Chautauqua Lecture Focuses on Transforming Social Policy and Practice

Zayas photo

Many students begin their college years with lofty aspirations of making a difference in the world and improving the lives of others.

“But,” said Dr. Luis H. Zayas, “there are so many important social issues that we may be overwhelmed. We may ask ourselves, ‘Which one should I take up? Which one can I do something about with what I have?’”

In a Chautauqua lecture at Eastern Kentucky University on Thursday, Sept. 18, Zayas, an award-winning author, educator and activist, will describe the passionate pursuits that emerged from his encounters with vulnerable children, and how he moved from cases to causes, chasing the dreams that became his responsibility to fulfill.

His talk, entitled “From Cases to Causes: One Hispanic’s Determination to Transform Social Policy and Practice,” will begin at 7:30 p.m. in O’Donnell Hall of the Whitlock Building. Also serving as the keynote address for National Hispanic Heritage Month and Constitution Day, the event is free and open to the public.

Zayas is the dean of the School of Social Work and the Robert Lee Sutherland Chair in Mental Health and Social Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. Over a career spanning nearly 40 years, he has been an educator, practitioner, researcher and advocate in the area of minority children’s development, mental health and family functioning. He remains active in immigration social work and in advocacy for children’s mental health.

The Puerto Rico native authored “Latinas Attempting Suicide: When Cultures, Families and Daughters Collide” in 2011, and a second book, “Forgotten Citizens: Deportation, Children and the Making of American Exiles and Orphans,” is forthcoming.

With funding from the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, Zayas is examining the effects of deportation on the psychosocial functioning of U.S.-born citizen-children of undocumented Mexican immigrants. In addition, he is continuing his research on adolescent Latinas, who have the highest rate of suicide attempts of any U.S. adolescent group.

Zayas also has held faculty appointments at Columbia University, where he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees; Fordham University; and Washington University. In 1993, he was honored by the American Family Therapy Academy with the Economic and Cultural Diversity Award for his work with AIDS orphans and their families.

The lecture is sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work; the Department of Languages, Cultures and Humanities; the Department of Government; the Cultural Center; and the Honors Program.

Zayas’ talk is part of the University’s year-long Chautauqua series on “Strategizing.” For more information about the 2014-15 Chautauqua series at EKU, visit, or contact Chautauqua Lecture Coordinator Dr. Minh Nguyen at

Published on September 03, 2014

Quick Links