Cover Photo Image

2021 Diversity Conference Session Descriptions

Sessions on Monday, March 15th

Lunch Panel

Diversity Dialogue with New Campus Leaders Rudy Molina and Brent Lewis

Moderated by Adrienne Giles

Join us as we get to know new campus leaders Brent Lewis and Rudy Molina.  Dr. Lewis and Dr. Molina will share their areas of responsibility on campus, give highlights from their units, and provide updates on new initiatives and partnerships on DEI.  Lastly, they will have time to take questions from participants during the session. 

Adding Mindfulness to Your Racial Justice Toolkit: Practices for Healing, Awareness, and Compassionate Connection

Presented by: Lucy Bryan Malenke, The JMU Learning Centers and Shanza Isom, JMU Department of Social Work

For those of us committed to the work of racial justice, the threat of burn out is real. However, mindfulness practices can help us remain resilient as we advocate for equitable opportunities and outcomes; challenge racist systems, institutions, and individuals; and tend the wounds inflicted by centuries of racism and white supremacy. In this interactive session, participants will learn how mindfulness can be used as a tool for healing, awareness, and compassionate connection. They will also engage in several mindfulness activities drawn from Rhonda Magee’s book The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness.

Allyship in Anti-racist Work

Presented by: Hannah Sions, JMU School of Art, Design and Art History - Department of Art Education and Libya Doman, Fairfax County Public Schools

This presentation will define anti-racism to differentiate self-serving allyship and authentic allyship. Participants will reflect on their work as an ally to find ways to better support Black, Indigenous, and  Persons of Color (BIPOC) colleagues and students. Our aim is for participants to leave with an understanding of the nuances of (anti-) racism to continue their journey in becoming an authentic ally.

Ensuring Diversity and Inclusion within K-12 schools by conducting Equity Audits

Presented by: Monica Smith-Woofter, JMU Learning, Technology and Leadership Education Department

Equity audits within our K-12 schools and divisions are necessary to promote equity and access for all. The discussion in this session will focus on how higher education professionals, especially College of Education faculty, can encourage and support the efforts of K-12 schools, divisions, and communities to conduct equity analyses to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion of all. By analyzing a variety of data and using the Navigating EDEquityVA Equity Audit Tool schools can examine their policies, procedures, and processes for ensuring equity and access for all students.

Mind the Gap: Bridging the opportunity gap in K-12 schools with college access programming

Presented by: Madeline Brawley, Jessi Pinello, Madeline Grove, Melody Hacket, Lizzie Baker, Ali Sharpe, Marquis Johnson, and Shaun Mooney, JMU Valley Scholars Program

Join us for a presentation exploring the concept of how the opportunity gap affects students in the local community and how the JMU Valley Scholars Program takes action to bridge the gap.

Poverty and Power: The Problem of Structural Inequality

Presented by: Melody Panell, Sociology Department, Bridgewater College

Participants will explore the realities of structural forces within society that create a “cycle of poverty” for particular populations. “Poverty” will be examined as a systemic issue instead of a condition of human flaw in character, integrity, and ethics. The dynamics of power, political capital and social location will inform our discussion on structural inequality, intersectionality, and the impact on economic mobility. Participants will engage in the debate of the “individual perspective” compared to the “structural perspective.” The framework of the four systems: economic, political, cultural, and social will guide this journey into the phenomena of “American Poverty.”

Reclaiming, Renaming, Repairing: How Campus History Advances Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Efforts

Panelists: Members of the Campus History Committee

On Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, the JMU Board of Visitors voted to rename three buildings on the historic Quad for five African Americans who made notable contributions to the institution (two faculty, an alumna, and two staff). In this session, members of the Campus History Committee and its advisory board will share how JMU’s campus history efforts fit into statewide and national movements for truth and reconciliation in higher education. Participants are encouraged to consult the full set of recommendations in the committee’s report and to provide input on next steps. 

Sessions on Tuesday, March 16th

Belonging at Work

Presented by: Jules Myers, JMU Talent Development

This workshop examines inclusion through the lens of belonging and why it is critical to creating an engaged and productive workforce. It offers specificactions to encourage belonging at work.

Flourishing Beyond the Intersections of Race, Class, and Gender

Presented by: Melody Panell, Kiesha Tillman, Kiara Kiah, Aura Espinosa-Deer, Shaina Peterson, Destiny's Daughters, Inc. 

