As we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the United States continues to face challenges in creating a truly inclusive and equitable society. Although many organizations dedicated to diversity, inclusion, and civil and human rights share similar visions, often they find themselves isolated from, or even at odds with one another. This conference offers participants an opportunity to gain the skills and tools needed to create real change through dialogue, coalition building, and inclusion training.

Emerging Issues

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
9:00 am – 5:00 pm

The purpose of this one-day forum is to convene leaders from different sectors and areas of expertise, to engage in thoughtful dialogue on the controversial diversity and equity issues we face in our organizations, communities, and society. Top thought leaders in diversity and inclusion will work together to identify the major challenges we face, now and in the future, in achieving our goal of a truly equitable and inclusive society.

We will engage in thought-provoking discussions not only to address the issues that keep us up at night, but to tap into how these issues impact us personally and professionally. Diversity leaders will share best practices and develop collaborative strategies for tackling these emerging issues.


Elizabeth P. Salett, NMCI’s President and Founder welcomes conferees to the fall 2009 Diversity Leadership Conference, and introduces Margaret Regan, President and CEO of FutureWork Institute, who presents responses to the Emerging Issues Survey.

Identifying the Issues

It is vital that diversity practitioners gain a clearer understanding of the typology of challenges facing them as they perform and promote high quality work. Based on a pre-conference survey that will help identify issues vital to practitioners, this segment, led by Dr. David Campt, will use small group dialogue and audience polling technology – itself a rapidly spreading tool in the arsenal of practitioners – to create an understanding of what we thank about key areas of work, our strengths and learning edges, and which aspects of our challenges we have particular passions for.

Exploring the Personal Impact on Diversity Leaders

As we delve into the advances and challenges identified above, it will be important to reflect on the impact of these issues on each of us as individuals. This dynamic and interactive session with National Playback Theatre uses non-scripted theater to bring feelings, possibilities, and stories to life. Through movement, music, and improvisation, we discover and reinforce our common humanity. This model deepens and enhances dialogue by uncovering world views to enhance understanding, empathy, and trust.

Addressing the Issues: The World Cafe

FutureWork Institute consultants, including Margaret Regan and Tanya Odom, will lead us through an innovative yet simple methodology for addressing the major diversity issues we face now and in the future. Each participant will have an opportunity to engage in conversations at several issue specific tables, where a table host and “talking object” will encourage everyone to participate. Our conversations will link and build on each other as we move between groups through several conversational rounds; cross-pollinate ideas; and discover new insights from the diverse perspectives and best practice ideas of our colleagues

Moving from Dialogue to Action

Now that we have identified and examined emerging issues, what will we do about it? Based on the key themes that emerge during the day, we will have the opportunity to break out into small groups, where we will engage in facilitated action planning to identify concrete next steps for tackling the specific diversity challenges of our choice; determine potential collaborative partnerships; and report back strategies and practices to the large group at the close of the Forum.

NMCI and FWI thank the National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation for its assistance in conceptualizing and organizing this day.

Diversity Dialogues

Thursday, November 19, 2009
9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Controversy is a fact of life when dealing with some of the more difficult diversity discussions throughout our organizations. Often questions are posed and emotions take over when we hear questions such as:

  • How can I support our GLBT affinity group and be true to my religious beliefs?
  • When we keep talking about these broad defintions of diversity and inclusion, does that mean we think we have solved the issues of women and people of color in our organization?
  • Can you believe that our youngest staff member expects a promotion after six months on the job?
  • Why are we focusing on microinequities? What about the racist and sexist macroinequities I face ever day?

Our 24/7 media, the public’s appetite for conflict, and the passions of employees about many of these issues can lead to debate that will trump dialogue as a means of communication. In these skill-building sessions, participants will have the opportunity to hone their skills by practicing a number of well-known approaches to dialogue on some of the most contentious contemporary diversity and inclusion issues.

Each of these sessions will take a specific look, present the issues on both sides, introduce a proven method of dialogue on the issues and provide skill practice in small groups. Materials will also be available so that these techniques can be used and taught back at your work place.

Session A: Religion and GLBT Issues

“My religious beliefs make if difficult for me to support gay people/agendas in the workplace.”

“My belief in full equality for GLBT individuals makes it difficult for me to support employees whose religious views would discriminate against those rights.”

Gregory Hauck and Andrea Cisco, FWI consultants, will offer skill-building for how to address value-based conflicts.

Session B: Race/Ethnicity Issues

“Our diversity efforts need to focus on getting more women and people of color into leadership.”

“Our D & I efforts need to focus on everyone, including white men.”

FWI consultants Tanya Odom and Josy Laza Gallagher will teach participants how to have courageous conversations.

Session C: Generational Differences

“As Baby Boomers, we did whatever it took to get the job done, worked long hours and sacrified to help our organization succeed.”

