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YWCA Annual Heart-to-Heart Racial Justice Breakfast

The Annual Heart to Heart Racial Justice Breakfast promotes the YWCA’s mission to “eliminate racism” and creates.  Attendees experience a meaningful dialogue about racism’s personal and community-wide impact with keynote speakers who have had a national impact on landmark civil rights cases. 

The 16th Annual Heart to Heart Racial Justice Breakfast
March 8, 2016
7:30 - 9:30 a.m.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center


Event Sponsors

Hero Sponsor: 

Champion Sponsor: 


Advocate Sponsors: 

Francie and John Pepper, Christ Church Cathedral, Natasha M. Cavanaugh/Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Supporter Sponsors: 

Cincinnati Human Relations Commission, Judge Susan J. Dlott, The E.W. Scripps Company, Faruki Ireland & Cox, PLL, Freking, Myers & Reul, Beverly Grant, Noelle Julnes-Dehner, Kohnen & Patton, Northern Kentucky University, University of Cincinnati, UC Lindner College of Business, UC Health, US Bank, Ulmer & Berne, LLP, Wood, Herron & Evans, LLP, Xavier University 

Design Sponsor: Photonics Graphics Inc


We are proud to honor Kenneth L. Parker and Mary Asbury with the 2016 Racial Justice Award


Contact yjohnson-hegge@ywcacin.org for seating information or call 513-361-2119


2016 Heart to Heart Breakfast Keynote Speaker: Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. Mr. Stevenson is a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill and aiding children prosecuted as adults. Mr. Stevenson has successfully argued several cases in the United States Supreme Court and recently won an historic ruling that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional. EJI has also initiated major new anti-poverty and anti-discrimination efforts challenging the legacy of racial inequality in America.


Mr. Stevenson's work fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system has won him numerous awards including the ABA Wisdom Award for Public Service, the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award Prize, the Olaf Palme International Prize, the ACLU National Medal of Liberty, the National Public Interest Lawyer of the Year Award, the Gruber Prize for International Justice and the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government, has been awarded 21 honorary doctorate degrees and is also a Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law.

He is the recent author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Just Mercy, which was named by Time Magazine as one of the 10 best books of nonfiction for 2014 and has been awarded several honors including the Carnegie Medal by the American Library Association for the best nonfiction book of 2014 and a 2015 NAACP Image Award. 

past events

2015 Heart to Heart Breakfast Keynote Speaker: Kimberlé Crenshaw

Kimberlé Crenshaw is executive director of the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) and professor of law at UCLA and Columbia Law School. She writes about civil rights, black feminist legal theory, race, racism, and the law. She is the founding coordinator of the Critical Race Theory Workshop and the co-editor of a volume titled Critical Race Theory: Key Documents That Shaped the Movement. She is a regular commentator on NPR's "The Tavis Smiley Show" and MSNBC.


Professor Crenshaw has lectured nationally and internationally on race matters and on "intersectionality," a concept she coined to capture the multidimensional dynamics of discrimination. Her work was cited in the drafting of the South African Constitution. She authored the background paper on Race and Gender Discrimination for the United Nations’ World Conference Against Racism and helped facilitate the inclusion of gender in the WCAR Conference Declaration. 


Crenshaw has lectured throughout the world, addressing audiences in Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia. In 1996, she co-founded the African American Policy Forum to highlight the centrality of gender and structural inequality in the discourse on racial justice.


Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw has held the Fulbright Distinguished Chair for Latin America and the Fletcher Fellowship. She is currently a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences.

2014 Heart to Heart Breakfast

2014 YWCA Racial Justice Award recipients are Al Gerhardstein and Pauline Strayhorne


Michelle Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar. In recent years, she has taught at a number of universities, including Stanford Law School, where she was an associate professor of law and directed the Civil Rights Clinics. In 2005, she won a Soros Justice Fellowship, which supported the writing of Th2013 Heart to Heart Breakfaste New Jim Crow, and that same year she accepted a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. The New Jim Crow has received rave reviews, become a New York Times bestseller, and has been featured in national radio and television media outlets, including NPR, The Bill Moyers Journal, the Tavis Smiley Show, MSNBC, C-Span Washington Journal, among others. The book won the 2011 NAACP Image Award for best non-fiction.

