Welcome to Diversity 3.0


Confirmed Speakers

General Session Speakers:


Tavis Smiley

From his celebrated conversations with world figures to his work to inspire the next generation of leaders, Tavis Smiley — broadcaster, author, publisher, advocate, and philanthropist — has emerged as an outstanding voice for change. Smiley is currently the host of the late-night television talk show Tavis Smiley on PBS, as well as The Tavis Smiley Show from Public Radio International (PRI).

Smiley has written 21 books. His memoir, What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America, became a New York Times Bestseller, and the book he edited, Covenant with Black America, became the first nonfiction book by a Black-owned publisher to reach #1 on The New York Times Bestseller’s list.

In the New York Times Bestseller, The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, Smiley and his co-author Dr. Cornel West challenge all Americans to re-examine their assumptions about poverty in America — what it really is and how to eradicate it.

Smiley’s book, My Journey With Maya, is being adapted as a stage play by Tony-winning director Kenny Leon. The book chronicles his almost thirty-year friendship with the iconic poet, Maya Angelou. Smiley’s 2014 New York Times Bestseller, Death of a King: The Real Story of  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Year, and his most recent text, Before You Judge Me: The Triumph and Tragedy of Michael Jackson’s Last Days, are both being developed as television event series with Emmy-winner J.J. Abrams and Smiley as co-producers, in partnership with Warner Brothers.

The nonprofit Tavis Smiley Foundation is in the midst of a $3 million four-year campaign called ENDING POVERTY: America’s Silent Spaces to alleviate endemic poverty in America.

TIME magazine has cited Smiley as one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People,” and Mr. Smiley has been honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Monica Marcel

Monica co-founded LCW in 2000 with Randall Stieghorst and a mission of inspiring professionals to connect across cultures. To every LCW client engagement, Monica brings a perspective that is rooted in experience on-the-ground in over 45 countries and work with dozens more, as well as 20+ years’ of leading communication, learning, and organizational development projects. Her primary role today is serving as LCW’s Master Consultant and Chief Engagement Leader for clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to world class universities and the U.S. Peace Corps; she helps them achieve cultural transformations, develop cultural competence, interrupt unconscious bias, engage global talent, and better connect to the local contexts in all the locations where they operate.

Recent client engagements include comparing gender equity strategies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) across world regions, assessing and developing executive leadership teams’ cultural competence and skillset for managing unconscious bias, setting global talent development and global diversity strategies, researching best practices for global Employee Resource Groups, benchmarking global ethics and compliance programs, and customizing skill-building suites for “Leading & Operating Globally” and “Managing bias in the selection process” as well as “Engaging & Developing Everyone” and “Building Innovative Teams through Inclusion”.

Monica earned her Master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, with a thesis focused on transportation, sustainability, and multi-organizational planning projects in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her undergraduate degree is from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. A brief fellowship in Sustainable Development Studies later brought her to the Institute for Future Studies in Stockholm, Sweden. Early in her career she was a senior program officer for the National Academies of Science and Engineering’s Transportation Research Board and a metropolitan planner with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Monica was a founding member on the Advisory Council for the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at the University of Illinois, and Adjunct Faculty at the Loyola University Chicago Graduate School of Business. She was also a board member for five years to the Society for Intercultural Education, Training, and Research (SIETAR-USA.)


Laura I. Gomez

Laura I. Gómez, is the Founder and CEO at Atipica, a venture-backed startup and founding member of Project Include.

As a young immigrant to Silicon Valley, Laura grew up in Redwood City, the daughter of a single mother and nanny to several local tech leaders. At the age of 17, Laura I. Gómez had her first internship with Hewlett-Packard, which started her career in tech.

Laura has worked at Google, YouTube, Jawbone, and Twitter, where she was a founding team member of the International team, which led Twitter’s product expansion into 50 languages and dozens of countries.

Her passion for diversity in tech extends into her startup, Atipica, as well as her involvement with several non­profit organizations. Her passion is to lead data-driven initiatives that allow top level leaders to understand the business benefits of automated and innovative tools for diversity recruiting and talent life cycle intelligence.

She has been recognized by the Department of State and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for involvement in the TechWomen Program – she was the only female leader at Twitter to participate in 2012. She also serves on the board of the Institute for Technology and Public Policy alongside Lt Governor Gavin Newsom and former Secretary of State George P Schultz.


Dr. Saundarya Rajesh

Founder-President of AVTAR Career Creators and FLEXI Careers India, Dr. Saundarya leads tripartite (community-organization-individual) engagements in Women’s workforce participation, Diversity training, Diversity Audits, Sensitization Training and Diversity Recruitment. But Dr. Saundarya’s biggest claim to fame is the undoubted fact that under her guidance and mentoring, India has seen the advent of formal Second Career programs for women, initiated by over a dozen large organizations leading to resurrection of the careers of several thousand women! She works with over 40,000 women managers as part of the AVTAR I-WIN network and has influenced the creation of gender inclusive policies by corporates.

FLEXI Careers India, a social enterprise founded by Dr. Saundarya is arguably India’s Number One expert on Women’s Careers. A much sought after speaker who is both practical and profound, Dr. Saundarya’s programs are featured in national and international forums. Last month, Dr. Saundarya addressed an elite forum of Diversity & Inclusion experts at New York on the topic of “Recruiting, Retaining and Raising Women Professionals – the India Story” – a session that received great acclaim for its insightful aspects on what the Indian Woman Professional needs and what Corporates can do about it.

Dr. Saundarya is one of India’s earliest voices to speak on Gender Diversity & Inclusion of Women. She has won a slew of awards including The Standard Chartered SCOPE Woman Exemplar Award 2006, The Yuvashakthi woman entrepreneur award 2007, the CavinKare Innovation Award 2011 and the TiE Stree Shakti Entrepreneur of the year award 2011. For her work in building and creating India’s first women’s careers service she was awarded the Swadeshi Jagran Manch Woman Entrepreneur Award, the FICCI FLO Woman Entrepreneur of the year award 2012, the Naturals Extraordinary Woman 2014 and the Jeppiaar Icon Award 2016. In Jan. 2016, she won the highly prestigious #100Women Achievers of India award in a public voting selection process and had lunch with the President of India! Recently, she was named to the United Nation’s List of “25 Women Transforming India” developed by the NITI Aayog.

