Why are you interested in the Gandhi-King Community?
Dr. Lorna Gonsalves works to bring the values of justice and democracy to life by engaging a wide range of constituencies—in the United States and abroad. To this end, she develops practical strategies for enhancing social awareness, promoting civic engagement, and prompting collective action.
She is the founder of Human Values for Transformative Action. This organization prompts individuals—mostly youth—to act out shared values such as justice and equality by serving as agents of change in their local communities. Her signature Community HeARTbeats Program uses creative expression as a tool for engaging and mobilizing groups. HVTA has launched the Toledo Youth Parliament and The Force Within—both aimed at providing urban youth with opportunities to spur holistic community development in their areas. In partnership with a South African colleague, she recently launched the Global Youth Parliament, bringing together teenagers from South Africa and the United States.
Previously, she was the Associate Executive Director and Director of Global Outreach at the UNESCO Chair’s Institute of Comparative Human Rights housed in the University of Connecticut at Storrs. Working in a reciprocal learning relationship with educators and community leaders from South Africa, she developed and implemented the Student Ambassadors for Human Rights Program.
Prior to joining the Institute, she was the architect of the Campaign to Promote Racial Justice; a project of the Washington D.C. based National League of Cities. Under her yearlong Directorship, mayors and other elected officials from more than 200 cities from 48 states joined the campaign, plotting out their antiracist agendas in a workbook of Dr. Gonsalves' devising. Undoing Racism, a documentary video which she co-produced, won the Aegis and Telly awards.
Before heading up the Campaign to Promote Racial Justice, Dr. Gonsalves served as Associate Provost for Diversity at Bowling Green State University. Her tenure there saw her spearhead Breaking the Silence, a program that brought together members of the campus and city communities to consider the largely unspoken realities of local racism. She produced a documentary video outlining the yearlong initiative, and then-Ohio Governor George Voinovich publicly recognized the program for its outstanding contribution to enhancing race relations in the state.
Dr. Gonsalves has taught courses in the fields of Sociology, Ethnic Studies, Women's Studies, Counseling, Education, and Critical Pedagogy at Bowling Green State University, winning several awards for her teaching and mentoring efforts. She continues to use her pioneering Free Expressions exercise with youth. This novel approach has high school and college students convey their gut-level feelings about injustice through visual depictions, which they then share with the general public. The prestigious Toledo Museum of Art displayed these visual images in their community gallery.
A strong proponent of community policing, Dr. Gonsalves has worked extensively with Police Chiefs and law enforcement officials in the State of Ohio. Through her groundbreaking program, Contact Zone, candid conversations between law enforcement officers and students of color were initiated. For her activist efforts in the Northwest Ohio area, she received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major Award from the Black Catholic Ministries.
In facilitating her signature Honoring Differences workshops within the United States and around the world, her approach is interdisciplinary and action-oriented, combining the methods and insights of sociology, psychology, art, counseling, education, theatre, literature, and ethnic studies, among other disciplines.
Born in South India, she was raised in the four major cities of India, and came to the United States in 1972. Her academic background includes a diploma in Opera Performance, an undergraduate degree in Psychology, a master's degree in Counseling, and a Ph.D. in Sociology.