Speaker Series

News, Media and Politics: What is the New Normal?

Speaker Series panel photoOn June 5, we hosted the latest Speaker Series event, News, Media and Politics: What is the New Normal? The conversation focused on the intersections of justice, news and politics and the implications for policymakers and citizens, bringing together national, state and local leaders to discuss the new realities, responsibilities and understandings of media and truth.

Panelists representing print, radio, TV, social media and academic perspectives discussed the role of media in informing residents and as a check on those in power, the power and responsibility of news sources to shape politics, and the role of trust in the public’s understanding of news and what constitutes news, media or the truth.

Panelists included Linnea Edmeier, Managing Editor at Capital Public Radio; Trymaine Lee, national reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with MSNBC/NBCNews; Thomas Peele, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist with Bay Area News Group and UC Berkeley School of Journalism lecturer; and Dyan Ruiz, co-founder of People Power Media.

Event video


Larke Nahme Huang, Ph.D.: Achieving Equity in Behavioral Health Care: Policy and Practice

For our last Speaker Series event of 2016, on Oct. 7 we welcomed Larke Nahme Huang, Ph.D., Director of the Office of Behavioral Health Equity at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Providing leadership on national policy for youth behavioral health care, Dr. Huang works with states and communities to eliminate systemic disparities and create equitable access for all families.

A licensed clinical-community psychologist and national advisor on behavioral health, Dr. Huang uses her research, practice and policy expertise to advance policies that address inequities in services for youth and families with behavioral health issues, including those exposed to trauma. Committed to the understanding that health care is a civil right, she is an expert on cultural responsiveness in mental health service and policy, and on the impact of social determinants of health on our communities.

Dr. Huang joined in conversation with state, local and community leaders to discuss access inequity, mental health system barriers and opportunities, and new approaches that address the social, economic and environmental factors that influence health for youth and families. Panelists included Jahmal Miller, Deputy Director of the California Office of Health Equity; Ben Hudson, Jr., Executive Director of Gender Health Center; and Mariah Corder, Youth Advocate with California Youth Connection.

Event video

Presentation slides

Steve Phillips: Harnessing the Power of the New American Majority

On May 25, 2016, we were joined by Steve Phillips, author of Brown is the New White, which addresses how people of color and progressive whites add up to a new majority of voters and what this means for U.S. politics and policy. A national political leader, civil rights lawyer and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, Mr. Phillips uses research and demographic data to challenge the political practice of chasing the white swing voter and ignoring communities of color, which now make up the political majority and have the numbers to bring issues of importance to the main political stage.

Mr. Phillips discussed disenfranchised voters, harnessing the power of this New American Majority, and how to best use that power to build coalitions and make real change. He was joined by a panel, including Kathay Feng of California Common Cause, Phillip Rodriguez of City Projects, and Mindy Romero of the California Civic Engagement Project at the UC Davis Center for Regional Change, to discuss subjects of civic engagement, barriers to voting, systems change and grassroots community building. The event was moderated by Jose Hermocillo of APCO Worldwide and board member of Sierra Health Foundation.

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Daniel Macallair: After the Doors Were Locked

We were honored to host a book launch on Feb. 24, 2016, for colleague Daniel Macallair, Executive Director and Co-founder of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. His book, After the Doors Were Locked: A History of Youth Corrections in California and the Origins of 21st Century Reform, looks at what history can teach about modern-day youth corrections reforms. Drawing from his nearly 30 years of experience and research, Mr. Macallair shares the compelling and incisive story about the nation’s largest youth corrections system and the daily reality of institutional life.

The event included a discussion with Mr. Macallair and Sierra Health Foundation President and CEO Chet Hewitt about the history of congregate institutions and the repeated efforts to reform the way youth were treated in those institutions. They also took part in a panel discussion, which included Samuel Nunez, Executive Director of Fathers & Families of San Joaquin, and juvenile justice advocate Ruben Mesta, who both shared their experiences in the juvenile justice system, as well as their suggestions for reform.

Takarra Johnson from Sacramento Area Youth Speaks opened the event with a moving spoken word performance about the realities of juvenile justice.

Learn more about After the Doors Were Locked on the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice web site.

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Dr. Elizabeth Cauffman: Adolescent Brain Development and the Juvenile Justice System

Beth Cauffman

Dr. Elizabeth Cauffman joined us at Sierra Health Foundation on Sept. 10, 2015. A professor and chancellor’s fellow in the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior in the School of Ecology at the University of California, Irvine, Dr. Cauffman explained how cognitive and emotional maturation follow different developmental trajectories, and how risky behavior, including delinquency, can be seen as a consequence of the differing timetables of cognitive and emotional development. She also presented preliminary findings from her research studies entitled, Pathways and Crossroads, which examine the impact of the juvenile justice system on development and behavior.

The event included introductory remarks from David Gordon, Sacramento County Office of Education Superintendent and Sierra Health Foundation Board Chair. Brandon Harrison from Fathers and Families of San Joaquin presented a short film that he and other youth produced as part of the Stockton Youth Film Project. Participants also heard from a panel of local, state and national leaders, including Dr. Cauffman; Alex Johnson, Executive Director at the Children’s Defense Fund–California; Frankie Guzman, Juvenile Justice Attorney at the National Center for Youth Law; Daniel Hahn, Roseville Chief of Police; and Judge Donna Quigley Groman, Supervising Judge in the Los Angeles Juvenile Delinquency Division.


Dr. John Rich: Trauma and Violence in the Lives of Young African-American Men

John Rich

We were pleased to welcome Dr. John Rich as part of our Speaker Series on April 9, 2015. A professor at the Drexel University School of Public Health and a leader in the field of public health, Dr. Rich presented on trauma and violence in the lives of young African-American men.

His presentation included stories of young people affected by adversity, violence and trauma. Participants learned about their experiences through powerful videos produced by young men and women who are part of Healing Hurt People, a program of Drexel’s Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice in the School of Public Health and College of Medicine. Through their stories, Dr. Rich suggested new ways to think about the connection between trauma, the social determinants of health and problems like urban violence. He also talked about the need to bring innovation to programs and policies by designing them with those most affected by violence.

The event included well-received spoken word performances by two members of Sacramento Area Youth Speaks, Shomari “Issa” Jackson and Andreas “Dre-T” Tillman.

Highlight video

Full-length video


Erahm Christopher: Using Creativity to Heal and Empower Youth

Erahm Christopher

As part of our Speaker Series, on Sept. 25, 2014, we welcomed inspiring filmmaker Erahm Christopher, who shared his experiences of using film and creativity to heal and empower youth.

For the past six years, Erahm has worked with students to create the TEEN TRUTH educational film series, which has reached more than six million youth. Filmed by students, the series addresses topics such as bullying, body image and drugs, with teens speaking truthfully about their experiences. The films, which are shown at schools and other venues nationwide, are created to educate youth and adults about issues, but also to empower them to be the difference at their schools and in their communities.

Learn more about Erahm and the film series on the TEEN TRUTH web site.


Previous Convenings

Dr. David Williams

Community Health Center Capacity Building Program Implementation Launch

Confronting Suburban Poverty in America

Supportive Housing for Homeless Families: Foster Care Outcomes and Best Practices

Creating a Path for Transformation