UniPro Summit 2013: "Rise"

The theme for our third Summit was born out of self critique during a Staff brainstorming session. The questions posited were; How can we take the next step from the “Renaissance”? How can we harness the overwhelming inspiration from our second Summit and convert it into practical action so that we can make real and tangible change? “Rise” was both a command and challenge for delegates to form collaborations that would benefit not only themselves, but their organizations, and others.


“Rise” featured a crisis simulation, a panel on career development, a panel on connecting communities, a panel on social good and two Keynote speakers; Jessica Cox and Joe Bataan.


Born without arms, Jessica Cox could have succumbed to the low expectations that ushered her into this world.  In spite of them all, she earned two black belts in Taekwondo, graduated from college, and learned to swim, drive a car, fly an airplane, surf, scuba dive, and live independently using her feet in ways others who take their hands for granted can only imagine.  She holds the title of the first person without arms to get a black belt in the American Taekwondo Association and the Guiness World Record for the first pilot to fly with her feet. Yet, her greatest triumph in life stands far above any physical feat. It is her unrepentant regard for herself as a whole person, her high degree of self-acceptance that gives her the freedom and power to insist that society accept her, too, just as she is.

Joe Bataan, born Bataan Nitollano to a Filipino father and an African American mother, was raised in Spanish Harlem.  Associated with street gangs, Joe spent five years at Coxsackie State Prison for riding in a stolen vehicle at the young age of 15.  In prison he learned music and six months after his release began to record music. Inspired by Latino boogaloo and African American doo-wop, Joe became known as the first recording artist to create authentically Latin Soul music and coin the phrase “salsoul.”  Self taught on the piano, her organized his first band in 1965 and scored his first recording success in 1967 with “Gypsy Woman” on Fania Records. In addition to being an artist, musician and producer, Joe bataan has worked as a counselor for juveniles, visiting correctional facilities, counseling youngsters and sharing his past experience with crime.