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Central State of Mind: A Catholic Social Justice and Human Dignity Conference

Thursday, February 15 and Friday February 16, 2024

This is the fifth year of our Central State of Mind Human Dignity Summit, a transformational interactive experience that focuses on cultural humility, social awareness, and human dignity. The two-day event (Thursday, February 15, and Friday, February 16) creates space and opportunities for the Central Catholic community to engage, dialogue, listen, and reflect on issues important to our purpose to develop the hearts and minds of every student. 

Central State of Mind features keynote speakers, more than 60 focused workshops led by students, teachers, alumni, parents, and community guests, and a celebration assembly. The theme of the 2024 event is the Power of Storytelling: Grounding In The Experiences that Connect Us. Both of these events are closed to the general public but will include students from area high schools (Thursday) and middle schools (Friday). 

View Photos from 2023 HERE.

For questions about Central State of Mind, please email Melissa Lowery at
Members of the media looking for more information should contact Jeanie-Marie Price at or 971-207-9269.

Central State of Mind

Headlining the event on Thursday morning is Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones. Nikole covers racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine and creator of the landmark “The 1619 Project”, now an original docuseries. A native of Iowa, Nikole got her first letter to the editor published at just 11 years old and she became hooked on journalism when she joined her high school newspaper and began writing about students like her, who were bused across town as part of a voluntary school desegregation program. This early work led to her very first journalism award from the Iowa High School Press Association.

Nikole will participate in a panel discussion, alongside current Central Catholic students, sharing her story and how she came to focus her career on telling stories previously untold–culminating in The 1619 Project. The 1619 Project “weaves together eighteen essays that explore the legacy of slavery in present-day America with thirty-six poems and works of fiction that illuminate key moments of oppression, struggle, and resistance.”

Nikole was introduced to Central Catholic by the parent of a recent alumna who saw the power of bringing her story to the Central Catholic community. Nikole’s work aligns with Central Catholic’s commitment to developing student leaders who are rooted in equity, think critically, and are relational and responsible members of their community. Her voice will help shape classroom discussions centered on empowering our students to develop a better understanding of themselves and the wider world around them.

On Thursday (2/15), at 1:00 P.M. Central State of Mind will feature a closing keynote by Blake B. Shelley and Tony Muncy ‘07. Blake, who was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy as an infant, is an author, motivational speaker, and revered social media influencer, turning personal challenges into a source of strength for others. Tony is a visionary artist and owner of  Muncy Designs. Together, they founded Redwing Solutions, a mission combining motivational narrative with artistic creativity, fostering empowerment and inspiration. Friends since second grade, the duo will speak to their friendship and journey of defying the odds and building dreams together.


Blake Shelley and Tony Muncy, a remarkable duo bound by nearly three decades of friendship, embody the essence of creativity, empowerment, and resilience. Their journey, rooted in a shared commitment to making a positive impact, has blossomed into a partnership that inspires and uplifts countless individuals. Their upcoming documentary, “Balance,” aims to offer viewers a fresh perspective on the power of friendship, collaboration, and perseverance. This unique team showcases the concept of 'balance' across all facets of life—be it in their personal bonds, professional endeavors, or spiritual journeys, illustrating that harmony can be achieved physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Blake, an acclaimed author, life coach, and motivational speaker, has harnessed his experience with Cerebral Palsy to become a beacon of strength and resilience. With over 300k followers on TikTok and Instagram, Blake's narrative is one of triumph over adversity, fueled by meticulous planning, self-reflection, and a robust support system. His educational journey took him from Reynolds High School to George Fox University, culminating in the founding of the Breaking Chains Foundation, which provides motivational resources to those in need.

Tony, the artistic genius behind Muncy Designs, brings a profound love for drawing, photography, and videography to the partnership. As the chief vision officer for Redwing Solutions and a Breaking Chains Foundation board member, Tony's multifaceted career is a testament to his creative vision and commitment to making a difference. His academic path led him from Central Catholic High School to Portland Community College, where he earned his degree in Fire Science. From there, he has spent the last 15 years working in many areas of carpentry and construction.

Together, Blake and Tony represent a combination of strengths and passions. Their enduring friendship, formed in the 2nd grade, has evolved into a powerful collaboration that seeks to enlighten and motivate. Through "Balance," they are set to demonstrate that true equilibrium in life is not just a concept but a lived reality, underscoring the transformative power of enduring partnerships, creative expression, and unwavering determination.

Friday morning, will feature alumnus Steve Bramucci ‘97. Steve is an author, storyteller, and award-winning travel writer and adventurer. Describing his journey writing his latest book "Race For The Ruby Turtle", Steve shares: “When I sat down to work on Race for the Ruby Turtle, I knew I wanted to write a love letter to the Oregon Coast, a story that asked big questions about the relationship between humans and the natural world, and a book that kids might curl up with in the autumn as rain slatted against their bedroom windows. But most of all, I knew I wanted to write a book that reflected a journey I've been on for many years."

As a professional storyteller, an alumnus who is deeply connected to the mission of Central Catholic, and an advocate for students with different learning “superpowers” like ADHD, he will also help our students develop a better understanding of themselves and their peers who come to Central Catholic with different learning abilities.

Link coming soon!

Central State of Mind (CSOM) Parent Volunteer Opportunities
We are looking for parent volunteers to work with Melissa Lowery and the Student CSOM Planning Committee in preparation for Central State of Mind February 15 and 16.

Hosting Teams
Looking for parent volunteers to be part of our hosting teams for our Keynotes. We need two individuals for February 15 and two individuals for February 16, 2024. Parent hosting teams will be shadowing our Keynotes for the day and making sure they have what they need.
Time commitment: 1 hour pre-event prep meeting; 7:15 A.M. to 2:45 P.M. for each day of the event.

Reflective Activity
Looking for two parent volunteers to help put together CSOM Reflective Activities. Parent volunteers will work with the student planning committee to organize and set up/break down reflective activity.
Time commitment: 30 mins for prep meeting; 1-2 hours day before event; 7:15 A.M. to 2:45 P.M. for each day of the event.

Sign making/paper work help/swag bag
Looking for two parent volunteers to help make signs for CSOM and help put together community member packets as well as swag bags. Parent volunteers will work with Melissa Lowery and the student planning committee.
Time commitment: 30 mins for prep meeting; Meeting 2-3 hours day before the Thursday, February 15, 2024 event.

Click HERE to sign up