More than one hundred New York State leaders, including human service providers from community and faith-based groups, businesses, philanthropic organizations and government, gathered on January 31, 2013 to share experience and develop an agenda to strengthen New York families.
Meeting in Poughkeepsie, the Stronger Families New York (SFNY) coalition convened on the theme of “Promoting Well-being, Success and Economic Security for New York Families.” Global Peace Foundation USA co-sponsored the event and is a member of the coalition since March 2012.
In welcoming remarks, Ms. Joyce Thomas, Region II Administrator of the U.S. Administration for Children and Families (ACF), shared the vision and mission of the SFNY coalition, encouraging all attending to be active participants and to work together for the common purpose of supporting New York families.
Keynote speaker Mr. Joseph T. Jones, President and CEO of Center for Urban Families, Inc. of Baltimore, spoke to the importance of developing service programs to empower low-income families. He also stressed the need to encourage men to fulfill their roles as fathers by sharing his own personal life story.
A morning panel discussion introduced current research on the status of the family and issues relating to strengthening families, with presentations by Ms. Elizabeth Isakson, MD, Co-Director of Docs for Tots, and Ms. Erika Rosenberg, Senior Associate of the Center for Governmental Research, Inc. A second panel, moderated by Mr. Kenneth Braswell, Director of the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, addressed community needs and family-support best practices.
During a networking luncheon, invited featured speaker Mr. Earl Johnson, Director of the ACF Office of Family Assistance, expressed appreciation to all participants for their daily efforts and work in different human service areas. He reflected on their experience in the field and on how better federal policies relating to families could be adopted as a result. Mr. Johnson also publically recognized Ms. Diann Dawson, former Director of Regional Operations of ACF, and testified to her great work over 30 years in government for the betterment of American families. He said she was a source of inspiration and driving force for many of leaders around them.
GPF is a partner of Stronger Families New York.
Afternoon breakout sessions addressed issues of financial empowerment, healthy marriages and relationships, and successful re-entry of incarcerated citizens into society. Many participants expressed appreciation for SFNY coalition and for the levels of leadership represented, from the federal government to the local government and community based organizations. Many attendees praised the forum as a positive learning experience and saw how working together to tackle the most important and common issues could indeed strengthen families in New York.
Global Peace Foundation USA President Mr. Alan J. Inman concluding the forum by calling representatives of each breakout session to report on their discussions. Participants reported that they were leaving better equipped to advance the work of their respective organizations and communities.
–Reported by Sam Kotegawa