Keynote Speaker: Susan Burton
A Conversation with Susan Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women
After Susan's five-year old son was accidentally hit and killed by a car, she numbed her grief through alcohol and drugs. As a result, she became enmeshed in the criminal justice system for nearly two decades before finding freedom and sobriety in 1997. Drawing on her personal experiences, she founded A New Way of Life Re-Entry Project (ANWOL) in 1998, dedicating her life to helping others break the cycle of incarceration. ANWOL provides resources such as housing, case management, employment, legal services, leadership development and community organizing on behalf of, and with, people who struggle to rebuild their lives after dwelling in an underworld of incarceration.
Susan is widely recognized as a leader in the national criminal justice reform movement. A past Soros Justice Fellow, Women's Policy Institute Fellow and Community Fellow under the California Wellness Foundation's Violence Prevention Initiative, Susan has served on the state's Little Hoover Commission and the Gender Responsive Strategies Task Force. In recognition of her leadership, she was appointed by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas as a member of the Los Angeles County Sybil Brand Commission for Institutional Inspections. In this role she is authorized to inspect Los Angeles County correctional facilities and advocate for the health and well-being of people housed in the facilities.
Susan is a co-founder of All of Us or None (AOUON) and the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People's Movement (FICPM), both national grassroots civil rights movements comprised of formerly incarcerated individuals, their families and community allies. In collaboration with UCLA's Critical Race Studies Program, she launched the Employment Rights Re-Entry Legal Clinic which has grown to be the largest of its kind in Southern California.
Susan has earned numerous awards and honors for her work. In 2010, she was named a CNN Top Ten Hero and received the prestigious Citizen Activist Award from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Susan is currently a recipient of both the Encore Purpose Prize (2012) and a James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award (2014). In 2015, on the 50th Anniversary of Selma and the Voting Rights Act, Susan Burton was named by the Los Angeles Times as one of eighteen New Civil Rights Leaders in the nation.
A New Way of Life was recently honored with a Ford Freedom Unsung Award that salutes "organizations that have positively impacted communities with achievements that inform and inspire others."
Special Address: Dick Durbin, Senator-IL
Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Springfield, is the 47th U.S. Senator from the State of Illinois, the state’s senior senator, and the convener of Illinois’ bipartisan congressional delegation. Durbin also serves as the Democratic Whip, the second highest ranking position among the Senate Democrats. Senator Durbin has been elected to this leadership post by his Democratic colleagues every two years since 2005. Elected to the U.S. Senate on November 5, 1996, and re-elected in 2002, 2008, and 2014, Durbin fills the seat left vacant by the retirement of his long-time friend and mentor, U.S. Senator Paul Simon. Durbin sits on the Senate Judiciary, Appropriations, and Rules Committees. He is the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and the Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee. Senator Durbin makes approximately 50 round trips a year between Washington and Illinois. He is married to Loretta Schaefer Durbin. Their family consists of three children--Christine (deceased), Paul and Jennifer--as well as three grandchildren, Alex, Ona and Floyd. They reside in Springfield.
Keynote Speaker: Shaun King
Shaun King is one of many voices—though an increasingly prominent voice—within the Black Lives Matter movement. By using social media to highlight, amplify, and discuss news of police brutality, racial discrimination, and other civil rights issues, King has become an indispensable source for extending crucial conversations about social justice and equality.
Shaun King has written extensively about the Black Lives Matter movement, covering discrimination, police brutality, the prison industrial complex, and social justice in the wake of violence in New York, Baltimore, Cleveland, Ferguson, Missouri, Charleston, South Carolina, and other cities. He is now the Writer-in-Residence at Harvard Law School’s Fair Justice Project as well as a columnist at The Intercept. In his position as Senior Justice Writer at the New York Daily News, King wrote over 630 columns. He is a regular political commentator for The Young Turks and on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, and was formerly Justice Writer for Daily Kos. “Throughout his career, King has built a formidable social media following,” writes The Intercept. “As a journalist, King has deployed this following as a tool of the craft. King’s audience provides tips to stories of injustice that would otherwise be ignored, as well as to all-too-rare triumphs of activism across the country.” Widely known for using Twitter and Facebook to tell micro-stories of injustice, King’s social media updates have influenced how the world knows about those most affected by racism and police brutality. A strong advocate for families, Shaun has become an extremely visible fundraiser for victims of injustice.
As a social entrepreneur, King worked as the CEO and founder of both TwitChange (which won the Mashable Award for the Most Creative Social Good Campaign) and HopeMob, whose social media footprint grew to become one of the 10 largest of any charity. King is the author of The Power of 100!