If you ask Dr. Saundarya how she identifies herself, this is what she says, “I am a Mother, Wife, Daughter, Daughter-in-law, Sister, Friend and finally, an Entrepreneur!”


James O. Rodgers

James O. Rodgers CMC, MBA was recently elected to be a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC-USA). The Fellow of the Institute is the highest honor awarded in the management consulting profession.  Jim has been called a “keen observer of business from many perspectives” and is acknowledged by his colleagues as the leading strategist in the field of diversity and inclusion. Jim is the author of the groundbreaking book Managing Differently: Getting 100% from 100% of your people 100% of the time which changed the conversation about diversity and has been adopted as source material for a number of major MBA programs including Kellogg School of Management. His second book, Epiphany: Finding Truth without Losing Faith is designed to change the conversation about religious diversity.

James received a B.S.E.E. in Electrical Engineering from Howard University, an M.B.A. in Management from the University at Alabama, and is a Ph.D. candidate at Walden University. He was a Guest Facilitator for Georgia State University’s Leadership and Strategy M.B.A. course, and designed and presented an Executive Management course at Cornell University. He has been a Guest Presenter at Diversity, Innovation and Leadership events at Kellogg School of Management, Cornell University, and the University of Michigan, among other institutions. James has provided advice and counsel to over 200 companies including industry giants such as IBM, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, the Southern Company, AT&T, ThyssenKrupp Elevator and the YMCA. He is the thought leader for the concept of diversity management as a key business strategy, which he calls Deliberate Diversity™. Jim has become the leading resource for leaders who want to use diversity to achieve better business results. He teaches business owners and executive teams how to create tangible results by effectively managing people and valuing differences. Jim is also a spiritual teacher and a serial non-profit leader. He has chaired half dozen major non-profits like Habitat for Humanity and served as Vice-Chair of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
Nadine Vogel

Nadine Vogel is the CEO of Springboard Consulting LLC, a global company working with national and multinational corporations around the world to successfully mainstream disability in the global workforce, workplace and marketplace. Springboard also produces the world-renowned Disability Matters Conference and Awards.

Prior to founding Springboard, Nadine held a variety of executive positions in both Corporate America and the non-profit sectors.

Vogel is the author of DIVE IN, Springboard into the Profitability, Productivity and Potential of the Special Needs Workforce, a highly acclaimed must-read business book. She is a regular contributor to Profiles in Diversity Journal, Diversity MBA Magazine and Diversity Executive Magazine, and has authored articles for many other professional, industry and consumer publications.  Nadine is also recognized as a powerful informational, motivational and inspirational speaker. Recognized for her civic and professional activities, she has received and numerous awards and accolades.

Vogel received an MBA from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, CA and a BS in Industrial Psychology from the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC.  She resides in New Jersey with her husband and two daughters, both of whom have special needs.



Diana Hancock

Diana Hancock is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer for SPEAK MODalities LLC. SPEAK MODalities creates tablet apps which focus on the creation of communication skills for children with speech and language development issues. Our suite of products include capabilities to assess a child’s readiness for intervention, increase their functional communication skills by providing an alternative voice, engage them in early language learning, facilitate their natural speech development, enhance generalization skills, and expand their social circles as they learn.

Ms. Hancock has a Bachelors degree in Industrial Engineering and an MBA degree in Entrepreneurship from the University of Michigan. She is currently employed as the Director of Commercialization in the Information Technology department at Purdue University.



Anita Nahal, Ph.D., CDP

Poet, Children’s Books Author, Professor, Administrator, DIUB Consultant, & Founder & Chairperson, diversitydiscover.com.  Dr. Anita Nahal resides in New Jersey with her blessing, her son. Some of Nahal’s past positions include: Mellon Fellowship Program Administrator for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Assistant Provost for International Programs, Howard University, Washington D.C.; Visiting Associate Professor of History at the State University of New York at Binghamton, New York; and Associate Professor of History, Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi, India. She has been a visiting Scholar, Beatrice Bain Research Group on Gender, University of California at Berkeley, Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence, State University of New York at Binghamton, & an NEH Summer Seminar Award winner.  Besides two academic books, Nahal has one book of poems (Initiations-1988), & three children’s books, & over 30 articles in journals & blogs. She writes periodically on LinkedIn. Nahal’s most recent data oriented study on Ethnic and Cultural Diversity at HBCUs was published as a chapter in a book in 2015. Her recent poems can be found in Aberration LabyrinthBetter Than Starbucks, Confluence & aaduna. Nahal has travelled to over 15 countries, speaks three foreign languages, and comes from a family of writers and educationists. More info on Nahal at: http://diversitydiscover.com/founder.html



Workshop Session Speakers:

Greg Aguilar – is the Director of Talent Attraction & Retention at the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce in East Moline, Illinois.  Mr. Aguilar is responsible for working to build the reputation of the Quad Cities as a place where young professionals, entrepreneurs, artists, innovators and diverse populations are visible, engaged, and thriving in their careers and their community.  The position also takes the lead of the Young Professionals of the Quad Cities (YPQC) and other Chamber diversity and workforce initiatives. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish & Latin American Studies from the University of Iowa.

Michael Baran

Michael Baran – is a cultural anthropologist with more than twenty years of experience conducting and organizing ethnographic research for social change on a variety of issues, including race and identity, racial disparities in education, violence against children, healthy housing, environmental health, human services, criminal justice reform, immigration reform, climate change, and early childhood development. Dr. Baran has conducted research domestically and internationally, most extensively in Brazil, Guatemala, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Haiti.

He currently consults for businesses, schools and non-profits on issues related to diversity and inclusion, often incorporating the digital tools developed at Interactive Diversity Solutions as part of a blended approach. In this capacity, he has presented on diversity and inclusion issues to representatives from companies such as Starbucks, Boeing, Nordstrom and Costco. He has been quoted or featured in numerous articles on race in the media in sources such as the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Slate, Wired Magazine, CNN, CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and others.

