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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 18, 2006

Law Symposium Hosts John Edwards To Discuss Welfare Reform

The University of Iowa College of Law's Journal of Gender, Race and Justice will examine 10 years of welfare reform at its annual symposium this fall, with a keynote address focusing on issues relating to poverty by former U.S Sen. John Edwards.

Also expected to appear will be Jonathan Skurnik and Kathy Leichter, the producers of the PBS documentary "A Day's Work, A Day's Pay."

The symposium, "One Act, Ten Years, and Thousands of Families: Welfare Reform in Contemporary America," will be held Oct. 13 and 14 at the Boyd Law Building at The University of Iowa. A final schedule of events has not been completed, but Skurnik and Leichter are expected to screen and discuss their documentary on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 14, and Edwards is expected to speak later that afternoon. Admission is free and open to the public.

Kristy Jackson, editor and organizer of the symposium, said the journal decided to examine welfare reform because it's been 10 years since President Bill Clinton signed into law one of the most comprehensive changes in welfare rules in decades.

"We wanted to take a comprehensive look at what has worked in the last 10 years and what needs to be done to make the system better so it's helping as many people as possible," said Jackson, a third-year law student from Goldsboro, N.C.

Edwards currently works as the director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In addition, prominent welfare reform scholars expected to attend the symposium include Karen Czapanskiy and Steven Schwinn, professors of law at the University of Maryland; Lisa Pruitt, professor of law at the University of California-Davis; Michele Gilman, professor of law at the University of Baltimore; and Vivian Hamilton, professor of law at West Virginia University.

Also expected to attend the symposium is Jackie Marte, one of the featured subjects of "A Day's Work, A Day's Pay." The documentary follows Marte, a former welfare recipient, as she struggles to find job training and a job required by the 1996 welfare reform law. Jessica Blome, JGRG editor in chief, said Marte will add a real-life dimension to much of the otherwise scholarly symposium.

"She'll offer a voice of experience about the results of welfare reform," said Blome, a third-year law student from Panora, Iowa. "She's lived it and can tell us how the changes hit home."

Edwards served as a U.S. senator for North Carolina from 1998 to 2004 and was the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2004.

For more information on the symposium and for schedule updates, visit the JGRJ Web site at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,