Feature Speakers

Monday, March 13, 2017 at 4:15p.m.

Kirsten Kelly, Emmy winning filmmaker of The Homestretch, a captivating documentary that follows three Chicago teens facing homelessness.

View Kirsten Kelly’s presentation here. Watch The Homestretch here.

Kirsten is an Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker, award-winning theatre director, educator and advocate. Her documentary film, The Homestretch, produced with longtime film partner, Anne de Mare, appeared on PBS’ Independent Lens in April 2015 and won a 2015 Emmy Award for Outstanding Reporting. The Homestretch has screened at over 800 federal policy events, educational institutions, conferences and community events. She was awarded the ‘2015 Spirit of Youth Award” from the National Runaway Safeline for her work on the film and the “Chicago Community Advocate” award by the Night Ministry. She continues to present the film and advocate for homeless youth across the country.

The Homestretch was featured at the White House Initiative on Excellence in Education for African Americans in June 2016 and was selected as one of the featured films in the State Department’s “American Film 2016 Series”. For the last two years, the film’s Impact Campaign Team has partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to bring greater focus to supporting homeless youth on a Federal Policy level. The partnership culminated in a groundbreaking inter-agency policy screening and discussion that brought together senior leadership from HHS, HUD, U.S. Dept. of Education to have a candid discussion of how they could together better address the crisis of homeless youth. The event was streamed across the nation to all ten HHS Regional Offices. The film has been in support of University of Chicago Chapin Halls “Voices of Youth Count” – a much needed national data analysis program of homeless youth to better understand the scope and scale of homeless youth, and in June 2016, Civic Enterprises, a D.C. Education think tank released a revolutionary report (inspired by the film) on homeless youth and it’s connection to high school success and drop out rate. Kirsten is also the co-creator and director of CPS Shakespeare! and was awarded the President’s 2014 Award for Youth Programs in the Arts & Humanities at a ceremony at the White House with Michelle Obama. The innovative education arts program was featured on NBC Nightly News in 2010.

Currently, Kirsten is a Senior Producer at Transform Films where she is involved in producing impact campaigns on films examining mass incarceration and women veterans. She is also developing short- and feature social justice documentaries for the company. Recent independent film credits include: “The Homestretch” a feature film about homeless high school students in Chicago Public Schools which was supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the Sundance Institute and is part of the American Graduate Initiative with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; She is also in production “The Girl With the Rivet Gun” an animated new media film project based on Rosie the Riveter, and “On the Sidelines” a new feature film project exploring the traumatic and long-lasting effects of domestic violence on men and boys who’ve lost mothers, sisters and daughters and how to break the cycle of male violence. Kirsten continues to be a presence as a theater director Off-Broadway and regionally and is an advocate for arts education. Kirsten is a Fellow at the Sundance Documentary Institute and a graduate of the Master’s Directing program at Juilliard.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 12:30p.m.

Dr. David R. Williams, Internationally renowned Harvard sociologist, leading author and researcher on social influences on health.

View Dr. Williams’ presentation here.

David R. Williams is the Florence and Laura Norman Professor of Public Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Professor of African and African American Studies and Sociology at Harvard University. Previously, he served 6 years on the faculty of Yale University and 14 at the University of Michigan. He holds an MPH from Loma Linda University and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Williams is an internationally recognized authority on social influences on health. He has been invited to keynote scientific conferences in Europe, Africa, Australia, the Middle East, South America and across the United States. The author of more than 400 scientific papers, his research has enhanced our understanding of the complex ways in which socioeconomic status, race, stress, racism, health behavior and religious involvement can affect health. The Everyday Discrimination Scale that he developed is one of the most widely used measures of discrimination in health studies.

He has received numerous honors and awards. In 2001, he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine and in 2007 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was the first non-white scholar to receive the Leo G. Reeder Award from the American Sociological Association. He has also received the Stephen Smith Award for Distinguished Contributions in Public Health from the New York Academy of Medicine and an inaugural Decade of Behavior Research Award. He was ranked as one of the top 10 Most Cited Social Scientists in the world in 2005 and as the Most Cited Black Scholar in the Social Sciences in 2008. In 2014, Thomson Reuters ranked him as one of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.

With funding from the National Institutes of Health and the sponsorship of the World Health Organization, Dr. Williams directed the South African Stress and Health Study, the first nationally representative study of the prevalence and correlates of mental disorders in sub-Sahara Africa. He has also worked on ethnic inequities with the Toronto Public Health Department, the National Health Service in the U.K. and the Pan American Health Organization.

Dr. Williams has been involved in the development of health policy at the national level in the U.S. He has served on the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics and on eight committees for the National Academy of Medicine, including the committee that produced the Unequal Treatment report. He also served as a member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health. Dr. Williams has played a visible, national leadership role in raising awareness levels of the problem of health inequalities and identifying interventions to address them. This includes his service as the staff director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Commission to Build a Healthier America and as a key scientific advisor to the award-winning PBS film series, Unnatural Causes: Is inequality Making Us Sick? He or his research has been featured by some of the nation’s top print and television news organizations.