“As Millennials, we believe that work should not be bound by time or place and we should work to live and not live to work.”

Margaret Regan and Kito K. Huggins, FWI consultants, will provide insights into turning debate into dialogue.

Session D: Macro- and Micro-Inequities at Work

“The recent focus on micro-inequities takes us away from addressing the real macro-inequities of racism and sexism which still stand in the way of women and people of color.”

“The real issue in diversity work revolves around everyday acts of exclusion, devaluation, subtle insults and gestures that sap our energy and sabotage our diversity efforts.”

FWI consultants Sandra Altine and Steve DeValk will give you the tools to point it out, check it out, and reconnect.

Diversity Leadership Institute

Thursday, November 19 – Saturday, November 21, 2009
9:00 am – 5:00 pm daily

The Diversity Leadership Institute provides participants with the skills they need to effectively manage and lead diverse organizations, build internal capacity for inclusive workplace practices, and drive organizational culture change. Fall workshops include:

A. Building Cultural Capabilities for an Inclusive Workplace (Introductory)

Facilitators: Emilio Williams and Eva Young

As organizations continue to become more aware of the value and impact of diversity in the work environment, it is critical to equip every employee and manager with knowledge and tools for becoming an effective member and leader of diverse and inclusive teams.

In this workshop participants will gain knowledge and skills to build and engage in diverse and inclusive work teams by: (1) understanding their own cultural lenses and how they affect perceptions and interactions with others; (2) recognizing when cultural factors may be influencing interpersonal dynamics; (3) examining models and theories of cultural competency; (4) communicating effectively across cultures; (5) resolving conflicts constructively; and (6) intervening in culturally offensive situations.

B. Training of Trainers I: Facilitating Diversity Awareness Workshops (Intermediate)

Faciliators: Sue Brotherton and Karyn Trader-Leigh

This workshop will enable participants to develop the curriculum customization and facilitation skills required to conduct training programs that promote individual behavior change and organization-wide culture change. Participants will learn how to facilitate NMCI’s well-tested cultural awareness curriculum, and explore its design and construction. Participants will also explore the underlying philosophies of adult learning and diversity training.

Participants will: (1) expand their own knowledge of diversity, inclusion, and cultural competency; (2) develop, practice, and receive feedback on facilitation skills; and (3) receive resources to adapt curriculum and apply it in their organizations. This session will also introduce participants to the benefits of working in multicultural teams and examine possible workshop predicaments, such as heated discussions and inappropriate comments.

C. Training of Trainers II: Training for Cultural Competence – Beyond the Basics

Faciliators: Ruth Littlejohn and Amber Mayes

Building cultural competency is a life-long learning process, and true organizational culture change occurs when individuals have continuous opportunities to learn and apply new knowledge and skills to work effectively in a diverse environment. The purpose of this workshop is to take diversity facilitators “beyond the basics” to create continuing in-depth educational programs to drive the organizational change initiative.

Participants will: (1) explore methods for creating a learning environment that extends beyond the training room; (2) develop techniques for assessing the needs of an organization and the training participants; (3) translate assessment results into a responsive curriculum; and (4) cultivate advanced facilitation skills for promoting behavior change.

D. Implementing Organizational Culture Change for Diversity and Inclusion (Advanced)

Facilitators: Manny Brandt and Dolores Fridge

Participants will explore models and tools for designing and implementing a diversity initiative that results in sustainable culture change. They will be introduced to the elements of a successful initiative, learn to link diversity to bottom line issues and build the business case for their organization. They will also learn what a successful diversity initiative “looks like,” address ways to obtain leadership buy-in; discuss approaches to over-coming roadblocks; and develop strategies for embedding diversity and inclusion principles into policies and procedures to enhance sustainability.

Special Events

Leading Lights Award Reception
Wednesday, November 18, 2009; 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

The Leading Lights Diversity Awards celebrate exemplary leaders in the nonprofit sector whose demonstrated courage, innovation, and commitment to diversity light a path to a more inclusive society.

“Ask the Diversity Experts” Luncheon
Thursday, November 19, 2009; 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm

Have you ever wanted to just sit down with someone who completely “gets” your industry-specific diversity challenges? Here’s your chance! This luncheon features leading experts in diversity in higher education, K-12 schools, government, health care, spirituality, mental health and human services, corporate, international NGOs, and environmental issues.

Dance as a Dimension of Diversity
Thursday, November 19, 2009; 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Over the course of human history, dance has been a vital form of cultural expression and celebration. This evening will take you on a world tour through the lens of dance, with performances, presentations, and demonstrations that range from Middle Eastern dancing to Caribbean rhythms to traditional African dance. So bring your dancing shoes and join us!

Conference Sponsors

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