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Philadelphia Native, Susan Retik, Founder of “Beyond the 11th” to Speak at Drexel

PHILADELPHIA, April 6, 2011

Philadelphia native Susan Retik, president and cofounder of “Beyond the 11th,” will give the next Jonathan Mann Health & Human Rights Memorial Lecture at the Drexel University School of Public Health. The lecture is free and open to the public. It will be held on April 8, at 4:30 p.m. in the Mitchell Auditorium, Bossone Research Enterprise Center (Market Street between 31st and 32nd Streets).

“Beyond the 11th” is a nonprofit organization that provides support to widows in Afghanistan who have been afflicted by war, terrorism and oppression. Retik’s commitment to Afghan widows was born from her own journey into widowhood on September 11, 2001, when her husband David was killed in the World Trade Center.  The lecture will also feature a free screening of Beyond Belief, the award-winning documentary about Retik’s travels to Afghanistan to work with widows in that country. The film screening is cosponsored by the American Friends Service Committee.

Retik is an inspirational speaker who shares her remarkable story of transforming personal loss into humanitarian outreach, helping others to embrace their own power to make a difference and raising awareness of the struggle of Afghan widows.  She has received a number of honors, including the 2010 Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian award.  She was interviewed on the Oprah Winfrey Show and featured in media nationwide.  Retik  received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Colgate University.  She continues to champion the cause of Afghan widows, although she is no longer a widow herself. In 2006, she married Donald Ger.

The annual lecture series is named after Dr. Jonathan Mann, the founding dean  of the Drexel University School of Public Health, who was a world-renowned researcher and humanitarian that through his efforts to stop HIV/AIDS championed the principle that health and human rights are inextricably entwined. Mann and his wife, who was also a renowned researcher, perished in a plane crash while heading to a United Nations AIDS vaccine conference.  Each lecture reflects Mann’s principles and everlasting spirit at the school.  Previous speakers in the lecture series have included Dr. Paul Farmer, the Founder of Partners in Health, and Barbara Hogan, the former South African Minister of Health.

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News media contact:
Richard Ochab, director of communication, Drexel University School of Public Health
215-762-4732 or rso25@drexel.edu

Niki Gianakaris, director, Drexel News Bureau
215-895-6741, 215-778-7752 (cell), ngianakaris@drexel.edu