Participants will engage in self-awareness activities that explore their own intersectionality and learn how to successfully maneuver through the matrix of oppression concerning social identities of race, class and gender. Participants will be empowered to develop the capacity to "flourish" personally and professionally through utilizing resiliency theory, emotional emancipation affirmations and transformative justice practices. Participants will hear counter-narrative stories of resistance from members of Destiny’s Daughters Inc. and be encouraged to share their own stories that will enable them to “flourish” beyond the limits of society.

Health-I.E.R communities” (I – Inclusion, E – Equity, R – Racism)

Presented by: Nick Hines, Capital Strategy Group, LLC - Executive Office Center for Creative Leadership - Global Leader

When policies, mindsets and behaviors incorporate Inclusion, Equity and an understanding of Racism’s impact on society, communities and their occupants can achieve healthier conditions. Many people and organizations speak about the pursuit of “blue sky” and healthy communities, yet, there is no blueprint nor framework that has been introduced to accomplish this goal; most ideologies glaze over EDI – Racism, Justice, Belonging. Through interaction and discovery, this session will contribute to the theme, "Transforming Community through Social Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion" by introducing tactics to discover, invent, and diffuse leadership development strategies that help transform mindsets, thus, behaviors towards Inclusion, Equity, and Racism to create health-I.E.R communities.

Recognizing and Responding to Microaggressions

Presented by: Smita Mathur, JMU Early, Elementary, and Reading Education

Microaggressions are brief but common verbal, behavioral, and environmental offenses that are directed towards a person who belongs to a marginalized group. They negatively impact long-term health and contribute to higher mortality rates, depression, and compromise one’s sense of well-being. They interrupt the development and maintenance of one’s personal and professional identity. This interactive workshop aims to increase awareness and develop strategies to respond to microaggressions in higher education. We will learn to identify microaggressions, develop strategies to engage in appropriate self-care, and develop adaptive responses to manage the stress generated by them.

Strategies for Responding to Bias in Your Community

Presented by: Ashley Taylor Jaffee, JMU  Middle, Secondary, and Mathematics Education, and Kala J. Melchiori, JMU Department of Psychology

How can I push past my hesitancy and address bias when it occurs in my classroom, department, or community? In this workshop, we will review the latest research on microaggressions, learn multiple techniques for responding to microaggressions, examine motivations for responding or not responding to microaggressions, and engage in exercises to reinforce and practice response techniques. Participants will spend most of the session working in small groups to identify and strategize solutions to their identified challenges. Facilitators will offer support and resources for interrupting microaggressions using intervention strategies.The audience of this advanced workshop should have introductory knowledge about microaggressions. 

Lunch Panel - Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leaders Roundtable

Moderated by: Celeste Thomas

As part of the efforts to enhance the commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in Academic Affairs, the Office of the Provost, in collaboration with Academic Affairs Deans, appointed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leaders for each college early in the fall semester of 2020. Academic Affairs deans were charged to empower the respective DEI Leaders “to be primarily accountable for establishing priorities, articulating goals and developing mechanisms for [DEI] accountabilities.” The DEI RoundTable offers an opportunity for DEI Leaders to hold a public conversation about their respective charges, to assess responsibilities, opportunities and challenges and receive input from the audience.

Artificial Intelligence and the Issues of Social Justice, Diversity and Inclusivity

Presented by: Hala Nelson, JMU Department of Mathematics and Statistics

In a world that is accelerating at a dizzying rate towards Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is important to raise awareness on the role of AI in exasperating or helping the issues of social justice, inclusiveness and diversity, depending on many factors. At this critical moment in history of technological evolution, we can have a say in designing systems that promote social justice, remove inequity and promote diversity and inclusion. Without promoting awareness and knowledge about how AI systems arrive at their decisions, we would be at the risk of increasing existing inequities in the system. This presentation is important for students getting into the AI field, companies utilizing AI products and companies producing AI technology, as well as leaders in consequential positions.

B(l)ack in theDays: Life at JMU from the African-American Lens

Presented by: Members of the JMU Black Alumni Chapter

This panel will showcase the Madison experience through the viewpoints of African-American alumni who graduated from the '70s/'80s through today. Their stories will illustrate how JMU excels and can improve on promoting a culture of inclusion for the African-American student through equity and opportunityfor years to come.The session will conclude with a question-and-answer segment.

How a Book Club is Changing the Climate of a Department

Presented by: Ashleigh Baber, JMU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

A group who gathered for anti-racism self-education learned that together they could cultivate a change in their departmental climate. This session will share ideas for bringing allies together.

Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in College Recruitment: Tips from Local High School Latinx Student

Presented by: Carlos G. Alemán, JMU School of Communication Studies and high school members of Scholars Latino Initiative, Class of 2021

State and nationwide trends indicate a continued growth of Latinx student enrollment on college campuses. Locally, Latinx students comprise 51% of the public school population, with nearly 36% of Latinx seniors earning advanced diplomas. This panel session features a JMU Professor in Residence and Latinx high school seniors who will be first-generation college students in Fall 2021. These students of the Scholars Latino Initiative and of AVID programming will be asked to reflect on recruitment and support practices that drew them toward and pushed them away from colleges and universities, with focus on practices seeking to enhance equity, diversity, inclusion.

Meaning Matters

Presented by: Cheryl Beverly, JMU Learning, Technology & Leadership Education

Too often, the work of Social Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion is muddied by divergent meanings of the vocabulary. Lack of a shared meaning, or understanding that different meanings are at play, hinders process and outcome. Join an interactive conversation about words, meaning, and communication. First, we will identify the various vocabulary and meanings we have, individually, of Social Justice, Diversity, Access, Equity and Inclusion. Then we will explore the many ways we communicate our meanings...voice, visuals, vocabulary, kinetics... We will explore intended vs received meaning. And finally, we will identify ways to ensure we are effectively communicating our intended message.

Special Session - Providing Excellent Health Care Regardless of the Times

Moderated by: Sylvia Garcia Romero

Hear from Health Professionals and their expertise on how they have navigated and provided excellent care during challenging times.  They will be in a panel format sharing information and answering questions.

Sessions on Wednesday, March 17th

The Utility of Critical Race Theory for Framing Organizational Change and Programming

Presented by: Jody Fagan, JMU Libraries

As predominantly white institutions (PWI) in higher education embark on strategic planning and programs in pursuit of Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI), what are the opportunities and challenges presented by the use of Critical Race Theory (CRT) to undergird such efforts? For example, CRT’s ability to illuminate socio-political forces and organizational power dynamics offers insight into how defining “diversity” as multiculturalism may not result in authentic strategic change. However, CRT’s meaning-packed rhetoric (e.g., “complicity with dominant oppressive social structures”) may stymie broad organizational engagement in planning processes. Academic libraries are an ideal setting for exploring these ideas, as they are subject to and embedded deeply in the larger context of institutions; of higher education; and of the public sphere. This presentation represents the beginnings of a larger research agenda regarding how to assess organizational progress toward DEI goals; therefore attendees’ perspectives are actively desired to help shape the direction of the research.

Transgender Bathroom Rights: What Influences an Opinion? A Mixed-Methods Study

Presented by: Jared Tschohl, JMU Shenandoah Valley Child Development Clinic

The purpose of the study was to discover what experiences occurred in a person’s life which led the individual to not support equal bathroom rights for transgender individuals.  The research design was a mixed methods study utilizing a survey and interviews.  Criteria for interview participants included: undergraduate, cisgender, heterosexual, Caucasian males who do not support equal bathroom rights for transgender individuals.  Research findings suggest opinions are influenced by humanizing relationships, unconscious privilege, patriarchy, and knowledge of the topic.  Ultimately, each individual is unique; thus, complexity emerged.  This information may be helpful when creating more inclusive bathroom policies in any setting.

Using Digital Projects to Engage and Transform Communities and Promote Social Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion: A Panel Discussion

Moderated by: Christine Robinson, JMU Department of Justice Studies

The panelists will introduce four local community-engaged digital scholarship projects (Immigrant Harrisonburg; Racial Terror: Lynching in Virginia; Food & Community: Mapping Food Access, Food Justice, and Food Sovereignty in Harrisonburg, Virginia; and the Shenandoah Valley LGBTQ Archive and Oral History Project) to illustrate how digital projects can engage and positively transform local communities; promote social justice, diversity, and inclusion (on and off campus); and invigorate teaching, scholarship, and professional development for students, staff, and faculty. Panelists will suggest best practices, offer lessons learned, and recommend resources for developing and supporting community-engaged digital projects.

Virtual Teaching: A Window to Inequities and Opportunities in Elementary Education

Presented by: Holly McCartney and Smita Mathur, JMU Early, Elementary, and Reading Education

This session provides an overview of how virtual student teaching afforded JMU Elementary Education students a window into inequities and opportunities for teachers and schools.

