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2020 Diversity Conference Session Descriptions

Session 1: 9:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.
Understanding Neurodiversity in the Workplace: How Employers can Support and Retain Employees With Neurodiversity

Presented by: Jennifer Kester - JMU Human Resources and Aline Jackson-Diggs - Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services

For many employers Neurodiversity may be a new term. However, if organizations are going to be inclusive they cannot exclude such a significant demographic as the neurodivergent. In this session we will explore common misconceptions about those with various neurodiversity abilities and the benefits of hiring neurodivserse employees. Participants will discover ways that employers can work with community partners, such as the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), to provide meaningful employment opportunities for those with disabilities and how positive mentorship programs help to foster long term success in the workplace for neurodiverse employee.

Voices of JMU Faculty With Disabilities

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

This session provides you with the unique opportunity to attend a panel discussion of JMU employees as they talk about working at and navigating academia as faculty with disabilities. A moderator will lead with questions, and you will have the opportunity to ask your own! This session will increase your understanding of disability and help you become more aware that experiences are unique to individuals. Once the session is over, you will have the opportunity to take the principles you learned and transfer them to your workplace and community by honing the level of inclusivity and empathy within those spaces.

Promising Practices and Interventions for Faculty Diversity Recruitment at UMBC

Presented by: Autumn Reed - Assistant Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

In this session, Dr. Autumn Reed, Assistant Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) shares impactful practices and programmatic initiatives to improve faculty diversity recruitment. The discussion includes such efforts as UMBC's faculty hiring and recruitment expectations, the STRIDE faculty peer education committee, the Postdoctoral Fellowship for Faculty Diversity and the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences Pre-Professoriate Fellows Program.

What Classroom Inclusion and Diversity Activities can Teach Us!

Presented by: Ruairi R. Walsh - Department of Management

These activities and interactive session can be used in classroom settings, in the workplace and in practically any group session in the community. By highlighting participants’ awareness of identity, inclusion and diversity and by asking them to reflect on how their own personality styles can have an impact on others, participants will have a better understanding of how to appreciate and value people who have a different and diverse background from themselves. This, in turn, should lead to productive and positive change at college and community level, and beyond.

Using the Organization Development Process to Create an Inclusive Culture in the Workplace

Presented by: Tabitha Coates - Learning, Technology and Leadership Education Department

Most companies have diversity programs that include policies and procedures for recruiting and hiring a diverse workforce, as well as offering diversity training sessions. However, many of these initiatives are not effective because organizations fail to create an inclusive culture. By creating an inclusive culture, organizations can retain the best talent, build employee engagement, increase innovation and creativity, and improve overall performance. The purpose of this session is to understand how to use the organization development process to develop, implement, and evaluate diversity initiatives that are systemic and sustainable in the workplace to create an inclusive culture.

WOKEish: Building Cultural Competence, Moving From Concept to Action

Presented by: Jimez Ashby, Jr. - Principal Consultant, DiversifyEd Consulting, LLC

This session serves as a forum to unpack the concept of “Wokeness” and lay the foundation to understanding Cultural Competence in order to create Action. "Stay Woke!", a phrase we hear too often, but do we truly know what it means or how it applies? In this session we start with laying the foundation – sharing the historical context and explaining the rebirth of what it means to be "Woke" through the Black Lives Matter Movement of modern day. Using the knowledge gained, we help participants understand what drives activism – looking at it from an intersectional lens – What are my salient identities as I step holistically into this space and lead this charge? All with the goal of helping participants create sustainable action plans for community activism after they have increased their self-awareness in a manner which they can see and acknowledge the reality of the work ahead.

Cross-Racial Mentoring: Moving Beyond Diversity and Inclusion to Belonging and Co-Creation

Presented by: Darius Green and Matt Trybus - JMU Learning Centers

University communities that are more racially and ethnically diverse improve the quality of educational experiences that enhance students’ learning and better prepare them for participation in a democratic society (Milam, Chang, & Antonio, 2005). In our session will present on one way we believe we have transformed a small part of our educational community-through our experiences in a cross-racial mentoring relationship, first as faculty-to-student then as faculty-to-faculty. We will utilize Scholarly Personal Narrative and interactive groups to create opportunities for the exchange of ideas on cross-racial mentoring in a predominantly white educational institution.

