The Smittcamp Family Honors College Colloquium will host a town hall-style  meeting about poverty in the central San Joaquin Valley at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 1, at Fresno State’s Satellite Student Union.

The free, public panel discussion of “Why Are We So Poor and What Can We Do About It?” will be moderated by Fresno Bee columnist Bill McEwen.

Joining the conversation will be:

  • Lee Ann Eager, president and CEO of the Fresno County Economic Development Corp.
  • Dora Westerlund, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Mike Villines, a former Assembly speaker who runs a legislative advocacy firm
  • Dr. Mark Somma, a Fresno State professor of political science

“This discussion hopes to foster thought and affect change on the negative economics of the Valley,” said Megan Ginise, the event’s student media coordinator.

She added that the discussion will consider “how we ended up in this slump and how we may get ourselves out, whether through agriculture, business, commerce, education and more.”

For more information, contact Ginise at 559.232.3035 or