Diversity Awareness Partnership


Anita Barker

VP and Director of Education, International Institute

Presenting: Overcoming Communication Barriers When Working with Speakers of Other Languages

Anita Barker is the VP and Director of Education for the International Institute. She oversees International Institute’s adult education programs including core and pre-vocational ESOL, citizenship and computer classes, job and workplace trainings, CAIP (Career Advancement for International Professionals) program as well as Afterschool Tutoring for immigrant High School students.


Buddy Benge

HR Service Centers & Analytics Lead, Monsanto

Presenting: Journey From Diversity to Inclusion: Using Advanced Inclusion Metrics to Create a More Diverse, Better Performing Organization

Buddy Benge is Monsanto’s HR Service Centers & Analytics Leader. In his role, he is responsible for maximizing the value derived from HR data and turning those insights into unique competitive advantages for the company. This includes using HR data to help leaders make more effective business decisions. He is responsible for leading Monsanto’s service centers which enable an excellent employee experience and deliver HR processes. A former regional HR leader with Owens Corning, Buddy holds a master’s degree from Cornell University.


Dewitt Campbell

Certified Diversity Facilitrainer, NCCJ

Presenting: Communication Across Difference in Toxic Political Times

Dewitt Campbell, MSW, CDFT was born and raised in the city of St. Louis.  He is a Certified Diversity Facilitrainer with NCCJ St. Louis. As NCCJ’s Community and Professional Programs Manager, he has also served NCCJ in various capacities for almost 20 years ranging from program participant, to volunteer youth trainer, to paid professional programming trainer. A member of a weekly discussion group called Touchy Topics Tuesday, Dewitt engages in regular conversations across differences and building meaningful relationships with people.


Angela Cody

Senior Manager, Inclusion and Diversity, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals

Presenting: Training Isn’t Enough, Building a Comprehensive Diversity Equity and Inclusion Program

Angela Cody is the Senior Manager of Inclusion and Diversity at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals. In this role, she develops, implements, and manages global Inclusion & Diversity strategy and programs. She led the Mallinckrodt Inclusion and Diversity Council to a top 10 Council in the nation in 2016 and 2017. Angela pioneered the start-up of the St. Louis Diversity & Inclusion Consortium, and in 2017 was recognized as one of Mogul’s Top 100 Innovators for Diversity and Inclusion.


Laurie Copeland

Presenting: The Youth Journey of Gender Transitioning (Panel Discussion)

Laurie Copeland is the Co-Founder of TransParent St. Louis, who launched the organization in 2011 with Kim Hutton and only 6 families. She was an organizer and presenter at the 2014 Transgender Spectrum Conference at UMSL, the first of its kind in the area. She has spoken to many groups in the state of Missouri including doctors, medical students, educators in public and private schools, elected officials as well as various other organizations.


Will Copeland

Presenting: The Youth Journey of Gender Transitioning (Panel Discussion)

Will Copeland participated in the Movement Advancement Project, an independent think tank that provides research, insight and analysis to speed equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Will has been interviewed by newspapers, magazines, television and has spoken to many groups of doctors, educators and private school students. He is a recent graduate of Tulane University, and is relocating to New York this summer to work as an investment banker at Credit Suisse.


Bijal Desai-Ramirez 

Presenting: Experiences of Women of Color in the Workplace (Panel Discussion)

Bijal Desai-Ramirez is a consultant who works with nonprofits and startups on strategy, creative problem solving, and building capacity and operations. She has worked with organizations old and new, large and small, and across sectors for 15+ years. Most recently prior, Bijal co-founded and was COO of Filament. She has an interdisciplinary perspective and an integrated approach to solving big tangly problems in healthcare, consumer packaged goods, education and youth development, diversity and inclusion, and consulting.  


Astad Dhunjisha

Global Lead – Talent Acquisition, Inclusion, Diversity and Compliance

Presenting: Journey From Diversity to Inclusion: Using Advanced Inclusion Metrics to Create a More Diverse, Better Performing Organization

Astad Dhunjisha is a Human Resources professional with over 15 years of experience across two continents.  As Monsanto’s Global Lead – Talent Acquisition, Inclusion, Diversity and Compliance, he leads a global team of over 50 professionals that recruits employees and creates an inclusive workplace to power Monsanto’s vision to create sustainable agriculture that feeds the world. The team’s initiatives attract a globally representative, highly talented, diverse, engaged workforce into an inclusive work environment.    


