Ruth Knee Lecture

greg boyle

"The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness"

Love is the answer, community is the context, and tenderness is the connective tissue.

Gregory Boyle
Founder, Homeboy Industries

This event has passed.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

5:30 pm: Check-in and book sale
6:00 - 7:30 pm: Lecture and Q & A
7:30 - 8:00 pm: Book signing

The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration
969 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

This event is free and open to the public. 1.5 CEUs will be available. 

You can view the program via livestream here:

Gregory Boyle will be available to sign books and the Seminary Co-op will be selling two of his books on site. Tattoos of the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion and Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship will be available for $16 each. 

SSA is honored to host Gregory Boyle who will deliver the 2018 Ruth Knee Lecture on Spirituality and Social Work. Boyle will share what he has learned in three decades working with marginalized populations at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, California—that love is the answer, community is the context, and tenderness is the connective tissue. Tenderness reflects the foundational notion that there are no us and them, only us. Homeboy seeks to be what the world is invited to become. Kinship cannot happen without tenderness.

Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. Homeboy Industries employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to 15,000 men and women who walk through its doors every year seeking a better life.

Boyle is the author of the New York Times-bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, which was named one of the Best Books of 2010 by Publishers Weekly and received the PEN Center USA 2011 Creative Nonfiction Award. He is the subject of Academy Award winner Freida Lee Mock’s 2012 documentary, G-Dog. Boyle received the California Peace Prize and has been inducted into the California Hall of Fame. In 2014, the White House named Boyle a Champion of Change. He received the 2016 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the James Beard Foundation, the national culinary-arts organization.

Listen to interviews with Boyle on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross and The On Being Project.


Questions can be directed to the Professional Development Program at
Persons in need of accommodation may contact Carmella Snook at 773.702.9700 or email at

The Ruth Knee Fund for Spirituality and Social Work was established at SSA in 1997 to support the development of content related to spirituality in social work. The Fund also sponsors the Ruth Knee Lecture on Spirituality and Social Work.

Ruth Irelan Knee, A.M. '45, was a founding member of the National Association of Social Workers and one of the first psychiatric social workers. Her work across three decades helped define the role of social workers in the public sector. Ms. Knee served in the U.S. Public Health Service during the 1940s and in the then-new National Institute of Mental Health, where she was a liaison for policy development and technical assistance concerning the mental health components of Medicare and Medicaid. During her 30 years of federal service, she developed social work roles within public health and military health care programs and advanced innovations and improvements in mental health services.

Ms. Knee was also a leader in several professional organizations, including: the Council on Social Work Education, the American Public Health Association, and the American Orthopsychiatric Association. From 1963 to 1970 she was chairman of the NASW Committee on the Study of Competence, which was instrumental in setting standards for social work practice. Read more about Ruth Knee.