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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI brings in national experts to show students the meaning of true consumer power

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 12, 2004 -- In today's heavily web-woven, email-, and jpeg- driven world, and with the notion of such things as telemarketing ploys and "identity theft" ever-prevalent in the news, consumers may often feel quite powerless.

The University of Rhode Island's Department of Human Development and Family studies (HDFS) has a unique new program on the road to change that outlook.

A two-day program called "Consumer Power in the Information Age" will be held this month to heighten student, faculty, staff and public awareness of consumer, business, and marketing practices, while promoting a better understanding of consumer advocacy.

"This is a new program we've developed to reach out and address, perhaps for the first time, some of these critical issues that students now face and will continue to face beyond their college years," said Jing Xiao, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies and program coordinator. "Now's a great time to sharpen the insight of tomorrow's corporate leaders, policy makers, and government officials to consumer issues and consumer advocacy." The other coordinators of the program at URI are Professor Barbara Newman, chair of HDFS Department, and Claudia Kerbel, director of outreach, Center for Personal Financial Education.

On Wednesday, March 17 from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m., three prominent consumer experts will present a panel discussion on the topic of consumer power. The panel will feature Lesley Fair of the Federal Trade Commission, Linda F. Golodner of the National Consumers League, and Jeanne M. Hogarth of the Federal Reserve Board. Ron Ramos, vice president of counseling and education at the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Southern New England, will moderate the panel. Free and open to the public, the discussion will be held in the auditorium of the Chafee Social Sciences Center on the Kingston Campus.

During the days on Wednesday, March 17 and Thursday, March 18, five leaders from federal agencies, a consumer organization and corporate headquarters, will head back to class.

The leaders, including the three panel speakers, will visit more than a dozen classrooms to discuss issues ranging from consumer spending and financial markets to financial issues across the lifespan. About 900 students are enrolled in the human development and family studies, library science, textile science, marketing, finance, management classes that have invited the lecturers.

In addition to those listed above, other program lecturers include: Anne Crichton Crews, vice president, Corporate Affairs, Mary Kay Inc., and Catherine Landman, senior vice president of Global Legal and Human Resources at The Pampered Chef®. (See brief bios of all speakers attached.)

The Consumer Power in the Information Age program is sponsored by the URI Department of Human Development and Family Studies and the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with the Center for Personal Financial Education at URI and the Journal of Family and Economic Issues. Bettie Smith, senior program director and Tamara Ingram, project assistant at DSEF are credited with making this program available.

For a copy of the program or an interview request with one of the speakers, please contact Claudia Kerbel at 401-874-4036 or:

Anne Crichton Crews, vice president, Corporate Affairs, Mary Kay Inc.
As Corporate Affairs/Government Relations Vice President Crews is responsible for analyzing federal, state(s), and local legislation and regulations and political trends to access their impact on corporate operations and the Mary Kay Independent sales force and employees affiliated with Mary Kay Inc. Crew lobbies to propose, oppose or amend pertinent legislation and develops working relationships with other companies, business and trade associations in order to form coalitions. Crews joined Mary Kay Inc. in 1983 as coordinator, public affairs. She previously served as press assistant to Texas Governor Bill Clements. In 2001, Crews was appointed to the Texas Dept. of Protective and Regulatory Services board of directors and last year, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson appointed her to the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women. Crews earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rollins College.

Lesley Fair is a senior attorney with the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Division of Advertising Practices, where she has represented the FTC in numerous investigations of deceptive advertising. She specializes in the marketing of health-related and high tech products in traditional media and online. A recipient of the Paul Rand Dixon Award for Law Enforcement and the Commission's Award for Outstanding Scholarship, she is vice chair of the Consumer Protection Committee of the American Bar Association's section of antitrust Law. Fair graduated from the University of Notre Dame and received a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law. Before joining the FTC, she was Senior Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center's Appellate Litigation Clinic, where she practiced criminal law. While teaching at Georgetown, she appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court. She is a member of the State Bar of Texas and the District of Columbia Bar.

Catherine Landman is senior vice president of Global Legal and Human Resources at The Pampered Chef. As the Company's chief legal officer, she is responsible for managing the legal issues facing the company in the U.S. and internationally. She also directs the human resources and security departments, participates in the development of the company's strategic and tactical planning, and monitors compliance with the code of ethics of the direct selling association. Landman holds a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin and a B.S. in foreign service from Georgetown University. She is a member of the State Bars of Minnesota, Texas and Wisconsin.

Jeanie Hogarth is the Federal Reserve Board's program manager for the Consumer Education and Research Section of the Division of Consumer and Community Affairs. Hogarth joined the Board in 1995. At the Federal Reserve, she is responsible for research and outreach initiatives related to the work of the division. Recent projects include initiatives on consumers' use of banking services (focusing on lower income households the "unbanked" and adoption of electronic banking services), and consumer protection strategies. She manages the Board's consumer information materials that focus on consumer/financial literacy and education; credit, mortgage, and leasing products; and consumer privacy issues. Her previous experience includes 13 years on the consumer economics faculty at Cornell University where she was responsible for community education programs related to family financial management and consumer economics through Cornell's Cooperative Extension. Both her research and her consumer education programs have received awards for their excellence. Hogarth received a BS in education from Bowling Green State University and an MS and PhD in family and consumer economics from The Ohio State University.

Linda Golodner is president and CEO of the National Consumers League and has been with NCL for 21 years. NCL is the nation’s pioneer consumer organization, founded in 1899, to bring consumer power to bear on marketplace and workplace issues. Priority programs include food and drug safety, health care, fair labor standards, telecommunications and technology, financial services, environmental issues, and consumer fraud. Golodner serves on numerous board of national organizations representing the broadest range of consumer issues. Honoring her work, Golodner has received awards from the American Pharmaceutical Association, the Hugo H. Schaefer Award; the United Nations Association for her work in human rights; the American Council on Consumer Interests with the "Friend of Consumers Award" for her outstanding contributions to policies that promote consumers’ interests nationally and internationally. Golodner graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland in 1975.

For More Information: Claudia Kerbel, 874-7436