Campus News

Michael Thurmond to speak at School of Social Work’s Parham Policy Day

Michael Thurmond, an attorney at Butler Wooten Cheeley and Peak LLP, will be the keynote speaker for Parham Policy Day to be held Nov. 21 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Room 165 at the UGA Gwinnett campus. The event is organized and hosted by graduate students in the School of Social Work to raise awareness of the ways that public policy impacts poor or marginalized segments of society.

Thurmond, the son of a sharecropper, has played an influential role in shaping public policy in Georgia. In 1986 he became the first African-American to be elected to the Georgia General Assembly from Clarke County since Reconstruction. While in office, he authored legislation focusing on tax relief for senior citizens and working families. Following legislative service he was appointed director of the state’s Division of Family and Children Services, where he created the innovative Work First program, which helped welfare-dependent Georgia families move into the workforce. In 1998 he was elected Georgia labor commissioner, a position he held for three terms. From 2013 to 2015 he served as superintendent of the DeKalb County School District, the third largest district in the state.

The theme of this year’s Parham Policy Day is “New Refugees and Immigrants: Social Work’s Responsibility and Response.” The event also will feature a panel discussion and a student poster competition. School of Social Work faculty members Harold Briggs, Jennifer Elkins and Larry Nackerud and graduate students from the school will participate on the panel.

This is the first time Parham Policy Day will be held at the Gwinnett campus, thanks to Tony Lowe, an associate professor of social work and coordinator of the school’s programs at that location.

The event is free and open to the public. For directions or more information, visit