Reference Letter Writing: Writing About the Individual and Social Considerations

Presented by: Brenna Matlock - The Center for International Stabilization and Recovery, Lindsay Aldrich - The Center for Global Engagement, Cassidy Persson - Career and Academic Planning

The purpose of this session is to reflect on how we write letters of recommendation and to address possible implicit biases and diversity considerations. Letters of recommendation influence the future careers and opportunities of students, coworkers, and employees. Although well-meaning, many reference letter writers can fall into the trap of letting our learned experience come through in how we write about the people we are recommending. Join us to reflect on how we write about others in a professional setting, to exchange tips and lessons learned, and to develop new strategies for writing effective and thoughtful references.

Microaggressions and Their Impact on Professional Identity in Higher Education

Presented by: Smita Mathur - Department of Early, Elementary & Reading Education

Microaggressions are brief but common verbal, behavioral, and environmental offenses that are directed towards a person who belongs to a stigmatized group. Empirical evidence suggests that microaggressions have a negative impact on long-term health and contribute to higher mortality rates, depression, and in general compromise one’s sense of well-being and interrupt the development and maintenance of one’s personal and professional identity. In this interactive workshop participants will a) hone their skills in identifying microaggressions in higher education, b) discuss the impact of microaggressions in professional identity development in higher education, and c) hone skills in developing adaptive responses to microaggressions.

Sport for All: Developing Your Cultural Competency in the Coaching Context

Presented by: Lauren Jefferson - Marketing and Communications, Eastern Mennonite University

Creating an inclusive environment for diverse athletes is a challenging and important responsibility of coaches of developmental sports programs. This session aims to advance the knowledge, understanding and development of cultural competency in those who work with K-12 populations in a sports context. A model of competency development, based on qualitative research conducted with Virginia soccer coaches, will be introduced. Participants will be invited into self-reflection through shared analysis of real issues and challenges in working with diverse populations in developmental sport.

What's With the WAKE UP?: Transforming Communities and the Necessary Transformation of (White) Selves

Presented by: Jennifer PeeksMease - School of Communication Studies, Jennifer Iwerks - SOGIE, Misty Newman - Office of Community Service-Learning, Case Watkins - Department of Justice Studies, Dara Hall - College of Education, Tripp Purks - Office of Residence Life 

WAKE UP (White Accomplices Knowing Experiences Underlying Racism) Book Clubs are new this year to JMU. WAKE UP was created to prepare individuals to support racial inclusion and justice efforts at JMU. This experience aims to create a community where white people are able to understand their white identity and experiences in order to become better allies to People of Color. Books read were White Fragility by Robin Diangelo and me and white supremacy by Layla F. Saad. In this session participants of the WAKE UP Book Club will offer short reflections on what the experience has meant to them, and we will experience an open discussion addressing both the potential and the limitations of this particular approach to Transforming Communities by Transforming Selves.

Session 2: 10:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
B(l)ack in the Days

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 and ‘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 opportunity for years to come. The session will conclude with a question-and-answer segment.

Exploring Joy Culturally

Presented by: Gail Napora - JMU Talent Development

Come explore joy as something everyone and every culture shares. With Ingrid Fetell Lee's 10 aesthetics of joy (Joyful Little, Brown Spark 2018) as a framework, we will identify elements of joy from your own personal and cultural experience and create a record of the ways "Joy @ JMU" is experienced and expressed.

Promising Practices and Interventions for Faculty Diversity Recruitment at UMBC

Presented by: Autumn Reed - Assistant Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

In this session, Dr. Autumn Reed, Assistant Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) shares impactful practices and programmatic initiatives to improve faculty diversity recruitment. The discussion includes such efforts as UMBC's faculty hiring and recruitment expectations, the STRIDE faculty peer education committee, the Postdoctoral Fellowship for Faculty Diversity and the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences Pre-Professoriate Fellows Program.

Inclusive Teaching in the Classrooms: Beyond the Little Red Teaching Toolbox to Socio-Cultural Apprenticeship

Presented by: Lori Leaman - Department of Educational Foundations & Exceptionalities, Tara Kishbaugh, Dean of the School of Sciences, Engineering, Arts & Nursing, Eastern Mennonite University

Increasing access, inclusion, and equity for diverse student bodies is a continuing challenge in higher education. This three-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.

Rethinking Thinking: Designing for Neurodiversity

Presented by: Daisy Brenneman - 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 workshop examines barriers to neurodiversity in higher education and offers tools, ideas, strategies (including Universal Design), and collaborative exploration that participants can use to transform their classrooms, work spaces, and communities to create equity, meaningful access, and inclusion.

