On Saturday, Jan. 30, leaders from area non-profit organizations will participate in a community forum to discuss the impact of General Electric moving its headquarters to Boston.

The public is invited to the community forum, which will run from 10 a.m. to noon at Sacred Heart University’s Martire Center located at 5151 Park Ave. in Fairfield.

Sen. Tony Hwang will moderate the forum.

The discussion will focus on local philanthropy and how to mitigate the effects of GE’s departure. Nearly every local charitable organization has a GE employee on its board of directors, and the company matches 50 percent of employees’ individual contributions to charity.

Panelists joining Sen. Hwang at the forum will be:

• William Jennings, CEO/President, Bridgeport Hospital
• Martin Schwartz, CEO/President, Trumbull-based The Kennedy Center
• Carla Miklos, Executive Director of Fairfield-based Operation Hope
• Rev. Dr. David Rowe of Greenfield Hill Congregational Church, Fairfield
• William Hass, President of Bridgeport-based Lifebridge Community Services
• Merle Berke-Schlessel, President, United Way of Coastal Fairfield County
• Eliot Brenner, President/CEO of the Child Guidance Center of Southern CT

“This forum will be open, frank and honest, and I urge area residents and advocates of non-profits to spread the word and join us,” Sen. Hwang said. “GE’s departure will be a major setback to philanthropic contributions in our community, but what can we do now to plot a path forward?"
The forum will also preview the upcoming session of the Connecticut General Assembly and the effort to maintain support for Connecticut’s social services and non-profit community’s to protect our most vulnerable residents.

“Our state budget is already in deficit,” Sen. Hwang said. “That deficit threatens funding for services for the disabled, seniors, children and low-income residents. Protecting our most vulnerable residents from devastating cuts must continue to be our top priority. We must be willing to look at areas of government spending where we can economize and create efficiencies, and our non-profits can play a major role in helping us to generate those savings. Charities and non-profit groups in our region are encouraged to join us in what should be a positive and productive discussion.”

The forum will be held in the Martire Theater, located on the first floor of the Martire Business and Communications Center at Sacred Heart University.