Pollard, Lanier Highlight List of Speakers and Preachers at CHHSM Annual Gathering Next March

The Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard III and Nikki Lanier will deliver keynote addresses during the Annual Gathering.

The 84th Annual Gathering of the UCC’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries promises to be a meaningful and inspiring experience, as evidenced in the keynoters recently announced by CHHSM. The Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard III — president of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary known for his thoughtful comments in the critically acclaimed PBS series on the Black Church — will deliver the opening keynote address March 8, 2022; and Nikki Lanier, who is leaving her position as senior vice president of the Louisville branch of the Federal Reserve of  St. Louis to focus on racial equity advisory work through a firm that she founded — will give the closing keynote March 10.

Representatives from Platinum Sponsor Ziegler — a privately-held investment bank, capital markets, and proprietary investments firm that specializes in healthcare, senior living, and education clients — will deliver the March 9 keynote. Ziegler focuses general municipal and structured finance geared toward generating a positive impact on the communities it serves.

The Annual Gathering, “Forward Together,” takes place March 8-10, 2022, at the historic Brown Hotel in Louisville, Ky. It is CHHSM’s first in-person conference since the pandemic began. Because of positive feedback from the 2021 virtual Annual Gathering, some portions of the 2022 event will be available via livestream.

“Throughout this year’s Annual Gathering, we will reflect on the ways that our faith tradition and ministries empower us to move Forward Together in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as in addressing racism in today’s world,” said the Rev. George Graham, CHHSM vice president. “We are very excited to have the event anchored by speakers who have thought deeply about these issues and bring so much wisdom and life experience to them.”

Keynoters Bring Experience, Wisdom to Annual Gathering

Prior to serving as Louisville Presbyterian Seminary’s 10th president, Pollard spent 11 years at UCC-related Howard University in Washington, D.C. He has served as director of Black Church Studies and chair of American Religious Cultures at Emory University, based in Atlanta, and has taught at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., and St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

A well-known author, his books include Mysticism and Social Change: The Social Witness of Howard Thurman (1992) and a new edition of W.E.B. DuBois’ The Negro Church. He co-authored Helpers for a Healing Community: A Pastoral Care Manual for HIV/AIDS (2006), and has edited or authored numerous other books chapters, journal articles, and editorials.

Pollard hold a B.A. degree from UCC-related Fisk University in Nashville; an M.Div. degree from Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass.; and a Ph.D. from Duke University in Durham, N.C.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Pollard to the CHHSM Annual Gathering,” Graham said. “I first learned about Dr. Pollard when he was featured as a commentator on the PBS series on the Black Church. I am really pleased that we were able to make a connection with him as a result of having the Annual Gathering in Louisville.”

Lanier is a well-known expert on issues of Race, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the workplace. She is chair of the Kerner Commission 2.0, founded by Simmons College in Louisville to develop a path of opportunity for economic freedom and prosperity by demolishing the concerted efforts of exclusion, discrimination, systematic racism, and overt suppression. She is leaving her post at the Federal Reserve at the end of 2021 in order to devote time to Harper Slade, her racial equity advisory firm.

“My desire is to help organizations center their employee engagement priorities around appropriately paced and sequenced Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work, with a super-heightened focus on the ‘equity’ part of that journey,” Lanier said. “It is in the equity space, in my view, where both remedy and the macro-economic reconciliation are found.”

In addition to her time with the Federal Reserve, Lanier has served in leadership roles with such organizations as Charter Schools USA; Maricopa Community Colleges in Tempe, Ariz., the U.S.’ largest community college system; Georgia Pacific; and ADP, among others. She is on the boards of numerous foundations and organizations, including the Robert S. Miller Family Foundation for Equity and the Justice and the Global Economic Diversity Development Initiative (GEDDI).

Lanier holds a B.A. degree from Hampton (Va.) University; and a J.D. degree in labor and employment from the University of Miami School of Law in Coral Gables, Fla. She also received certification in industrial relations and collective bargaining from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

“Nikki Lanier is uniquely qualified to speak to us about the intersection of workforce issues with diversity, inclusion and equity,” said Graham, “and not only lay out this landscape, but to help our member organizations move forward together!”

Preaching, Inspiring Worship and Performances to Highlight Gathering

The Rev. Dr. Jamesetta Ferguson and the Rev. John C. Dorhauer.

In addition to the keynote presentations, the Annual Gathering will feature two special worship services. The opening worship service takes place March 8 at St. John UCC, with the Rev. John Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president, preaching. It will include the installation of CHHSM’s new president and CEO.

Closing worship March 10 takes place at the Muhammad Ali Center, a nonprofit museum and cultural center honoring the famed boxer, human rights advocate, and Louisville resident. The service will include a CHHSM tradition — the consecration of CHHSM’s newest Diakonal Ministers, graduates of the most recent class of its Nollau Leadership Institute. The Rev. Dr. Jamesetta Ferguson, president and CEO of MOLO Village and senior pastor of St. Peter’s UCC, will preach.

The Muhammad Ali Center.

Ferguson revived the 171-year-old historic church located across the street from Beecher Terrace, the largest public housing community in Jefferson County, Ky., and created MOLO Village next to it — a 30,000-square-foot facility with social services and businesses adjacent to the church. “Molo” is the word for “welcome” in Xhosa, a southern African language.

Following closing worship, attendees will be able to tour the Ali Center and Museum.

The Annual Gathering also will include a variety of workshops as well as service projects in the local Louisville community. A special dinner March 9 will honor outgoing President and CEO Michael J. Readinger, who retires in April 2022.

AMPED’s programming includes music and technology programs, with an emphasis on mentoring.

The evening will feature performances by students of Louisville’s Academy of Music Production, Education, and Development (AMPED). AMPED is a free music program that uses music and technology as a catalyst to empower youth to work with their families as a team, learn how to express themselves effectively, and develop into healthy, productive members of the Louisville community and the world. It mentors youth through music and technology programs.

“CHHSM’s 84th Annual Gathering will be a celebration as the first time we have been able to gather safely in-person since the COVID-19 pandemic began,” said Readinger. “But it also will be a time of working together to develop ways to further efforts we have begun in creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive society as we seek to build a more just, caring, and compassionate world.”

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