Program Days

Virtual learning about social justice

On September 4, 2020 we kicked off the new version of Program Days, the first Friday of each month for all Volunteers nationally to get together and learn more broadly about social justice topics, expanding beyond just the Placement’s mission for their service term.  Each month is expected to have an invited topic expert or practitioner, alumni panelists for commentary, and pre-work for Volunteers.  The format will include a first half of the day learning about the social justice topic (presentation and findings); and the second half of the day assessing the topic using an anti-racism lens and reimagining the possibilities; then using a faith/belief lens to consider intersections with one’s life.   Each day will also leave time at the end for Volunteer feedback or discussion on topics of their choosing.

Program Day Topics (a growing list): SEEKING ALUMNI AND PLACEMENT PRESENTERS

children, class, disabilities/abilities, equality, criminal justice, education, environment, faith, food security, guns, housing, health, inclusion, income gap, legal justice, race, seniors, substance abuse, voting. . . offer a topic!


June 2021: Pride and Intersectionality

Eboné F. Bell is the founder and Editor‐in‐Chief of Tagg Magazine and Tagg Communication LLC. After seeing a lack of queer women represented in local publications (around DMV), she decided to start a magazine and website to tell stories, provide resources and create events.  Eboné was recently featured in Forbes Magazine as an “Inspiring Black Entrepreneur Changing Our World.”  This year Tagg Magazine will celebrate eight years of telling thousands of stories, creating safe‐spaces for the queer women, and providing important resources for the LGBTQ community. Over the past three years, Tagg Magazine has been named “Top 25 LGBTQ‐Owned Companies” by the Washington Business Journal.  Last year, Eboné founded the Tagg Scholarship Fund—a scholarship created specifically for young queer woman of color who can’t afford to attend school. After realizing that only 23% of Black LGBTQ college students graduate, she wanted to make a difference within marginalized communities.  In addition to running a successful business, she shares her knowledge and passion at conferences, festivals, fundraisers, panel discussions, and similar events across the country. 

 Olivia Beres (she/her) is passionate about reproductive justice, anti‐racism, immigrant rights, and queer liberation. She currently works on the Digital Integration Team at Briya School, the educational arm of Mary’s Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center in Washington, DC. Briya provides culturally responsive two‐generation education for immigrant families. Outside of work, Olivia is the Lead Programming Director for Out for Undergrad, a national nonprofit that supports LGBT students in reaching their full authentic potential. As the Lead Programming Director she creates a robust agenda for diverse stakeholders, designs engaging events, and facilitates educational workshops for the annual Engineering Conference. Previously, Olivia completed a service year with Lutheran Volunteer Corps where she now serves as a community mentor. She has worked and volunteered as a sex educator at Planned Parenthood, WUSTL’s Student Health Services, Women in Transition, and Kentucky Health Justice Network. Olivia loves to go to happy hours with friends, play boardgames, enjoy walking tours, and compete at trivia. Olivia majored in Systems Engineering and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.

May 2021: Legal Justice

Jeremy Schroeder is a current City Councilmember in Minneapolis and LVC alumni. Throughout his career, Council Member Schroeder has led efforts to support good government, workers’ rights, human rights, and equity. Prior to his service on the City Council, he worked as an affordable housing advocate as Policy Director for Minnesota Housing Partnership, led the coalition that successfully abolished the death penalty in Illinois, and was Executive Director of Common Cause Minnesota. He holds a law degree from the University of District of Columbia Law School and an undergraduate engineering degree from Marquette University.

Debra Gardner joined the PJC as its Legal Director in January 2000. Since then she has participated in a wide range of impact litigation and other advocacy, including serving as the PJC’s lead in various national and company-wide collective and class actions concerning wage and hour violations and employment discrimination. She was also lead counsel in a case securing an injunction requiring the state to provide food stamps, Medicaid and temporary cash assistance to poor applicants throughout Maryland within 30 days as required by state and federal law. More recently she represented Afromation protesters and others arrested and detained during the 2016 Artscape festival to secure damages and Baltimore Police Department policy changes to prevent police retaliation for protesting police misconduct. Debra graduated from the Northeastern University School of Law in 1982 and received her A.B. cum laude in economics and French literature from Mount Holyoke College in 1979. She is licensed to practice in Maryland and Massachusetts and is admitted to the federal courts in those jurisdictions as well as the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First and Fourth Circuits.

