Diversity Awareness Partnership

2019 Summit Sessions

10:15-11:30 AM | Breakout Sessions (1)



Title: Proactive and Reactive Approaches for Educators: Being Intentional Before and After Incidents Occur

Description: Organizations of all kinds need to be ready to respond to incidents that challenge our commitment to equity and inclusion. This session will focus specifically on ways that educational environments can respond to such incidents but also how to proactively lessen the likelihood of incidents happening at all.


  • Examine a multifaceted approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion work that creates a positive culture of accountability
  • Explore approaches and engage with resources to assist in developing comprehensive action plans to address incidents as they occur

Tabari Coleman, ADL Heartland
Dewitt Campbell III, NCCJ St. Louis


Title: Atheists Aren’t So Scary: Including Non-Religious People 

Description: Even organizations and groups which understand the importance of being welcoming to people of many different religions often fail to welcome one of the largest “religious” demographics in America: those without faith or belief in a god. Many harmful stereotypes exist about atheists and the nonreligious, and in this workshop you’ll learn to avoid those stereotypes and make your group more welcoming to people who live without faith.


  • Better understand nonreligious people: what they believe and don’t believe, and why the harmful stereotypes about them are false
  • Be able to create an environment which is respectful of and welcoming to nonreligious people
  • Appreciate the diversity of non-religious people

James Croft, Ethical Society of St. Louis


Title: Equitable Practices for Developing Employees with Disabilities (Panel Discussion)

Description: So much of any discussion on including employees with disabilities tends to focus on the hiring process alone. This panel of local experts and advocates will expand the discussion into the rest of an employee’s path through an organization, provide insight on how to retain and support employees with disabilities in a thriving environment.


  • Describe practical strategies for managers to support employees with disabilities in order to increase retention
  • Identify challenges that may impede inclusion and equity for employees with disabilities

David Newburger, Office on the Disabled and Starkloff Disability Institute
Jennifer Higginbotham, Independence Center
Aimee Wehmeier (Moderator), Paraquad


Title: Why Didn’t I Say Something: Moving from Bystander to Upstander

Description: “That is so gay.” “Well, he doesn’t look Jewish to me.” “Did you hear that joke about the….” Have you experienced instances in your personal or professional environment where you have been a witness to bias, or to divisive or racist behaviors? Did you walk away and think to yourself, “I should have said something,” but you just didn’t know what to say? This interactive session will focus on ways to recognize and manage these situations in delicate environments and have brave, courageous conversations. Participants will walk away with confidence and tools to move from being a bystander to an upstander.


  • Recognizing micro-inequities and how to respond
  • Leveraging power and privilege to be an upstander vs. a bystander in everyday situations
  • Tools on how to have courageous conversations about inequities to gain allies and not enemies

Angela Cody, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals
Elizabeth Fuchs, Social Justice Activist, Consultant

1:00-2:15 PM | Breakout Sessions (2)


Title: How Can We Be Better Together? A Conversation About Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Consolidation

Description: Better Together’s research has shown that our fragmented, outdated, and inefficient government system contributes to segregation and inequity. We are working hard to listen and learn from all parts of the St. Louis community on these topics. In this breakout session, we’ll work together to understand how our municipal government could promote diversity, inclusion, and equity, and work together to understand ways future consolidation efforts could advance the community’s goals.


  • Understand how local government in the region contributes to inequitable outcomes.
  • Be part of a courageous conversation how municipal government could promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community.
  • Identify and discuss ways a future consolidation effort could proactively improve diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Molly Dwyer, Better Together
Larry Davis, Jr., Better Together
Marshida Harris, Better Together
Ashley Williams, Better Together


Title: What It Really Means To Be Intersectional

Description: Recently, “intersectionality” has become a buzz word, often used inaccurately. In this session we will discuss the origins of Kimberlé Crenshaw’s coined term intersectionality, which focuses on institutional oppression and the implications of racism, sexism, and homophobia. Moving beyond individual identities, this session will focus on creating safer work environments and more equitable institutions through an intersectional approach. Participants will be provided with examples, applicable tools, and space to process and ask questions.


