2015 Saturday Morning Policy Plenary
The first full day of EAD 2015 began with a plenary presentation by Dr. Iva Carruthers about the historical and theological developments which have led to the injustices in the criminal justice system and other exploitative systems around the globe, and a presentation by Dr. Bill Mefford about the possible policy and advocacy responses.
Dr. Iva Carruthers & Dr. Bill Mefford
Dr. Iva E. Carruthers is General Secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference (SDPC), a interdenominational organization within the African American faith tradition focused on social justice issues. SDPC is both a 501c3 and United Nations Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). As founding CEO and a trustee of SDPC, she has steered the organization as a unique, influential and esteemed network of faith based advocates and activists, clergy and lay. Former director of the Black Theology Project, Dr. Carruthers has a long history of engagement in community development initiatives and social justice ministry, fostering interdenominational and interfaith dialogue in the United States, Caribbean, South America and Africa. She is also founder of Lois House, an urban retreat center, Chicago, Illinois. She currently serves as a Life Time Trustee for the Chicago Theological Seminary and trustee for The Kwame Nkrumah Academy, Chicago; American Baptist College, Nashville; Shared Interest, New York; Bread for the World, Washington, DC.
Dr. Carruthers is co-editor of Blow the Trumpet in Zion: Global Vision and Action for the 21st Century Black Church and has authored and edited a number of articles and publications, including fifteen study guides on African American & African history as co-producer of an educational television program. She was a delegate to the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and her publication, The Church and Reparations, was distributed by her denomination in several languages.
Dr. Carruthers is Professor Emeritus and former Chairperson of the Sociology Department at Northeastern Illinois University and was founding President of Nexus Unlimited, an information and educational technology firm. She was appointed to the White House Advisory Council on the internet, “National Information Infrastructure”, Mega Project and the educational software she developed was awarded a ComputerWorld Smithsonian Award.
Her many awards and appointments include the 1999 Life Achievement Award by Northeastern Illinois University and “Year 2000 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year” award, given by the National Foundation of Women Legislators and the Small Business Administration. She was inducted into the National History Makers; was a recipient of Ebony Magazine’s year 2001 Outstanding Mother Award for Mentoring; and, noted as a Chicago area social justice pioneer in the “Women Alive! A Legacy of Social Justice” Exhibit.
Dr. Carruthers is a frequent guest speaker before various national and international forums and has served as a consultant and delegate to many organizations in the public and private sectors. She has led study tours for the university and church throughout Africa and the Diaspora.
She received the B.A. degree from the University of Illinois; the M.A. and the Ph.D. in Sociology from Northwestern University; a Master in Theological Studies degree from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Humane Letters, Meadville Lombard Theological School. Awards and postdoctoral fellowships received by Dr. Carruthers include Northwestern University Center for Urban Affairs, The Russell Sage Foundation, University of Chicago, Adlai Stevenson Institute for International Affairs and The National Endowment for the Humanities.
Dr. Carruthers is the mother of two sons.
Dr. Bill Mefford serves on the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church as the Director of Civil and Human Rights. He helps to build movements among United Methodists to defend the rights of immigrants as well as to end mass incarceration. He also directs the work of the board on issues that include ending gun violence, religious freedom, and abolition of the death penalty.
Bill has served the United Methodist Church in various positions, including youth pastor, pastor, Wesley Foundation Director, and an urban missionary in several cities including Chicago, Cleveland and Waco, Texas.
Bill graduated from McMurry University in Abilene, Texas in 1990. He graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary in 1998 and a Doctor of Missiology, also from Asbury, in 2008. The title of Bill’s dissertation is To Set Free the Affluent: Liberating the North American Church in Captivity through Solidarity with Refugees. Bill is also the co-author of The Christian Companion to Not on Our Watch. (2008)