Social Justice Awards – Sankofa: Honoring the Past and Embracing the Future

Mar 19, 2024 6:30 pm 8:00 pm
White Hall, Room 200,
150 Crouse Dr. Syracuse, NY 13210

In commemoration of National Social Work Month in March, the School of Social Work in Falk College will present its annual Dan and Mary Lou Rubenstein Social Justice Awards program from 6:30 to 8 p.m. March 19 in 200 White Hall.

This year’s program, called “Sankofa: Honoring the Past and Embracing the Future,” honors José Miguel Hernández Hurtado, founder and artistic director of La Joven Guardia del Teatro Latino, and Eric Kingson, professor of social work at Syracuse University. This year’s event will also pay tribute to Dr. Alejandro Garcia, a founding faculty member of the Social Justice Awards who passed away in December 2023. The program features keynote speaker Dan Sieburg, Chief Executive Officer of the Rescue Mission Alliance of Syracuse, followed by a reception in Wildhack Lounge.

The Social Justice Awards are free and open to the public. To attend, please register online by Monday, March 4. For accommodations, please contact Karen Goebel at, or 315.443.5557.

Presented for more than 30 years, the Rubenstein Social Justice Award is given in honor of the late professor Dan Rubenstein, a former faculty member in the School of Social Work, and his late wife, Mary Lou, a former school social worker. Recipients of this award are role models whose courage and strength inspire others to stand up—and step up—to advocate and be a voice in the Syracuse community. The values of social justice are integral to their daily lives. The work of honorees each year, by their individual and collective examples, represent the true spirit of the Rubenstein Social Justice Award. Here’s a look at this year’s awardees:

Eric Kingson

Kingson’s 55-year career traces back to his involvement in the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s. His work is grounded in ethical principles and values that promote human dignity, democracy, racial justice, service to others, self-determination, adequate wages and incomes, access to health care, affordable housing, and meaningful employment. In addition to holding faculty positions in social policy at three universities, Kingson is recognized nationally for his expertise in, and advocacy of, Social Security as an institution that advances economic security across generations. He served as advisor for two presidential commissions and the Social Security Administration’s 2008-2009 transition team.

In 2009, Kingson co-founded Social Security Works, a national organization with a mission to preserve and expand the Social Security system. His belief that politics can be an instrument of social justice led him to run as a congressional candidate in 2016 and serve as a New York State member of the 2016 Democratic National Convention Platform Committee. Professor Kingson has authored numerous articles, books, and commentaries with his research and writing focused on the politics and economics of aging, Social Security, cross-generational responsibilities, retirement, and caregiving across generations. His most recent book is Social Security Works for Everyone! (2021), co-authored with Nancy J. Altman.

José Miguel Hernández Hurtado

Hurtado is originally from Cuba and has lived in Syracuse since November 1997. In Cuba, Hurtado was selected as Best Male Actor in a national student competition. His first 17 years in Syracuse were spent as a physical therapy aide at Rosewood Heights Health. Simultaneously, Hurtado organized and directed a theater company that he founded in 1999 under the Spanish Action League, serving as artistic director and dance instructor. Currently he works at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in the Pediatric Emergency Department.

Hurtado has directed over 21 contemporary and classical Spanish children’s plays. He received the Excellence in Outstanding Achievement for Direction Award for directing several plays: Gabriel García Márquez’ “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” in 2008; Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s “Adventures of Don Quixote” in 2011; and in 2012 “The Enchanted Shrimp,” a version of the French Laboulaye written by José Martí. He adapted “The Enchanted Shrimp,” among others, for the stage. Hurtado’s work on the radio and in theater in Cuba carried over to his life in Syracuse. He has maintained his firm belief that every child needs and deserves an opportunity to reach for a better place in which to live, and to realize their dreams for a better future.

Dan Sieburg, Keynote Speaker

Keynote speaker Dan Sieburg is Chief Executive Officer of the Rescue Mission Alliance of Syracuse. For 25 years he has worked in the non-profit human services sector, and the last 16 have been dedicated to providing housing, shelter, food, and clothing for the hungry, homeless, and housing vulnerable in Central New York. Sieburg is a New York State Licensed Social Worker, a former adjunct professor in the School of Social Work, and an alumnus of Syracuse University’s Master of Social Work program. The Rescue Mission Alliance of Syracuse was the recipient of the 2018 Dan and Mary Lou Rubenstein Social Justice Award.

Register now

This event was first published on February 26th, 2024 and last updated on February 27th, 2024.

Event Details

  • Category
    Social Science and Public Policy
  • Type
  • Region
    Main Campus
  • Open to
  • Cost
  • Organizers
    Falk College
  • Contact
    Karen Goebel
  • Accessibility
    Contact Karen Goebel to request accommodations