In addition to his IDS work, he has taught courses on race and identity, Latin America, child development, expository writing and research methodology at Harvard University and the University of Michigan. He has worked as Associate Director at the FrameWorks Institute and currently works as a Principal Researcher at the American Institutes of Research. In that capacity, he manages the community-based research on a USAID-funded project aimed to leverage deep foundational research to better inform interventions and communications to reduce violence against children in Haiti. In this project and others, Baran builds capacity with teams of local researchers to conduct culturally relevant research and to support the long-term sustainability of multi-year, multi-method projects with previous funders including the MacArthur Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, UNICEF and the Bernard van Leer Foundation.

Dr. Baran received his B.A. from Emory University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology with a certificate in ‘Culture and Cognition’ from the University of Michigan. He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and is learning Haitian Creole.

Gustavo Bernal – has over 17 years of experience creating and executing creative concepts and solutions to build and increase brand awareness that supports the corporate and brand strategic plans and goals for companies in the Latin American and US markets. Mr. Bernal is both Bilingual and bicultural in English and Spanish. He has a Bachelors in Marketing and Advertising from the Universidad Politecnico Grancolombiano in Bogota, Colombia. Mr. Bernal is currently a Senior Marketing Strategist at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.

Sarika Bhakta, CDP – is President of Nikeya Diversity Consulting LLC specializing in delivering Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Engagement business solutions enterprise-wide to drive performance and financial outcomes. She also facilitates community engagement/dialogue to enhance both quality of life and promote workforce attraction/retention initiatives for regions and states. Bhakta is a strong business development professional who has over 19 years of extensive experience as a change agent with a proven track record of turning operations/systems around to operating in the black.

 As a visionary leader and strategist, Bhakta’s professional career spans serving diverse populations, talent acquisition and management, workplace inclusion, community development/engagement and economic development.  Additionally she is skilled in professional training, management, organizational development, systems management, RFP, parking operations, and resource development.

At Youth Guidance she advocated for underserved/underrepresented groups and then in her role as the COO of the local American Red Cross chapter in Cedar Rapids, IA she ensured the team was diverse and trained in cultural competency to respond to anyone in need. Disasters do not discriminate who it impacts.  After the Red Cross Bhakta was with the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance (similar to one’s chamber of commerce but with wider optics on regionalism focusing on community/economic development business support and regional branding).

Bhakta was the 2013 honoree for the Corridor Business Journal’s Forty Under 40. Her passion is serving the community and enhancing the quality of life and to this endeavor she currently serves on various boards/committees: Iowa Asian Alliance, AsianFest, Freedom Festival, Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance Leadership for Five Seasons and Linn-Mar Community School District (District Equity Committee and PTO). Past volunteer/community affiliations: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Iowa City Noon Rotary, Toastmasters, United Way of East Central Iowa.

Bhakta received her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and resides with her husband and two children in Cedar Rapids, IA.

Dr. Linda Burrs

Dr. Linda Burrs – is the President and Principal Consultant of the Step Up to Success! consulting firm that focuses on leadership and organizational strategies for leaders, teams and individuals. For more than 25 years, Dr. Burrs has brought her rich dynamic approach to the corporate and professional training arena. The breadth of her experience crosses all walks of social and organizational life including law firms, technology organizations, educators, business professionals, leadership groups and non-profit groups.

Dr. Burrs served as Interim Program Director for the Emerging Leader Program at the University of Dayton’s Center for Leadership and Executive Development. In that role, she designed curriculum and developed programs for the Emerging Leader program. She remains an active presenter for the center’s Management Development Training series. As Faculty at the University of Phoenix Cincinnati campus and Dayton Learning Center, Dr. Burrs facilitates learning in courses such as: Organizational Behavior, Management, Transformational Leadership, Cultural Diversity,

Mediation and Conflict Resolution and Human Resources Management. She is adjunct faculty and guest lecturer at McGregor’s School of Business for students in the MBA program. Dr. Burrs began working with doctoral learners at North Central University teaching courses in Research Methods and Design. She serves on 5 doctoral candidate’s dissertation research committees.

Linda designs and delivers targeted and successful curriculum for coaching interventions and development programs intended to measurably improve personal, leadership and organizational performance. Her experience, enthusiasm, and high energy provide the foundation for your memorable, life-changing, inspirational experience. When you attend a Step Up To Success! program, you walk away with improved communication skills, better self-management skills, enhanced interpersonal skills and a clearer understanding of your individual strengths and how they contribute to your success both organizationally, professionally, and personally. Linda is a Past Chair of the Great Lakes Region of the Association for Psychological Type (2004-2006) and is a Past President of the Greater Dayton Area Chapter of the Association of Psychological Type in Dayton.

Michael John Carley

Michael John Carley – received his B.A. from Hampshire College, and his M.F.A. from Columbia University. As the Founder, and first Executive Director of GRASP, the largest organization comprised of adults on the autism spectrum, he spoke at over 100 conferences, hospitals, universities, and health care organizations. As the Executive Director of ASTEP, he spoke at conferences focusing on Human Resources, Corporate Diversity & Inclusion, and he conducted numerous trainings and webinars for individual Fortune 1000 companies. He was one of two people on the spectrum to address Congress in their first-ever hearings on autism, he has addressed the United Nations, and his articles have been published in magazines such as Autism Spectrum News, Autism Spectrum Quarterly, and Autism/Asperger Digest. He has a column with Huffington Post (“Autism Without Fear”) and his first two books, Asperger’s From the Inside Out: A Supportive and Practical Guide for Anyone with Asperger’s Syndrome (Penguin/Perigee, April, 2008) and Unemployed on the Autism Spectrum (Jessica Kingsley, February, 2016) were both released to humbling advance reviews. He has also finished two more books; a) “Why Am I Afraid of Sex?” Building Sexual Confidence in the Autism Spectrum . . . and Maybe Everyone Else!; and b) The Last Memoir of Asperger’s Syndrome.

