April 11, 2006

New York, NY – The Columbia University School of Social Work (CUSSW), the first established social work school in the nation, today announced that Karenna Gore Schiff will be the speaker for its commencement ceremony on May 17, 2006.

“We are very delighted that Mrs. Gore-Schiff will be participating in this year’s ceremony,” said Dean Jeanette Takamura. “Her unique experiences and passion for diverse community issues bring inspiration and encouragement to students and faculty alike. Moreover, we are delighted that her recently released book covers the contributions of Frances Perkins, one of CUSSW’s most renowned graduates.”

The daughter of Al and Tipper Gore, Mrs. Gore-Schiff is a Columbia Law and a Harvard University alumna. Currently, she is Director of Community Affairs for the Association to Benefit Children, a New York City not-for-profit organization that provides services including: early childhood education, health care services, housing assistance, mental health services, family preservation, crisis intervention, recreational services, job training and employment assistance, therapeutic after school and summer day camp programs, mentoring and legal advocacy. Prior to her role at the Association to Benefit Children, Mrs. Gore-Schiff worked at a TV station in Memphis and at the Times-Picayune in New Orleans. She has also worked in a law firm.

Karenna Gore-Schiff recently published the book “Lighting the Way: Nine Women Who Changed Modern America.” This narrative covers the lives of nine 20th century heroines, including Ida B. Wells-Barnett, born a slave; Mother Jones, an immigrant who organized coal miners and worked against child labor; Alice Hamilton, who pushed for regulation of industrial toxins; Frances Perkins, a Columbia alumna who played a major role in the formative years of the Social Security program; Virginia Durr, a Southerner who worked on poll tax and segregation issues; Septima Clark, who registered black voters; Dolores Huerta, who organized farm workers; Dr. Helen Rodriguez-Trias, a reproductive rights advocate; and Gretchen Buchenholz, a leading child advocate.

The Columbia University commencement exercises will be held from 10:30am to 12:00pm in front of Low Library. The CUSSW commencement ceremony will be held at 2:00pm in Levien Gymnasium at the Dodge Physical Fitness Center. For more information, click here.

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