News — July 15, 2015

Former UN Assistant Secretary-General Gillian Sorensen, Other Experts to Participate in JCI Symposium on Social Equality

Symposium to Focus on “The Search for Human Dignity in the 21st Century

ST. LOUIS, MO (USA), June 9, 2015 – Former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Gillian Sorensen will be among 16 experts engaged next month in a day-long symposium on social equality on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, it was announced today by JCI (Junior Chamber International).

Titled “The Search for Human Dignity in the 21st Century,” the symposium is being organized by JCI, an international non-profit organization that was founded in St. Louis 100 years ago. It has nearly 200,000 members, 18 to 40 years of age, in nearly 120 countries worldwide. Its world headquarters is located in Chesterfield, MO. 

The symposium will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday, July 23, in the Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center at UMSL in Normandy, MO.

It is co-sponsored by the St. Louis Regional Chamber, Enterprise Bank & Trust and Schowalter & Jabouri, and is free and open to the public. People from all sectors of society are encouraged to attend.

The event is designed to spark lively, healthy discussion about social equality in the greater St. Louis area, across the nation and around the globe.

Keynote presentations and expert panel discussions will be conducted on the three stages of community development identified by JCI: Health and Wellness; Education and Economic Empowerment; and, Peace, Prosperity and Sustainability.

Attendees also are invited to take part in a “Social Equality Expo,” where they can engage with as many as 50 non-profit organizations from the greater St. Louis community in opportunities to take action and create positive change.

Emceeing the symposium will be veteran journalist Goldie Taylor, of Alexandria, VA, a former columnist, political analyst and contributor to MSNBC, CNN and HLN. Taylor was born in University City, MO, raised in East St. Louis, IL, and has spent most of her professional career in Atlanta and Washington D.C.

The highly diverse range of international, national and local panelists will include:

  • Liz Forkin Bohannon, of Seattle, Founder of Sseko Designs, an ethical fashion brand that empowers woman in Uganda through dignified employment and education.
  • Ed Bryant, President and CEO of the St. Louis Minority Business Council, which collaborates to create opportunities for minority business entrepreneurs.
  • Reena Hajat Carroll, Executive Director, Diversity Awareness Partnership, promotes diversity in the St. Louis region around issues of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and disability.
  • Betsy Cohen, Executive Director, St. Louis Mosaic Project, engages the St. Louis Community to better understand the barriers to empowering immigrants how regional prosperity can be achieved through immigration and innovation.
  • Khalia Collier, Owner and General Manager of the St. Louis Surge Women’s Professional Basketball Team, has a deep commitment to St. Louis and building the first sustainable women’s professional franchise in the city.
  • Bertolt Daems, of The Netherlands, is Entrepreneur and Owner of RnR Group, Founder and Partner of Global Growth Institute, and the co-owner of More To Build and Engaging Dynamics. Daems has had a long career in building companies that balance economic development and environmental sustainability. 
  • Jennifer Kushell, of Los Angeles, Founder and CEO, Young & Successful Media and Her organization and global endeavors support the aspirations of young leaders and entrepreneurs to reach their full potential in more than 160 countries.  
  • Dr. Jason Purnell, Assistant Professor and Researcher, Washington University George Warren Brown School of Social Work, focuses his research on how socioeconomic and sociocultural factors influence cancer prevention and other health behaviors in low-income populations and communities.
  • In addition to her former role as Assistant UN Secretary-General, Sorenson is a former Senior Advisor to the UN Foundation. She will provide an international view of the challenges impacting human dignity in the 21st Century, and discuss ways to overcome them domestically and globally.

Additional speakers and panelists will be announced in the upcoming weeks. For more information about the symposium, please visit

JCI’s members are young active citizens, who are dedicated to seeking targeted solutions, making positive changes in their communities and around the world, and creating sustainable impact.

JCI’s many projects include battling poverty and homelessness in the U.S., promoting education for girls in the Middle East, developing sources of clean water in Southeast Asia, ending malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa, promoting maternal health in South America, and providing immediate on-the-ground earthquake relief in Nepal. 

For more information, contact Emily Anderson, 636-449-3100,, or 

Thomas D. Pagano, 314-602-7549,




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