David Dwight

Founding Team Member and Communications and Strategy Catalyst, Forward Through Ferguson

Presenting: Healing our Community: Forward Through Ferguson #STL2039

David Dwight serves as the Communications and Strategy Catalyst at Forward Through Ferguson, the organization carrying on the work and vision of the Ferguson Commission. While a student at Washington University in St. Louis, he co-founded Students in Solidarity—an organization that mobilized student activism after the killing of Michael Brown Jr. and lobbied university administrations to improve the experience of people of color on campus—which led him to center equity, justice, and advocacy as critical aspects of his career.


Kendra Elaine

Presenting: Attracting, Engaging, and Retaining Millennials

Kendra Elaine works with companies that want to increase employee productivity and retention but they struggle to understand their minority and millennial workforce. Prior to her becoming an entrepreneur, Kendra worked extensively in hospitality, project management, marketing, administrative, and customer service roles. She graduated from MICDS in St. Louis before getting her bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago. In 2017, she was honored as one of St. Louis’s Top 100 Urban Influencers by Delux Magazine.


James Fowlkes-Comninellis

Outreach and Resources Coordinator for the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Archdiocese of St. Louis

Presenting: Culture Versus Religion: Exploring How Culture and Religion Impact One Another

James Fowlkes-Comninellis is the Outreach and Resources Coordinator for the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. In this role he incorporates online, person-to-person and programmatic outreach to encourage greater understanding, respect and friendship between Christians of different traditions and peoples of different faiths. He is a member of the Byzantine Catholic Church and has a background in Evangelical Christianity.


Brittany Hogan

Coordinator of Educational Equity and Diversity, Rockwood School District

Presenting: Experiences of Women of Color in the Workplace (Panel Discussion)

Brittany Hogan is the Coordinator of Educational Equity and Diversity for the Rockwood School District. She leads the district’s department, overseeing the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation Program (VICC), and supporting district & school based initiatives around diversity, inclusion, and social justice.  A native of Chicago, Brittany has worked in the nonprofit and educational sector in the St. Louis region for ten years. She holds a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis.


Venerable Jue Huang

Director of Fo Guang Shan St Louis Buddhist Center

Presenting: Culture Versus Religion: Exploring How Culture and Religion Impact One Another

Venerable Jue Huang is originally from Taiwan.  She has graduated from De La Salle University, Philippines with BA degree in Political Science, and earned her Master Degree in Political Science at Fo Guang University, Taiwan.    

She renounced worldly life in 1999 and was ordained as a bikkhuni in the year 2000 at Fo Guang Shan Monastery, Taiwan.  As the result of both academic training and religious practice, Venerable Jue Huang has acquired knowledge and experiences in the fields of Buddhist Feminism, Fundamental Buddhist Theory, Meditative Skills, Buddhist Chanting Skills, and Humanistic (Pragmatic) Buddhism.

She is a trained leader for Boy Scouts of America and has served as the Chartered Organization Representative for Troop 8888 in Los Angeles for 10 years.  She is a certified instructor for the BSA Buddhist Religious Emblem.

Venerable Jue Huang is currently serving as the director of Fo Guang Shan St Louis Buddhist Center.  


Kelly Wickman Hurst

Facilitator, Crossroads Anti-Racism

Presenting: The Wall of History: How did we get where we are today?

Kelly Wickham Hurst is a longtime educator in both the private and public schools in Springfield, Illinois. She is a staff member for SCoDR (Springfield Coalition on Dismantling Racism and a facilitator with Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training. Kelly is the Executive Director of Being Black at School, a nonprofit organization that strives to utilize data and policy analysis to foster a movement for making schools safer and more equitable for Black students.


Alix Johnson
Alix Johnson

Youth Programs Manager, Diversity Awareness Partnership

Presenting: The Youth Journey of Gender Transitioning (moderator)

Alix Johnson is Youth Programs Manager for Diversity Awareness Partnership, overseeing the Give Respect, Get Respect program and the Diverse-City Art Competition. Their previous professional roles include: Sr. Project Coordinator on the Diversity, Inclusion and Corporate Giving team at Express Scripts; Corrections Officer for St. Louis County: and facilitator of courses and programs for AmeriCorps with Outward Bound Atlanta. They currently serve on the Webster Child Care Center board and volunteers with Metro Trans Umbrella Group.


