The Indiana Youth Institute has announced Academy Award-winning Actor Forest Whitaker as keynote speaker for its 2013 Because Kids Count Conference. The December event will include discussions on fundraising, parental engagement and child development. October 24, 2013

News Release

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – In celebration of 25 years of serving those who impact the well-being of Indiana's children, the Indiana Youth Institute (IYI) is pleased to announce artist, humanist and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace Forest Whitaker will be the keynote speaker at the institute's 2013 Because Kids Count Conference Dec. 3-4.

Academy Award winner for Best Actor in 2007, Whitaker will give the keynote address on Dec. 4 explaining how he rose to stardom and his commitment to philanthropic work involving children. Rather than a speech, Whitaker will participate in a question and answer discussion.

In “A Conversation with Forest Whitaker,” he will discuss his insights on youth development, what inspires his work with children and how he stays motivated to succeed. Participants will learn how his social awareness has compelled him to seek ways of using film as a means to raise peoples' consciousness about youth issues. He will also discuss his ongoing work with inner-city youth for which he won the 2007 Cinema for Peace Award.

“Poverty can erode self-esteem, but it's what you need most to change your situation for the better,” said Whitaker. “Low self-esteem doesn't discriminate and affects children of all ages, races, genders, no matter their economic situation. I want to help inspire those who work with children to channel kids' strengths so they can see they are special, dream of a better future and work toward their goals.”

Conference participants will have a chance to hear Whitaker answer their questions by submitting questions for Whitaker during conference registration. Selected questions will be asked during the keynote conversation.

“Youth-serving professionals will have a unique and rare opportunity to be inspired by one of America's most talented and engaging celebrities when Forest Whitaker speaks at the Because Kids Count Conference,” said IYI's president & CEO, Bill Stanczykiewicz. “Whitaker will energize and encourage Indiana's dedicated youth workers with life lessons he has learned during a remarkable career.”

In addition to Forest Whitaker's keynote address, highlights of the conference include:

-An opening session presented by Brad Melzer, New York Times bestselling author and host of the History Channel's Brad Melzer's Decoded, who will examine the qualities needed for successful leadership.

-The Leadership Institute, focused on igniting innovation within organizations.

-The screening of a documentary on bullying and how to prevent it, with a panel discussion following the film.

-More than 80 workshops presented by state and national experts on topics such as working with children, fundraising, getting parents engaged in their children’s lives, bullying, child development and nonprofit management.

-The Vectren Resource Center featuring nearly 100 exhibitors.

The Because Count Conference is intended for anyone who works with children including community leaders, youth ministers, educators, counselors and those who impact the well-being of Hoosier children.

The conference opens Dec. 3 with Brad Meltzer. This author will examine global heroes and the qualities they shared that allowed them to shape the modern world. He will discuss the three truths to successful leadership: communicate and collaborate with your team, admit and overcome your limitations, and represent your organization – don't let it represent you.

The conference will highlight the documentary Bully, a film about the struggles of five students across the United States who have been victims of bullying on a daily basis. See how bullying affects their lives and learn what you can do to prevent or stop bullying. Learn more at A panel discussion will follow the screening.

This year, the Leadership Institute is expanding from one day to a day and a half to include more time for training and networking. The Leadership Institute will offer an intensive professional development experience designed to help executive directors, board members and senior staff become better leaders and innovate more ideas. This year’s Leadership Institute speaker, Stuart Shepley will equip attendees with strategies that help organizational leaders deal effectively with change. Shepley is the founder and chief consultant for the Shepley Group, which coaches organizations, leaders and teams to reach maximum performance.

Conference attendees can mingle during the Because Kids Count Talent Show and Conference Mixer on Dec. 3 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Indianapolis Marriott. An After Hours event will follow at the Tin Roof in downtown Indianapolis. Attendees will be able to take advantage of food and drink specials.

Register online at

-In celebration of IYI's 25th anniversary, the cost this year is discounted at $125 for Indiana residents who sign up by November 18. The actual registration cost is $500.

-After Nov. 18, registration is $175 at the door.

-Attendees will have the option to add on the Leadership Institute for $25 or attend just the Leadership Institute for $125.

-The cost for out-of-state residents is $275 plus an additional $50 to go to the Leadership Institute.

Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for the workshops are available through various professional organizations; details can be found at

Those interested in following the conference can do so on Twitter at #BKCC13.

For more information, go to or contact the Indiana Youth Institute at 800-343-7060 or

Source: Indiana Youth Institute

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