Geoffrey Canada, author of Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America and president/CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) in New York City, will be the Saturday keynote speaker at this year’s ASTC Annual Conference, October 13–16. Named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News and World Report in 2005, Canada oversees an interlocking network that delivers social services, education, and community-building programs to children and families in a 60-block area of Central Harlem. Prominent among HCZ’s initiatives are the Beacon School, Harlem Peacemakers Program, and Community Pride Initiative. Canada, a third-degree Black Belt, is also the founder of the Chang Moo Kwan Martial Arts School, which teaches the principles of Tae Kwon Do to community youth, along with anti-violence and conflict-resolution techniques.
In 1994, Canada won the first $250,000 Heinz Award for his “passionate concern for children and his selfless determination to make their lives safer and more successful.” Other honors he has received include the McGraw Prize for Education, the Robin Hood Foundation’s Heroes of the Year Award, and Child magazine’s “Children’s Champion” award. In January 2006, he was chosen by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg to be co-chair of a task force charged with significantly reducing poverty in the city. He is also the East Coast regional coordinator for the Black Community Crusade for Children, a nationwide effort coordinated by Marian Wright Edelman and the Children’s Defense Fund to make saving black children the number-one priority in America’s black community.