The 2011 Brooks Conference will attract about 130 Southeast Texas nonprofit, civic and government leaders – including more than 30 prominent speakers – to Lamar University Thursday, May 5, for a day-long series of programs on topics ranging from the role of nonprofits in society to substance abuse. Lamar’s Jack Brooks Chair in Government and Public Service will host the conference from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the John Gray Center. Emelie Irving, executive director of the Southeast Texas Food Bank, will be the keynote speaker at a luncheon from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. in Conference Rooms A and B. Longtime U.S. Rep. Jack Brooks, namesake of the Brooks Chair and the conference, will attend the luncheon with his wife, Charlotte. The Beaumont Democrat served in Congress more than 40 years. Community leaders are being invited to attend, joined by Lamar faculty members and students. “The theme of the 2011Brooks Conference is the nonprofit sector,” said conference director James Vanderleeuw, who holds the Jack Brooks Chair in Government and Public Service at Lamar. “Because public discourse tends to center on the roles that government and private business play in our society, the important and varied work of the nonprofit sector all too often goes unrecognized. This year’s conference, therefore, will provide a forum to highlight the activities of nonprofit organizations across Southeast Texas that provide crucial services to individuals and families in financial, physical and emotional need. I look forward to a lively and informative conference.” Irving is a lifelong Beaumont resident who has spent her career in the nonprofit sector. She attended Lamar University, where she studied nutrition education. As executive director of the food bank since 1998, Irving has overseen growth of the organization from annual distribution of 400,000 pounds of food to more than 7 million pounds and seen its budget increase to $1.9 million. Jason Sides joins Vanderleeuw on the conference-organization team as program coordinator. Sides is assistant professor of political science. Crystal Petry, community outreach coordinator with the Southeast Texas Access to Recovery Services, is organizing the substance-abuse panels. The conference will begin with registration and a continental breakfast from 8 to 9 a.m. The welcome and conference introduction are scheduled from 9 to 9:30 a.m. Panel 1, “Nonprofits in an Era of Increased Demand” will be from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. in the Dr. Richard L. Price Auditorium in Building A of the Gray Center. Participants will be Tiffany Buford, American Red Cross, Beaumont Chapter; Pat Coldewey, Anayat House; Tammy Droste, High Plains Division, American Cancer Society; Lanis McWilliams, CASA of Southeast Texas Inc.; Major John Queener, Salvation Army Corps, Beaumont; and Danny Reneau, Silsbee Bee, moderator. Panel 2 will focus on “Nonprofits and Educational Services” from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. in the Elvis Mason Conference Room of Building B. Speakers will be Lynn Castle, Art Museum of Southeast Texas; Karen Newton, Communities in Schools; Michael Perez, Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club, Beaumont; Elizabeth Schreck, Beaumont Children’s Museum; and Jason Sides, Lamar University, moderator. Panel 3 will focus on “Faith-based Initiatives during Times of Economic Crisis” from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. in the Price Auditorium. Participants will be Laura May, Buckner Children and Family Services; Carol Fernandez, Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas; Paula O’Neal, Some Other Place; Lauren Rahe, Ubi Caritas Health Ministries; Cheryl Williams, Rape and Suicide Crisis of Southeast Texas; and Himanshi Raizada, Lamar University, moderator. Panel 4, from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. in the Mason Conference Room, will cover “Substance Abuse, Substance Abuse Treatment and Economic Conditions: Part 1 – Abuse.” Participants will be Timothy Duriso, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Dawn Mathis, DEA, Houston; Jane Bordelon, Mental Health Association; Fred Mitchell, Substance Abuse Division, Mental Health Association; and Lindsey Kovacevich, KFDM-TV, Channel 6, moderator. The same panelists will return for Panel 6, “Part 2 – Treatment,” from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. in the Mason Conference Room, with Raquel Duncan of KBTV-Fox 4, as moderator. Panel 5, “Nonprofits and Caring for Animals,” will be from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. in the Price Auditorium with panelists Brandi Casto and Krystal Covington, Bound 4 the Pound; Cissie Owen, Furry Purries; Jo Ann Russell, Paws 4 Love HPHP; Susan Toney, Humane Society of Southeast Texas; and Beverly Brooks, production and image consultant, moderator. “Helping the Most Vulnerable” will be the topic of Panel 7, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Price Auditorium. Panel members will be Kim Hanks, Garth House Mickey Mehaffy Children’s Advocacy Program Inc.; Teri Hawthorne, Arc of Greater Beaumont; Lou Ann McKinley, Orange County Association for Retarded Citizens; Elaine Shellenberger, Nutrition and Services for Seniors; Jane Stevenson, Advocates for Children Inc., A CASA Program; and Nicole Murray, KFDM-TV, Channel 6, moderator. Panel 8 will showcase results of a 2011 United Way needs assessment study from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Mason Conference Room. Presenters will be Mark Boyd, Kenny Dukes, Kaltrina Harbuzi, Maureen Lo and LaDonna Sherwood, all graduate students in Lamar’s master of public administration program. Vanderleeuw will present concluding remarks from 3:30 to 3:45 in Conference Rooms A and B of Building A. “In all, the 2011 Brooks Conference promises to be interesting, informative and highly relevant to a broad spectrum of leaders from nonprofit organizations and governments across Southeast Texas,” Vanderleeuw said.