.
Merri Ex, President and CEO, Family Focus, Inc.
Merri Ex joined Family Focus in early 2011. She was previously president of Philanthropic Solutions, Inc., where she provided consultation to donors and nonprofit organizations. She was vice president for philanthropic services at The Chicago Community Trust, from 2000-2007. Ms. Ex helped to open Family Focus’s first Nuestra Familia program for Latino families in 1982 while serving as Executive Director of Erie Neighborhood House. She has a B.A. in Latin American Studies and Spanish from Newcomb College of Tulane University and a M.A. in Ibero-American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.