Until 2001, Mr. Carley was the United Nations Representative of Veterans for Peace, Inc. In that time, he was known primarily for his work in Bosnia, and in Iraq as the Project Director of the internationally acclaimed Iraq Water Project. Prior to 2001 he was also a playwright who enjoyed 15 productions and 10 readings of his plays in New York.

Along with his (then) 4-year old son, he was diagnosed with AS in November of 2000. He lives with his wife, Kathryn Herzog, and 2 sons in Green Bay, Wisconsin. After decades of New York City, they recently moved to the Midwest to take care of family, work as a School Consultant, and write on a porch—when it isn’t freezing.


Kesha Carter, CDP – has over 10 years of experience with Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. Prior to becoming the Diversity & Inclusion Specialist, Kesha was a Learning and Performance Professional in the Customer Care Department where she was responsible for the design and delivery of various training courses for new and existing Customer Care Advocates. In 2015, Kesha obtained her CPD (Certified Diversity Professional) credentials.

Kesha obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Management from Keuka College where she graduated at Cum Laude. During her studies at Keuka, Kesha was inducted into the National Honor Society and also obtained a Six Sigma Green Belt. She also obtained her Master of Arts degree in Business Management from Keuka College and graduated Cum Laude at this level of education as well.

Kesha is the current Vice president of the Greater Rochester Martin Luther King Jr, Commission, Vice President of Black Women’s Leadership Forum (BWLF), a mentor for Operation Transformation Rochester (OTR), a board member of Celebration of Life Community, Inc., a committee chair for the parent program within Celebration of Life, a reading tutor in the Help Me Read Program and was elected as co-representative for the 2014 AALDP class through the United Way of Greater Rochester.

Kesha resides in Rochester with her husband Joe and their two children Mesha and Joseph Jr.

Dwain Celistan – serves as a Managing Partner and leader of the Global Diversity Practice for DHR International in the firm’s Chicago office. He is also a member of the Consumer, Marketing, Financial Services, Industrial and Private Equity practice areas.

His clients have included over ten Fortune 500 firms, an assortment of family-owned, private equity-backed firms and universities. His consultative approach and significant corporate leadership experience have helped clients refine their position specifications and better clarify the “right” candidate.

Prior to recruiting, he held senior Marketing, Sales and General Management positions in the US and UK, for large firms in the consumer, industrial and retail arenas. His experience includes roles of Vice-President Marketing and Sales with a staff of nearly 100 professionals and budget of $100MM, and as a Senior Vice-President of Marketing for a $1B division. Importantly, during his career he has reversed declining businesses and accelerated the growth of businesses in multiple roles.

Dwain has coached leaders to help them realize their career goals and improve their productivity. As part of this work, he has published four books, including Recruiter’s Guide to Hiring Diverse Leaders and You’re Hired! Actions to Get and Keep the Job of Your Dreams.

Dwain is a graduate of Loyola University and has an MBA from Atlanta University. He has done postgraduate work at Cornell and Stanford universities.

Eduardo Crespo – is a bilingual/bicultural professional with over 20 years of regional/national US Hispanic and Latin American marketing and recruitment experience. Increasing awareness about these markets and providing strategic thinking, generating new business, creating “out of the box” solutions, and managing accounts are his core strengths. Eduardo is CEO of Hispanic Market Solution, which serves start-ups and Fortune 500’s by providing inherent knowledge of the Hispanic community. Eduardo has a Bachelors in Economics from the University of Massachusetts Boston and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Northeastern University.


Kim Edson – is the Human Resources Manager for Sandia National Laboratories California Site. Sandia National Laboratories is operated and managed by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation. Sandia Corporation operates Sandia National Laboratories as a contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and delivers essential science and technology to resolve the nation’s most challenging security issues. Kim leads the California Site Human Resources team, which includes Diversity and Inclusion, EEO and Affirmative Action Planning, Immigration, Employee Relations, Talent Management, Performance, Compensation, Talent Acquisition, Workforce Analytics, Learning and Development, the Student Intern Program, and the HR Business Partner team.  She is responsible for providing strategic direction and overseeing the development and effective execution of large-scale company programs and initiatives.

Kim has worked in Human Resources for more than 30 years. Prior to joining Sandia, she was the Senior Manager of Human Resources Operations and Learning and Development at FormFactor, a fast growing start-up engineering firm. Prior to that Kim served as the Human Resources Director for the Human Resources Business Partner organization at MetLife, a Fortune 50 financial services organization. Her team provided Human Resources support to over 10,000 employees in over 300 offices nationwide at MetLife Financial Services and New England Financial in the areas of Performance, Compensation, Employee Relations, Talent Management, and Mergers and acquisitions.

Kim has a passion for Diversity and Inclusion and believes that employees should be encouraged to bring their full selves to work. She believes that organizations will truly thrive and be successful if the environment is one where employees can have their voices heard and contribute to their full potential.

Kim received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Employee Relations from Golden Gate University in 1995, and a Master of Science Degree in Human Resources Management from Golden Gate University in 1998. Kim also has a PHR (Professional in Human Resources) certification.


Katrina Neely Farren-Eller, Ph.D. – is a coordinator for Inclusive Dubuque.

Inclusive Dubuque is a local network of leaders from faith, labor, education, business, nonprofit and government dedicated to advancing justice and social equity in the Dubuque community. The growing network includes individuals from all these areas committed to a common cause: a community where all people feel respected, valued and engaged.

Network partners gather monthly to share their perspectives on diversity, equity and inclusion in our community. They support and learn from each other, working together to discover best practices to help their employees, customers, supporters and volunteers to feel welcome in Dubuque.

As the Coordinator of Inclusive Dubuque, Katrina’s role is to facilitate and strengthen the relationship amongst Inclusive Dubuque network partners as well as the relationship between partners and the local community.

Inclusive Dubuque is currently in the midst of a long-term project that includes gathering data through local surveys, community dialogues, and census information in order to develop a robust community equity profile. Once the data is collected and evaluated, network partners, in conjunction with the community, will help determine the 3-5 year trajectory of Inclusive Dubuque initiatives. Katrina will help facilitate these initiatives.


