Thaddeus Desmond is allowed to bring one guest to watch him speak at the Democratic National Convention next Tuesday. It will be the social worker who adopted him and inspired his career in child-welfare advocacy.
Desmond, 28, of Germantown, is one of four Philadelphians who will address the convention next week, Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign announced Monday.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Desmond is a social worker for the Support Center for Child Advocates, where he works with abused or neglected children in Philadelphia's beleaguered child welfare system.
Desmond came out of that system. His birth parents struggled with drug addiction when he was born and couldn't take care of him. His social worker, Kathy Desmond, became his foster mother and then adopted him when he turned 6.
Desmond, a graduate of Cardinal Dougherty High School, Millersville University, and Smith College, also has maintained a close relationship with his birth parents, who have been clean and sober for years.
"I'm just glad Hillary and her campaign are invested in child welfare," Desmond said. "I think - I know - that's definitely something that's needed, and I hope there can be ongoing work there."
Joining Desmond as convention speakers are three other Philadelphians who work in some form of child advocacy. All will share their stories next Tuesday night. The convention begins Monday and runs through July 28.
Other local speakers are:
Dynah Haubert, a lawyer with the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania.
Kate Burdick, staff attorney at the Juvenile Law Center.
Anton Moore, founder of a Unity in the Community peace walk and nonprofit community group working to educate youth on gun violence.
Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, worked for the Children's Defense Fund after law school, where she canvassed neighborhoods to find the roots of student truancy and learned some parents were not sending their children to school because schools could not accommodate their disabilities.
Clinton also worked in South Carolina to keep minors out of adult prisons. In Alabama, she investigated segregation academies, according to her campaign.
Former president Bill Clinton and members of Mothers of the Movement, a coalition of women who have lost their children to police violence or shootings, also will speak Tuesday.
The campaign said additional names of celebrities will be announced.
Noncelebrity speakers from around the nation include a grandmother from New Hampshire raising her grandson because his parents are suffering from drug addiction; a Texas woman whose husband died in the military; and a mother from Ohio who works two jobs to pay off student loans and raise her children.