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Aurora Family Service hosts community forum on race relations

Monday, October 15, 2007

Author Bruce Jacobs to speak at event marking Aurora Family Service’s 125th anniversary

Bruce A. Jacobs, nationally known author of “Race Manners for the 21st Century: Navigating the Minefield Between Black and White Americans in an Age of Fear,” will be the keynote speaker at a summit on race relations sponsored by Aurora Family Service Oct. 30.

Jacobs’ book inspired Jane Pirsig, executive director of Aurora Family Service, to invite him to join the summit that highlights the agency’s 125th anniversary celebration.

“The experience of racism in the community profoundly affects the clients we serve,” Pirsig said. “Bruce Jacobs has addressed the very pertinent issue of how we all need to start talking to one another in productive and honest ways to move past the patterns that have marked our community for so long.”

The public is invited to attend the event, which runs from noon to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. Cost is $50 for the entire program, $15 for the forum and $35 for the luncheon. Proceeds will benefit the Aurora Family Service Fund for Advocacy. To attend, please register at or call 414-342-4560.

Since its inception in 1882, Aurora Family Service has responded to changing needs of families caused by immigration, the Depression, two World Wars, social upheaval of the 1960’s and the loss of manufacturing jobs. Serving southeast Wisconsin, it provides services ranging from in-office psychotherapy to intensive home-based mental health services, comprehensive services for the elderly and their families, parenting education and support, and financial counseling.

“Because we are such an integral part of the community, bringing people together to discuss critically important issues like race is a natural part of our work,” Pirsig said.

Mike Gousha, distinguished fellow in law and public policy at Marquette University Law School, will serve as master of ceremonies for the event. Facilitators for the family issues forum include Martha Barry and Paula Penebaker of the YWCA; Deborah Blanks, Social Development Commission; Christopher Boston, MICAH; Ralph Hollman, Milwaukee Urban League; David Lerman, assistant district attorney; and Terence Ray, Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative.

The schedule for the event:

  • Noon to 1:30 p.m. – 125th anniversary luncheon with keynote speaker Bruce A. Jacobs. His work has appeared in American Writing, The African-American Review, Beloit Poetry Journal and many other publications. His book of poems won the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Prize. He is a graduate of Harvard University.
  • 2 to 4:30 p.m. – Family Issues Forum, “Continuing the Dialogue: Can We Talk?”

The summit is being sponsored through the generous support of Aurora Health Care, United Way of Greater Milwaukee, Northwestern Mutual Foundation, Helen Bader Foundation, Time-Warner Cable and The Business Journal of Milwaukee.

Aurora Family Service is part of Aurora Health Care, a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers care at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.


Contact: Sue Pierman (414-647-6432)

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