Torin Ellis – is a People Strategist, focused on the business need of recruiting diverse talent using various creative methods. Torin has an accomplished background that includes 17 years of Recruitment and Sourcing efforts, military service, several Board of Director appointments and unwavering spirit of giving back to the community and emerging youth.

Torin Ellis branded companies description: For individuals, Torin has a passion for bringing calm, encouragement and process to what many have deemed a stressful life event – the job interview. For clients, that passion is extended through his work with Business and C-Suite decision makers using the leadership lens.

Strategically, Torin pursues a top down process broken into parts: discovery, implementation, and the recruiting function. Tactically, he curates engagement and experiential solutions that activate and identify proven talent and build high performing teams. His team provides candidate coaching, candidate validation, boot camps for undergraduates, documentary films, hybrid recruiting search and recruitment marketing services. The brand includes Monday Mover, Rip The Resume, Second Motive, and Talentphlo. An advocate for diversity and inclusion, Mr. Ellis was named Top Recruiter in Top Recruiter Season 4, Reign of the Bosses.

Torin served as an advisor in Season 5 (London/Paris). His book, Rip The Resume, an interview preparation resource for 18 to 30 years old job seekers, was published by Petersons (September 2016).

Apoorva Gandhi

Apoorva Gandhi – As Vice President for Multi-Cultural Affairs for Marriott International, Apoorva Gandhi is responsible for creating and executing an externally-focused global strategy that builds preference and loyalty from diverse customer segments for the Marriott portfolio of brands. He helps ensure the company’s marketing, sales and operations consider and reflect multi-cultural markets and public affairs as Marriott continues its aggressive growth throughout the world.

Mr. Gandhi has nearly 25 years of proven strategy, business process, program management and organizational change skills, leadership and delivery expertise. He also has extensive management and delivery experience working with diverse business clients and a solid track record delivering measurable success to clients across various business disciplines.

Mr. Gandhi is an honors graduate of the University of Maryland, School of Business and Management. He is a member of the J.W. Marriott, Jr., Diversity Award committee, Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity and Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Society. Apoorva lives in Bethesda, Md. with his wife and three children. In his free time, he enjoys travel, playing ice hockey and listening to music (loudly).

Martin George, Ph.D. – is the CEO of LTC Language Solutions headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana with a branch in Orlando, Florida. LTC offers language training, interpreting, translation, & other language services locally, nationally & internationally since 1993. Martin has had the opportunity to have set up language programs in over 1,000 local & international companies. He also has extensive experience in language education including professional publications, teacher training &speaking engagements at national/international conferences. Martin has a Bachelors in Education from Ball State University, as well as a M.S. and Ph.D. degree in Language Education from Indiana University Bloomington.

Mark Gorkin – MSW, LICSW, “The Stress Doc” ™, a nationally acclaimed speaker, writer, and “Psychohumorist” ™, and a Visiting Leadership Coach/Training Consultant for the international Embry-Riddle Aeronautics University/Daytona, FL headquarters. Mark is a founding partner and Stress Resilience and Trauma Debriefing Consultant for the Nepali Diaspora Behavioral Health & Wellness Initiative. A former Stress and Violence Prevention Consultant for the US Postal Service, he has led numerous Pre-Deployment Stress Resilience-Humor-Team Building Retreats for the US Army.

Presently Mark does Critical Incident Debriefing for organizational/corporate clients of Business Health Services. The Doc is the author of Practice Safe Stress, The Four Faces of Anger, and Preserving Human Touch in a High-Tech World. Mark’s award-winning, USA Today Online “HotSite” – www.stressdoc.com – was called a “workplace resource” by National Public Radio (NPR).

Dr. Lonie Haynes – Currently, Dr. Haynes is the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for Highmark Health, a $17 Billion dollar private healthcare company and the third largest integrated health delivery network in the United States, with over 35,000 employees, serving 50 million customers in 50 states and the District of Columbia. He reports directly to the corporation’s EVP & CHRO, and has a dotted line to the Diversity Committee of the Board of Directors. As the organization’s chief diversity officer he drives the development and implementation of a broad based diversity strategy for a multifaceted health enterprise comprising of hospitals, vision and dental care and health insurance.

Prior to his arrival at Highmark, Dr. Haynes spent over twenty years across multiple silos: Diversity and Inclusion, Operations, Human Resources and Customer Care at AT&T, Sprint, Bell South, and the US Army. He has broad based experience in developing and managing global diversity programs and teams in the Americas, EMEA and APAC.

A cultural anthropologist and organizational scientist, Dr. Haynes earned his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Albany (SUNY) and holds three post graduate degrees; a Master’s (MSc) in Management from Boston University, an (MPA) Master’s in Public Administration, with concentrations in Philanthropy and Public Health, from The City University of New York (CUNY), where he was a National Urban Fellow and in 2012 he was awarded a Doctorate (DL.P) in Law and Policy from Northeastern University, where his doctoral thesis addressed ‘Workforce Diversity’.

Dr. Haynes is a national board member of the AAPD -American Association of People with Disabilities. Dr. Haynes a US Army Veteran is also an occasional commentator for such outlets as: Bloomberg Media and Huffington Post.


Viet Hoang – Viet Hoang is a partner at Pint Size Ideas, a creative training group that explores the intersection of business, science and art. He has been in talent development for over fifteen years and works with clients in retail, entertainment, advertising, higher education, public education, manufacturing, non-profit, and government. Viet is a Senior Professional in Human Resources (HRCI), and a Senior Certified HR Professional (SHRM). He speaks and trains on the topics of leadership, talent development, and communication, and is a regular contributor at conferences including the Association for Talent Development, Professionals in Human Resources Association, and California Lawyers for the Arts Association.

Viet is a founding member of two LA-based improv troupes and serves on several non-profit boards. He enjoys making documentary films, particularly ones that capture the human spirit.

Scott Hoesman – is an accomplished and sought-after speaker, executive facilitator, author and senior organizational strategist, Scott is best known for his ability to implement full-scale, long-term people strategies across a wide spectrum of industries and geographies. His approach is based on three strategic pillars that he believes are critical components for sustained success:  include, engage and innovate.