Jeremy Bouman currently serves RISE as the Founder and CEO. Prior to joining RISE, he served for 7 years as Associate Vice President of Development at Creighton University. Jeremy has 19 years of leadership experience in higher education and non-profit organizations in New York City, Baltimore and Omaha. He earned a BA in Communications from Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania and a Masters of Science in Leadership from Creighton University. 

Ken Smith is the Director of the Economic Justice Program at Nebraska Appleseed. Ken’s work includes a broad spectrum of policy and legal work in the areas of public benefits systems, consumer protections, housing, food security, and other economic justice issues. Ken graduated from Creighton University in 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and received his J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2014. 

March 2021: Health Disparities in Marginalized Communities

On March 5, 2021, LVC’s monthly Program Day for Volunteers explored what COVID-19 has further revealed regarding health disparities in marginalized communities. Discussion included how Native Americans care for its members as family units rather than individuals during the pandemic; how African Americans and people of color were more represented among the sick and dying, but were less represented in the vaccine priority list; how homelessness, senior and trans status increase vulnerability to COVID-19; and the unknown impact of unmet dental care on health. View the full lineup of panelists HERE.

February 2021: Restorative Justice

Cynthia Prosek, executive director at Restorative Justice Community Action (RJCA), and board member of LVC, helps to improve community livability through restorative justice practices. RJCA creates a forum in which people impacted by livability crimes meet with offenders who commit the crimes to discuss the impact and determine restitution. She shared that we are working towards restorative justice when we: 1) focus on the harms of wrongdoing more than the rules that have been broken, 2) show equal concern and commitment to victims and offenders, involving both in the process of justice, 3) work toward the restoration of victims, empowering them and responding to their needs as they see them, 4) support offenders while encouraging them to understand, accept, and carry out their obligations, 5) recognize that while obligations may be difficult for offenders, they should not be intended as harms and they must be achievable, 6) provide opportunities for dialog, direct or indirect, between victims and offenders as appropriate, 7) involve and empower the affected community through the justice process, and increase its capacity to recognize and respond to community bases of crime, 8 ) encourage collaboration and reintegration rather than coercion and isolation, 9) give attention to the unintended consequences of our actions and programs, and 10) show respect for all parties including victims, offenders, and justice colleagues.

January 2021: Equity Shining Through Times of Transition

Beverly Bushyhead is an Independent Equity Strategist & Visionary. She demonstrates a rich equity lens and shares original curricula through cohort designed learning, group facilitation, public speaking, and web-based radio/podcast. Beverly has been a guest lecturer at University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, St. Mary’s, St. Catherine’s, Augsburg, and Hamline Universities.  Beverly created an interactive game that emerges origins of unconscious personal bias and works to clarify and connect across cultures and race. Beverly follows curiosity, activating empathy and asks illuminating questions to build greater understanding. Bev is a systems thinker and gifted at recognizing innovations that inspire action steps toward racial justice.  She excels at community based participatory research, and public speaking. Beverly led this interactive workshop designed to engage participants fully on equity topics related to communal living, building community and seeing equity during the unprecedented time of 2020 and beyond. Engagement tools included online virtual white board and survey options and through group dynamics facilitation of small and large group discussion. Pre-work scaffolded the group up to readiness for full and informed discussion. 


December 2020: Self-Care and Resilience in Social Justice Work

Paul Johnson

I’m an LVC alum, and I started Proactivism because I believe there is a better way to facilitate social change. I worked in nonprofits for over 10 years and there was one thing that I observed at every organization I worked for: people were stressed and reactive all the time. Long hours, endless meetings, constant distractions, dysfunctional workplace dynamics, unreasonable workloads; all of this leads to chronic stress. And when we are under constant stress, we are not able to be at our best every day. I believe that we are going to successfully and effectively do social change work when we feel balanced, in control and mindful. Managing stress is key to achieving this. Along with a Master’s in Leadership from Augsburg University, I am also a Gallup certified Strengths coach and an Intercultural Development Inventory Qualified Administrator. These tools and experiences are all helpful, but I’m mostly driven by my passion to help activists and nonprofit professionals create a sustainable approach to their work so they can both change the world and prioritize their health.