Damion Jones, Ph.D.

Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Monsanto Company

Presenting: Journey From Diversity to Inclusion: Using Advanced Inclusion Metrics to Create a More Diverse, Better Performing Organization

Damion Jones is the Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Monsanto Company within their Talent Acquisition / Diversity and Inclusion / Compliance / Contingent Workforce Department.  He outlines the inclusion strategy & recommending actions in support of the executive I&D council’s functional & regional oversight of company culture and operations. In recent years, he led strategic enterprise-wide initiatives regarding the diversity dashboard design, mentoring and Unconscious Bias training, which reached thousands of leaders world-wide. Currently he leads Monsanto’s 21 Global Business Resource Networks (ERGs) strategy. 


Kim Lackey

Public Policy Team Manager, Paraquad

Presenting: Exploring the Social Model of Disability

Kim Lackey is the Public Policy Team Manager at Paraquad.  She conducts research and analysis of current disability rights laws and policy.  She is involved in advocacy projects focused on community access, access to affordable quality health care, employment, and public transportation.  Kim has presented at the National ADA Symposium and guest lectured at Washington University in St. Louis. She received her Bachelor of Science and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia.


 Christopher Lewis, M.D.

Presenting: The Youth Journey of Gender Transitioning (panel discussion)

Dr. Christopher Lewis helped lay the groundwork for The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, which opened on August 1, 2017. He is a lecturer at Washington University, other academic institutions, and national conferences promoting LGBTQIA health equality. His work was recently recognized by the Human Rights Campaign, the largest civil rights organization in the US fighting for LGBTQIA equality, and he is the recipient of the 2017 Human Rights Campaign Equality Award.


Keisha Mabry

Presenting: Navigating Microaggressions in the Workplace

Keisha Mabry is an author, speaker and social entrepreneur. She has been featured on NPR, the Nine Network, Fox 2 News, Next Step U, The Business Journal and Blavity for her work in personal branding and relationship building. Her recent TED Talk and her book Hey Friend: 100 Ways to Connect with 100 People in 100 Days are making the world friendly again. Keisha is an adjunct-lecturer at the Washington University in St Louis.


 Elizabeth Marengo

Director in Human Resources, Nestlé

Presenting: Experiences of Women of Color in the Workplace (Panel Discussion)

Elizabeth Marengo is a creative and accomplished organizational development professional with more than 15 years of experience in learning and organizational development who combines both strategic and tactical expertise to achieve organizational goals while maintaining a strong ability to adjust to mixed, fast-paced, changing environments.

Currently, as a Director in Human Resources for Nestlé, she is responsible for deploying key strategic HR initiatives to all of the Nestlé Operating companies in North and South America.  Most recently she served within the area of Organization Development for Nestlé Purina PetCare and was responsible for managing the Talent and Performance Management system and process and oversaw the Associate Development Curriculum for Nestlé Purina PetCare.  She still actively supports Diversity and Inclusion initiatives for Nestlé.

As part of her community involvement, Elizabeth serves on the Board of Directors for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Greater St. Louis Region, the HCC Foundation Board and the United Way.  In addition, she is the Chapter Director for Alpha Psi Lambda, National Inc. (Alpha Delta Chapter at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville – SIUE) which is a Latino Greek fraternal organization.   

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio and relocated to St. Louis, MO in 2008, Elizabeth Marengo, fluent Spanish speaker, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Kent State University (Kent, Ohio) and obtained her Master’s Degree in Organization Development and Change Management from Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio).  

She is a proud graduate of the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative – Fellows Program – Cohort 9, a member of the Regional Business Council Young Professionals Network Leadership 100 and recently recognized by the St. Louis Business Journal, “40 under 40” and “Hispanic Chamber Member of the Year”


Nicole (Nicci) Roach

Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion and Senior Director for Community Engagement, Webster University

Presenting: Experiences of Women of Color in the Workplace (Panel Discussion)

Nicole (Nicci) Roach serves as Webster University’s inaugural Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion and Senior Director for Community Engagement. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the School of Business and Technology – Management Department. Nicole is Co-Founder and COO of Mosaic Ceiling, a nonprofit organization with a mission of Empowering Women One Ceiling at a Time. You can hear her unpacking mentoring moments on the Pathways to Careers Talk Show on KSTL 690 AM.