Voices of Faculty with Disabilities

Panel: Kathryn Rathgeber and Christopher Kinney, JMU Office of Disability Services - Kenneth Rutherford, JMU Department of Political Science - Susan Ghiaciuc, JMU School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication - Jesse Rathgeber, Department of Music, Augustana College

This session provides you with the unique opportunity to attend a panel discussion of JMU past and present employees as they talk about working at and navigating academia as faculty with disabilities.

Conference Welcome and Keynote Address

Welcome Remarks by Jonathan Alger, President of James Madison University

Keynote by Dr. Janice Underwood, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer for the Commonwealth of Virginia

Special Session: From Theory to Practice: Facilitating a movement, fostering a collective - JMU’s Task Force on Racial Equity

Moderated by: Andreas Broscheid

In this panel discussion we’ll hear from the four Co-Chairs of the JMU’s more than 180 person Task Force on Racial Equity. They’ll address the challenges and successes of turning theory into practice as they work to foster new movements and facilitate existing efforts as a collective to establish a racially just institution grounded in equity. Panelists: Cynthia Bauerle, JMU Interim Vice Provost for Faculty and Curriculum, Arthur Dean, Executive Director, JMU Campus & Community Programs for Access and Inclusion, Rudy Molina, JMU Vice Provost, Student Academic Success and Enrollment Management, Deborah Tompkins Johnson, JMU Vice Rector, Board of Visitors, and Jennifer PeeksMease, Associate Professor of Communication Studies.

Sessions on Thursday, March 18th

Developing Culturally Competent Clinical Faculty

Presented by: Dara Hall, Education Support Center - JMU College of Education, Lori Wall - Mary Baldwin University, Ronald Shultz - Eastern Mennonite University, and Ann Conners - Harrisonburg City Public Schools

The Virginia Clinical Faculty/New Teacher Mentor Best Practices Network (VBPN) was a grant funded in 2018 by VDOE, with the purpose of increasing the pool of diverse, culturally competent mentors for teacher candidates and new teachers. This initiative was supported by creating a report with a framework andguidelines for developing culturally competent clinical faculty with a lens toward self-reflection inclusivity, cultural competence, and relationship building across diverse communities. The report with tools and resources will be shared and can be used for mentorship development in any related discipline.

Provost Faculty Diversity Curriculum Grant Awards--Conversation about Outcome

Moderated by: David Owusu-Ansah

The Office of the Provost awarded its first faculty diversity curriculum grants in 2016. Since then, diversity curriculum proposals have been received, reviewed and awarded annually. Providing support to faculty to enhance diversity in the curriculum is consistent with the institution’s strategic priority that embraces access, inclusivity and equity as core qualities. Literature on the benefits of curriculum diversity as it contributes to learning excellence abounds. Among other things, curriculum diversity creates opportunities in the classroom to engage most students, recognizes multiple perspectives, introduces faculty to multiple contents, and above all strengthens critical thinking. Since its introduction in 2016, the JMU Provost Faculty Curriculum Grant Committee has approved 38 proposals to support the creation of new diversity-content courses and/or to revise existing courses. At this panel, some of the past grant recipients will discuss the relevance of the diversity grants to the curriculum.

Reference Letter Writing - Writing about the Individual

Presented by: Brenna Matlock, The JMU Center for International Stabilization and Recovery and Cassidy Persson, JMU University Career Center

The purpose of this presentation, which will be followed by reflection and information sharing, is to reflect on how we write letters of recommendation and how this overlaps with issues of diversity (including gender, race, ability and sexual orientation). By improving our ability to write about others in professional settings and consciously addressing unintentional pitfalls or biases, professors and supervisors can positively influence the careers and professional lives of their students, coworkers and/or employees.  

The Need for, Benefits of, and Best Practices for Mentoring LGBTQ+ Students: Promoting Access, Inclusion, and Social Justice 

Presented by: Christine Robinson, JMU Department of Justice Studies and Zoya Kirchner, JMU student

Research shows that stigma, victimization, and family rejection pose tremendous risks to the health and academic success of many LGBTQ+ students, who are considerably underserved by youth mentoring programs and who would benefit from mentoring. JMU offers a variety of mentoring programs and opportunities that can incorporate culturally competent mentoring practices to support the personal, academic, and professional development of LGBTQ+ students. This presentation discusses the need for, benefits of, and best practices for mentoring LGBTQ+ students, within and outside of formal mentoring programs. We will also discuss the benefits of mentoring LGBTQ+ students for the larger JMU community. 

