What’s Happening in Aspen


In just a few weeks when we head to Aspen for the Opportunity Youth Forum Convening, we mark an incredible accomplishment: it will be the tenth time we’ve convened. We thank all of our partners for helping us reach this tremendous milestone. We are thrilled to offer an array of exciting convening content this year, including critically acclaimed journalist and author Jeff Chang to the stage for a plenary session.

Jeff has been pivotal in conversations around race and equity and is currently the Vice President of Narrative, Arts, and Culture at the racial justice organization, Race Forward. Jeff served as the Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University, co-founded the publications CultureStr/ke and ColorLines, and has also written several award-winning books on hip-hop and the history of race in America.

Jeff will be joined by Judith Browne Dianis, who is executive director of the Advancement Project and has worked to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and has utilized her civil rights litigation and advocacy in the areas of voter rights, education, housing, and employment.

Jeff’s and Judith’s friendship and commitment to equity and justice will animate their dialogue about the key messages in Jeff’s book, “We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation,” including the role of narrative change and cultural strategy in organizing for equity and justice, particularly by the most vulnerable youth and communities. Both will reflect on the history of civil unrest in the United States and engage in dialogue on the intersection of multiple aspects of civil rights, including voting, education, housing, employment, and justice.

We also are privileged to hear Professor Shawn Ginwright who is speak about the relevancy of the community-centered healing framework in organizing for political power with an emphasis on the role of youth.

Dr. Ginwright is an Associate Professor of Education in the Africana Studies Department and Senior Research Associate for the Cesar Chavez Institute for Public Policy at San Francisco State University. He is a leading national expert on African American youth, youth activism, and youth development.

Dr. Ginwright will be joined during this session by Carlos Rojas from Youth on Board, with both discussing the Also participating in this plenary will be Sheryl Evans Davis, Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, who has worked extensively to provide services to historically underserved communities across San Francisco, and Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend, CEO of Philadelphia Youth Network, who has expertise in social work and using data to improve adult and youth workforce programs.

Sheryl and Chekemma will enrich the discussion by sharing the wisdom they’ve learned through their work in San Francisco and Philadelphia and considering the potential applications of the community-focused healing framework in the context of their local work. The plenary also will include insights into how both leaders are prioritizing and supporting vulnerable youth in their respective communities.

These sessions tie cohesively with the overarching goals of this convening which include highlighting the work of youth leaders, continuing to build momentum for system change efforts with youth leadership and expertise at the center, and deepening our solidarity with other equity- and justice-based movements.