Events Take Action

Poverty is a Human Rights Issue: Social Work and Economic Justice

University at Buffalo School of Social Work | March 27, 2019, 8 am-4 pm

Poverty is a Human Rights Issue: Social Work and Economic Justice

Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
955 Main Street
Downtown Campus Room 1220
Buffalo, New York 14203


Since the 1960s, the richest 1% of the United States population saw their wealth increase seven-fold, while the poorest 10% went from no wealth into actual debt. The United States is becoming one of the most unequal societies in the world.

Recent federal policy changes and tax reforms will hurt poor people even more. Compared to other developed countries, the U.S. lags behind in health indicators, infant mortality rates, clean water and sanitation, and child poverty. 

Social work prioritizes economic justice and sees extreme poverty as a human rights issue. We will explore these gaps and hear about current efforts which show promise in alleviating poverty.

Featuring Keynote Speaker: Kristin S. Seedfeldt, Ph.D., School of Social Work and Public Policy and Gerald R Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

Event Schedule: 

8:00 am – 8:30 am Registration / coffee, tea & muffins

8:30 am – 9:00 am Welcome
Hilary Weaver, Professor & Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; School of Social Work, University at Buffalo

9:00 am – 10:00 am Keynote: Poverty in the U.S.: Unpacking and Undoing Damaging Myths  
Kristin S. Seedfeldt, PhD., Associate Professor of Social Work, School of Social Work and Associate Professor of Public Policy; Gerald R Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

10:15 am - 11:05 am Poverty in Buffalo 
Sam Magavern, Senior Policy Fellow; Partnership for the Public Good

11:15 am - 12:00 pm Building AI Systems with Black Youth from Underresourced Communities in Chicago: Examining Challenges and Opportunities 
Desmond Patton, Ph.D., Public Interest Technologist and Associate Professor; Columbia University, SAFE Lab Director

12:00 – 12:30 pm Lunch 

12:35 pm – 12:45 pm Remarks 
Nancy Smyth, Dean & Professor; School of Social Work, University at Buffalo

12:45 pm - 1:45 pm A New and Unsettling Force: Drawing Inspiration from MLK to Build a Movement to End Poverty  
Rev. Emily McNeill, Executive Director, Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State and Coordinator, Poor Peoples Campaign, New York State

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm Panel: Local Initiatives and Practical Approaches 
Alexander Wright, African Heritage Food Co-op
DeAnna Eason, Housing Opportunities Made Equal
Samina Raja, PhD., Urban and Regional Planning of Food Systems, School of Architecture and Planning, Univ. at Buffalo
Yanush Sanmugaraia and Bob Doyle, Westminster Economic Development Initiative

3:30 pm - 4:00 pm Discussion: What next?


Registration at 8:00 a.m., event 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.


This event is free and open to the public. 

The Global Interest Group is committed to providing full access to this event. Look for future emails with details for online viewing. Those attending in person will be provided with morning coffee and lunch.

Please contact the organizer,, with any questions or requests for reasonable accommodations.