African American Children and Families Conference

Pass It On: Lessons Learned from Our Ancestors

February 22-23, 2018


Keynote Speaker

Dr. Gail L. Thompson

Dr. Gail L. Thompson

Dr. Gail L. Thompson, the former Wells Fargo Endowed Professor of Education at Fayetteville State University, has written six books: A Brighter Day: How Parents Can Help African American Youth; The Power of One: How You Can Help or Harm African American Students, which was nominated for the National Staff Development Council’s Book of the Year Award); Up Where We Belong: Helping African American and Latino Students Rise in School and in Life; African American Teens Discuss Their Schooling Experiences; What African American Parents Want Educators to Know; and Through Ebony Eyes: What Teachers Need to Know but are Afraid to Ask About African American Students, a book that has received a considerable amount of attention from educators, talk show hosts, and news reporters across the nation. This book is also used in numerous Teacher Education courses and professional development programs. Dr. Thompson co-wrote a seventh book, Exposing the Culture of Arrogance in the Academy: A Blueprint for Increasing Black Faculty Satisfaction, with Dr. Angela Louque. Her eighth book, Yes, You Can! Advice for Teachers Who Want a Great Start and a Great Finish With Their Students of Color, which she co-authored with her husband, Rufus, will be published by Corwin Press in May 2014.

Dr. Thompson has written chapters that were published in four edited books, From Work-Family Balance to Work-Family Interaction: Changing the Metaphor; Narrowing the Achievement Gap: Strategies for Educating Latino, Black, and Asian Students; Adolescent Literacy: Field Tested Effective Solutions for Every Classroom; and The Best of Corwin: Equity. One of her essays was published in USA Today, and her work has been published in numerous academic journals. Dr. Thompson is also an editor of The Journal of Research Initiatives, a new online journal at Fayetteville State University.

She has served as a co-host of the radio program “Elevate,” has been a frequent guest on WIDU Radio, appeared on PBS television’s Tony Brown’s Journal, WCIA-3 News, National Public Radio, Colorado Public Radio, Tavis Smiley’s radio show, KJLH, WAMO, WURD, KPCC, WBAI, WSOU, WFSS, and KXAM. She has been interviewed for Scholastic Instructor and Inside Higher Education, and has been quoted in numerous newspaper articles. Dr. Thompson has served as a reviewer for the Educational Broadcasting Network, Millmark Education, Houghton Mifflin, and several academic journals, and has done presentations, keynote addresses, workshops, and consultant work throughout the U.S. and two presentations in Canada. In 2009, Claremont Graduate University awarded her its “Distinguished Alumna Award,” and in 2008, the Black Graduate Students’ Association gave her an “Award of Distinction.” In May 2009, the California Department of Education selected her to be a member of its newly formed “African American Advisory Committee.”

Dr. Thompson is married to Rufus, a retired educator, technology consultant and pilot, and they have three adult children, Dr. Nafissa Thompson- Spires, NaChe’, a high school teacher, and Stephen, who recently earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. She is the very proud grandparent of Iveren and Isaiah.

Dan Trelka, Director of Safety

Dan Trelka

Director Trelka grew up on a farm in Wisconsin. After graduation from high school he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and deployed several times overseas.

He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, has a Master’s Degree in Management and Organizational Behavior, a Bachelor Degree in Criminal Justice Administration, and he is Certified as a Public Manager through the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Director Trelka started his law enforcement career as a deputy sheriff in Colorado. He then served nearly 20 years with the Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin Police Department. He came up through the ranks in Sturgeon Bay and was ultimately appointed the Chief of Police. In 2010, he was hired by the City of Waterloo to become Chief of Police. In 2011, he was  appointed to the City of Waterloo’s newly created position of Director of Safety Services. This position is responsible for the overall operation of the police department.

Director Trelka and his wife of 29 years have ten children, five biological and five adopted. Together, they have been foster parents to over 100 children in Colorado, Wisconsin, and Iowa. We welcome Director Dan Trelka to UNI’s  7th Annual Conference on African American Children and Families as he has been a part for many years!

