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We look forward to welcoming you at the
2023 Diversity Conference on
March 22, 2023

2022 Diversity Conference
Session Descriptions

Session 1: 9:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Media Literacy Education

Presented by: Dolores Flamiano - School of Media Arts and Design, Andre Nicholson- Media and Communication at Middle Georgia State University, Jayne Cubbage - Department of Communications Bowie State University 

Media can perpetuate racial inequalities--but media also have the power to break down stereotypes and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. Media literacy education is uniquely positioned to foster diversity by speaking to today's college students, who come from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. This session features Dr. Andre Nicholson and Dr. Jayne Cubbage, former Preparing Future Faculty fellows who were part of JMU's SMAD 150 (Media Literacy) teaching team while completing their doctorates at Howard University. Nicholson currently teaches at Middle Georgia State University and Cubbage teaches at Bowie State University. They will share their pioneering work in diversifying the media literacy curriculum, including a co-authored textbook-in-progress entitled Media Literacy for Diverse Audience

Presentation format: In person

Doing Diversity Differently: The tools of respect and belonging

Presented by: Leah Kyaio - With Respect LLC

Why is it we’ve been doing diversity work for 50+ years with little progress? Can you see how the much of the current model of DEI is actually driven through an exclusionary model; that people are asked to change without developing the tools needed? Let’s take a closer look at what hasn’t been working and explore a different path, a new way to engage and embrace the ideals of diversity. In this interactive workshop we identify the tools of respect and belonging that create an environment of justice and dignity. These are, after all, the ideals of diversity and equity.

Presentation format: In person

Fostering More Inclusive and Equitable Workplaces and Pedagogical Spaces: Lessons from Personal Experience Narratives of Academic Librarians of Color in the United States

Presented by: Jody Fagan - JMU Libraries

Faculty and staff of color play critical roles in United States academic institutions, and librarians are no exception. An analysis of the personal experiences of librarians of color reveals extraordinary and distinctive contributions, as well as the ways that institutions are falling short of providing inclusive and equitable workplaces and pedagogical spaces. What can the personal narratives of academic librarians of color teach us about the need and the strategies for improving inclusion and equity in postsecondary educational institutions? This presentation will offer some suggestions and attendees will be invited to offer related insights from their own experiences and contexts.

Presentation format: Virtual only. Attendees will be required to bring laptop or mobile device if accessing session while at Festival, room space and wifi will be available. Attendees may access from location of their choice.

Identifying Behaviors at Work to Increase Competency with DEI

Presented by: Jules Myers - Talent Development

This workshop is designed to offer participants a framework for skills and behaviors that help to develop competency with DEI practices and attitudes. Practice and mastery of these competencies supports JMU’s goal to be an inclusive community that values the richness of all individuals and perspectives. Participants will also be able to identify areas they would like to know more about and find relevant TD workshops to support their learning journey.

Presentation format: In person

Lessons on Black College Student Strengths Amid a Triad of Crises

Presented by: BJ Bryson and Shanza Isom - Department of Social Work, Ailton Coleman - Health Science, Modjahji Choshi - School of Nursing

A facilitated discussion on findings from a pilot study designed to understand the experiences of Black college students during a triad of crises identified as the COVID-19 pandemic with disparate health outcomes in Black communities, the vacating of college campuses that reduced or eliminated supports for Black students, and the increased awareness and social actions related to the murders of Black people by law enforcement. These crises created greater vulnerability for Black students who utilized culturally maintained problem solving and showed great resiliency and empowerment. What lessons can the campus community learn from them?

Presentation format: In person

Living with PTSD, Working in Human Services

Presented by: Wendy Bundy - VA Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services

This presentation will cover Wendy’s mental health journey of the trauma she endured as a 911 dispatcher, including the struggle she had for several years to find meaning in her life after leaving that line of work. Her presentation will bring light and attention to the importance of mental health for first responders and those in public safety, but also for anyone living with a mental health condition. While she will talk about some of her dark times, the majority of her presentation will focus on good coping mechanisms and what the future holds.

Presentation format: In person

Pacing Through an Identity - Pacing through a personal journey of life and faith

Presented by: Trent Pace - Office of Admissions

This session is meant to help others see how one can move from superficial relationships to authentic relationships. Join in on the journey with Trent Pace as you pace with him through his personal walk of life.

Presentation format: In person

The Current Science Guiding the International Olympic Committee's Rules and Regulations for Transgender Athletes

Presented by: Averi Firari - Department of Kinesiology

Provide information on the history of transgender specific guidelines as it pertains to athletic competition. How the suppression of certain hormones can impact athletic performance and physiological function including muscular, cardiovascular, and metabolic variables.

