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Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Undestanding at Queens College to Host First Annual Innovations Exchange Dec. 12

-- Prominent Social Innovators from the Arts, Education, Government, and Non- Profit
Sectors Will Discuss How to Inspire Change and Cross-Cultural Dialogue --

FLUSHING, NY, December 3, 2012 —The Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding (CERRU) and the Office of the President of Queens College announced today that they will co-host CERRU’s First Annual Innovation Exchange: Re-Imagining America on December 12 in LeFrak Concert Hall from 4-9 pm. (Kosher and Halal Buffet/Networking Hour, 6-7 PM.) The event is free and open to the public.
Given the enormous diversity of Queens College and the borough, CERRU's Innovation Exchange will offer participants a rich opportunity to celebrate innovation, foster cross-cultural networking, and inspire change within the Queens community and beyond.

“Diversity is key to fostering innovation and, as one of the most diverse colleges in the nation, QC is in a unique position to champion social innovation,” said Steven Appel, Assistant Director of CERRU.

At this unprecedented event, 12 social innovation leaders from government, the non-profit and social entrepreneurship sectors, the arts, and education will each speak for 12 minutes.  Among the innovators is Elspeth Gilmore, Executive Director of Resource Generation (RG), a national nonprofit that organizes young people with financial wealth to leverage their resources and privilege for social change.  Herself a member of the 1%, Elspeth is working to increase taxes on the rich, and has been featured by such national media as MSNBC, WNYC, “Marketplace” (American Public Media) and Town and Country magazine.  Her topic is “Re-Imagining the 1%: Young People with Wealth Reinventing Our Role in Social Change.”
Other presenters, including some of Queens College’s own innovators, are:
• Ron Russell, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Epic Theatre Ensemble, “Reimagining the Role of Theater in Civic Engagement”

• Rob Garfield, Pedagogical Technologist, QC Center for Teaching and Learning,  "Games as Integrated Problem Sets in Trans-disciplinary Education”

• Matthew Abrams, founder, Mycelium School for Social Enterprise, “Regenerative Entrepreneurship”

• Mark Rosenblum, Director, CERRU, and Queens College Center for Jewish Studies, “Hope without Illusion: A New Model for Teaching the Middle East”

• George Lewis, photographer and painter, former Court Painter to Sultan of Oman, “Empathy and Art”

• Moniza Khokar, founder, Elan magazine, “Technology and Cross Cultural Understanding: The New Global Youth Frontier” 

• Alexandra Ruiz, Founding Director, Immigration Advocacy Matters, “The Power of Dialogue in Immigrant Integration”
• James Stellar, Provost, Queens College, “The Brain, Experiential Education, and Tolerance”

• Susie Tanenbaum, Community and Cultural Coordinator for Immigrant and Intercultural Affairs, Queens Borough President's Office, “Diversity Innovation Within Government”

• Uri Cohen, Director, Queens College Hillel, “Peer Networks: A Catalyst for Jewish Engagement”
Social media will play a crucial role at this event. Suggestions solicited from the audience will be displayed on a projector screen; videos from the exchange will be posted on CERRU’s website and other social media to create an online space for inspiring innovation.
Founded in 2009 through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, CERRU aims to inspire a generation of leaders who rely on cross-cultural engagement, listening, and empathy to promote positive social change.  Since its inception, CERRU has shown a strong commitment to innovation. Its unique program Lunchtime 2.0, for example, aims to redefine the cafeteria space by bringing together students from different backgrounds for mid-day meals and cross-cultural conversation.  Building on the success it has enjoyed in the last three years, CERRU relies on community participation to help make the college a center of social innovation in New York City. 
Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY), founded in 1937, is dedicated to the idea that a first-rate education should be accessible to talented individuals of all backgrounds and financial means. Its more than 20,000 students come from over 170 nations. Each year Queens College has been cited by The Princeton Review as one of the nation’s 100 “Best Value” colleges, thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low costs. This year Princeton Review’s The Best 377 Colleges ranked the college fourth in the nation for “Lots of Race/Class Interaction.” The college opened its first residence hall in August 2009. More info on Queens College at




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