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Cokie Roberts inspires action at 2019 Hendrickson Forum

July 1, 2019

Campus Connection

A sold out crowd of nearly 300 attended this year’s Hendrickson Forum held April 16 on Saint Mary’s Twin Cities Campus, which included a keynote address from Cokie Roberts and the presentation of the 2019 Hendrickson Medal for Ethical Leadership to Brad Hewitt, retired CEO of Thrivent Financial. In her keynote address, “Weaving the Social Safety Net at Home and Around the World,” Roberts, a New York Times best-selling author and renowned journalist and political commentator, explained: “There has been a strong social responsibility fabric running throughout history, primarily exercised by women. That’s what the women in the foundation of our country did,” she added. “They looked around them. They saw what was happening. They saw the needs and strove to fill them.”

Roberts detailed many stories of notable women who worked for the betterment of society, despite tremendous hardship, adversity, and often ridicule. But amidst these stories, she singled out Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools — of which Saint Mary’s is affiliated. “He was a man definitely before his time, or perhaps more accurately, a man who recognized the sign of the time,” Roberts said. “His remarkable vision about education for the poor, for delinquents, is still so incredibly relevant today … everything I’ve learned about Saint Mary’s underlines that. It’s clear that the Lasallian principles are still the guiding force behind this very important institution,” she furthered. “Faith and the presence of God, quality education, and respect for all persons, inclusive community, and concern for the poor and social justice. Those principles need influence in our country today.”

Roberts encouraged attendees to do what they can do, just like the women throughout history. “To say that it’s too big a problem is just a cop-out,” she said. “I hope the young people coming out of this great institution, no matter what their expertise, emerge awakened, nurtured, and empowered to lead ethical lives of service and leadership.”