Transforming Thinking about Thinking: Designing for Neurodiversity

Presented by: Daisy Breneman, JMU Department of Justice Studies

Neurodiversity shifts how we think about thinking, framing what was traditionally thought of as “impairment” in terms of natural--and positive--human variation. While the movement started in the Autism community, many (including people with intellectual and learning disabilities, psychiatric disabilities, dysfluencies, and others) are claiming the label of “neurodivergent” as a means of liberation. This interactive session examines barriers in higher education for the neurodivergent, including those amplified by the pandemic, and offers tools, ideas, strategies (including Universal Design), and collaborative exploration that participants can use to transform their classrooms, workspaces, and communities to create equity, meaningful access, and inclusion.

Lunch Panel - Task Force on Racial Equity Working Group Conversation:  Sharing ideas, perspectives and recommendations that will lead to sustained change and transformation within our community

Moderated by: TBD

In this session you will have the opportunity to share your ideas and recommendations with select Working Group Co-Chairs of The Task Force on Racial Equity.

6 G's Leadership Experience

Presented by: Gabriel Driver and Rebeca Barge, JMU Center for Multicultural Student Services

The Center for Multicultural Student Services developed a student leadership and professional development program founded in self-authorship and critical race theory to enhance introspection and social justice practice among students and practitioners. Participants will have the opportunity to connect the 6Gs Leadership Experience principles of Ground, Growth, Grace, Grind, Grit, and Gratitude to how they lead their own lives.

College of Education:​ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Doctoral Fellows Program

Presented by: Oris Griffin, JMU Learning, Technology and Leadership Education, and Mark L'Esperance, JMU College of Education

The purpose of the session is to share how the College of Education at Jame Madison University is 'Transforming Community through Social Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion' through its DEI Doctoral Fellows Program, which is designed to intentionally recruit promising diverse scholars who are committed to the College of Education’s mission and values related to diversity and inclusive excellence as they prepare for tenure-track appointments at JMU.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leaders Rountable

Moderated by: TBD

As part of the efforts to enhance the commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in Academic Affairs, the Office of the Provost, in collaboration with Academic Affairs Deans, appointed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leaders for each college early in the fall semester of 2020. Academic Affairs deans were charged to empower the respective DEI Leaders “to be primarily accountable for establishing priorities, articulating goals and developing mechanisms for [DEI] accountabilities.” The DEI RoundTable offers an opportunity for DEI Leaders to hold a public conversation about their respective charges, to assess responsibilities, opportunities and challenges and receive input from the audience.

Diversity Through Internationalization: Fulbright, INU, and More

Presented by: Michelle Cude, JMU Department of Middle, Secondary & Mathematics Education, Dietrich Maune, JMU Center for Global Engagement, Ed Brantmeier, Center for Faculty Innovation, James Madison University

International education happens in many ways.  It certainly includes what we do when we lead study abroad programs or participate in international learning exchanges, but it also includes the variety of ways in which we broach subjects of global importance within our classrooms, through our assignments, and via our engagement with our colleagues around the globe.  International education, therefore, is committed to issues of diversity — by opening our minds to different worldviews and practices and making these tangible to others, we better prepare ourselves for productive global citizenry.  In this session, Dr. Michelle Cude, College of Education Professor, will share from her recent experiences as a Fulbright Scholar in Kenya.  Additionally, our panel will talk about opportunities to work with and potentially be Fulbright Scholars, how the student Fulbright program works, how to participate in the International Network of Universities’ Shadowing Program, how to explore the International Association of Universities opportunities, and more.

Inclusive Teaching for Diverse Classrooms: Beyond the Little Red Teaching Toolbox to Socio-cultural Apprenticeship

Presented by: Lori Leaman, JMU Educational Foundations & Exceptionalities Department and Tara Kishbaugh, School of Sciences, Arts, & Nursing, Eastern Mennonite University

Increasing access, inclusion, and equity for diverse student bodies is a continuing challenge in higher education. This 3-year research study, funded through an NSF-IUSE grant, attempts to name the sociocultural factors that are relevant for inclusive teaching and learning. Faculty enrolled in a year-long, learning community and engaged in a “read-try-reflect model” to shift their ways of being and doing in the classroom. Key principles of the model include: learning as 1) a courageous endeavor, 2) as tactical and relational, and 3) as an act of identity transformation.

Back to Top