Presentation format: In person

Using Data to Increase Equity in Retention: Reintroducing JMU's Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)

Presented by: Chris Patterson - Center for Assessment & Research Studies and Paul Mabrey - School of Communications

Exploration of the high overall retention rate at JMU has confirmed what higher education research has noted- marginalized and underrepresented groups at JMU are retained at much lower rates than what is shown to external stakeholders. Although not surprising, it is still JMU’s responsibility to remedy this form of sociohistorical oppression for its students. This session invites conversation about JMU’s quality enhancement plan, implementing an early action and intervention system, which is designed to increase retention for historically underrepresented students at JMU. All questions, comments, and concerns are welcome and encouraged in this space.

Presentation format: In person

Session 2: 10:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
Current Challenges to Teaching AntiDiscrimation

Presented by: Tolu Odumosu - Integrated Science and Technology, Carah Ong Whaley - Center for Civic Engagement, JMU students - Naomi Beecroft, Zoya Kirchner, Kelsey Liske, Jordan Zapp and Josie Kupsky

Widespread institutional commitments (and recommitments) to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts seen across the country from private businesses to universities, including here at James Madison University, reflect a new urgency for a critical engagement with the pernicious legacies of racism, especially anti-Black racism, and discrimination. This session brings together faculty and students who are working to include meaningful, transformative courses and learning opportunities focused on addressing problematic structures that create barriers to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI). The session will include discussion of navigating political, historical and legal challenges.

Presentation format: In person

Disability Accommodations in the "Real World"

Presented by: Brittany Dioszeghy, Kathryn Rathgeber and Christopher Kinney - Disability Services, Jessica DeCarlo - VA Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services

Myth: People with disabilities can’t get accommodations in the “real world” of work. Fact: Not only can people with disabilities get accommodations in the workplace, there are laws and state agencies that support disability accommodations in the workplace. Come learn about disability as diversity, accommodations for school vs. work, and resources for getting accommodations in the workplace directly from Disability Services and DARS representatives.

Presentation format: Offered in-person and virtually, select preference at registration.

If the World were a Village of 100 

Presented by: Mauricio Velásquez, Diversity Training Group

A Global Perspective – is more important than ever. What if we could look at the whole world through a lens that really crystalizes the big picture but allows you to look at local DEI issues as well. The world is getting smaller, more interconnected. With the 24 hour news cycle and social media and now Covid, diversity, equity and inclusion issues are constantly cycling through the media. Join us for a powerful workshop, a powerful conversation. You will walk out saying “I had no idea and now I know” and possibly what to do.

Presentation format: In person

Inclusive Practices in Mentoring Relationships

Presented by: Angela W. Webb - Middle, Secondary, & Mathematics Education

The journey toward diversity, equity, and inclusion--this year’s Diversity Conference theme--has been fraught in recent years. The call for facing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion head on swells across higher education in general and at JMU specifically; yet, campuses (and other organizations/companies) face opposition to these efforts from a variety of places and stakeholders. Even so, campuses still continue this journey where, when, and how they can. For many, JMU included, one path (necessary, yet on its own insufficient) on the journey toward diversity, equity, and inclusion is to focus on recruiting and retaining faculty and staff from historically marginalized groups.

Presentation format: In person

Plain Language: How to Make Language Accessible for All

Presented by: Sylvia Chan and Kristen Shrewsbury - Multilingual Student Services, Learning Centers

Plain language is defined as language that can be understood quickly, easily, and completely. Think this is the case with texts we encounter now? Think again! From both a professor and student point of view, come learn about what plain language is, why it is important and tips on how you can integrate it in your everyday life!

Presentation format: In person

Professor-in-Residence Faculty Experiences and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Presented by: David Owusu-Ansah - Department of History & Associate Provost for Diversity
Executive Director Faculty Access and Inclusion

The Professor in Residence (PIR) program is a JMU k-12 educational outreach that advocates and supports students at heavily free lunch Virginia public schools to pursue postsecondary education. Working with school counselors, administrators and teachers, our PIR faculty members have participated in FAFSA training for pupils, made classroom visitations to support teachers, and led students to participate in the campus visit program. For over a decade, select Middle School students from PIR schools participated in the one-week summer residency program—the Middle School Leadership Academy. Additionally, our PIR faculty members reached out to members of their respective school boards and offices of school superintendents to bring to their attention the needs of the assigned schools. COVID-19 interrupted much of the PIR engagement and presented special challenges, not only to students and the education communities, but to our PIR faculty. At this RoundTable, select PIR faculty members will discuss the impact of covid restrictions on students and what is being done to support teachers and students at the assigned schools.