Community Forum Leader

Dr. Timothy Eatman

Dr. Timothy Eatman

Dr. Timothy Eatman, Professor of Higher Education, has served as the Co-Director  as well as the Director for Research for Imagining America (IA), a national consortium of academic and community institutions designed to strengthen the public role and democratic purposes of the humanities, arts and design. He has also been involved in a national research and policy project called the Tenure on Team Initiative Public Scholarship focusing on improving the rewards system in academia for faculty who practice engaged scholarship in the cultural disciplines.

Eatman has also served as a scholar-in-residence at the University of the Free State (UFS) in South Africa to review and evaluate its community engagement and service learning practices, as well as the institutional life of the university. He has experience as the Associate Director for Research and Policy for the Academic Investment in Math and Science (AIMS) program. His research include interests include students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in higher education.

He steered the committee of the American Commonwealth Project (ACP) as a senior research advisor for “We the People,” a partnership among colleges and universities, the White House, and other federal agencies, including the Department of Education. He has worked extensively with colleges and universities with first generation, low income and students of color and underrepresented groups. He is best known for his work as Director of Imagining America and knowledge of civic engagement promotion in higher education.

He is currently the Dean of the Honors Living and Learning Community at Rutgers University Newark. The Conference on African American Children and Families welcomes Dr. Eatman to the Conference on African American Children and Families as our Community Forum Leader!

Dr. Shuaib Meacham

Dr. Shuaib Meacham

Dr. Shuaib Meacham, Associate Professor, Literacy Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Northern Iowa. Dr. Meacham specializes in Hiphop integration in literacy education. He is actively engaged with youth in the Cedar Valley area and enjoys engaging them in hip hop experiences. He also has a passion for the promotion of multicultural education and diversity issues. He is definitely a leader in diversity matters!

Juvenile Justice Panel Members

man smiling in judge's robes

Daniel L. Block, Associate Juvenile Judge: District 1B

Judge Block, Cedar Falls, was appointed to the bench in 1997. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa in 1985. In 1989 he graduated from Creighton University and began his law career serving as Assistant Black Hawk County Attorney from 1990-1996. He was in private practice from 1996 until his appointment to the bench. Judge Block is a member of the Black Hawk County Bar Association and the Iowa Judges Association. Judge Block also is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Northern Iowa, where he teaches Juvenile and Family Law. He is married and has three children.

man smiling in judge's robes

District Court Judge: District 1B

Judge Staudt, Waterloo, was appointed to the bench in 2010. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1990 from the University of Iowa, and his law degree in 1993 from Drake University Law School. Judge Staudt was in private practice until joining the Waterloo public defender’s office in 1997 where he was appointed Chief Public Defender in 2006.

woman smiling

Ms. Ruth Frush, Chief Juvenile Court Officer, 1st Judicial District

Ruth Frush is a graduate of Wartburg College with degrees in business administration and secondary education.  She briefly taught classes at the Martin Luther King Center in Waterloo to adults and provided credit recovery for high school students. She was hired by the Black Hawk County Probation Department in 1980 to oversee the restorative justice programs.  The restitution program became a national model as she provided training across the nation through the federal Restitution Education, Specialized Training & Technical Assistance (RESTTA) program. As a Juvenile Court Officer, Ruth supervised diversion programs, informal and formal cases.  In 2005 Ruth became the Chief Juvenile Court Officer for the First Judicial District.  The First District has helped lead the state in several projects such as the Juvenile Detention Alternative (JDAI) Reform, Rise Above Your Situation (RAYS) project, the Juvenile Justice Reform and Reinvestment Initiative (JJRRI) and most recently the SMART grant.

man in glasses smiling

Facilitator, Juvenile Justice Session, Dave Kuker, Executive Officer, CJJP, Iowa Department of Human Rights

Dave Kuker is an Executive Officer for the Iowa Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning (CJJP), Department of Human Rights.  He has been involved in various capacities in juvenile justice issues (grants administration, staff to committees, research, program and policy development, compliance monitoring of secure juvenile facilities, etc.) for over 27 years.  He is the lead staff for Iowa's Disproportionate Minority Confinement Sub; a sub-Committee of Iowa's Juvenile Justice Advisory Council.   He is Iowa’s State Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative Coordinator, and assists with administration for Iowa’s federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act formula grant funding.  Dave has a BA from the University of Northern Iowa.