Adler University is welcoming two social justice leaders — Ninu Kang, executive director of Ending Violence Association of British Columbia, and Jahmal Cole, founder and CEO of My Block My Hood My City — as keynote speakers for the fall commencement ceremonies.
Kang will speak at the Vancouver Campus ceremony on Oct. 8 at The Orpheum Theatre. Cole will speak at the Chicago and Online campuses’ commencement on Nov. 6 at The Chicago Theatre. Both will receive Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degrees, which recognize achievements in the humanities or for philanthropic work.
With an academic background in economics and counselling psychology, Kang has worked as a researcher and consultant on projects with a community-based action focus. She has facilitated training in anti-violence and anti-racism across North America and the globe.
Prior to her role at Ending Violence Association of B.C., which coordinates and supports the work of victim-serving and other anti-violence programs in British Columbia, Kang served in several leadership roles at MOSAIC, a nonprofit that served immigrant, refugee, migrant, and mainstream communities in Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley. She has also consulted with various women’s groups and community organizations regarding equity, diversity, and inclusion issues.
“I am humbled and honoured that my work to date would be recognized alongside an esteemed group of Adlerians advancing equality, civil rights, mutual respect, and the advancement of democracy,” said Kang. “I will share my personal journey as an immigrant navigating challenges and finding my purpose in the work to end gender-based violence and hate.”
As part of her speech, Kang will invite graduates to consider their purpose and their why, along with a call to action.
“Once the new graduates understand their ‘why’ and commit to a call to action, it will be with humility that they will work with individuals, co-workers, systems, and structures to not only address trauma but prevent trauma and revictimization,” she said.
Kang has received many recognitions over her career including the Surrey Board of Trade’s Women in Business award, the Challenge Coin from the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit – British Columbia, and the Nehru Humanitarian Award.
A Chicago native, author, and activist, Cole has been named one of the 25 Most Powerful Chicagoans by Crain’s Magazine. In 2022, he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives to represent Illinois’ 1st Congressional District.
“Being asked to be a keynote speaker is the ultimate compliment for me,” said Cole. “It affirms that I’m walking in my purpose and doing a good job teaching others to make their block a better place.”
Recognized as one of Chicago’s fastest-growing social impact organizations, My Block My Hood My City provides youth from divested neighborhoods with an awareness of the world and opportunities beyond their neighborhood. It takes students on explorations focused on vocation/education, arts expression, culinary experiences, and recreation.
“I’m honored, and I’m looking forward to speaking with the graduation class about what kind of endurance it takes to make a difference,” he said.
Cole has also been named to the New Power 30 by Chicago Magazine. He received the 2020 American Red Cross Community Impact Hero Award. In 2019, Crain’s Magazine named him to its annual 40 Under 40 list, and in 2018, he was named one of the 20 Most Inspiring Chicagoans by Streetwise Magazine. Cole and his nonprofit were recently the subjects of the documentary “A Tiny Ripple of Hope,” and Cole published his first book, “What’s Something Simple I Can Do That’ll Have a Positive Impact on My Block?”