Prior to entering academia, Alexander served as the Director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California, where she coordinated the Project’s media advocacy, grassroots organizing, coalition-building, and litigation.  The Project’s priority areas were educational equity and criminal justice reform, and it was during those years that she launched  a major campaign against racial profiling by law enforcement, known as the “DWB Campaign” or “Driving While Black or Brown Campaign.” 

In addition to her non-profit advocacy experience, Alexander has worked as a litigator at private law firms, including at Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak & Baller, in Oakland, California, where she specialized in plaintiff-side class action lawsuits alleging race and gender discrimination. 

Alexander is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Vanderbilt University. Following law school, she clerked for Justice Harry A. Blackmun on the United States Supreme Court, and for Chief Judge Abner Mikva on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She currently devotes her time to freelance writing, consulting with advocacy organizations committed to building racial justice movements, and, most importantly, raising her three young children -- the most challenging and rewarding job of all.


2013 Heart to Heart Breakfast

2013 YWCA Racial Justice Award recipients are Judge Nathaniel R. Jones and Judge S. Arthur Spiegel  

Richard Thompson Ford is the George E. Osborne Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. An expert on civil rights and anti-discrimination law, He has distinguished himself as an insightful voice and compelling writer on questions of race and multiculturalism. He is the author of two books Racial Culture: A Critique and The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse. His scholarship combines social criticism and legal analysis, and he writes for both popular readers and for academic and legal specialists. His work focuses on the social and legal conflicts surrounding claims of discrimination, on the causes and effects of racial segregation, and on the use of territorial boundaries as instruments of social regulation.


He has published regularly in Slate, the Boston Review, the San Jose Mercury News, and the San Francisco Chronicle as well as in several prestigious academic journals including the Harvard Law Review and the Stanford Law Review.

2012 Heart to Heart Breakfast

2012 YWCA Racial Justice Award recipients were presented to Frances Wilson Canty, David Fankhauser and Betty Daniels Rosemond (Cincinnatians involved in the original Freedom Rides)

Ambassador Andrew Young’s humanitarian efforts and influence have spanned the globe. Since his beginning as an ordained minister and top aide to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, Ambassador Young has dedicated himself to improving the lives of all people.

His public service history is exceptional, having served in the United States Congress and as United States Ambassador to the United Nations during the Carter Administration. He also served two terms as mayor of the City of Atlanta, providing the leadership that helped the City to earn the international reputation it holds today. In his current position he serves as founding principal and chair of GoodWorks International, an organization that embraces his long-held mission of facilitating economic development in the Caribbean and Africa.

His “good works” have taken him to more than 150 countries, including 48 of 53 countries in Africa. Through his leadership, countries throughout the world have created a successful model that combines religion, education, democracy and free enterprise in ways that support the public good.

Ambassador Young has received honorary degrees from more than 60 institutions including Howard University, Swarthmore College, Duke University and Morehouse College, which named its Center for International Affairs in his honor. Georgia State University’s nationally recognized School of Policy Studies is also proud to carry his name. He has also received honorary degrees from international educational institutions including the University of Pretoria South Africa and the University of Maiduguri Nigeria.

Ambassador Young serves or has served on numerous corporate boards of directors and advisory boards including the Southern African Enterprise Development Fund, the Martin Luther King Jr Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Barrick Gold, United Nations, AMC and Atlanta Falcons. He is also the author of two books, A Way Out of No Way and An Easy Burden, and co-author of Walk in My Shoes. Ambassador Young recently received the Emmy for Lifetime Achievement from the National Academy of Televised Arts and Sciences.

2011 Heart to Heart Breakfast

YWCA Racial Justice Awards were presented to Marian Spencer and Donald Spencer (posthumously).

