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State officials, mayors across country to discuss poverty solutions at U-M virtual speaker series

Contact: Lauren Slagter, 734-929-8027,
               Jared Wadley, 734-936-7819,

ANN ARBOR — State officials leading Michigan’s COVID-19 response, mayors from across the country, leading scholars and authors will share their thoughts on strategies to prevent and alleviate poverty during a virtual speaker series this fall.

The annual Real-World Perspectives on Poverty Solutions series is hosted by Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan, a university-wide presidential initiative that aims to prevent and alleviate poverty through action-based research.

Author Michael Arceneaux will kick off the speaker series with a lecture on Sept. 25. He will discuss themes from his most recent book, “I Don’t Want to Die Poor,” a collection of essays on how student loan debt and economic anxiety has impacted his life.

Arceneaux’s first book, “I Can’t Date Jesus,” was a New York Times bestseller, and he’s a regular contributor to Esquire, Elle, Essence, NBC News’ THINK, MTV News, among others.

Poverty Solutions partnered with several university departments to invite a diverse set of speakers to discuss different approaches to addressing poverty in this year’s seven-week speaker series.

All events are virtual, free and open to the public, and most of the talks will take place at noon on Fridays. The lectures will be livestreamed on YouTube, and viewers will have the opportunity to submit questions for the speakers in real time. Students can enroll in a course to earn one credit for attending the speaker series.

Here’s the speaker series lineup:

  • Sept. 25: Michael Arceneaux, author

  • Sept. 30: Mayors forum featuring Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Oakland (California) Mayor Libby Schaaf and Stockton (California) Mayor Michael Tubbs

  • Oct. 2: Frederick Wherry, professor of sociology at Princeton University and director of the Dignity and Debt Network

  • Oct. 9: Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services chief medical executive, and Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II

  • Oct. 16: H. Luke Shaefer, professor and Poverty Solutions director, on the Understanding Communities of Deep Disadvantage research project

  • Oct. 23: Ariel Kalil, professor and director of the Center for Human Potential and Public Policy at University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy

  • Oct. 30: Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist and author

  • Nov. 6: Majora Carter, urban revitalization strategist

Video: Speakers from the 2019 series answer the question, “What does poverty mean to you?”