AWSJ Conference to Feature Elizabeth Acevedo


The 15th Annual Ambrose Women for Social Justice Conference Gender, Narrative, and Justice: Sharing Stories, Seeking Solutions will be held Oct. 10 at St. Ambrose University (SAU).

Participants will have an opportunity to share stories about how gender has affected their lives and the lives of others and learn tools to help them seek justice on a local, and global scale.

The conference is free and open to the public. World-renowned slam poet and author Elizabeth Acevedo will present the 2 p.m. keynote address. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the groundbreaking teen novel, The Poet X, and winner of the prestigious 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Best Fiction.

"The goal of the conference is to teach participants gender-sensitive solutions to human rights problems and to meet other community members and share ideas for positive change. This year, we are also incorporating our 2018-19 academic theme, Visual Narratives, to suggest ways participants can learn to use art to promote justice," said Katy Strzepek, director of SAU's Women and Gender Studies program.

The annual conference includes workshops at 10, 11, and 1 p.m.; two films: Out and Around: Equality is Not a Western Invention will be shown at 3:30 p.m. in the Galvin Fine Arts Center and The Battle of Sexes at 6:30 p.m. in the Rogalski Center Ballroom.

Participants can also join a roundtable discussion at noon. An optional $12 lunch will be served. Go to to register for the free conference, sign up for lunch, and see the full workshop schedule.

"I encourage people to attend to learn more about social justice issues and trauma-informed care practices, bystander intervention techniques, and a variety of other important issues. The conference is a great place to share ideas and to have respectful dialogues about difficult issues," Strzepek said.

Photo of author and poet Elizabeth Acevedo

Born and raised in New York City, Acevedo is the daughter of Dominican immigrants. Growing up in a family of oral storytellers, she was always making up rhymes and singing. At the age of 12, Acevedo realized she wanted to perform poetry. Two years later, she competed in her first poetry slam at the Nuyorican Poets Café, and soon began participating in open mics around the city.

Acevedo is a National Slam Champion, a Beltway Grand Slam Champion, and the 2016 Women of the World Poetry Slam representative for Washington, D.C. She has authored two poetry collections: Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths and the Berkshire Prize-winning Medusa Reads La Negra's Palm.

Acevedo has performed at Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, the Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts, South Africa's State Theatre, Bozar in Brussels, and the National Library of Kosovo. She has delivered several TED Talks, and her poetry videos have been featured in Latina Magazine, Cosmopolitan, the Huffington Post, and Upworthy.

Acevedo earned a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland.

The AWSJ Conference is sponsored by Ambrose Women for Social Justice, the St. Ambrose University School of Social Work, and the Women and Gender Studies program.

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