LU to host 2013 Brooks Conference April 18

BEAUMONT April 2, 2013 - The Lamar University Jack Brooks Chair in Government and Public Service will focus on substance abuse when it hosts the 2013 Brooks Conference Thursday, April 18.

Activities will begin at 7:30 a.m. in the Lamar Institute of Technology Multi-Purpose Center, at Jimmy Simmons Boulevard and East Lavaca.

Dawn Mathis of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Houston will be the keynote speaker for a luncheon from noon to 1:15 p.m. Other guest speakers include Shane Howard, Jefferson County tax assessor-collector.

The conference will bring Lamar University faculty members and students together with nonprofit, civic and government leaders who are being invited to attend. The conference and the chair honor the late U.S. Rep. Jack Brooks, a Beaumont Democrat who served in Congress more than 40 years. Brooks died Dec. 4, 2012.
“The issue of substance abuse will be viewed in what we expect is a unique and informative way – through the life-cycle of substance abuse,” said James Vanderleeuw, Jack Brooks Chair at Lamar University and conference director.

The conference will address the life-cycle perspective via a series of panels, Vanderleeuw said. “These include the factors that lead to substance abuse; the medical and community-health consequences of substance abuse; service provided by and challenges facing treatment centers; law enforcement and the impact on crime; and sobriety and exit from substance abuse.”

Experts and practitioners representing medical, law enforcement and counseling professions in Southeast Texas will serve as panel members.

The conference will begin with registration and breakfast from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. The first session at 8 a.m. will feature the welcome by Vanderleeuw and a presentation by Karen Riggs of the Substance Abuse Division of the South East Texas Regional Planning Commission (SETRPC).

The conference will continue with these panels:

Panel 1, “Substance Abuse and Dependency: How, Why When?” – 8:30-9:30 a.m., presented by Ida Duplechin, a counselor; John Richard Brocks Jr. of LIT; Sue Echols, licensed professional counselor, Student Health Center, Lamar University; and Birdie Harrison, coordinator, Safe and Drug Free, Beaumont Independent School District.

Panel 2, “Medical and Community-Health Consequences of Substance Abuse” – 9:45-10:45 a.m., Kevin Berry, Beaumont Health Department, and Dr. Rajen Desai, board-certified psychiatrist.

Panel 3, “Law Enforcement, Crime and Substance Abuse” – 11 a.m.-noon, Johnnie Stewart, Child Protective Services program director and former police officer, and Ron Hobbs, deputy chief, narcotics division, Jefferson County; and Beverly Matt, U.S. probation officer, Eastern District of Texas.

Panel 4, “Services Provided by and Challenges Facing Treatment Centers” – 1:15-2:15 p.m., Sally Burman, licensed chemical dependancy counselor, Spindletop Center; Rodna Willett, licensed professional counselor, Right Step; and Mary Ann Johnston, residential program director, South East Texas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

Panel 5, “Exit and Sobriety: How, Why, When, What Works?” – 2:30-3:30 p.m., Daniel Jeans, executive director, HOW Center; Paula Weatherly, program director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice LeBlanc Unit; Iris Booker, Jefferson Nursing and Rehabilitation Center; and P.K. Moore, social worker, Some Other Place.

Vanderleeuw will present concluding remarks at 3:40 p.m., and Howard will speak during initiations for members of Pi Sigma Alpha, national political science honor society, scheduled from 4 to 5 p.m.

The conference is open to the public, but reservations are required for the luncheon and must be made by Wednesday, April 10. For additional information or to make reservations, call Vanderleeuw at(409) 880-2288 or email at

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