Presentation format: In person

Task Force on Racial Equity Update

Presented by: Art Dean - Task Force on Racial Equity Co-Chair

The Task Force on Racial Equity has been in operation for three full semesters looking to create, submit and implement recommendations designed to improve the experiences, support and climate at JMU with regards to Race. Come hear an update, what's been submitted, what's in implementation and what's in development. Also, come learn about key projects and initiatives taken on by the task force. A great time to ask questions and gain knowledge of the work of the task force.

Presentation format: In person

Through the Eyes of the Beholder

Presented by: Cheryl Beverly and Diane Wilcox - Learning, Technology & Leadership Education, Bill White - Educational Foundations and Exceptionalities

Laurence J. Peter noted that “Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder” The (diversity) images used to direct our journeys, and define our destination may have different meanings for different stakeholders. Our journeys may be made more complex based on different meaning making in creating and receiving the messages of images. In this interactive discussion, we will explore the factors that filter our meaning making of images of/for diversity, access, inclusion, and equity.

Presentation format: Virtual only - Attendees will be required to bring laptop or mobile device if accessing session while at Festival, room space and wifi will be available. Attendees may access from location of their choice.

Understanding Trauma through an Intersectional Lens

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

All students have experienced trauma--especially in the times of the COVID pandemic, this generation of students are experiencing a collective trauma that will continues to affect them daily. However, students from oppressed communities are faced with additional trauma, which compounds the impact of trauma that these students experience. Understanding diversity requires acknowledging the (extent of the) harm that BIPOC/queer/disabled/socioeconomically disadvantaged/etc. students encounter and recognizing the signs that trauma exhibits within the classroom. Finally, the presentation concludes with recommendations for integrating equity-centered trauma-informed practices into class practices.

Presentation format: In person

Session 3: 2:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.
8 Major myths of Diversity and Inclusion 

Presented by: Mauricio Velásquez, Diversity Training Group

The biggest challenge I find in my 25 plus year career as a DEI Consultant and Trainer is the “In-Group or Dominant Group bias about a conversation, a workshop on bias.”  I call it being bias squared. This workshop is about debunking the myths of diversity, unraveling the bias people have for a conversation on bias. Come with an open mind – only way to go.

Presentation format: In person

Belonging and Inclusion in STEM: A Perspective from Chemistry

Presented by: W. Christopher Hollinsed - Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

This session will address issues of belonging and inclusion in the STEM classroom setting. It will provide:

  • The evidence-based need for inclusion and belonging including the impact on those that feel excluded.
    Models for describing successful inclusion scenarios.
  • Practical steps that can be taken to provide a more inclusive classroom environment.
    Resources for further in-depth study and practical application.
  • Emphasis on STEM education with an emphasis on Chemistry.

Presentation Format: In person

Dementia Friends

Presented by: Kathy Guisewite - Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services

Become a Dementia Friend! Dementia is present in our community. As friends and family members of those living with this disease, we can feel at a loss on many levels, and truly don't know where or how to begin to understand this experience. Dementia Friends is a global movement that offers Information Sessions to educate, encourage advocacy, and to build communities that are safe and supportive to families walking this journey. This session will build your tools, encourage you to engage and advocate, and expand your heart just a bit more.

Presentation format: In person

Envisioning a Just Future: Weaving Together Science and the Humanities as a Model of Inclusive Teaching in Higher Education

Presented by: Shannon N. Conley, Emily York and Cindy Klevickis - School of Integrated Sciences, Holly Yanacek - Foreign Language Department, Christine May - Department of Biology, Daisy L. Breneman - Justice Studies, University Advising and Disability Studies

In an NSF-funded project, four JMU Faculty (from biology, ISAT, disability studies, and literary studies) have come together under the umbrella of “Imagining a Just Future” to mutually inform new modules focused on “just futures” in each of their classes. We ask, to what extent are the modules inflected with inclusivity, diverse voices, and insights/content from other disciplines, given our methodology and workshop structure? We discuss our experiences interacting with the methodology and each other, and participants will have the opportunity to reflect on how such methods might be useful for inclusive collaboration in their respective contexts.

Presentation format: Offered in person and virtually, select preference at registration.

