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Webinar: Journeying with Vulnerable Youth From Homelessness to Hope and Healing
April 19, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
The third webinar in our 2021 lecture series “Catholic Women: Agents of Peace and Trust”
Almost 12 million children in our nation are currently living in poverty. Sadly, approximately 4.2 million young people under the age of 24 experience homelessness. This webinar will draw upon the many years of experience of women leaders from both the Harlem Children’s Zone and Covenant House, two large non-profit organizations whose goal is to achieve positive outcomes for young people by journeying with them from traumatic experiences to hope and healing.
The panelists will discuss the challenges that these young people face including how the pandemic has exacerbated already existing disparities. We will explore together how each of us can play a part in supporting the most vulnerable children to fulfill their great promise.
To register, visit https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Yjk0sR0STtmruzPzMOXHeg
- Sr. Nancy Downing, CND, Executive Director, Covenant House
- Anne Williams-Isom, James R. Dumpson Chair in Child Welfare, Fordham University; former CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone
- Jessica Lake, Managing Director of Wellness and Social Services, Harlem Children’s Zone
- Polina Ostrenkova, Resident & Anti-Trafficking Youth Intern, Covenant House
- Sr. Nancy Downing, CND joined Covenant House New York (CHNY) in 2007 as senior staff attorney and became director of advocacy/legal services in 2008. In 2016, she accepted the position of executive director of CHNY.Sr. Nancy has more than 25 years of experience in management and as an attorney, working on issues of homelessness, poverty, fair housing, and civil rights. Prior to coming to CHNY, she was executive director of the Maura Clarke-Ita Ford Center, serving immigrant women in Brooklyn. She also served as a staff attorney at New York Legal Assistance Group, representing clients with chronic and serious illnesses; as legal services coordinator at STEPS to End Family Violence; and as executive director of the Connecticut Fair Housing Center.
- Anne Williams-Isom is a nonprofit executive and attorney with more than 25 years of leadership and management experience in large, complex organizations. Ms. Williams-Isom has been a proponent for children’s rights and advocates for disadvantaged Americans her entire professional life. She currently serves as the James R. Dumpson Chair in Child Welfare Studies at the Graduate School of Social Service at Fordham University. Previously Ms. Williams-Isom served as the Chief Executive Officer for the Harlem Children’s Zone, before which she served for five years as HCZ’s Chief Operating Officer. As CEO, she oversaw all programs for 25,000 children and adults in Central Harlem. She also developed innovative strategies to support college students individually and at scale. She assumed the position of CEO in July 2014 and served in the role for six years. Ms. Williams-Isom earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and psychology from Fordham University. After receiving her J.D. from Columbia Law School, she practiced law for five years at two of New York’s most prestigious firms.
- Jessica Lake is the Managing Director of Wellness and Social Services at the Harlem Children’s Zone. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with more than 15 years of clinical and management experience. Her clinical areas of interest are internalizing disorders, suicide prevention, child and family mental health, and holistic wellness practices to mitigate against trauma and toxic stressors. She is an immigrant from the Dominican Republic and lived most of her formative years in the Bronx, NY. She received a dual BA in Psychology and Social Services from the University at Buffalo where she also obtained a Master of Social Work degree.
- Polina Ostrenkova is currently a resident at Covenant House New York (CHNY) where we serve young adults experiencing homelessness and survivors of human trafficking. Additionally, she has been working as a youth intern with CHNY’s anti-trafficking department since October 2020. She hopes to one day become a social worker, Polina is determined to rise above her past difficult circumstances as a young person who has experienced human trafficking. Instead of falling into despair, as many would, Polina marshals the resilience she needed to overcome her prior experiences to thrive, further her education, and help others. Polina is motivated to bring about change for people who fell into despair and extreme predicaments and is not afraid to use her voice for women who have had these experiences.