Keynote Speaker Julian Bond
From his student days to his former Chairmanship of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Julian Bond has been an active participant in the movements for civil rights and economic justice. As an activist who has faced jail for his convictions, as a veteran of more than 20 years service in the Georgia General Assembly, a university professor and a writer, he has been on the cutting edge of social change since 1960. While a student at Morehouse College in 1960, he was a founder of the Atlanta student sit-in and anti-segregation organization and of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). As SNCC's Communications Director, Bond was active in protests and voter registration campaigns throughout the South. He was a commentator on America's Black Forum, the oldest black-owned show in television syndication. His poetry and articles have appeared in numerous publications. He has narrated numerous documentaries, including the Academy Award winning "A Time For Justice" and the prize-winning and critically acclaimed series "Eyes On The Prize." Serving from 1998 until 2010 as Chairman of the Board of the NAACP, the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the United States, Bond worked to educate the public about the history of the Civil Rights movement and the struggles that African Americans and the poor still endure.

2010 Heart to Heart Breakfast

YWCA Racial Justice Awards were presented to Francie and John Pepper.

Featuring Charles Ogletree Jr.
Charles Ogletree, Jr., is considered one of the most tenacious and successful trial lawyers in the United States. The Harvard University professor is a passionate advocate of a defendant's right to a fair trial within the American justice system. Ogletree currently serves as the Jesse Climenko Professor of Law, and Founding and Executive Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School. Ogletree has single-handedly made significant inroads into how students at the country's most prestigious legal training ground view both the African-American community and the criminal justice system.

His books include From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State: Race and the Death Penalty in America and Brown at 50: The Unfinished Legacy, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, as well as All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half-Century of Brown v. Board of Education which received enthusiastically favorable reviews from many distinguished scholars, including Skip Gates, David Levering Lewis, Alan Dershowitz, John Hope Franklin, and Anita Hill.

In addition to his strong academic focus, Ogletree’s national media experience and exposure is considerable. He has also appeared as a guest commentator on Nightline, This Week with David Brinkley, McNeil-Lehrer News Hour, Crossfire, The Today show, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, Cochran & Company, Burden of Proof, and Meet the Press as well as other national and local television and radio programs

2009 Heart to Heart Breakfast

YWCA Racial Justice Awards were presented to both Judge Jack Sherman and Bea Larsen

Featuring Bevery Daniel Tatum, Ph.D.
When Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum became the ninth president of Spelman College in 2002, she set an expectation that Spelman College would be recognized as one of the finest liberal arts colleges in the country – providing young women of African descent an excellent education.

Her best-selling books include Can We Talk About Race? And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation (2007) and Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race (1997). She is also the author of Assimilation Blues: Black Families in a White Community (1987).

In addition to being an accomplished administrator and author, Dr. Tatum is widely recognized as a scholar, teacher, race relations expert and leader in higher education. A clinical psychologist by training, her areas of research include racial identity development and the role of race in the classroom. The recipient of numerous honorary degrees, in 2005 Dr. Tatum was awarded the prestigious Brock International Prize in Education for her innovative leadership in the field.

Actively involved in community work, Dr. Tatum is a member of the President’s Advisory Board for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and has chaired the American Council on Education Commission on Racial and Ethnic Equity in Education.

2008 Heart to Heart Breakfast

YWCA Racial Justice Awards were presented to both Judge Susan Dlott and Charles (Chuck) Judd.

Featuring Thomas N. Todd, Activist and Attorney
An activist attorney widely known as “TNT” for his oratorical skills, Thomas N. Todd, served as a lawyer in the U.S. Army from 1964 to 1967 and joined the staff of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago in 1967. In this capacity, Todd made history when he developed the first criminal case against a Chicago policeman for deprivation of an individual’s civil rights in 1968. Todd organized and established the first Civil Rights Office in a local U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1969. United States v. Gorman, the first federal criminal case against a Chicago police officer ended in a hung jury in 1971.

Todd was the first full-time black law professor at Northwestern University, where he taught from 1970 to 1974. Todd has been admitted to practice law before many courts, including the Louisiana Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Military Appeals, The Illinois Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

A powerful spokesman for civil rights, Todd was president of the Chicago chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1971 and president of Operation PUSH from 1983 to 1984.

