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Villanova University Hosts Inaugural Anti-Poverty Symposium “Caritas in Action: Root Causes, Solutions and Restoring Dignity”

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VILLANOVA, Pa. – Over the past year and a half, a spotlight has been on the age-old problem of poverty and inequality with the global pandemic exacerbating disparities. Villanova University’s Inaugural Anti-Poverty Symposium “Caritas in Action: Root Causes, Solutions and Restoring Dignity” on Oct. 22 will bring together thought leaders and advocates to explore the cause and effect of poverty and inequality. Speakers will include Julián Castro, Angela Davis and Anand Giridharadas.

This interdisciplinary event is part of a University-wide initiative on poverty and inequality, made possible by a gift from Paul Tufano Esq., '83 VSB, '86 CWSL and Christine Tufano '84 CLAS, '86 MA. The program and annual symposium will focus on identifying the most promising approaches to eradicating poverty and eliminating disparities associated with race, disability and difference.

This symposium takes place on Friday, October 22, 2021, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Arthur M. Goldberg '66 Commons at the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law.

Learn more about the event and register here. All attendees must follow the University’s masking guidelines.

Program Agenda:

10:00 am - 10:20 am | Welcome

  • The Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, ’75 CLAS, University president, Villanova University
  • Stephanie Sena — Anti-Poverty Fellow, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law & Founder, Student-Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia (SREHUP)
  • Paul Tufano, Esq., '83 VSB, '86 CWSL — Chairman and Chief Executive Office, AmeriHealth Caritas Family of Companies

10:20 am - 11:00 am  | Keynote

  • Julian Castro – 16th United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

11:00 am - 12:00 pm | Panel 1  Shifting the Poverty Lens: Caritas in Focus

  • Cassie Haynes, JD, MPH – Co-Executive Director at Resolve Philly
  • Arthur Purcaro, OSA – Assistant Vice President for Mission and Ministry, Co-Chair University Sustainability Leadership Council, adjunct professor of Theology, Villanova University
  • Alicia Robinson – Board Member for Student Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia

12:00 pm - 12:40 pm | Lunch/Talk

  • Angela Davis, PhD – political activist, philosopher, academic and author

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm | Panel 2  Healthcare and Poverty

  • Brad Wilhelm, Esq. – General Counsel, University City Housing
  • Mark Doorley, PhD – Director of the Ethics Program, Villanova University
  • Ruth McDermott-Levy, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN – Professor and Co-Director, Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment
  • Dylan Toolajian, BSN, RN, OCN – Cooper University Health Care

2:00 pm - 3:00 pm | Panel 3  The Role of Academia in Anti-Poverty Work

  • Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart – Adjunct Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, Villanova University
  • Joan Maya Mazelis, PhD – Associate Professor of Sociology, Rutgers University-Camden
  • Linda Maldonado, PhD, RN – Assistant Professor, Villanova University

3:00 pm - 4:00 pm | Panel 4  Decriminalizing Poverty

  • Alec Karakatsanis, Esq. – Founder and Executive Director, Civil Rights Corps.
  • Alex Vitale – Professor of Sociology, Brooklyn College
  • Teressa Ravenell, Esq. – Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law
  • Amelia Carter – Assistant Director, South Asia Center at the University of Pennsylvania

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm | Closing Remarks

  • Anand Giridharadas – Author, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World (Knopf, 2018), Editor-at-large, TIME & Visiting Scholar, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit