2020 Thomas H. Wright Lecture

The Thomas H. Wright Lecture, inaugurated in 1995, honors Thomas H. Wright's dedication to Sarah Lawrence and his long service on the Board of Trustees. An endowment, established by the Leon Lowenstein Foundation, funds the lecture.

Mothering, Reimagining & Starfishing: A Radical Way Forward
Featuring Jodie Patterson 

October 15, 2020
Virtual event 

Activist Jodie Patterson introduces the concept of front-loading Mothering as a proactive strategy for building better, stronger, more cohesive communities.

“Often when we talk about family and parenting, there is an implicit assumption that we’re referring to heteronormative, white centered, cisgender, nuclear groups with two adults raising one or more little people. When I speak of Mothering I’m most definitely not speaking specifically to cisgender women or heteronormative families or white people. I’m putting a word I know well, MOTHER, to the activity of intentional building of people and communities.”

jodiepatterson.jpegJodie Patterson is a mother of 5, author and a globally recognized LGBTQIA activist. As a public speaker, Ms. Patterson uses her platform to discuss topics of radical parenting, identity, and gender. When her son announced at the age of 3 “Mama, I’m not a girl. I am a boy” she set out to inform herself, shift her own bias and change the way her community understood gender. Patterson chronicles this journey in her memoir, The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation - hailed by Alice Walker as “Marvelous”. Cosmopolitan Magazine filmed a mini documentary on Patterson’s family in 2016 - reaching over 11 million views on Facebook.

Ms. Patterson was elected Chair of the Board of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and works closely with the organization’s Parents for Transgender Equality Council. Ms. Patterson sits on Mount Sinai’s Institute for Health Equity Research Task Force, is on the Advisory Board of the Ackerman Institute’s Gender & Family Project, and serves as a key advisor to Mount Sinai’s pioneering Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery.

In 2012, Ms. Patterson was chosen as one of Dell Computers’ “Dell Inspire 100”—a select group of world changers in the fields of entrepreneurship, philanthropy, education, and media. In 2017, Ms. Patterson was appointed by the United Nations as a Champion of Change for her advocacy work. And in 2019 Patterson was awarded Most Influential Mother of the year by Family Circle Magazine.

Jodie lives in Brooklyn where she co-raises her children with love, education and family solidarity.


Previous Thomas H. Wright Lectures

  • 2019
    Social Justice Belongs in Our Schools
    Sydney Chaffee, '05
    Watch the lecture video on YouTube 
  • 2018
    Small Actions for Big Justice
    Albert Sykes
    Watch the lecture video on YouTube
  • 2017
    When All Else Fails, We Must Protect Childhood
    Denisha Jones, PhD
    Watch the lecture video on YouTube

  • 2016
    Preserving Childhood at School: The Importance of Being Little
    Erika Christakis, MPH, MEd
    Watch the lecture video on YouTube

  • 2015
    Recognizing, Understanding, and Transforming Inequalities into Opportunities in the Classroom
    Steven Hawkins, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA
    Joshua Bogin, Director of Springfield Magnet School Program, Springfield Public Schools
    Jan Drucker, PhD, moderator
    Watch the lecture video on YouTube

  • 2014
    Asking Questions and Trusting What You're Told
    Paul Harris, PhD
    Watch the lecture video on YouTube

  • 2013
    The Environment of Childhood Poverty
    Gary Evans, PhD

  • 2012
    Teaching and Learning in a Diverse and Inequitable World
    Patricia Ramsey, EdD
    Watch the lecture video on YouTube

  • 2011
    Voices of Children Voices of Teachers: Reclaiming the Classroom
    Mary Hebron, MA

  • 2010
    When Parents, Educators, and Clinicians Collaborate: Classrooms for All Learners
    A Panel Discussion with Stephanie Petrillo Gould, MEd, CSP; Maggie Hoffman; and Cassandra Hyacinthe, MEd
    Jan Drucker, PhD, moderator

  • 2009
    Consuming Kids: Reclaiming Childhood from Media and Corporate Marketers
    Susan Linn, EdD, Co-Founder and Director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and Associate Director of the Media Center of Judge Baker Children's Center
    Watch lecture video on YouTube

  • 2008
    Where da Heat Go: Social Justice, Agency & Science
    Angela Calabrese Barton, PhD, Associate Professor of Teacher Education, Michigan State University

  • 2007
    Children and Nature Design Principles
    David L. Sobel, MEd, Director, Teacher Certification Programs; Co-director, Community Based School Environmental Education Program, Antioch New England Graduate School

  • 2006
    Open Pandora’s Box: Curiosity in the Classroom
    Susan Engel, PhD, Director of the Program in Teaching at Williams College

  • 2005
    Building a Community/Building a School
    Nancy Mann, MA, Principal, Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School

  • 2004
    Reflections on Teaching: Relationships, Possibilities, and Power
    Jane Andrias, MA, Leader in New York City's progressive education movement

  • 2003
    Nurturing the Remarkable Powers of Children
    William Crain, PhD, Professor of Psychology at The City College of New York

  • 2002
    Processes of Change in Schools
    Tom Roderick, MEd, Executive Director of Educators for Social Responsibility, New York City Metropolitan Area

  • 2001
    Pathways to Literacy: Non-Standardized Approaches to the Enhancement and Assessment of Literacy Across the Curriculum
    Frank Smith, PhD, Writer and Researcher, British Columbia, Canada

  • 2000
    Rethinking Standards and Assessment
    Harriet K. Cuffaro, EdD, Professor Emerita of Education, Bank Street College of Education and Staff Developer at the City and Country School, New York City

  • 1999
    Play and Learning
    Celia S. Genishi, PhD, Professor of Education, Teachers College, Columbia University

  • 1998
    A New Look at Families, Schools and Child Development
    James P. Comer, MD, Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry, Yale University Child Study Center

  • 1997
    Rethinking Teaching: What Schools Can and Should Be
    Linda Darling-Hammond, EdD, Stanford University

  • 1996
    Conflict as a Fact of Life: Families, Schools, Communities
    Regina Arnold, PhD, Professor of Sociology and Associate Dean of Studies, Sarah Lawrence Colleg e

  • 1995
    Family/School Partnerships: Working Together for Children
    Patricia Carini, Founder of Prospect School and the Prospect Archives and Center for Education and Research, North Bennington, Vermont