Scott’s career spans 25 years covering a variety of leadership roles in sales, operations and corporate strategic planning. Prior to starting inQUEST, Scott led three leading D&I consultancy organizations and held executive roles at Bank One (now Chase). These experiences support his strategic thinking and provide a sound operational and financial approach to his collaboration with clients.

Scott’s focus is on helping individuals, teams and organizations realize their full potential. He has deep subject matter expertise in disability and LGBT workplace inclusion initiatives.

Scott is certified by The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), Lominger, HBDI and Hogan Assessments. He is on the Executive Board of the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Corporate Advisory Board for the USBLN, the Board of the Chicago Business Leadership Network (CBLN) and the AbilityLinks Steering Committee.



Stacey Lawson – has a proven track record of developing and executing effective strategic HR programs which add significant value to the business. Stacey is a recognized author, coach, Human Resource Executive and mentor. With 20+ years of progressive HR expertise, she currently serves as the Director of Human Resources for Premier Health Partners in Ohio. Stacey has a Masters Degree from Wright State University, as well as certifications as a CDM, PHR, and SHRM-SCP.

Tekisha Lee – is the Founder and CEO of DiverseNote LLC. Tekisha brings fifteen (15) years of experience in the development, implementation and management of curriculum and strategic plans in different STEM industries for the purpose of introducing STEM to new audiences and for workforce planning. Her experience includes a strong understanding of and leadership in the areas of workforce development, economic development, job creation, technology, Federal government and social services for youth and young adults on a national as well as international capacity.

Tekisha’s client roster which public and private sector organizations as well as nonprofit organizations. Ms. Lee has also been appointed as a U.S. Department of State Delegate to the Maghreb, advising on job creation and economic development with other global leaders within the industry.

Tekisha Lee is the Founder and CEO of DiverseNote, the Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that provides outreach, career management, and recruitment services to students and professionals from the all-inclusive underrepresented community (all women, ethnic minorities, Veteran’s, the disabled, LGTBQ and others). DiverseNote provides an innovative approach to economic mobility and workforce management. To date, DiverseNote has a user base of over 2.5 Million career candidates.


Sara Minkara – As CEO and Founder of Empowerment Through Integration, Sara is an internationally recognized advocate in the areas of disability inclusion and social entrepreneurship. Sara, a blind woman, has a personal and professional commitment to disability rights and youth empowerment since she was an undergrad at Wellesley College and continued through her time at the Harvard Kennedy School. ETI was founded from her personal experience of losing her sight at the age of 7 and challenging all misconceptions about disability throughout her career. Since starting ETI, she has continued her work in the social sector while also growing ETI from a summer camp to an organization that today reaches over 3,000 across Lebanon and the United States.

Sara has received numerous awards for her passionate advocacy for disability rights. In 2009, she was honored with the Clinton Global Initiative Outstanding Commitment Award. In 2011, she was selected as a Rhodes Scholar finalist and received the Massachusetts Institute of Technology IDEAS Global Challenge Award and Margaret Freeman Bowers Award. In 2015, a video on ETI’s work received first place at the Girl’s Impact World Firm Festival. Additionally, in 2015, she was selected as an Echoing Green Fellow and a Halcyon Incubator fellow for ETI’s innovative work. This past year, she was also asked invited to speak on a panel at the United Nations Conference of State Parties and to deliver a TEDx talk. She was also selected as a Forbes “30 Under 30” for the 2017 class in the Social Entrepreneurs Division.



Kelly Nykodym – is a high energy, strategic leader with deep expertise in developing programs, initiatives, and strategies that recruit, retain and develop top talent. She has a passion for promoting the creation of a diverse workforce and inclusive work environment, as well as executing programs to address challenges in workforce management and engagement. Kelly is an experienced thought leader with a proven track record of aligning business goals and objectives with Human Resources strategy. She is currently the Strategic Programs Lead at Sandia National Laboratories and has a Masters Degree in Communications from American University.

Dr. Karen Hills Pruden – Dr. Pruden is a Seasoned Organizational Strategist and Certified Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) business partner who focuses on streamlining processes that incorporate competitive and innovative entrepreneurship, talent and resources towards profitability.   Dr. Pruden packs the punch of a powerful manager, consultant, entrepreneur and human resource professional.  A former manager of 269 tax officers, her expertise in business, operations and human resources management.

As the CEO/President of Pruden Global Business Solutions Consulting LLC, Dr. Pruden’s clients are businesses, entrepreneurs, and ministry leaders.  Some of her areas of expertise are:  New Business Start-Ups, Organizational Diagnosis, Business Plans, Operations Troubleshooting, Employee Relations, Environmental Scanning, Root Cause Analysis, and Process Mapping.   Dr. Pruden is a published author.  Her recent book is titled, Attract, then Repel: Why Are Candidates Abandoning Your Employment Process?   A dual-career professional, Dr. Pruden also works as a Human Resources Manager for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Previous positions held by Dr. Pruden are Director of Human Resources (The Planning Council); Human Resources Manager (The Home Depot); and Franchise Service Manager (Jackson Hewitt).  She has been a licensed real estate agent for the last 11 years.  Currently, she buys and sells real estate under the brokerage of Wainwright Real Estate.  Dr. Pruden believes that financial knowledge can open doors to budding entrepreneurs and future homeowners so she teaches credit repair classes throughout the community.

Dr. Pruden believes that even for those that have been called, proper training can enhance how these individuals conduct the duties of their position within their ministry. She believes that training enhances how effectively individuals communicate with, impact and influence others. She facilitates various communication classes, time management classes, public speaking and conflict resolution classes to ministry and congregation leaders.

Academically, Dr. Pruden has completed the Women’s Leadership Program of Yale School of Management from Yale University.  She has obtained:  a Doctorate of Management with emphasis in Organizational Leadership from University of Phoenix (Phoenix, AZ).  She is the recipient of 2 degrees from Norfolk State University (Norfolk, VA): a Master of Arts: Urban Affairs, Human Resources, and a Bachelors of Science: Political Science, Pre-Law.  Dr. Pruden is a proud alumnus of Indian River High School (Chesapeake, VA).


