2011 Domestic U.S. Workshops

With a focus on the United States, the Domestic Track workshops will look at: why a disproportionate number of women are poor and what can be done about it; labor and sex trafficking in the U.S., including youth; incarceration and re-entry into society with attention to women and minorities; the disastrous impact of a broken immigration system on women and men; budget analysis with attention to impacts on women; Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF); poverty and public education; health care; gender-based violence (is it safe to go home?), and programs where women are empowering each other. These workshops are based on the conviction that we must work together to empower women, and that the entire society will share in their gifts.

Workshops Organizer: Larry Couch, Lobbyist, National Advocacy Center, Sisters of the Good Shepherd


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Deficit Hysteria: How Can we be Both Fiscally and Morally Responsible on the Budget?
(co-sponsored with Peace & Global Security Workshops)

Current political rhetoric centers a good deal around the deficit, the debt and the fiscal peril facing the nation. What are the real issues at stake? How does our national checkbook reflect our priorities as a national community? Is our spending really driving this impending financial doom? What federal spending is worth our investment, and what only makes us more vulnerable in the long run?

Come learn from experts on the federal budget, who will discuss these issues and delve into the serious threats currently facing spending for those most in need; urge intense scrutiny of the military budget and U.S. continuing investments in nuclear weapons; and discuss how all of these issues impact vulnerable communities – women and girls, in particular.


  • Amelia Kegan, Policy Analyst at Bread for the World
  • Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Senior Policy Analyst at the National Women’s Law Center
  • Kathy Crandall Robinson, Public Policy Director at WAND (Women’s Actions for New Directions)

Moderator: Leslie Woods, Representative for Domestic Poverty & Environmental Issues at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) Office of Public Witness.

Health Care Reform: What women want, what women got, what women still need

March 23 marks the first anniversary of health care reform. Women’s access to affordable health care improved significantly with reform, but there is still work to be done. What will women get?  When?  How are particular groups of women impacted, such as Native American and immigrant women? What still needs to be done? Given the on-going opposition to reform, how can the faith community support the implementation and improvement of the new law?


  • Lisa Codispoti, National Women Law Center
  • Leslye Orloff, Legal Momentum’s Immigrant Women Program
  • Rev. Cynthia Abrams, United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society

Facilitator: Rev. Linda Hanna Walling


Consequences of A Broken System: Gender and Immigration in the United States

People come to the United States, a nation of immigrants known for values of freedom and equality, in search of work, safety and a better life for their families. While all newcomers face a difficult path navigating our immigration system, gender plays a particular role in the vulnerabilities that affect both men and women. Come and learn about how our current laws impact men, women and families who may be apprehended, detained or deported.


  • Megan Bremer, Staff Attorney, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service;
  • Additional experts and impacted individuals


Trafficking in Human Beings: Can It Really Be Happening Here?
(co-sponsored with Asia-Pacific Workshops)

Human trafficking, a form of modern slavery, is a complex phenomenon, whose causes and consequences are violations of human rights.  Worldwide, the International Labor Organization estimates that there are more than 12 million adults and children in forced labor, bonded labor and forced prostitution, 56 percent of whom are women and girls.  “Trafficking in Human Beings; Can it really be happening here?” will explore the human trafficking industry in the United States, its victims, and federal anti-trafficking legislation.  Issues underscored in this Workshop; human rights, poverty, violence, gender inequality and corporate responsibility.

From boys sold into the fishing industry on Lake Volta in Ghana, to girls trafficked into the brothels of Thailand, to domestic workers enslaved and tortured by a Long Island couple, to farm workers locked in a box truck, chained, beaten and forced to harvest tomatoes in Florida fields, slavery is alive and well today in a new form: human trafficking.  Poverty, gender discrimination, violence, lack of free migration and conflict create the breeding ground for this phenomenon which is vicious, profitable, and complex.

In this workshop we will explore how human rights violations are the causes and consequences of human trafficking.  Participants can expect to be introduced to the topic and gain resources for working together to address this modern form of slavery.