  • Participants will gain a deeper understanding of intersectionality and associated terms and concepts
  • Participants will learn to implement an intersectional approach in their own environments

Alexis Templeton


Title: Immigration and Innovation: How Foreign-Born Residents Can Strengthen Your Organization

Description: Questions to be addressed during this session are: Who are the skilled immigrants in the STL region? What assets do immigrants bring to an organization? What linguistic and cultural issues might be limiting an organization’s ability to capitalize on their immigrant employees’ talents?


  • Increase awareness about the skilled immigrant workforce in St. Louis  
  • Identify linguistic and cultural issues that can affect an organization’s ability to fully capitalize on their immigrant employees’ talents
  • Explore how an organization can proactively address such issues

Anita Barker, International Institute of St. Louis


Title: Beyond Hiring: Business Considerations for Inclusion after the Interview

Description: Make inclusion and diversity part of your company culture. People will hire based on “fit” — and that often means “people like us.” If we find a way to appeal to everyone and become a magnet for openness, diversity and inclusion, we will have stronger companies and stronger futures.


  • Learn to gain stakeholder support by using metrics to build credibility for HR initiatives in hiring, engagement, and retention
  • Learn to leverage diversity training that moves beyond compliance
  • Learn to foster inclusion across the organization

Kwana Cannon, Cigna

2:30-3:45 PM | Breakout Sessions (3)


: LGBTQ+ Discrimination: The State of the Law

Description: This session will provide an overview of discrimination laws, with an emphasis on LGBTQ+ discrimination prohibitions/protections.


  • Understand the basic vocabulary used to discuss various LGBTQ concepts (sexual orientation vs. gender identity, etc.)
  • Understand the basics of federal and state discrimination laws
  • Understand the prohibitions against (or lack thereof!) sexual orientation discrimination
  • Understand the prohibitions against (or lack thereof!) gender identity discrimination

Mollie Mohan, Tueth Keeney Cooper Mohan & Jackstadt, PC


Title: D&I Strategy vs. D&I Execution

Description: In this interactive workshop, Lathon Ferguson will share his experience in navigating organizations that are large and dedicated to diversity and inclusion, but are still in the initial phase of agreeing upon the best approach and direction to accomplish this goal. You will also have an opportunity to share your personal and organizational journey and exchange best practices.


  • Understanding how to assess the climate of your organization regarding Diversity and Inclusion
  • Navigating complex, hierarchical, de-centralized organizations to generate sponsorship for your D&I efforts

Lathon Ferguson, Mercy


Title: The Work Before the Work: Laying the Cultural Foundation for DEI

Description: If you’re at this Summit, chances are high that you understand the importance of inclusion, equity, and diversity. However, operationalizing the work associated with shifting your culture to reflect your value of every person within your company in everything you do is challenging work. What can existing organizations learn from early-stage startups that are trying to build solid cultures as foundations upon which their diversity work can stand? In this highly interactive session, we’ll work through a few case scenarios of startups that are trying to get it right early on rather than fixing it later and uncover takeaways for organizations at every stage and size together.


  • Consider examples of early-stage organizations that are often smaller and less complex than larger, older organizational cultures
  • Look for evidence of an early focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as successes and gaps in executing on this focus
  • Identify learnings that might be applied to your own teams and organizations

Bijal Desai-Ramirez


Title: Lessons from the Academy: Surveying the DE&I Landscape

Description: College and university campuses across the country often face critical diversity, equity and inclusion issues before they fully manifest in other workplaces. This includes both the problems and solutions that affect staff, faculty, students, and other stakeholders. This session will survey the diversity and inclusion landscape in higher education and how its challenges and advances might affect your organization and stakeholders, regardless of sector.


  • Inform participants of changing diversity, equity, and inclusion vocabularies and values in gen-z college students
  • Discuss frameworks for building an “Inclusive College campus” and how those lessons can apply to your organization

Turan Mullins, Maryville University
Dr. Jonathan Smith, Saint Louis University