Julius Pryor – helps companies leverage Diversity & Inclusion to accelerate innovation and drive business results.

He’s held executive roles at Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), Russell Athletic, Abbott Labs and Takeda Pharmaceuticals. He was Vice President of Global Diversity at both J&J and at Coke. Most recently, Julius served as Head of Innovation, Diversity & Inclusion at biotech leader Genentech.  Julius combines a unique vision for the future of D&I, a strong grounding in sales and management, and insights into what works across different industries and sectors.

Julius saw the power of diversity to accomplish results during his 26 years of service in the U.S. Navy. He is a retired U.S. Navy Captain, Surface Warfare Officer and instructor for the Navy Officer Leadership Development Program. He’s held numerous Navy leadership roles including, Unit Commanding Officer and Fleet Staff Officer. He had the honor of serving on the re-commissioning crew of the historic USS Missouri (BB-63).

Julius graduated from Morehouse College and The Williston Northampton School (Easthampton, MA). He sits on the boards of the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership and the Center for Healthcare Innovation. He is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, having pledged at the legendary Psi Chapter at Morehouse College.

Julius is the author of Thriving in a Disruptive World: 6 Critical Concepts for Navigating the 21st Century.


Maura G. Robinson – is the President/CEO of M. G. Robinson, Inc. She is a bilingual (Spanish/English) motivational speaker, author, and a change and inclusion strategist. She is also a Sociologist with a Master’s in Public Administration from Indiana State University. She has revolutionized the business world with her change and inclusion management frameworks. Her change management services help organizations implement change without disrupting the workforce stability, productivity and the organizational bottom-line. In retrospect, her inclusion management framework creates a direct and contemporary approach to inclusion within a business case platform.

Some her clients have been Toyota, Walmart, Miller Pipeline, Vectren Corporation, Fifth Third just to name a few.

Maura’s published books include The Inclusion Revolution is Now™, We Are One™, (self-help book), Inclusion Must Be the Outcome™ and the series – Inclusion Is Us™ which includes The Latino Culture Awareness and Understanding, and Is Law Enforcement In Crisis?. This year she has introduced her bilingual (Spanish/English) children’s book series to promote bilingual education. All her books are available at Amazon.com.

Maura is a certified MBE/WB, and a member of The National Society for Hispanic Professionals. The National Association Of Women Business Owners, and Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor Society. Maura is the president and founder of the Diversity and Inclusion Institute for Change – A not for profit organization that helps organizations and communities bridge disparity gaps through a behavioral approach to action. Maura is also well known for her extensive work, and research on the Latino cultures.

Maura’s sixth business book “Change Without Interruption” will be in stores this spring.



Carol Sankar – is an internationally renowned gender diversity thought leader and consultant. She is the founder of The Confidence Factor for Women in Leadership, which is a global executive leadership firm for women who are committed to closing the gender gap in leadership & business. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, The Huffington Post, CareerBuilder, Daily Worth, LearnVest, Homevestors, and many more. 

Mrs. Sankars trains executives and delivers keynote presentations for global leading S&P 500 companies and private organizations such as Women in Government, Suncoast HR/SHRM, TEDx, SJSU, ABASBO, Civicon, Amec Foster Wheeler and more. She and her company supports women who are ready to get the tools to reach the c-level, with CONFIDENCE. 

Fernando Serpa – is the Executive Director of the Association of ERGs and Councils. With two decades of diversity and inclusion experience, Fernando draws on his in-depth experience across the public and private sector and excels at building dynamic, cross cultural diversity and inclusion strategies to influence systemic change across organizations.

A graduate of George Washington University Law School in Washington D.C., he was appointed by the White House to the U.S. Department of Justice where he directed immigration policy and worked with Congress and Federal agencies to develop and implement legislation, policy and procedures.

From 1995 to 2000, Mr. Serpa served at the United States Commission on Civil Rights where he represented the Commission on civil rights issues to state and local governments, citizen-based groups and corporations.

Since November 2000, Fernando has led diversity efforts for such Fortune 100 companies as Agilent Technologies, Symantec, JCPenney and Johnson Controls. His responsibilities have included worldwide diversity recruitment and retention, employee network groups, international programs and diversity and inclusion training.

At Symantec, he developed a global diversity strategy that was country specific.and presented diversity training around the world including Japan, Germany, Ireland, France and Singapore.

While at JCPenney, he led diversity strategy and training for over 150K associates. He instituted new HR policy guidelines protecting Lesbian, Gay and Transgender associates and outreached to LGBT groups to help move JCPenney from a 50% score on the Human Rights Campaign Equality Index to achieving a 100% score in two years.

He has lectured on diversity and inclusion at Stanford University, The Conference Board, The European Society for Cross Cultural Communication, SHRM, and the Out & Equal Annual Summit.



Nevien Shaabneh – Nevien Shaabneh is a novelist, public speaker and educator. Ms. Shaabneh’s roots stretch thousands of miles from Chicago to Palestine where she was born.

She graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a bachelor’s in English Education and from Saint Xavier with a Masters of Arts. Ms. Shaabneh publicly speaks on matters relating to Muslims in America, the Arab-American experience, the Muslim Woman Narrative, the Writing Process, Minority Voices in Writing, and is a key contributor in interfaith discussions and diversity training.

Ms. Shaabneh serves as a consultant for the Muslim Women’s Alliance as well as for the youth programs at the Orland Park Community Center. She has worked with several religious institutions and served on dozens of committees in her community to assist in community building, diversity education, and establishing acceptance.

Ms. Shaabneh’s debut novel, Secrets Under the Olive Tree, has sold world-wide with a far reaching reader base. She has currently finished her second novel to be under contract soon. She is a proud mother of three children. She believes in the importance of investing in our youth. She works closely with youth programs and trains young leaders to use their voice for change. She inspires expression and social action through speaking and writing. Ms. Shaabneh has taught high school English for fifteen years.