November 2020: The Many Facets of Activism

Samantha Leach

Samantha shared her family history of activism that instilled justice in her bones. Samantha is an innovative and professional public policy professional who has over fifteen years of experience in advocacy, community and program development, with a focus on empowerment for youth and young adults in urban areas. A community leader who designs and facilitates workforce development programs that serve the chronically unemployed and hard-to-serve populations with extensive grants and contracts management expertise and a visionary and goal driven professional who believes all people can be successful if provided an education, housing, exposure, and safe environments. 

Laura Alexander

Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska. Laura studied religion and human rights, including ethical issues of sovereignty, borders, and the international order; refugee and migrant concerns; religious communities, NGO’s, and grassroots organizations; just war, peacebuilding, and the Responsibility to Protect; and liberation theology and postcolonial thought. Laura is a member of an ELCA Lutheran church in Omaha and also attends an Eastern Orthodox church due to her spouse’s background. She has been a community mentor for LVC – Hillstrom House for 3 years. She served as a volunteer in Ratchaburi, Thailand before beginning her LVC year. Since LVC, she has received an M.Div. and Ph.D. degree in Religious Ethics, lived in 4 different cities, and had 2 children. 

October 2020: Voting Rights

Becca Cotto

Voting rights facilitator, Becca Cotto is the Director of Racial & Social Justice for YWCA Delaware, and she led Volunteers through a discussion of voting terminology to help understand the voting rights landscape. Volunteers researched voting in their LVC cities then shared findings with fellow LVCers, including who can and can’t vote, where to vote, when to vote, and barriers to voting. LVC provided information on voting rights history and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, voter suppression and disenfranchisement, and election protection resources.

September 2020: Food Security

Natalie Jacobson, Augsburg U., an LVC Placement
Taylor Romeo ’18-19
Greta Carlson ’17-18

To start the service year off on an important topic, Volunteers were charged with research pre-work around creating their house community’s food budget, two-week menus, grocery shopping list based on menus, and best practices for eating healthy on a budget. Each house presented their findings and shared their unique plan for supporting each other on the food front. Our guest presenter was Natalie Jacobson of Augsburg University’s Campus Kitchen (an LVC Placement), who shared food security terminology for navigating through data. Conversations were enhanced by alumni commentators Greta Carlson ’17-18, and Taylor Romeo ’18-19, who shared personal experiences and tips from their LVC service years.


December 4, 2019: Bystander Intervention, facilitated by Lauren Taylor of Defend Yourself

Lauren (she/they) has been studying and teaching empowerment self-defense since 1985. She’s taught about 30,000 people of all ages, genders, and walks of life. She specializes in classes for women, for people with disabilities, for LGBTQ+/nonbinary people, and for survivors of abuse and assault. Lauren also writes extensively on interpersonal violence. Lauren has presented at many national conferences, including:
Creating Change (The National LGBTQ Task Force); National Conference of College Women Leaders (American Association of University Women); National Sexual Assault Conference; and National Center for Victims of Crime’s national training institute. Lauren earned a black belt in tae kwon do in 1995 and was certified as a self-defense instructor by the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation in 2000. Lauren’s self-defense expertise is bolstered by her experience in related fields: as a counselor at a women’s health clinic; a founder of My Sister’s Place (DC’s first shelter for abused women and their children); the education coordinator of the Women’s Legal Defense Fund; and as one of the organizers of the 1978 March to Stop Violence Against Women (DC’s first Take Back the Night March).

November 6, 2019: Community Organizing, facilitated by Daniel del Pielago of Empower DC.

Daniel del Pielago  was born in Peru and immigrated to the DC metro area in 1980.  For the past 15 years he has been organizing with communities of color here in the District around the issues of preserving and improving affordable housing and traditional public education.  In his role as Organizing Director, Daniel hopes to support staff organizers in pushing their campaigns and the organization forward as a whole.  Daniel, is also a husband, father of two and lover of music of all types, he has collected music in the vinyl format for over 20 years.