2023 Annual Program Meeting (APM) Speakers

  • Dr. Bernice A. King
    CEO, The King Center

    Opening Plenary Session With Dr. Bernice A. King 

    CSWE is pleased to announce that the 2023 APM will kick off with a plenary session featuring a moderated conversation with Dr. Bernice A. King.

    Dr. King is a global thought leader, strategist, solutionist, orator, peace advocate, and CEO of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center For Nonviolent Social Change (The King Center), which was founded by her mother as the official living memorial to the life, work, and legacy of her father. In this position, Bernice continues to advance her parents’ legacy of nonviolent social change through policy, advocacy, research, as well as education and training through the Kingian philosophy of nonviolence, which she re-branded Nonviolence365™ (NV365).

    Through her work at The King Center, she educates youth and adults around the world about the nonviolent principles and strategies modeled by her parents. Under her leadership, the Center has implemented numerous initiatives reaching over 500,000 people around the world, including the Beloved Community Leadership Academy, Students with King, NV365 Education & Training, and The Beloved Community Talks, a courageous conversations platform about the difficult racial and social justice issues impacting our world. Dr. King led the development of an NV365 certification program for trainers, which provides individuals with the opportunity to teach the NV365 curriculum on behalf of The King Center. She is an instructor for the program and a trainer.

    Dr. King received both a Juris Doctor (JD) and Master of Divinity (MDiv) Degrees from Emory University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Spelman College. From 1990–1992 she served as a law clerk for Judge Glenda Hatchett, the Chief Judge of The Fulton County Juvenile Detention Court. She served for seven years as an Assistant Pastor of Greater Rising Star Baptist Church in Atlanta where she organized and developed several new ministries. In 2007, she established the Be A King Scholarship in honor of her mother at Spelman College. Dr. King spearheaded the 2013 “Let Freedom Ring” event commemorating the 50th Anniversary of The March on Washington and her father’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The global event included President Barack Obama, President Bill Clinton, and President Jimmy Carter, members of Congress, as well as many other international leaders, dignitaries, and entertainers. In March 2018, Dr. King was fortunate to have a private audience with his holiness, Pope Francis. In 2020, she was influential in encouraging Atlanta Business leaders to actively support major racial equity and social justice issues, including the successful passage of Georgia's Hate Crime legislation.

    Dr. King has received numerous awards and recognitions. In 2021, she received the Atlanta Business Chronicle Lifetime Achievement Award for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Additionally, The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation honored her in 2020 with their highest award, The Phoenix Award, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to society. She also received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Wesley College and Clinton College; an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Spelman College, and an honorary Doctor of Laws from Grinnell College. As a noted author, she has to her credit, “Hard Questions, Heart Answers,” as well as a children’s book entitled “It Starts with Me,” which is a part of The King Center’s Be Love movement.

    She is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, admitted since 1992; a registered mediator through the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution; a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated (AKA), the International Women’s Forum (IWF), the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), and the 50th Anniversary class of Leadership Atlanta (2020); a board member of The King Center, The National Black Bank Foundation (NBBF), as well as Faith and Prejudice.

    Dr. King is an innovative, inspirational, and transformational leader. She is dedicated to ensuring that her parents’ legacy and teachings, The King Center, as well as the work of creating the Beloved Community, with Nonviolence365 as the pathway, are introduced to new generations of influencers.


  • Dr. Laura Burney Nissen
    Professor, Portland State University School of Social Work

    Plenary Speaker: Social Work Futures

    CSWE is pleased to announce that Laura Burney Nissen, PhD, MSW, will be a plenary speaker on the future of social work at the 2023 Annual Program Meeting, October 26–29, 2023, in Atlanta, GA.

    Former Dean and Professor Laura Burney Nissen is with the Portland State University School of Social Work. With a commitment to innovative and equity-centered systems change, Laura has worked with futures practice and lenses throughout her career. She is a foresight practitioner and a Research Fellow with the Institute for the Future. She is the PI and Director of the national Social Work Health Futures Lab funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The goal of this initiative is to bring futures thinking and frameworks to the social work profession.

    Laura is also a Presidential Futures Fellow at Portland State University where she has been a founder of the university-wide Futures Collaboratory. She is equally dedicated to supporting the successful evolution of public universities into a thriving future. Laura’s passion is getting others excited and energized about their role in building a better future. 

  • Dr. Jenny Jones
    Dean and Professor of Social Work, Whitney M. Young, Jr. School of Social Work, Clark Atlanta University

    Carl A. Scott Memorial Lecture

    "Voter Suppression: Revisiting Jim Crow as a Form of Racial Injustice: It’s Time to Act!"

    CSWE is pleased to announce Jenny L. Jones, PhD, MSW, ACSW, dean and professor of social work at the Whitney M. Young, Jr. School of Social Work at Clark Atlanta University will deliver the 2023 Carl A. Scott Lecture at CSWE’s Annual Program Meeting. Her plenary session will examine the historical antecedents of society at large with an emphasis on the Voting Rights Act to better understand contemporary voter suppression. Dr. Jones will also discuss the process and outcome evaluation for a lecture series that focuses on the intersectionality of voter awareness specific to voter suppression (how to recognize it), voter engagement, and voter participation. 


  • Dr. María Elena Ramos Tovar
    Professor, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León

    Hokenstad International Lecture

    "Migrant Health Access: Building Bridges Through Research and Advocacy"

    This presentation is based on the research and advocacy work related to migrant’s rights and health access for those moving through Northeastern Mexico and the Texas Rio Grande Valley, including lessons learned regarding the importance of building bridges of collaboration between actors from civil society, academia, and government offices.

    A collaborative project like this has allowed academic actors to develop an action-oriented science grounded in critical social theory which focuses on social justice and empowerment. Having an ongoing relationship with civil society organizations allows us to go beyond the production of research to research that provides support to social organizations and their needs. For social organizations, it was helpful to strengthen and create collaborative synergies for a common purpose, which in this case, is to facilitate access to health care for migrants. This collaboration included cooperative social management strategies and shared resources before government bodies.  

    Furthermore, this project created visibility to a global need for a society in which all the actors are participants. Meanwhile for government institutions, it allowed them to expand their knowledge about the ways of operating within social institutions and academia, how to overcome obstacles, increase the potential for alliances, and awareness of the administrative and political limitations of their work. In short, such a collective exercise builds bridges for science, advocacy, and development strategies. 

    Dr. María Elena Ramos Tovar holds a B.A. in Sociology from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL), was a Fulbright scholar for her M.A. studies and was awarded a fellowship by the Mexican Secretary of Education for her Ph.D. Studies in Sociology, both at Tulane University. She has held various academic appointments and research residencies in various states throughout Mexico and the U.S., and other countries such as Columbia, and Spain.  Currently, she is a professor at the School of Social Work and Human Development at UANL where she specializes in migration and gender studies. She coordinates both International Affairs and the doctoral program. In 2020, she received the UANL award "Flame, Life, and Woman" teaching and research. She has published 9 books and countless articles and chapters focused on various topics such as COVID19 and the impact of confinement, migration, human rights, and gender.  She has obtained research funding from external sources such as CONACYT, Tinker Foundation, and PIMSA-University of Berkeley. Her current research project is binational and focuses on human rights and access to health for migrants in transit.