Diversity Through Internationalization: Fulbright, INU, and More

Presented by: Michelle Cude - Department of Middle, Secondary & Mathematics Education, Vesna Hart - Center for Global Engagement, Ed Brantmeier - Center for Faculty Innovation 

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, participate in the International Network of Universities’ Shadowing Program, explore International Association of Universities opportunities, and more.

Breaking the Binary: Supporting Non-Monosexual Students and Colleagues

Presented by: Arianna Sessoms and Jennifer Iwerks - University Health Center's The Well,

Non-monosexual people are the largest group within the LGBTQ+ community. However, non-monosexual people are rarely discussed in LGBTQ+ ally trainings, poorly represented in LGBTQ+ support programming and services, and often marginalized and stigmatized in social settings. Considering the research and statistics that show the high rates of violence, health disparities, and internalized bias non-monosexual people face, this session will encourage attendees to identify ways to be more inclusive and break the monosexual binary in your personal and professional lives.

The Experience of Preparing Future Faculty in Harrisonburg

Presented by: Marcus Wolfe, Amy Lewis, Benita Dix, Giselle Hendy - Preparing Future Faculty Fellows

James Madison University’s Preparing Future Faculty program's recent cohorts have been focusing on recruiting underrepresented graduate students to teach at this Predominantly White Institution (PWI). The current cohort, Amy Lewis, Benita Dix, Giselle Hendy and Marcus Wolfe, will host a panel sharing their experiences on being minority faculty at James Madison University, and Harrisonburg at large. Our panel will offer, from first hand experiences, suggestions for growth in the community here at JMU to assist in retaining professionals of color.

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

Presented by: Christine Robinson, Daniel Beers, Gianluca De Fazio, Rosemary Ishmael and Case Watkins - Department of Justice Studies, Daniel Morales, Department of History

The panelists will introduce three local community-engaged digital scholarship projects (Immigrant Harrisonburg, Racial Terror: Lynching in Virginia, and the Shenandoah Valley LGBTQ Archive and Oral History Project) to encourage participants to understand how digital projects can be used to engage and transform local communities; promote diversity, access, inclusion, and justice (on and off campus); and invigorate teaching, scholarship, and professional development for students, staff, and faculty members. Panelists will suggest some best practices, offer lessons learned, and provide information about resources that can assist those who wish to develop and support community-engaged projects.

Developing Culturally Competent Clinical Faculty

Presented by: Dara Hall - Education Support Center, Ronald Shultz - EMU, Ann Conners - Harrisonburg City 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 and guidelines 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.

Session 3: 2:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.
Creating Spaces to Combat Imposter Syndrome in Higher Education

Presented by: Fawn-Amber Montoya - Honors College, Trent Pace - Office of Admissions, Zelda Tackey - JMU student

This Session will begin with panelists discussing Imposter Syndrome and how it impacts their experiences at JMU inside and outside of the classroom. Panelists will engage in dialogue with attendees to establish ideas/experiences for JMU faculty to be able to create more inclusive classroom activities. Lastly, panelists and attendees can discuss methods of sharing this information with faculty across campus.

Real Talk: Inclusion and the Black Male Student Experience at Madison

Presented by: Pernell Whitfield, Jr. - Center for Global Engagement and JMU students

Join us for an engaging panel discussing the black male student experience at James Madison University. Current students will share their experiences navigating the black male identity on campus and within the classroom. As a result of hearing the authentic experiences of our panelists, attendees will be able to better understand ways that we can continue supporting black males at JMU and how we can strive to make their experience more inclusive. 

Promising Practices and Interventions for Faculty Diversity Recruitment at UMBC

Presented by: Autumn Reed - Assistant Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

In this session, Dr. Autumn Reed, Assistant Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) shares impactful practices and programmatic initiatives to improve faculty diversity recruitment. The discussion includes such efforts as UMBC's faculty hiring and recruitment expectations, the STRIDE faculty peer education committee, the Postdoctoral Fellowship for Faculty Diversity and the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences Pre-Professoriate Fellows Program. 

Restoring Civility in the Workplace

Presented by: Ken Nwadike, Jr. - Peace Activist and founder of the Free Hugs Project

Creating safe and inclusive work environments begins with how civil we are towards our fellow men and women. Ken shares stories of de-escalating intense confrontations on the front-lines of riots and protests. He describes ways that peacekeeping principles can be used proactively in the workplace and community to prevent heightened situations from occurring.

