2nd Annual Social Work Conference

Citizenship and Civility: Working Together for Practical Advocacy in a Polarized Era
May 17, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Western Carolina University
Health and Human Sciences Building, Room 204


Register Online or download a printable registration form (PDF)

The Department of Social Work at Western Carolina University is sponsoring their 2nd annual WCU Social Work Conference on May 17 from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.  The conference will focus on legislative advocacy (citizenship) at the state, national, and global levels, engaging in constructive dialog, and training in mediation skills (civility). 

Information, education, and skills provided during this one day conference will include (1) information about the legislative process and the current state of politics in America; (2) education on state, national, and global advocacy; (3) instructions on mindfulness and civil discourse, and (4) basic mediation skills.  A networking lunch will be provided.  Read on for more information about ours speakers, the information each presenter will provide, and instructions for registration. 

Pre-registration is required. The early registration fee is $95.00 if registered by May 1, 2013. Registration after May 1 is $145.00. The conference will be held in the WCU Health and Human Sciences Building room 204 on the WCU Millennial Campus located on Little Savannah Road in Cullowhee, NC.


About Our Presenters:

Dr. Chris Cooper, Associate Professor, serves as the head of the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs at Western Carolina University.  Additionally, Dr. Cooper serves as the Director of the Public Policy Institute at WCU.  His research focuses on state politics and policy, political communication, political psychology, and southern politics.  At WCU he teaches American politics, research methods, and public policy.  He received PhD and MA degrees from the University of Tennessee and a BA degree from Winthrop University. 

Dr. Cooper will discuss the state of polarization in American politics today—focusing on what our elected officials are doing, as well as what the people believe. He will also discuss the causes for this increased polarization.

Kay Paksoy serves as the Director of Advocacy, Policy, and Legislation for the NC chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.  She earned her BSW from Campbell University.  Ms. Paksoy has worked with the Governor’s One on One Program providing community service through program development and advertisement and making site visits to local youth to help strengthen their personal lives.  She became involved in advocacy when she traveled to South Africa to work with abandoned children and young adults and studied abroad in London, England.  Ms. Paksoy worked with NASW-NC as an intern during her senior year of college and then as an Advocacy Associate.  After completing college, she worked for the Methodist Home for Children in a level two residential group home and continues to help with the youth in the home. 

Ms. Paksoy will speak on issues such as how to engage in advocacy for social workers and clients, how to find and contact state legislators, NASW Lobby Day, legislative committees, and legislative agendas and sessions. 

Ken Patterson is a Global Grassroots manager for RESULTS and RESULTS Education Fund, a nationwide organization committed to building political will to end poverty and the detrimental effects it has on people across the entire globe.  Mr. Patterson has a BA in English and an MA in Higher Education Administration.  In addition, he graduated in May of 2005 with an MA in Organizational Change Management from New School University in NY.  He joined RESULTS as the Global Grass Roots Manager in 2005.  In this capacity, he provides organizational development and legislative support to a network of 65 RESULTS global chapters around the US, and works with the entire RESULTS Global Team to orchestrate effective citizen activism.  Prior to working for RESULTS, Mr. Patterson was an organizational development consultant with clients including the Salvation Army and the Peace Corps, which includes seven years of international development experience in West Africa.

Mr. Patterson’s presentation will focus on how best to engage those in power with diverse beliefs and agendas.  Additionally, he will speak on activism and advocacy at the national governmental and global levels. 

Rev. Michael Hudson is the Rector of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Cullowhee, NC.  Mr. Hudson studied English Literature at Furman University, graduating in 1973.  He spent the next 12 years as a songwriter in Nashville, TN.  He then attended Trinity Episcopal Seminary, graduating in 1989, where his studies included theology, ethics, field work in churches, and extensive Clinical Pastoral Education. Seminarians were also encouraged to participate in therapy to gain self-awareness, which contributed to his beginning understanding of the uses of civility in disagreement.  As part of his work as a priest, Mr. Hudson practices and facilitates Mindfulness. 

Mr. Hudson’s presentation will focus on mindfulness, openness, willingness, and skillfulness in dialogue.  These are valuable tools and skills he feels can be learned and gained through discussion and practice, and which contribute to general civil discourse.

Jan Woloson is the Program Manager for Mediation Services at the Mediation Center in Asheville, NC, which provides services in Buncombe, Henderson, Polk and Buncombe Counties.  Ms. Woloson started working in the field of mediation in 1996 as Coordinator of the Family Mediation Services and Mediator Trainer with the Mediation Center located in Henderson County.  She completed her first mediation training at the Asheville Mediation Center in 1992 and was a volunteer mediator for several years while in graduate school.  Her academic background includes a MS degree in Counseling from WCU and a BA degree in education.  She has been an Advanced Practitioner Mediator with the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) since 2002 and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a National Certified Counselor (NCC).  She has completed post-graduate studies in Gerontology at WCU and has just returned from three months in Thailand where she participated in an International Peace Fellowship program, studying Peace and Conflict Resolution.

Ms. Woloson will provide training in basic mediation skills for conference participants. 


Conference Objectives:

At the end of this training, participants will be able to:
     1. Understand the political process in America and its current state of polarization
     2. Advocate for changes at the local, state, national, and international levels
     3. Engage in civil discourse with others
     4. Practice mindfulness techniques to communication
     5. Apply basic mediation skills and techniques to professional practice

Conference Agenda:

  8:30 – 9:00 –  Registration and Check in
  9:00 – 9:15 –  Welcome and Introductions
  9:15 – 10:00 –  The Current State of American Civics with Dr. Chris Cooper
10:00 – 10:45 –  Legislative Advocacy in North Carolina with Kay Paksoy
10:45 – 11:00 –  Break
11:00 – 11:45 –  National and Global Advocady with Ken Patterson
11:45 – 12:00 –  Questions and Comments
12:00 – 1:00 –  Networking, Lunch Provided
  1:00 – 1:45 –  Mindfulness and Constructive Dialog with Rev. Michael Hudson
  1:45 – 2:00 –  Break
  2:00 – 4:00 –  Mediation Training with Jan Woloson
 

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