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Community Conversation: Broadway’s To Kill A Mockingbird

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Join us on Thursday, November 30th at 6pm for an important Community Conversation prior to the Broadway production of To Kill a Mockingbird. This conversation will center around racial disparities in the criminal justice system and what we can do on an individual and systemic level to disrupt racism. This will be a panel conversation with participants from Sponsors Inc., University of Oregon, Lane Community College and a Public Defender.

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird means different things to different individuals. Depending on when and how it was shared with us, and depending on our race, we might have wildly disparate experiences with this story – the book, the movie and now this new play by Aaron Sorkin. This iteration of the story is different than any other Mockingbird we are familiar with and is sparking a national conversation on the importance of retelling this story at this time. We hope you will join us in conversation.

This is a free, non-ticketed event that will take place at the Art House at 492 E 13th Ave, Eugene, OR 97401.

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Meet our Moderator:

Kenya Luvert holds a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Public Relations Communications from the University of Oregon along with a Masters of Social Work (MSW) degree from Portland State University. Kenya is a consultant, mentor, facilitator, net worker, a nexus connecting individuals and communities together; who believes mental and physical health is a fundamental right along with peace, equality, equity and social justice for the world’s inhabitants.

Meet our Panelists:

Stan Coleman holds a Ph.D. in theatre from Louisiana State University. He taught and directed for LSU and Nicholls State University. He portrayed Paul Robeson in a one-man show and has acted at various Eugene theatres, including the University of Oregon (UO) and the Very Little Theatre (VLT). He has directed for VLT and UO and is a co-founder of Minority Voices Theatre along with Carol Dennis. Stan is the 2022 recipient of the Eugene Arts and Letters Award. He recently directed Best of Enemies at the UO and is scheduled to direct Alabama Story at VLT next March and Tennessee Wet Rub at Cottage Theatre next August. He currently serves on the board of VLT and resides in Eugene with his partner, Bill Winkley.

Abigail Leeder (She/her): Abigail currently serves as the Manager of Experiential Learning in the Division of Equity and Inclusion at the University of Oregon. Since joining UO in 2005, Abigail has led multiple social justice programming efforts including peer education initiatives, personal storytelling programs and efforts aimed at deconstructing white identity. Abigail volunteers regularly as a search advocate and partners with campus leadership on strategic initiatives related to DEI and staff recruitment and retention. Since 2009, Abigail has been directing Rehearsals for Life, a graduate and undergraduate student theatre ensemble that utilizes applied theatre to address anti-racism and bias on campus. She is trained as a drama therapist and formerly worked as a primary counselor with incarcerated women in Oakland, CA. She has published articles on her work as a drama therapist, theatre for social action in higher education, and personal transformational theatre. Abigail believes strongly in the power of storytelling and the expressive arts for social change.

Laura Johnson serves as Director of Program Development for Sponsors, Inc., an Oregon-based nonprofit organization that works in collaboration with government and community partners to improve outcomes and opportunities for individuals with conviction histories. Her work at Sponsors includes development, implementation and evaluation of a permanent supportive housing project serving high-risk homeless individuals releasing from state prison. For more than 15 years, Laura has facilitated, developed and advocated for community-based solutions at the intersections of incarceration, equity and inclusivity, and social determinants of health. Before joining Sponsors in 2015, she served as Deputy Program Manager for the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama; and as Assistant Director of the University of Oregon School of Law’s Appropriate Dispute Resolution Center. She holds a Master’s of Education in Counseling, Family and Human Services and Graduate Certificate in Prevention Science from the University of Oregon College of Education; and a Bachelors of Arts in Journalism from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

Sarah Alvarez (she/her) is trial attorney and advocate deeply committed to movements for liberation and efforts to end state-sanctioned violence. Sarah has worked as a public defender in Washington and Southern Oregon, where she defended low income people accused of crimes, and as a staff attorney at the Civil Liberties Defense Center where she worked on criminal and civil rights cases for political activists. Today, she works as a public defender in Lane County. She holds a law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law, and degrees in International Relations and Environmental Science from the University of Central Florida. Sarah is also a proud board member of Breach Collective, a non-profit committed to frontline communities fighting for climate justice, and high-school mock trial coach at North Eugene.