Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

September 5, 2006

Community-Development Expert to Present Lecture Sept. 19 at Whitworth

Mary Nelson, Ph.D., an expert in asset-based community development, will present a lecture, "Challenges and Opportunities in Creating Shalom Community," on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m. in Weyerhaeuser Hall's Robinson Teaching Theatre at Whitworth College. Admission is free. For more information, please call (509) 777-4345.

Nelson is president emeritus of Bethel New Life, a faith-based community-development corporation in Chicago's low-income West Garfield Park community. Bethel New Life was established in 1979 after riots in the 1960s and early 1970s led homeowners, landlords, banks, business and investors to leave the area. Members of Bethel Lutheran Church began rebuilding their poverty-stricken community by investing their savings to buy and remodel an apartment building.

Since its formation, Bethel New Life has earned a national reputation for cutting-edge initiatives and pioneering approaches that build on the people, physical assets, and faith base of the community, according to the group's website, www.bethelnewlife.org. Today, with 348 employees and 1,281 volunteers, Bethel has brought more than $120 million into the community, has placed approximately 7,000 people in living-wage jobs, and has developed 1,100 new affordable housing units.

Nelson, who was president and CEO of Bethel New Life for 26 years, holds a Ph.D. from Union Graduate School. She is a faculty member of the Asset Based Community Development Institute at Northwestern University, the Christian Community Development Association Institute, and the Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education. Nelson also works as a consultant, speaker and teacher across the country.

Nelson serves on numerous boards and was one of 30 leaders appointed to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's transition team in 2003 to advise the governor on community and economic development.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Whitworth, which has an enrollment of 2,500 students, offers more 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Toni Sutherland, program assistant, theology & philosophy department, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4345 or tsutherland@whitworth.edu.

Terry McGonigal, dean of chaplain services, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4547 or tmcgonigal@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information officer, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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