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Cynthia Lowen  

Filmmaker of Bully & Poet

Cynthia Lowen is an award-winning filmmaker and writer. She is the producer and writer of Bully, a feature documentary following a “year in the life” of America’s bullying crisis, which she developed, produced, and wrote in partnership with Emmy and Sundance Award-winning director, Lee Hirsch. Filmed over the course of the 2009/2010 school year, Bully opens a window into the pained and often endangered lives of bullied kids, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic, and economic borders.

Lauded by reviewers, Bully was awarded a prestigious Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award for excellence in journalism, as well as the 2013 Stanley Kramer Award from the Producers Guild of America, among other honors. Drawing on Bully’s success, the filmmakers created The Bully Project Social Action Campaign, a collaborative effort in partnership with multiple organizations, foundations, brands, and corporate sponsors, sharing a commitment to ending bullying and transforming society. The film and campaign have garnered support from such prominent voices as Anderson Cooper, Ellen DeGeneres, Kelly Ripa, Meryl Streep, Katie Couric, Justin Bieber, and many others. Featured at several prominent summits on education and school climate, Bully was screened at the White House in 2012. The impact of this documentary and the associated social action campaign was recently explored in Anderson Cooper’s one-hour special, The Bully Effect, which premiered on CNN.

Through her work on Bully, Lowen has lectured extensively on bullying and school climate and culture. She is the co-author of The Essential Guide to Bullying, Prevention and Intervention with Cindy Miller, a school social worker, psychotherapist, educator, and parent consultant. Lowen is also the editor of Bully: An Action Plan for Teachers and Parents to Combat the Bullying Crisis. She has authored several articles and has appeared widely on television shows and radio programs to speak on the subject.

In addition to her work in bullying, Lowen is an award-winning poet and winner of the 2012 National Poetry Series for her collection, The Cloud That Contained the Lightning. Using the character of J. Robert Oppenheimer, known as the “father of the atomic bomb,” as a jumping-off point, the collection explores the enduring legacy of nuclear weapons. Of these poems, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes wrote, “No biographer in 600 pages has come closer to understanding him [Oppenheimer]—and the bomb—than Cynthia Lowen in these subtle, resonant poems.”

On the basis of her writing, Lowen was awarded the 2013 Women Authoring Change Fellowship. She is also the recipient of the Discovery/Boston Review Prize and was recognized as a Best New Poet of 2008.

Cynthia Lowen grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts and attended Colorado College, receiving her MFA in creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

Speech Topics

The Cloud That Contained the Lightning: An Evening with Cynthia Lowen

In this special presentation, Cynthia Lowen will read from her poetry collection, The Cloud That Contained the Lightning, winner of the 2012 National Poetry Series and released in September 2013. Using the character of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the "father of the atomic bomb," as a jumping-off point, The Cloud That Contained the Lightning explores the enduring legacy of the nuclear weapons, and the danger of forgetting. The reading will be followed with a discussion of the work with the author.

Nurturing Safe Relationships: Breaking Cycles of Bullying, Dating Violence & Domestic Abuse

Research shows a strong correlation between youth who are exposed to domestic violence and those who engage in bullying behaviors, as well as those who perpetrate or experience physical violence in intimate relationships. While one in three young people ages 14-20 have experienced dating violence, both boys and girls who engage in bullying behaviors are far more likely to report physical violence in relationships than their peers.

In this powerful multimedia presentation, Cynthia Lowen explores how communities can empower young women and men to engage in healthy, safe relationships. Using specific examples from her work with youth, educators and mental health experts, this talk will look at the formation of abusive behavior patterns and how these behaviors can evolve into bullying, harassment and violence towards peers and partners. She will also examine characteristics of physical and emotional abuse, cyber-bullying and sexual assault, equipping audiences with tools to identify and respond to relational violence and implement positive, community-wide interventions.

Fostering Positive School Climates with Social & Emotional Learning

How can educators, parents and youth be equipped with the skills to prevent bullying before it takes root and create positive learning environments for all? In this engaging, multimedia presentation, Cynthia Lowen delves into the creative ways Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) can be integrated into school cultures and communities to create meaningful engagement, lasting impact and the next generation of motivated, caring citizens.

Drawing on her experience co-creating The BULLY Project Social Action campaign, centered around SEL philosophy with a goal of reaching 10 million youth, this presentation will explore core Social and Emotional Learning strategies including: building trusting school-wide relationships, fostering empathy and understanding, promoting responsibility, facilitating student leadership and encouraging parent participation. This talk will also provide real-world examples of schools that have successfully implemented SEL and will depict the positive ripples this work has created throughout the community.

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