Erikson community enjoys encore viewing of 2017 Annual Luncheon: Shaping Identity

Event gave Erikson community a second chance to see sold-out event

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More than 125 Erikson Institute faculty members, staff, and alumni attended an on-campus encore showing of our 2017 Annual Luncheon, Shaping Identity, offering a chance to celebrate our work and accomplishments and take in the event’s featured conversation between award-winning journalists Ta-Nehisi Coates and Alex Kotlowitz.

The October 26 on-campus event included a catered lunch and a video featuring highlights of the Annual Luncheon, including the full, moderated discussion between Coates and Kotlowitz. The two acclaimed authors talked about issues including systematic racism and social activism in today’s political climate.

“One of the reasons I came to Erikson in the first place is its commitment to social justice,” said Alix Tonsgard, MS ’13, who attended the on-campus event. “It’s encouraging to be able to take part in conversations like this.”

Mark Podolner, MEd ’76, and his wife, Marion Sirefman, MEd ’76, were deep in conversation with Elizabeth Najera, MEd, ’77 after the Coates-Kotlowitz video.

For Podolner, Coates’ acknowledgement that his work about racial inequality does not offer hope but rather “enlightenment” was one of the stand-out moments from the conversation.

“He is a truth-teller,” Podolner said. “This guy has the courage to say ‘I’m not going to tell you things are great.’ I applaud the honesty and bravery of that.”

Sirefman, while not finding hope, did find “encouragement” in Coates’ words.

“I hope his message can affect people,” she said.

Najera said Coates speaks for many Americans that want to see a more racially equal society: “There are enough people who believe this and want to change, but we need to have the will.”

Watch the full conversation between Coates and Kotlowitz.

Speaking to a packed lecture hall during the event, Geoffrey A. Nagle, PhD, Erikson’s president and chief executive officer, addressed the idea of “identity,” tying the luncheon’s theme “Shaping Identity” into Erikson’s work.

“At Erikson Institute, we are determined to create positive experiences for young children,” Nagle said. “We have done this every day for over 50 years. In doing so, we influence the identities of thousands of children each year and help shape who they become.”

Attendees also had the opportunity to watch a video produced by AL Media, depicting many different children talking about their earliest memories and what identity means to them. Watch the video.