Diversity Awareness Partnership

2023 Diversity Summit Breakout Sessions

10:30am – 12:00pm | Breakout Sessions (1) 

Title: Reconsidering the Business Case for Disability: Are We Failing Disabled Talent? 

Description: When talking to employers about disabled talent, is the Business Case the most useful argument? Some studies do suggest disabled workers have higher levels of retention, take fewer days off, take fewer breaks, and are as, if not more, productive than their nondisabled peers. So why is the unemployment rate for people with disabilities still twice as high as their nondisabled peers? Furthermore, arguments that disabled employees are more loyal and engaged may not even be true. In this breakout session, Starkloff Disability Institute Disability Inclusion Consultant, Jason Hartsfield, will lead an exploration of the challenges and pitfalls of the Business Case, what really attracts disabled talent, and whether or not a better Business Case can be made.


  • Participants will be introduced to the realities of the disability experience in finding and keeping employment  
  • Participants will explore how the Business Case can inadvertently promote economic systems that disadvantage people with disabilities
  • Participants will have an opportunity to discuss and explore what really attracts and retains disabled talent 
  • Participants will use what they have learned to explore an alternative Business Case

Jason Hartsfield, Starkloff Disability Institute 


Title: Show Me State Hate: An Overview of Anti-LGBTQIA+ Policies and the Missouri Legislature

Description: Presenters will provide a brief overview of how policy is made in the Missouri State Legislature, an analysis of the anti-LGBTQIA+ policy wave sweeping the globe, the impact on queer and trans Missourians, and what people can do to impact community care. 


  • Participants will leave with a better understanding of the Missouri State Legislature
  • Participants will leave with a better understanding of anti-trans and anti-queer legislation both locally and nationally 
  • Participants will leave with a deeper awareness of how outraged and devastated LGBTQIA+ Missourians and their loved ones are feeling
  • Participants will leave with a call to action in their hearts for how they can create a ripple in the community care tidepool

Elizabeth Fuchs, Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis
Philip Deitch, St. Louis LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce 


Title: Community Wealth Building as a Model of Equitable Development  

Description: This presentation will introduce the concept of community wealth building and how it can be used to guide equitable development in communities who have been historically excluded or marginalized. The model seeks to build broadly-shared wealth through direct control of assets by community members for their own collective benefit. Examples that demonstrate this model, such as community land trusts and cooperatives, will be discussed. Attendees will be invited to envision how such assets could be built and shared in St. Louis and what steps we can take to make it a reality. 


  • Introduce the concept of community wealth building as a model for economic development through collective ownership and community control
  • Present examples, best practices, and institutional models to support this approach for lifting up dis-invested communities of color and counter the legacy of redlining and systemic racism
  • Stimulate imagination and brainstorming about how to apply this model to give residents of neglected populations the power and agency to build thriving communities

Chris Willcox, A Red Circle
Deborah Rice-Carter, A Red Circle 


1:00pm 2:30pm | Breakout Sessions (2) 

Title: Equity Champions: Building and Sustaining a Community of Anti-Racism Advocates

Description: In the summer of 2020, the murder of George Floyd and heightened xenophobia from the COVID-19 pandemic provided the awareness and impetus for the School of Medicine to name and address racism as a public health crisis. After intensive training and discussion among the school’s leadership, an anti-racism curriculum and capacity building strategy was set in motion. A key part of our capacity building strategy was to get resource and staff commitments from every department in the school of medicine. Launched in October of 2021, the Equity Champion program is a collection of faculty and staff experts tasked with readying their departments for anti-racism training.

For our interactive session, we will discuss issues important for getting buy-in across the institution, how the curriculum was developed to be consistent with our mission and values, and how we center equity when recruiting members to the program. Two of our Equity Champions will highlight the challenges and opportunities they faced in their department-specific rollouts. Participants will be given time to reflect and discuss alignment strategies specific to their home institutions, as well as participate in a portion of the anti-racism curriculum that can be adapted to their own organizations.


  • Create opportunities for dialogue around institutional values, cultures, and incentives for change
  • Inform participants about the Equity Champion Program and the institutional commitment necessary to skill up and bring together participants for change
  • Engage in a historical exploration of race and racism that participants can adapt to their own organization

Erin Stampp,
Washington University School of Medicine
Jeramia Ory, Washington University School of Medicine
Julian Magee, Washington University School of Medicine
Sha Neice Hinton, Washington University School of Medicine


Title: Creating a Successful Neurodiverse Work Environment  

Description: Through this training, we will help to empower individuals to embrace their neurodiversity at work, advocate for their needs, and identify strategies to reduce stress in the workplace. We additionally hope to help employers identify ways to better support and celebrate their neurodivergent employees. 


