Penn State Hazleton plans social justice conference

January 21, 2020

HAZLETON, Pa. — Penn State Hazleton will host a social justice conference on Wednesday, March 25, in partnership with Luzerne County Community College, and Luzerne-Wyoming Counties Systems of Care.

Gloria Killian

Gloria Killian

IMAGE: Provided

The event will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium of the Physical Education Building at Penn State Hazleton. It was designed for students majoring in administration of justice or rehabilitation and human services, with the keynote address by Gloria Killian open to the public. Killian’s talk begins at approximately 2:30 p.m.

“The conference was planned to give students an opportunity to hear a different perspective on social justice. Our main speaker, Gloria Killian, spent 17½ years in prison after she was wrongfully convicted of murder before she was eventually exonerated,” said Daniel Gutierrez, co-chair of the committee planning the event. “We wanted to expose students to social injustices from a real-life perspective rather than just reading about it.”

The conference will be part of administration of justice and rehabilitation and human services classes at Penn State Hazleton and Luzerne County Community College. Students who have earned an associate degree from LCCC are eligible to transition to a parallel bachelor’s degree program at Penn State Hazleton, including the criminal justice and rehabilitation and human services degrees, through an articulation agreement between the schools.

Killian was a third-year law student at McGeorge Law School when her life was turned upside down after she was wrongfully accused and convicted of murder. She was sentenced to life in prison and served 17½ years before finally being exonerated. In her book, she brings to life the true story behind the murder that would rob her of more than 17 years of freedom. The book was co-authored with Sandra Korbin and published by New Horizon Press. In 2012, it was named an award winner in the true crime genre by the USA Best Book Awards. Each student majors from the two programs sponsoring the event in attendance at the conference will receive a copy of Killian’s book “Full Circle: A True Story of Murder, Lies and Vindication.”

While incarcerated, Killian served as a jailhouse lawyer and with the help of the University of Southern California, created the first law project for women in the California prison system. Since being released, she has become a prison advocate for women. She has testified before the United States Congress and lectured at schools including USC Law School, Loyola Law School and Southwestern Law School. Killian also started a nonprofit agency that advocates for women in prison and is the executive director of the Action Committee for Women in Prison.

Craig Poole

Craig Poole

IMAGE: Provided

The morning’s speaker is Craig Poole, who has than 50 years of experience in the hospitality industry and is currently the general manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton in Reading. He has implemented a unique and compassionate business model that has transformed the hotel and contributed to the transformation of Reading into a vibrant community.

The hotel is dubbed the “Second Chance DoubleTree” because Poole hires homeless veterans, autistic youth and other individuals who have experienced difficult life circumstances. As a result of his unique business model, these individuals are now part of a vibrant community and contribute to the life of the hotel and the community at large while leading productive and fulfilling lives.

In 2016, Poole was named the CEO Light & Warmth Award Winner and also was named Outstanding General Manager of the Year by Hilton. In 2017, he was selected as one of the Stars of the Industry by the American Hotel & Lodging Association and was only one of six people across the United States to win the award among nearly 500 nominees.

Other guests are also slated to attend the social justice conference, including representatives of agencies that are prospective employers in the students’ fields.

The conference is sponsored by the Penn State Hazleton Student Relations Committee, Luzerne County Community College, and Luzerne-Wyoming Counties Systems of Care.

For more information on the event, call 570-885-6348.

Last Updated January 22, 2020