Born in Portland, Maine, Victoria Rowell was raised in foster care for 18 years. Emmy nominated, Rowell has been honored with ten NAACP Image Awards for her theatrical contributions. In her role on the hit series Diagnosis Murder, Rowell co-starred with the legendary Dick Van Dyke for eight seasons. Rowell also wrote for the series, featuring the issue of foster care and adoption. Additionally, Ms. Rowell negotiated employment for emancipated foster youth on the show. Sony Television has supported a foster care and adoption storyline, at Rowell’s suggestion, for over a year on the number one daytime drama, The Young and the Restless, which reaches an audience of millions weekly, both domestically and internationally. In addition, the storyline has received Congressional recognition. In 1990, Rowell founded The Rowell Foster Children’s Positive Plan (RFCPP). The mission of RFCPP is to give direct services in the areas of: fine arts, higher education, healthcare, financial literacy reunification programs, cultural enrichment, and resource family support. RFCPP partners with Sony, CBS Television, Samuel L. Jackson and LaTanya Richardson Jackson, The Magic Johnson Foundation, Cedric The Entertainer and Lorna Kyles, Dr. Phil, Sharon Stone, The Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, Camp to Belong, The Califronia Endowment, and many others. For four years, Rowell has been the National Spokesperson for the Annie E. Casey Foundation. In recognition of her contributions in educating and supporting foster children and her work for human rights and world peace, Rowell received the United Nations Association Award. Recently, Rowell received an Honorary Doctorate in Humanities from the University of Southern Maine in recognition of her work in foster care and adoption.
Sesame Street is the most widely watched children’s television series in the world and Sesame Workshop’s longest running show, with 36 years in production. Sesame Street first debuted in 1969 as an hour-long, daily broadcast aimed to help prepare children between two and five years old for grade school. Sesame Street continues to stand out as the most thoroughly developed and researched preschool television program and media offering with a comprehensive curriculum that focuses on the whole child, including cognitive, emotional, physical and social development. Sesame Workshop is a nonprofit organization that creates research-based media to help children reach their highest potential throughout the world. Founded in 1968, Sesame Workshop develops innovative and engaging educational content delivered in a variety of ways, which include television, radio, books, magazines, interactive web and computer software materials, and community outreach. Through a sweeping use of a multimedia platform, Sesame Workshop has been able to successfully develop age-appropriate materials for issues like fear and loss following September 11; childhood obesity, lead poisoning, fire safety, language development, music education, financial literacy and adoption. In addition, Sesame Workshop has developed international coproductions around the world by using its collaborative production and planning model originally applied to Sesame Street to create culturally and socially relevant content. The development of local adaptations of Sesame Street began in the early 1970s, when producers from Brazil, Mexico, Germany, and Canada approached Sesame Workshop independently, and has extended to 25 countries including Russia, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, China, Spain, Portugal, Poland, South Africa, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
Laura Bush was born on November 4, 1946, in Midland, Texas. She earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Southern Methodist University in 1968. In 1973, she earned a master of library science degree from the University of Texas. Laura Bush is actively involved in issues of national and global concern, with a particular emphasis on education, health care, and human rights. Each year, Mrs. Bush encourages American to adopt during National Adoption Day ceremonies. “Adoption is a hopeful act. It recognizes that every child has limitless potential for success and limitless capacity for love. It is an act that has brought joy to millions of American families, including ours,” says Mrs. Bush. As the leader of President Bush’s Helping America’s Youth initiative, Mrs. Bush is listening to the concerns of young people, parents, and community leaders throughout the country and drawing attention to programs that help children avoid risky behaviors like drug and alcohol use, early sexual activity, and violence. One of Mrs. Bush’s first priorities in the White House was to convene the Summit on Early Childhood Cognitive Development.
Jars of Clay
Multi-Platinum and three time Grammy Award winning band Jars of Clay launched its career with the hit, “Flood,” in 1995. Since then, they have amassed more than five million in career sales (5 Gold, 2 Platinum and 1 Double Platinum), three Grammy Awards, an American Music Award nomination, 17 number one radio hits, and numerous film credits and BMI honors for songwriting and performing. While celebrated for their music and writing, Jars of Clay is also well-known for their commitment to seeking justice and speaking on behalf of the voiceless. They have been described as “humanitarian aid workers posing as rock stars.” Their efforts have taken them worldwide, including to China with Amnesty International to work on behalf of religious persecution and into their own neighborhood advocating for child abuse prevention in the United States. Compelled to make a difference in the face of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, members Dan Haseltine, Stephen Mason, Matt Odmark and Charlie Lowell founded the Blood:Water Mission in early 2002. The organization provides clean blood and clean water solutions in various parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Their mission is to save lives by helping families and children vulnerable to disease to have access to clean water wells in Africa. The band members are also committed to raising awareness and fostering worldview development in the United States around the needs of HIV/AIDS afflicted families, including orphans and vulnerable children. On tour, Haseltine, Mason, Odmark and Lowell spend significant amounts of time relating with college students, youth pastors and various community leaders to talk about social justice, vocation, and service. Bono, U2’s lead singer, states, “As a fan, I don’t think anyone has had a bigger voice than the activists in Jars of Clay.”