Angela Glover Blackwell, national leader for social justice, to speak at Class of 2012 Commencement

On May 19, more than 300 students will cross the stage in Zellerbach Hall to receive their diplomas at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health Commencement ceremony. Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and chief executive officer at PolicyLink, will deliver the keynote address.

A national leader for social justice and equity, Blackwell seeks to strengthen America by creating stronger low-income communities and communities of color. In 1999, she founded PolicyLink, a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity. Under Blackwell’s leadership, PolicyLink has become a leading voice in the movement to use public policy to improve access and opportunity in the areas of health, housing, transportation, education, and infrastructure.

Prior to founding PolicyLink, Blackwell served as senior vice president at the Rockefeller Foundation, where she oversaw the foundation’s Domestic and Cultural Divisions. A lawyer by training, she gained national recognition as founder of the Oakland Urban Strategies Council, where she pioneered new approaches to neighborhood revitalization. From 1977 to 1987, Blackwell was a partner at Public Advocates, a nationally known public interest law firm.

As a leading voice in the movement for equity in America, Blackwell is a frequent commentator for some of the nation’s top news organizations, including the Washington Post, Salon, and the Huffington Post, and has appeared regularly on such shows as public radio’s “Marketplace,” “The Tavis Smiley Show,” “Nightline,” and PBS’s “Now.” Blackwell is the coauthor of Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future (W.W. Norton & Co., 2010). She earned a bachelor’s degree from Howard University and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley. She serves on numerous boards and served as cochair of the task force on poverty for the Center for American Progress.

Faculty, alumni, and students to receive honors

The 2012 Alumna of the Year award will be presented posthumously to Sarah Samuels Dr.P.H. ’82 in recognition of her services as a leader and visionary in the field of public health. She was a public health researcher, advocate, and founder of the firm Samuels & Associates, which specialized in the evaluation of nutrition and obesity prevention programs. The award will be presented by Mariah S. LaFleur M.P.H. ’09, a former colleague at Samuels & Associates. Dr. Joel Simon, Sarah Samuels's husband of 28 years, will accept the award.

Each year, alumni nominate a faculty member to receive the Zak Sabry Mentorship Award for mentoring students and encouraging creative faculty-student collaborations. This year the honor goes to Patricia Crawford, adjunct professor and director of the Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Center for Weight and Health. “Dr. Pat Crawford excels for her remarkable ability to selflessly mentor all to reach their full potential,” wrote Lorrene Ritchie in a letter of nomination. Ritchie, an associate researcher at the Center for Weight and Health, will present Crawford with the 2012 Zak Sabry award.

The funds raised by the 2012 Class Campaign will also be announced at Commencement. The graduating class hopes to raise $10,000 in gifts in order to thank the School and enhance the educational experience for future students.

The School of Public Health Commencement is open to graduating students and their ticketed guests only.

By Linda Anderberg