2007 Heart to Heart Breakfast

YWCA Racial Justice Awards were presented to P. Jeane and William C. Goings.

Featuring Morris Dees, Jr., Founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center
Dees, the son of a cotton farmer, was born in Shorter, Alabama.  After graduating from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1960, he opened a law office in Montgomery, Alabama. During the civil rights movement, Mr. Dees became active aiding minorities in court. Along with Joseph J. Levin, Jr., he founded the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1971. The center has engaged in many high-profile civil rights lawsuits including the integration of the Alabama State Troopers. In 1980, the Center founded the Intelligence Project in response to the resurgence in organized racist activity. A made-for-television movie about Mr. Dees aired on NBC. "Line of Fire" describes his successful fight against the Ku Klux Klan.  It included the $7 million precedent-setting judgment against the United Klans of America on behalf of the mother of Michael Donald, a young black man lynched by the Klan in Mobile, Alabama. Wayne Rogers portrayed him in the feature film, "Ghosts of Mississippi," about the murder of civil rights worker Medgar Evers. Other victories against hate groups include a $6 million judgment that bankrupted the Aryan Nations, a $12.5 million jury verdict against the California-based White Aryan Resistance for the death of a black student and a $25 million verdict against the Carolina Klan for burning black churches. Mr. Dees is Chief Trial Counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center and has written numerous books including A Season for Justice, Hate on Trial: The Case Against America's Most Dangerous Neo-Nazi, and A Lawyer's Journey:  The Morris Dees Story. 

2006 Heart to Heart Breakfast

The YWCA Racial Justice Award was presented to Judge Robert L. Black, Jr.

Presented by: YWCA of Greater Cincinnati and Baker & Hostetler LLP.  Underwriters:  Baker & Hostetler LLP, Debra Rothstein Clark, Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati in memory of Rosa Parks, CBA Women Lawyers Committee and Photonics Graphics Inc.- Design Sponsor

Featuring John Payton, Esq

One of the nation's leading civil rights attorneys, John Payton was part of the University of Michigan affirmative action cases from the beginning, acting as lead counsel on the undergraduate admissions program and arguing the case before the Supreme Court.  Payton has participated in some of the most significant civil rights cases in recent U.S. history, i.e. Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244 (2003).  During his first year of law school, he was one of a team of law students who wrote briefs defending Native Americans charged at Wounded Knee.  He later worked on the landmark NAACP case defending the right to boycott merchants in the South.  He also was chief counsel for the City of Richmond, handling the Supreme Court defense of its Minority Business Utilization Program.  John Payton led the team of lawyers filing an amicus brief on behalf of 184 members of Congress in a racial discrimination employment case, as well as in Adarand v. Pena, 515, U.A. 200 (1995), in the Supreme Court regarding minority set-asides in highway contracting.

Payton served as president of the District of Columbia Bar Association from June 2001 to June 2002.  Working with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, he was a member of the election observer team sent to South Africa to observe that country's first democratic election.

2005 Heart to Heart Breakfast

The YWCA Racial Justice Award was presented to Judge William A. McClain.

Presented by:  YWCA of Greater Cincinnati, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Baker & Hostetler LLP.  Underwriters:  Baker & Hostetler LLP, Debra Rothstein Clark, Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati, CBA Women Lawyers Committee, Browne of Cincinnati- Print Sponsor, Photonics Graphics Inc.- Design Sponsor.

Featuring Gay J. McDougall, Esq.

As executive director of Global Rights, an international human rights law group with offices worldwide, Gay McDougall tackles injustice on a global level. She worked with Nelson Mandela following his release from prison and was part of the Independent Electoral Commission which organized and administered South Africa's first post-apartheid elections.

McDougall has been elected to various United Nations bodies working for the elimination of racial discrimination and the protection of minorities. In this capacity, McDougall served as Special Rapporteur on the issues of systemic rape and slavery-like practices in armed conflict, and her groundbreaking study was cited by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia as an authoritative statement of international criminal law.