Rethinking and Revising your Syllabus with Diversity and Inclusion at the Center

Presented by: Kara Kavanagh - Department of Early, Elementary, and Reading Education and Daisy Breneman - Department of Justice Studies

Using a workshop style presentation, the presenter and participants will share research, examples, policies, and practices for faculty to interrogate and revise their syllabus to be more inclusive to all students.

Inclusive Study-Away

Presented by: Cheryl Beverly - Department of Learning, Technology & Leadership Education

The values of Inclusive Study-Away will be explored from multiple perceptions. Factors to be considered as faculty and staff design, market, recruit, and implement inclusive study away programs will be discussed. Issues of access, identity, readiness, knowledge and skills relevant to successful study away, and motivation will be identified and explored. We will also identify resources available to provide information and support for faculty and staff regarding diversity and study away. Participants will gain insight into the knowledge and skills that can support faculty and staff as they provide inclusive study away programs.

Fighting Words: Expanding Awareness and Exploring Bias Through Black Poetry

Presented by: McKinley Melton - Furious Flower Scholar-in-Residence, Joanne Gabbin - Executive Director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center and Talibah Atiya-Najee Aquil - The Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at EMU

Facilitators from the Furious Flower Poetry Center invite participants to attend an interactive presentation that will encourage thoughtful engagement with Black poetry as a means of exploring issues of privilege, bias, and exclusion. Furious Flower facilitators will guide small and large group discussions around three poems--"which art? which fact?" (Nate Marshall), "Résumé Names" (Shauna M. Morgan), and "When I Think of Tamir Rice While Driving" (Reginald Dwayne Betts)--each of which was included in Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry, an anthology recently published to coincide with the Center's 25th Anniversary. Ultimately, the aim of this session is to consider how artistic expression can enable the critical exploration of challenging issues related to race and to empower attendees to utilize all tools at their disposal to engage with themes that significantly impact our community.

JMU and Rwanda: Understanding University Initiatives in the Land of a Thousand Hills

Presented by: Liv Stephens - Strategic Planning and Engagement and Mike Davis - Office of the President

This session will discuss current and future JMUs Rwandan initiative programming. Participants will learn the background, practice, and strategic plan and will be able to see how their department and they themmselves might "fit in." With iDebate Rwanda at the Center of JMU's partnerships in Rwanda, JMU's approach to Rwandese partnerships is with the same core tenants iDebate teaches their students: gender equity, collaboration, deliberative speech, and ethical and equitable leadership. This session will lean heavily on best practices for international engagement, exchange of ideas on teaching and service, and developing awareness of opportunities of inclusion work happening in Mille Collines (Rwanda).

Keep C.A.L.M. and Check Contrast

Presented by: Brittany Dioszeghy, Brennan Maupin and Tonya Schoenbeck - Office of Disability Services

Include diverse learners by understanding the importance of choosing accessible learning materials. In this session, accessible contrast and how to check for it will be focused on as a starting point for how to make your materials and content more accessible for all.

An I.D.E.A. to Promote Collaborative Learning Within Undergraduate Student Teams

Presented by: Kyle Gipson - Department of Engineering

In a post on Higher Education Today, a blog by the American Council on Education website, entitled “Addressing STEM Culture and Climate to Increase Diversity in STEM Disciplines,” Dr. Kimberly Griffin describes a set of norms and values in STEM fields that promote identities such as “scientist,” “engineer,” “mathematician,” and “academic” while identities like “woman” or “person of color” are viewed as inconsequential. When steeped in a culture as described, students may not develop a sense of belonging and are less likely to stay in the STEM fields. This session offers a learning experience on how to create a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion for teams based on the work of colleagues at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Included in the activities are opportunities to reflect upon your own identities, assets, as well as communication and conflict styles.

Share Your Story: The Journey towards Culturally Responsive Practice

Presented by: Joshua Streeter - School of Theatre and Dance and Meghan Schenker-Fulcher - Harrisonburg City Public Schools

To create community transformation, a facilitator must first begin to unpack their own story and consider how to invite others to share their story as well. In her book Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, Hammond states, “Culturally responsive teachers have to understand their own cultural reference points to be effective” (p. 69). With this in mind, this session will offer tools “to begin” by focusing on the power of story. Drawing attention to our own narrative allows an individual to celebrate, unpack, and explore cultural frames of reference. This, in turn, leads to an understanding of how to include others within a community and honors an individual story or experience within a group or community setting.

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