  • Rev. Noelle Damico, Campaign for Fair Food, Presbyterian Hunger Program, will discuss “Labor Trafficking into and originating in the United States.”
  • Helene Hayes, PhD, Sisters of the Good Shepherd, will present research findings on “Foreign Women Trafficked into the United States.”
  • Dana Chou, Interim Director for Children’s Services, Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service, will describe the unique vulnerabilities to being trafficked of unaccompanied immigrant children

Gender, Race, and Mass Incarceration 

Women make up the fastest-growing population in the U.S. prison system, which some have dubbed the “new American apartheid.” Gender, Race and Mass Incarceration will explore the intersection of race and gender with current U.S. policies and practices of mass incarceration. Presenters Kemba Smith Pradia, Rev. Sala W.J. Nolan Gonzales, and Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz will discuss with participants the theological and policy justifications for adopting a new model for healing in our communities.

Facilitator: Laura Downton


Moving Out of Poverty – TANF’s Role? 

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) established in 1996 replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (Welfare).  With the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), should families be able to move out of poverty?  TANF is due for re-authorization, and CTC and EITC have been extended to 2012.  What has worked, and what is most in need of improvement in order to protect families with children?  What is the role of advocates this year?

Facilitator: Sr. Marge Clark, NETWORK

Intimate Partner Violence: Is it Safe to Go Home? 

Homes are meant to be safe havens but the statistics about abuse are shocking – an estimated seven million children live in U.S. families in which severe partner violence occurred at least once in the past year. This panel will describe intimate partner violence; highlight the spiritual struggles faced by survivors; share a survivor’s story in the context of a specific culture: Asian Pacific Islander; and outline components of both VAWA and the proposed I-VAWA.

Facilitator:  Sharon O’Brien, Ph.D., Convener: Network of Catholics Addressing Domestic Abuse


  • Rev. Paul Huesing, CSP, Ph.D., Former Chair of the Spirituality Support Group for the Boulder County (CO) Safehouse
  • Celia Richa, International Policy Advocate, Family Violence Prevention Fund



Engaging Women’s Power in the Community 

Micro-lending is working as low-income women gain skills and develop programs in their neighborhoods.  The Incarnate Word Foundation, National Council of Jewish Women work in partnership with other groups providing loans and training.  Participants from the Women’s Helping Hands will share their experiences. Women directly impacted by legislation come together for dialogue, in preparation for advocacy at the Illinois statehouse.  Participants grapple with the impact of their advocacy and how the legislation will bring about system transformation.


  • Sr. Gwen Farry, BVM, 8th Day Center for Justice, Chicago
  • Bridget Flood, Incarnate Word Foundation – St. Louis
  • Rose Mary Meyer, BVM, Project Irene, Illinois



Poverty and Public Education: Gender, Race, and Welcome

If we are a society committed to the common good and not merely a mass of individuals, what is our collective responsibility for assisting moms, especially single moms, so that their children thrive at school?  Why is it so important to provide early childhood education for every child?  To ensure authentic welcome at school? To close resource opportunity gaps, especially for children of color, from school district to school district?

Speakers in the public education workshop, Poverty and Public Education: Gender, Race, and Welcome, are:

  • Rev. Michael Livingston, Director of the Poverty Initiative, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
  • Helen Blank, Director of Leadership and Public Policy at the National Women’s Law Center
  • Jan Resseger, Minister for Public Education and Witness, United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Women and the Economy / Eradicating Poverty

Poverty is growing in the US. Is this inevitable? Will the poor be with us always? What can we do about poverty? Can we significantly reduce or even eradicate it? These questions and others will be the focus of this plenary. We will learn who is poor, why people are poor, and trends in poverty over time. We will hear about successful interventions as well as those that have failed, and why. We will learn how to get involved in bringing an end to poverty through both public policy initiatives and on-the-ground interventions and actions.


  • Edie Rasell, Minister for Economic Justice, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
  • Rev. Michael Livingston, Director, National Council of Churches Poverty Initiative
  • Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs

Contributing Sponsors & Partner Organizations