Leadership with a Lens on Equity 

Presented by: Monica Smith-Woofter - Learning, Technology & Leadership Education, Donica O. Hadley - College of Education DEI Fellow, Leatrice Woods - Skyline Middle School

Equity conscious leaders focused on equitable practices for black, brown, low-socio-economic, vulnerable, and other marginalized students. This session will discuss considerations under the following circumstances: 1) strategies for divisions that are not focused on equity, 2) strategies for divisions that are focused on equity, and 3) strategies for school leaders focused on ensuring equitable practices, policies, and procedures.

Presentation format: In person

LGBTQ Employee Advocacy Working Group

Presented by: Kristen Shrewsbury - Learning Centers, Logan Zeigler - Center for Civic Engagement, Matthew Hunsberger - College of Integrated Science and Engineering, Christine Robinson - Department of Justice Studies

This session introduces the work of the SOGIE Advisory Board LGBTQ Employee Advocacy Working Group as a context for inviting conversation about the experiences and needs of LGBTQ employees and for advancing JMU’s journey toward DEI. We will briefly review the recent legal (state and federal) landscape that affects all JMU employees; discuss the DEI efforts of the Board’s LGBTQ employee working group; encourage participants to join a LGBTQ Advocacy Employee Group; and advocate for JMU’s formal recognition of a standing LGBTQ Employee Advisory Board as a necessary, welcome, and vital part of JMU’s commitment to and journey toward DEI.

Presentation format: Virtual only - Attendees will be required to bring laptop or mobile device if accessing session while at Festival, room space and wifi will be available. Attendees may access from location of their choice.

Redefining technique: A push to decentralize Eurocentric techniques in dance curriculum

Presented by: Matt Pardo - Dance Program, Ryan Corriston - Dance Coordinator, Suzanne Miller-Corso - Dance Faculty, Toby Twining - Musical Director all from the School of Theater and Dance

This session will give participants an inside look at how the JMU Dance program is privileging DEI in its curricular redesign and will illuminate the shift in technical standards that this process will entail. The aim for this session will be to articulate and justify the proposed changes, while discussing the multiple methodologies utilized in bringing this vision to fruition (hiring practices, curriculum design, etc.). Participants will also have an opportunity to engage with the panel and the participant community about ways that this work can be translated to be broadly applicable. Finally, participants may have an opportunity to dance for a minute or two, because what conference does!

Presentation format: In person

Reframing Autism through Neurodiversity Lens

Presented by: Joy Y. Martin - Office of Disability Services, Naomi Beecroft - JMU Studio Art student, Maisie Soetantyo - Founder of Autism Career Pathways

The Autistic community knows the lifelong, compounding trauma of navigating a world not made for us. Many Autistics in academia (diagnosed and undiagnosed) struggle to survive the college experience and come out the other side with a degree, career and bright future ahead. This session will provide an intersectional and autistic led re-framing of what autism truly is and give participants the basic tools and knowledge to support Autistic ability to self-regulate, learn, communicate, and thrive. If the mountain the Autistic community must climb is steep, why not support them to become the best climbers in the world?

Presentation format: In person

The Long and Winding Road

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

Journey usually means traveling a long distance and often in dangerous or difficult circumstances. Our personal journeys of “diversity” may have involved a long time but little distance. They may have been dangerous in some stretches, dangerous and/or difficult in others. Our journeys probably have required fresh starts for new road conditions or pathways. In this interactive discussion, we will explore understandings, components, and goals of our personal journeys. We will identify some possible hurdles or roadblocks that limit our distance traveled. We will identify the complexities of different understandings of diversity, access, inclusion, and equity.

Presentation format: Virtual only - Attendees will be required to bring laptop or mobile device if accessing session while at Festival, room space and wifi will be available. Attendees may access from location of their choice.

The Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program over the years: A RoundTable Conversation

Presented by: David Owusu-Ansah - Department of History & Associate Provost for Diversity
Executive Director Faculty Access and Inclusion

The Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program for underrepresented dissertation year scholars hosts up to four fellows annually at JMU. We provide for the fellows accommodation and stipend, as well as professional mentoring and dissertation research and writing support. Since its inception, various academic departments at JMU have been host to fellows from Ohio State University and SUNY at Binghamton. Our current PFFs are from LSU and Emory University, but primarily, our PFF partner institutions are Howard University and Morgan State University. Despite the record of successful hosting and mentoring of PFFs to complete the dissertation and gain instructional positions in the academy, we have not had public forums at which current and former fellows met to review their experiences and assessed the program. This RoundTable of current and former fellows intends to address this critical shortcoming.

Presentation format: In person

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