Ms. Shaabneh remains a staunch advocate in the power of literature and the arts. She believes, “Real literature, great literature, moves people,”and to “Never underestimate the power of a good story.”

Chuck Shelton – is passionate about growing executive efficacy and preparing senior leaders to achieve results by developing people through work. As Chief Executive Officer of Greatheart Consulting, Chuck is committed to relationships of trust and accountability. He has learned to collaborate across many dimensions of diversity for more than forty years. After consulting with more than 70 companies, Chuck yields the influence of emotional intelligence, cultural dexterity and racial savvy on clients. 

Chuck is the author of Leadership 101 For White Men; principal of the Study on White Men Leading Through Diversity and Inclusion; co-founder of The Forum on Engaging Men, Advancing Women with Betsy Myers (Center for Women and Business, Bentley University); co-director of The Inclusive Executive Program with Katherine Phillips, Ph.D. (Columbia School of Business); and a featured speaker and writer at many leadership and D&I events and publications.

Chuck has a Master’s in Ethics from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Jasmine Smith, CDE – is an accomplished, highly regarded professional with a proven track record in grant and sponsorship management, project management, program management, relationship building, as well as written and oral communications. She currently serves as the Senior Manager of Multicultural Marketing at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, where she develops the company’s strategy to attract and connect with diverse markets throughout the state.

Jasmine has a Bachelors in Communication Arts from Johnson C. Smith University, a Masters in Organizational Change and Leadership from Pfeiffer University, and a Certified Diversity Executive (CDE)™ from the Institute for Diversity Certification.


Bruce Stewart – currently serves as the Managing Partner for Vitruvian Worldwide. Prior to his current position, Bruce served as Deputy Director Training, Compliance, and Strategic Initiatives in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and was primarily responsible for the coordinated implementation of President Obama’s Executive Order on Diversity and Inclusion. Bruce is also an author, speaker and Adjunct Professor.  He has a Masters degree in Computer Science from Friends University.

Adrian Taylor – is the Director of Diversity for Premier Health in Dayton, Ohio. He serves as the primary advisor on the research, development and/or modification of diversity programs that support Premier’s business objectives with an emphasis on workforce diversity and supplier diversity.  Additionally, he engages the community through various functions and events that reflect Premier’s values and promote healthier living throughout the Dayton region.  Some of the events include (but are not limited to): the Mahogany’s Child African-American Wellness Walk, sponsoring and participating in the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce Minority Business Partnership (MBP) Business Opportunity Breakfast (BOB), serving on the Thurgood Marshall STEM Curriculum Advisory Board, and volunteering for the Clothes That Work non-profit organization. Through his leadership, Premier has won several diversity awards including the renaming of the prestigious Dayton Chamber Workforce Diversity Award to the Premier Health Workforce Diversity Award because of the impact of Premier’s Diversity program in the Dayton community.  Premier is committed to improving the health of the communities they by providing culturally-competent care in an environment that values, appreciates and respects all individuals with a diverse workforce that is reflective of the communities it serves.

Before joining Premier Health in 2014, Mr. Taylor served in key management roles, earning positions of increasing responsibility in the private sector with companies like EDS, NCR and The Berry Company.  More recently he worked for seven years in the non-profit sector namely at the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.  As the Manager of Minority Business Retention and Expansion at the Dayton Chamber, he advocated for and secured over $100M in contracted diverse spend for diverse companies in the Dayton region.



Dr. Sandra Upton – is Vice President of the Cultural Intelligence Center.  Dr. Upton is responsible for providing leadership and strategy for the enter’s educational efforts around diversity and inclusion. She has over twenty years of experience training and consulting with universities, businesses and non-profits around the globe. She leads the CQC’s response to the growing demand from institutions like Harvard Business School, London School of  Economics, University of Michigan, Fudan University, Stanford University, and several global companies such as Amway, Steelcase, Starbucks, Sysco, Perrigo, Cintas, that are committed to assessing and improving the cultural intelligence of their employees.

As a former business school dean, Dr. Upton provided leadership for the professional and graduate studies division, supervising over one hundred faculty and several thousand students. She understands how to effectively integrate CQ assessments and training into educational and business settings. She loves to travel and has been a keynote speaker and facilitated numerous global business experiences and trainings throughout Brazil, China, Israel and Singapore, South Africa and several countries throughout Europe.

Dr. Upton has a Bachelors from Michigan State University, a Masters from Western Michigan University, and a Doctorate from Regent University.


Bethany Wilcoxon – oversees implementation of the regional vision strategy as a Capital Crossroads Director for Greater Des Moines Partnership. She spent several years serving Iowa Great Places, a grant program of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and then leading the development of The Tomorrow Plan, a $3.1 million regional initiative to advance sustainability in Greater Des Moines.  Her accomplishments include the Business Record’s Forty Under 40 (2016), Leadership Iowa (Class of 2015-2016), Global Shapers Des Moines Founding Curator (2015), ISU STATEment Maker (2012), Next American Vanguard (2010), and Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute (Class of 2011-2012).

Outside of her professional work, Bethany serves on the Great Outdoors Foundation Board and the Jester Park Nature Center Capital Campaign Team, and is the US Green Building Council ADVANCE Ambassador for the State of Iowa. She has led Des Moines’ Urban Ambassadors as President, served on the Board of the Drake Neighborhood Association, and has volunteered for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (2014 Woman of the Year Candidate), Big Brothers Big Sisters, ULI Iowa, the Des Moines Symphony, and the Des Moines Metro Opera.



Sonja Williams, CDE – is an experienced senior manager and consultant with more than 20 years of corporate expertise in two disciplines – Accounting and Human Resources, with a concentration in diversity inclusion and compliance. Sonja is also the author of several books including, “The Introduction to Diversity: A reference guide for now and the future”.

As the Founder and chief business consultant for Passionate About Diversity, LLC, Sonja’s clients include Czarnowski, Atlanta Braves, Hemophilia of Atlanta, and others. Sonja has a Master of Business Administration degree, as well as CDE, PHR, and SHRM-CP credentials.