Gay McDougall is a 1999 recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (Genius Award) and earned her J.D. at Yale University Law School and her LLM at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Pictured left to right, rear: William Appleton, Esq., Partner, Baker & Hostetler LLP, Debra Rothstein Clark, Esq., YWCA Racial Justice Committee, Barbara J. Smitherman, YWCA Racial Justice Committee

Pictured left to right, front: Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney, Esq., YWCA Racial Justice Committee, Judge William A. McClain, Recipient of 2005 YWCA Racial Justice Award, Charlene Ventura, YWCA President & CEO, Gay J. McDougall, Esq., Keynote Speaker

2004 Heart to Heart Breakfast

The first YWCA Racial Justice Award was presented to Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth.

Presented by YWCA of Greater Cincinnati and Cincinnati Bar Association.  Underwritten by Baker & Hostetler LLP, Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati, CBA Women Lawyers Committee, and Debra D. Rothstein.

Featuring Fred D. Gray, Esq.

Gray grew up in Montgomery, Alabama and had to leave the state in 1951 to finish his education because blacks could not attend Alabama law schools. After graduating from what is now Case Western Reserve University Law School in 1954, he returned to his hometown and became one of two black lawyers in the city. He was, he writes, "determined to destroy everything segregated that I could find." He did not have to wait long.

When his friend Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955 for violating the segregated seating ordinance on a Montgomery bus, 26-year-old Martin Luther King, Jar., was chosen to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and 24-year-old Fred Gray became his- and the movement's- lawyer. Gray's legal victory in the federal courts ended the boycott 381 days later.

Over the four decades since, Gray has won scores of civil-rights cases in education, voting rights, transportation, health, and other areas. He represented the Freedom Riders, the Selma-to-Montgomery marchers, the victims of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, and many more. 

2003 Heart to Heart Breakfast


Featuring Melba Pattillo Beals 

Featuring Keynote Speaker Melba Pattillo Beals, author of Warriors Don't Cry, a searing memoir of the battle to integrate Little Rock, Arkansas' Central High School. 

At the age of only 15, Beals was caught in the center of a civil rights firestorm that stunned the nation and altered the course of history.  As one of nine black teenagers chosen to integrate Central High School in 1957 following the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Beals endured telephone threats, rogue police, economic blackmail, and fireball and acid-throwing attacks.  She shared her story of strength and sacrifice, as well as her message of hope for today's children.

Presented by YWCA of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati Bar Association, Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati, BLAC-CBA Round Table, CBA Women Lawyers Committee, and Washington Park Elementary School.

Students from NAACP meet with the keynote speaker Melba Patillo Beals.

2002 Heart to Heart Breakfast: To Children With Love

 L to R: Panelist John Concannon; YWCA President & CEO Charlene Ventura; Heart to Heart Racial Justice Breakfast Co-Chair Debra Rothstein, YWCA Racial Justice Committee Co-Chair Barbara Smitherman; Panelist Bea Larsen; Heart to Heart Racial Justice Breakfast Co-Chair Doris Jackson; and Panelist Judge Nathaniel Jones.

Children took center spotlight in the second annual Heart to Heart Racial Justice Breakfast. Douglas Jones, Esq., shared his insights as the lead prosecutor in the 2001 trial of the Klan member charged with and found guilty of the 1963 bombing that killed four young girls in the Sixteenth St. Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. A panel discussion followed about racial justice involving children.

Panel members included Eileen Cooper Reed, Esq., Executive Director, Children’s Defense Fund; Debra Rothstein, Esq., Chair of the Cincinnati Bar Association Juvenile Law Committee; Fanon Rucker, Esq., President, Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati; and O’Dell M. Owens, M.D., Senior Medical Director, United Health Care. Barbara Smitherman, a member of the YWCA Racial Justice Committee, served as moderator.

YWCA of Greater Cincinnati, 898 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
 website@ywcacin.org • Phone: 513-241-7090 • Fax: 513-241-7231
Copyright 2013