Joshua DuBois, who serves as special assistant to the President and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, spoke in Belmont’s Massey Performing Arts Center Wednesday as part of the Fall 2009 Spiritual Development speaker series.
A native of Nashville, DuBois noted that he was pleased to be in his hometown and laughed about the “family reunion” he was having in MPAC as the audience was populated with siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents and DuBois’ mother and stepfather, who serves as senior pastor of St. John’s AME in Nashville.
The bulk of his conversation centered on his work with the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships as he commented that the Obama administration seeks to partner with community-serving institutions. “We in the government must connect with the real change agents,” he said, adding that churches, temples, mosques, nonprofits and schools are leading the way in impacting needs on the local level.
DuBois said that his office focuses on four “Ps”: Partnerships, Perspective, Philadelphia (as in the Constitutional separation of church and state) and Profiles (Facebook and other social media sites’ impact). “You can bring your knowledge, innovations and networks to bear for those who need it most… to find new solutions to old problems.” He concluded his talk by reminding students of a quote from anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
One of President Barack Obama’s longest serving aides, DuBois previously served as the director of religious affairs for the Obama for America campaign, as well as the Presidential Inauguration Committee. Prior to his involvement with the campaign, DuBois was a legislative aide to then-Senator Obama. He also spent time working for Representatives Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Charles Rangel (D-NY) and served as an associate pastor at a small, Pentecostal church in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He received a Masters in Public Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and a Bachelor’s degree from Boston University.