Rabbi Dr. Neal Rose

Presenting: Culture Versus Religion: Exploring How Culture and Religion Impact One Another

Rabbi Dr. Neal Rose is a retired professor of religion from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. He is also a trained and practicing family therapist. He and his wife Carol have spent many years encouraging interreligious dialogue and received the 2015 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Advancement of Inter-Religious Understanding. Rabbi Rose is currently serving as Rabbinic Scholar for Congregation B’nai Amoona and as a chaplain for Jewish Family and Child Services working in elder care.


Meghan Roy

Presenting: Communication Across Difference in Toxic Political Times

Meghan Roy will soon receive a bachelor’s in social work from the University of Missouri Saint Louis. Born and raised in Jefferson County, Missouri, she recently went to Europe to study diversity and social justice within a different country. Meghan has volunteered as an English teacher to a Bosnian woman through the Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Program. She is completing the Facilitrainer Certification Program through her internship at NCCJ St. Louis.


Catrina Salama

Education and Training Manager, Diversity Awareness Partnership

Presenting: Listen. Talk. Learn. More: Continuing the Dialogue

Catrina Salama, Diversity Awareness Partnership’s Education and Training Manager, trains clients in diversity and inclusion and supports organizations in implementing diversity initiatives. Catrina holds a master’s degree in clinical adult psychology from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and an undergraduate degree in psychology from Webster University. Catrina also serves as adjunct faculty at Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville teaching about multicultural issues in psychology at the graduate and undergraduate level. In her previous role as Multicultural counselor, she provided mental health treatment to underrepresented students and developed outreach and programming specific to the needs of underrepresented students on campus.


Kelly Storck

Presenting: The Youth Journey of Gender Transitioning (Panel Discussion)

Kelly Storck, LCSW, has worked with gender-diverse clients for 10 years in her therapy and gender care practice, including as a facilitator for a gender-diverse children’s play group. Kelly’s first book, The Gender Identity Workbook for Kids: A Guide to Exploring Who You Are helps children and their caregivers learn about gender, understand the child’s unique gender and explore facets of social transition. Kelly’s work facilitates the greater health, well-being, and liberty of people of all genders. 


Mary Jean Traeger

Presenting: The Wall of History: How did we get where we are today?

Sister Mary Jean Traeger is a Dominican Sister of Springfield, Illinois. She is a staff member for SCoDR (Springfield Coalition on Dismantling Racism and an Apprentice with Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training.  Sr. Mary Jean completed two terms as prioress general of the Springfield Dominican Sisters, where she led the congregation in committing themselves to becoming an antiracist congregation. She has been active in antiracism work for more than 15 years.


Anna Warbelow

Director of Equity and Inclusion, Whitfield School

Presenting: Gender Identity and Expression 2.0

As the new Director of Equity and Inclusion at the Whitfield School, Anna Warbelow leads the institution’s efforts in inclusion-focused education and programming and the recruitment, retention, and support of a diverse faculty and student body. She previously served as the Associate Director of Campus Life at Washington University where she created and lead the University’s Faculty and Staff SafeZones program, which offers peer-based trainings focused on creating more inclusive environments for LGBTQIA+ students, staff, faculty, and community members.  


Aimee Wehmeier

President and CEO, Paraquad

Presenting: Exploring the Social Model of Disability

Aimee Wehmeier is the third President and CEO in Paraquad’s 48-year history. Paraquad is one of the first Centers for Independent Living (CIL) in the country. She is passionate about public policy, advocacy, and increasing opportunities for people with disabilities. A recipient of the 2010 Governor’s Council on Disabilities Inclusion Award and the 2015 St. Louis Business Journal Diverse Business Leaders’ Award, Aimee has been described as “the face of disability.”


 Chris Worth

Organizing Team Manager, Paraquad

Presenting: Exploring the Social Model of Disability

Chris Worth is the Organizing Team Manager at Paraquad. His team supports a grassroots coalition of people with disabilities and allies to advocate for disability rights in the St. Louis region. He also leads the Tuscher Institute Project, a platform offering trainings on disability culture, community organizing, and civic engagement. Chris holds a B.A. and an M.A. in Art from Marshall University, and certificates from the Industrial Areas Foundation and Missouri Jobs with Justice.