To kick off the Momentous Institute‘s annual Changing the Odds annual conference (Thursday, October 24 and Friday, October 25), a dinner chaired by Ann Shaw and Carlos Peña was held at the Omni Dallas on Wednesday, October 23. Featuring Equal Justice Initiative Founder/Executive Director Bryan Stevenson as the keynote speaker, the crowd of more than 400 included Salesmanship Club of Dallas President Pete Lodwick, Sissy and Mike Massad, Cary and Kinne Kell,Cindy and Stan Shipley, Dallas City Councilpersons Cara Mendelsohn and Jennifer Gates with her daughter Jordan Gates, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Lydia and Dan Novakov and Mike Goodall. Here’s a report from the field:
Over 400 guests were brought to their feet to give a roaring applause for Bryan Stevenson as he wrapped up his moving speech at Momentous Institute’s Changing the Odds Dinner on Wednesday, October 23, at the Omni Dallas Hotel. Stevenson discussed his lifelong dedication to racial justice and to reforming the U.S. justice and incarceration system, while urging them to play their part to help eradicate the past and present effects of racism on African Americans.
Stevenson, founder and executive director for the Equal Justice Initiative, was the featured speaker at the annual dinner event, which precedes Momentous Institute’s Changing the Odds conference, a two-day conference hosted in Dallas with internationally-recognized speakers.
In addition to his work at EJI, Stevenson is a social activist, lawyer, and author of the New York Times bestselling book “Just Mercy,” which will soon be released as a major motion picture featuring Michael B. Jordan. All attendees received a copy of Stevenson’s book.
“I don’t believe the opposite of poverty is wealth, I believe the opposite of poverty is justice,” Stevenson said. “When we do justice, we deconstruct the conditions that belie poverty and suffering and inequality. And finally, I believe that our work, our stewardship as citizens of this country, will not ultimately be judged by what we do for the powerful and the rich. I think we’ll be judged by what we do for the poor the neglected and the abused. And because of that, the work at places like Momentous Institute is critical to work that we must commit to.”
Before Stevenson took stage, guests were welcomed by Event Co-Chairs Carlos Peña and Ann Shaw, both members of Salesmanship Club of Dallas, the organization that founded Momentous Institute.
Momentous Institute’s Executive Director Jessica Trudeau set the tone for the evening, highlighting Momentous Institute’s mission to change the odds for children using research-backed social emotional health tools. But, Trudeau reminds us, in order for children to reach their full potential and to become changemakers, we must do better to provide equitable opportunities for all children.
“We believe that long-term sustainable transformation will not happen by Momentous Institute alone or the nonprofit community alone,” Trudeau said. “But rather, with all segments of our society – the corporate sector, faith community, public school systems and government. Together we can shine light on these hidden factors and create a sustainably transformed community for the children of tomorrow.”
Momentous Institute’s Changing the Odds conference welcomed 1,300 educators, mental health providers, and community leaders on Thursday, October 24, thru Friday, October 25, at the Omni Hotel. Save the date for next year’s Changing the Odds Dinner on Friday, November 4, 2020.
Founded by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas in 1920, Momentous Institute builds and repairs social emotional health with children, families and communities. Each year, the organization partners with over 5,500 children and family members through innovative education and therapeutic services. The organization also invests in research and training, including the annual Changing the Odds conference, to reach far more children than could ever be seen directly.
* Photo credit: Lara Bierner