NEW BRITAIN – Seven accomplished individuals who all happen to be people of color will discuss solutions for economic and racial disparities at a special event later this week.
Charter Oak State College’s 2020 Shea Lecture is set for Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The discussion will take place virtually on Zoom and registration is free and open to the public. It will also be streaming live on the school’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
“It is imperative that we learn to tackle the injustice and break the cycle of poverty and disadvantage for our black and brown community members,” said Carol Hall, executive director of the Charter Oak State College (COSC) Foundation. “Now is the time to bring the spotlight onto solutions as we learn about the unrelenting issue of economic and racial disparity.”
The foundation partnered with the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce’s Minority Business Network to organize this discussion panel. Hall worked collaboratively with COSC Foundation Chairman Glenn Davis to bring together speakers from across the region.
Davis, who is also first vice president and community development/CRA officer of Liberty Bank, said the group will focus on four pillars of disparity: housing, economic development, higher education and building a financial foundation.
“We cannot begin to genuinely understand the very issues that have fueled the Black Lives Matters movement without an honest discussion of systematic racism and the interplay between economics and racial disparities,” Davis pointed out.
Keynote presenter Dr. Fred McKinney will begin the lecture by introducing the question, “what is economic disparity and how did it begin?”
The Carlton Highsmith Chair for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Quinnipiac University, McKinney has been recognized for his dedication in developing minority-owned businesses.
Also speaking will be Charter Oak alum Seila Mosquera-Bruno. As commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Housing and former president of NeighborWorks New Horizons, Mosquera-Bruno is a longtime advocate of affordable housing.
Other panelists include Capital Community College President Emeritus Wilfredo Nieves, Deputy Commissioner of the State Department of Community and Economic Development Glendowlyn Thames, and Chairman of Bank of America’s CT Chapter of Black Professionals Christopher Clarke, who also chairs the Minority Business Network.
COSC Foundation Board member Tracy Allen will serve as moderator. Allen owns TVA Consulting and serves on SCORE, a non-profit agency that mentors small business owners.
Charter Oak State College is the state’s only public online college, with a brick-and-mortar home at 55 Paul Manafort Dr. in New Britain. The Shea Lecture is a biennial event that was established by the school’s first president, Dr. Bernard D. Shea, with the goal of engaging students and the community in lifelong learning.
The most recent lecture, “The Art of Wellness”, took place in 2018 at the New Britain Museum of American Art. Hall, who is from Plainville, said the Foundation selected the topic for the 2020 Lecture at the beginning of the year. Not only was it before the coronavirus pandemic, but also before the killing of George Floyd propelled the Black Lives Matter movement to the forefront of U.S. culture.
“We had this on our radar back in January,” Hall said. “Charter Oak State College is a second-chance learning environment, as we like to say. Our foundation is committed to finding solutions and assistance for folks to go back to college. Life got in the way the first time, and we bring the fastest and most affordable path to degree completion.”
The average COSC graduate is in their late thirties and looking to better their own life and the life of their family by earning their college degree. This and other solutions to countering economic disparity will be discussed at Thursday’s lecture. Register at Charteroak.edu/Foundation or visit http://bit.ly/Shea2020Details for details.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.