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L.I.F.T. 2019 Midwest Conference Stresses the Imperative of Diversity

Sojourner’s Truth Staff

Fittingly, L.I.F.T. 2019 opened with a diversity roundtable discussion featuring regional and national chief diversity officers to “help participants gain insights on the business imperative for diversity, inclusion and equity and help uncover new trends and best practices,” said Jason Daniels, co-founder and -host of the annual conference for African-American professionals and their allies.


The two-day affair at the University of Toledo’s Nitschke Hall and Auditorium also offered attendees an opportunity to glean information about politics at work, transitioning from a manager to an executive position, building and leveraging workplace and community influence, bold leadership, effective partnerships at work and allyship.

The opening session – “Best and Next Practices in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” – introduced the attendees to a panel consisting of Jennifer McCary, chief diversity and belonging officer at Bowling Green State University; Jaime de la Cruz, director of Organizational Capability, Marathon Petroleum Company; Matthew Boaz, director of Diversity and Inclusion, City of Toledo; Robert Braylock, Pharm.D, director, Intercultural Student Services, University of Findlay.

The Daniels’ question for the panel that really jumpstarted the discussion, and the two-day conference for that matter, was: “How do people go back to their organizations and begin to implement what we are talking about with diversity, equity and inclusion if it’s not happening there or if it’s not happening and the organization insists that it is happening – but it really isn’t?”

The second session of the first morning was a discussion about “allyship” titled “It’s Going to Take All of Us: Parked at the Intersection of Allyship.” This topic brought together a panel of Angel Harris, executive director, Dress for Success, Columbus, OH; Marc Folk, executive director, The Arts Commission; Jane Rosser, director of Service Learning, BGSU.

“Allyship” has been defined by Forbes as “a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people …” Allyship is, according to a recent Forbes article – “the key to unlocking the power of diversity.”

In the afternoon, Rev. April Carsperson, director of Diversity and Inclusion for the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church spoke as did Lawrence James, Jr., partner, RHR International LLLC, Chicago, on “Developing African American Executives and Building a Diverse Talent Pipeline.

“My favorite session at L.I.F.T. was given by Rev. April Carsperon,” said Rhonda Sewell, Toledo Lucas Public Library manager of External and Governmental Affairs. “Not only did she blow me away with her presentation and knowledge of her subject matter, but she provided succinct information on how professionals can impact work culture on difficult subjects such as implicit bias, diversity and inclusion, and matters of race, gender, sexual orientation and physician and mental challenges … what I really loved about her was her methodology of being unapologetic about impacting and even influencing the thumbprint of the culture on everyone’s brain – she was on fire with her words.”

The day’s formal sessions ended with a Leadership Café – a facilitated conversation among speakers and conference participants to promote leadership, influence, focus, talent and allies.

Day Two – Wednesday, October 30 – opened with  a panel discussion entitled “L.I.F.T.ing Your Career: How to Grow Your Professionalism Through Leadership, Influence, Focus and Talent.” The panelists were: Dawn Tyler Lee, deputy chief of staff, City of Columbus; Micah Lamb, senior HR Client Relations Consultant, DTE Energy, Detroit, MI; Valerie Simmons Walston, associate VP for Student Affairs and director of Residence Life, UT.

The opening panel was followed by Lolita Davis, Outreach and Training Coordinator, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission who spoke on “Professional and Respectful Behavior in the Workplace.

Also in the morning, Zach Reed, Statewide Minority Affairs Coordinator in the Office of Secretary of State Frank LaRose, addressed determination with his talk: “The Focused Leader: Pursuing Career Goals with Perseverance and Purpose” and Eugenio Mollo, Jr. managing attorney with Advocates for a Basic Legal Equality (ABLE) spoke on “Managing an Immigration Law Practice in Current Times.”

During the second day’s afternoon, Darlene Slaughter, Chief People Officer with March of Dimes in Washington, DC, told her audience how to “Develop Your Executive Presence – A Leadership Fundamental.

The L.I.F.T. co-founders and hosts Jason and Kelli Daniels closed out the afternoon with an “allyship” call to action

“Since Kelli and Jason Daniels started their L.I.F.T. conference three years ago I’ve not missed it! Every year attendees walk away with so much knowledge, new partnerships and friends and the tools to become better leaders and allies. But, this year, they dialed it up several notches and I got to bear witness to real and meaningful breakthroughs happen.” said Sewell. “This year’s conference provided the spark that people needed to take that next step, to become more intentional along their journey, to do the right thing even when it’s unpopular, and to walk into their grace boldly! If you missed it, well, you missed a lot. Plan never to miss this conference in the future. “




Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11/07/19 10:33:43 -0500.

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