  • Identifying ways to “unmask” at work and how to support others as they unmask at work
  • Finding your voice—how to advocate for your own neurodiversity needs in an effective manner, as well as how employers can make sure that those voices are heard and needs are addressed
  • Identifying strategies to reduce stress in the workplace that can be utilized by employees and supported by employers

Michelle Fienup, Best Life Counseling, LLC 
Pagina Brown, Best Life Counseling, LLC 


Title: Racial Equity Capacity Building: Catalyze Organizational Change Through Data and Practice 

Description: More and more institutions—across sectors—realize the imperative of incorporating racial equity into their structure, policies, and practices; but they struggle with the how. The Racial Equity Roundtable is a facilitated monthly cohort model for these institutions. This session offers activities that engage the Roundtable’s main objectives: building a network of radically collaborative leaders, problem-solving, and creating an action plan to infuse racial equity in organizational transformation. Racial Equity Capacity Building is part of Forward Through Ferguson’s #STL2039 Action Plan to achieve a St. Louis region where racial equity is the reality by 2039—a generation after the killing of Michael Brown Jr. 


  • Understand how data + storytelling advance Racial Equity in organizations and systems
  • Map your progress on the Path to Racial Equity
  • Feel prepared to translate data + storytelling into action planning
  • Prepare 1-3 metrics to address existing organizational concerns around DEIAB and Racial Equity

Nichole Murphy, Forward Through Ferguson


2:45pm 4:15pm | Breakout Sessions (3) 

Title: Cultivating Psychological Safety by Interrupting White Supremacy Culture Together 

Description: During this session, we will explore the critical role of psychological safety in enabling all employees – especially those who are most marginalized – to thrive. Through personal reflection and group discussion, participants will identify what psychological safety looks like and name workplace barriers to achieving it. In particular, the group will examine the influence of white supremacy culture as an impediment to psychological safety. We will define white supremacy culture and its implications; as Tema Okun tells us, “white supremacy culture trains us all to internalize attitudes and behaviors that do not serve any of us.” We will explore these common attitudes and behaviors (e.g. perfectionism, either/or thinking, defensiveness) – how they show up in organizational culture and how we can interrupt them to benefit everyone. Participants will leave with a greater understanding of these terms and will feel more empowered to build a more psychologically safe environment in their own workplace.


  • Increase participants’ understanding of psychological safety and why it matters
  • Identify common barriers to psychological safety, including white supremacy culture
  • Define white supremacy culture and discuss its implications for workplace culture
  • Strengthen participants’ confidence to cultivate greater psychological safety in the workplace

Claire Schell, Claire Schell Consulting 


Title: Advancing an Age-Inclusive Society 

Description: In our society, ageism is pervasive, invisible, and harmful to individuals and communities; it is a major barrier to achieving long, fulfilling lives. Increasing awareness and understanding about age as an identity issue and how age intersects with other social identities is key to changing attitudes and implementing interventions to achieve age inclusivity. Age bias affects both young and old, regardless of identity. We, as a society, are living longer, and we are seeing ageism continue to show itself more than ever, in healthcare, the workplace, media, politics, and our day to day lives. With demographic trends projecting an older population that’s larger than the younger population by 2050, there are plenty of opportunities to harness the value that older adults bring to society. In St. Louis today, over 50% of the population comes from the Baby Boomer generation. In this session you will learn how ageism impacts people of all ages and how you can address this in your own life, both personally and professionally. In order to move forward in an equitable way, we must advance another narrative: that regardless of age we are all valuable contributors to our society.


  • Have an increased awareness about age as an ever-changing identity and how it intersects with other identities
  • Be able to define what ageism is, how it effects people of all ages, how prevalent it is, and its impact in different settings
  • Be able to learn practical steps to address ageism in a variety of settings (professional and/or personal)
  • Build capacity to foster age-inclusivity in organizations and communities

Natalie Galucia, Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging 


Title: Time for Change: Reimagining Funder + Nonprofit Relationships 

Description: This panel will provide an introduction to Community-Centric Fundraising and the role of participatory grant-making in making fundraising practices more equitable. Panelists who are representatives from Racial Healing + Justice Fund and the funders who are involved with the fund will demonstrate how the fund is at the forefront of designing and grappling with models for democratic, most-impacted-led, and participatory philanthropy. 


  • The reasons why the St. Louis philanthropic community decided to look for alternatives to the traditional funder/nonprofit relationship model 
  • The importance of communication and transparency when it comes to creating a collaborative project 
  • Suggestions on how your own community can implement this model 

Faybra Jabulani, Forward Through Ferguson
Rachel D’Souza-Siebert, Gladiator Consulting 


Click Here to Learn About the 2023 Presenters