UGA lecture series to feature social work and human rights issues

Programs are free and open to the public

October 12, 2012

Harold Waters Jr.

Harold Waters Jr.

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Athens, Ga. - Obie Clayton, the inaugural Donald L. Hollowell Distinguished Professor of Social Justice and Civil Rights Studies in the University of Georgia School of Social Work, will host a series of lectures in his international human rights and social work practice class this fall, which is free and open to the public. To be held Oct. 22, Oct. 29 and Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. in the M. Smith Griffith Auditorium at the Georgia Museum of Art, the series will feature speakers who come from a variety of professional academia, political, community action, social welfare and legal backgrounds.

According to Clayton, these lectures integrate social work and human rights theories presented in class with real-life issues and problems. "I aim to design courses that will introduce my students to justice studies and other contemporary issues that social workers may face in their careers," he said.

The schedule and guest speakers for the lecture series are as follows:

Oct. 22 - Carlis Williams, regional director, Administration for Children and Families, Region IV

Williams provides executive leadership, coordination and direction for ACF human service programs, including Head Start, child welfare, foster care, adoption, childcare, developmental disabilities, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, child support, and runaway and homeless youths. She also serves as the lead regional administrator for healthy marriage programs and is co-lead for the African American Healthy Marriage/Relationships Initiative and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

Williams previously served as chief policy adviser to the governor of Wisconsin, providing counsel on such matters as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, food stamps, Medicaid, Job Opportunities and Basic Skills, housing and community services, and welfare reform.

Oct. 29 - Leah Sears, former chief justice, Georgia Supreme Court

An American jurist, Sears was the first African-American female chief justice in the U.S. When Gov. Zell Miller appointed her justice in 1992, she became the first woman and youngest person to sit on Georgia's Supreme Court.

Sears has issued critical decisions in high profile cases concerning due process, as well as the first (freedom of religion, press and expression), fourth (freedom from search and seizure), sixth (right to speedy trial) and eighth (cruel and unusual punishments) amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Nov. 12 - Harriett Elam-Thomas, former ambassador to Senegal, U.S. Department of State

In September 2005, Elam-Thomas retired from the U.S. Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Career Minister. During her four-decade Foreign Service career, she worked to bridge international cultures. Her varied overseas assignments took her to Greece, Turkey, France, Belgium, Senegal, Mali and Cote d'Ivoire. Domestic assignments included counselor and acting deputy director of the U.S. Information Agency, now a part of the Department of State; Foreign Service personnel in Washington, D.C.; the United Nations in New York and the White House in Washington, D.C.

For more information on Clayton and his programs, see



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