Virginia Inclusion Summit

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The 5th annual Virginia Inclusion Summit takes place on September 18, 2023.

About the Virginia Inclusion Summit

The Virginia Inclusion Summit brings together workplace professionals, government employees, and higher education administrators and students for a day of learning, sharing, and connecting. Attendees have the opportunity to explore timely issues and learn about best practices to help institutions across Virginia become more inclusive.

2023 Conference Schedule | At a Glance

Each conference attendee will have the opportunity to pre-select their sessions prior to the Virginia Inclusion Summit. Be on the lookout for an email to select your preferred choices from Summit organizers 2 week prior to the Summit.  Full session descriptions available in the drop down sections below.

8:15am – 9:00am

  • Registration Opens / Optional Networking Breakfast

9:00am – 9:15am

  • Greetings

9:30am – 12:00pm

  • Extended Learning Labs
    These highly interactive 2.5-hour morning sessions, facilitated by VCIC staff members, will offer an opportunity to deeply explore personal and institutional practices that advance equity. 
    • Pathways | Jessica Hawthorne, Jacquie Johnson
    • Programs | Charm Bullard, Emma Yackso
    • Policies | Erin Hanley, Jonathan Zur
12:15pm – 1:15pm
  • Lunch
1:30pm – 2:30pm
  • Power Sessions: Diversity
    Power Sessions will be facilitated by VCIC staff and partners.  These 1-hour afternoon sessions will provide an overview of a specific area of diversity.
    • The Age Inclusive Workplace: Belongingness at Work | Jenny Inker
    • Disability Inclusion – Inclusion above Compliance in the Workplace | Matthew Shapiro
    • Navigating Race in the Workplace | Archana Pathak 
    2:45pm – 3:45pm
    • Power Sessions: Inclusion
      Power Sessions will be facilitated by VCIC staff and partners.  These 1-hour afternoon sessions will provide an overview of a specific area of diversity.
      • Developing Advanced Inclusive Facilitation Skills | Alejandro Prince
      • Fostering Workplaces of Belonging | Sarah Cribbs
      • Creating Inclusive Data Collection and Assessment Practices | Trina Willard 
    4:00pm – 5:00 pm
    • Closing Plenary | Pathways to DEI in the Workplace
           Panelists | May Nivar, Paula Pando, Mel Smith
           Moderator | Dana Beckton
      Three leaders will reflect on their experiences and share ideas and recommendations for how to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within organizations and the community. This will be a candid, open, honest consideration of what is and is not working, as well as ideas about the road ahead.
    Continuing Education Credit Information

    Logo: SHRM Recertification ProviderVirginia Center for Inclusive Communities is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDC) for SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP® recertification activities.




    The use of the official seal confirms that this Program has met HR Certification Institute’s (HRCI) criteria for re-certification credit pre-approval.



    Details about HRCI and SHRM credits will be provided at the Summit.

    2023 Summit Logistics

    The 2023 conference will be held in person at The Westin Richmond (6631 W Broad St, Richmond, VA 23230).

    General registration opens on June 1, 2023 and can be completed via this website (see below).

    Hotel Reservations
    Stay at The Westin Richmond for a special conference rate of $169 per night, available Sunday, September 17 and Monday, September 18. A block of rooms has been reserved. The special rate expires on August 17, 2023 or when capacity is reached.

    To book the group rate online, use this link
    or call 1-888-627-7786 

    Extended Learning Labs | Full Session Descriptions & Facilitator Biographies
    Pathways | Jessica Hawthorne, Jacquie Johnson

    Many organizations state they are committed to building inclusive and equitable work environments where stakeholders (e.g., employees, board members, interns, volunteers) from all backgrounds feel supported and valued. From recruitment to onboarding and retention, inclusive pathways to different roles at the organization are key pieces of an individual’s experience at an organization. These pathways can lead to higher retention, improved morale, and higher productivity. This session focuses on the employee’s experience and invites participants to embrace the philosophy that inclusivity must begin before an employee begins their tenure. Participants will reimagine employee recruitment and retention practices through a lens of inclusivity.


    Jacqueline “Jacquie” Johnson is Director of Professional Development at the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. In her role, she designs, coordinates, delivers and evaluates diversity, equity, and inclusion programs conducted for VCIC’s workplace clients across Virginia. Jacquie has a diverse background that includes workplace diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) strategy, instructional design, and underrepresented community outreach and engagement. She is especially interested in how DEI practices, adult learning, and inner self-work build and better workplaces and communities for everyone to thrive. Jacquie currently serves on the board of The Fund for Leadership, Equity, Access, and Diversity (The LEAD Fund). Jacquie received her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Old Dominion University and her Master’s degree in Anthropology (International Development concentration) from George Washington University.

    Jessica M. Hawthorne is Vice President of Programs at the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. Jessica particularly specializes in VCIC’s programs for K-12 schools and higher education. She also leads VCIC’s program evaluation efforts. In the community, Jessica has served on the faculty of the Koinonia School for Race and Justice at Richmond Hill, and she was a member of both the Juvenile Justice Collaborative Youth Violence Prevention Workgroup and the Trauma-Informed Community Network. Jessica was also a community facilitator for the Unpacking the Census program. Jessica received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in Religious Studies, concentrating in African Religions and Islam. Jessica also earned a Master of Theological Studies from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University along with a Certificate in Religious Education.


    Programs | Charm Bullard, Emma Yackso

    Many organizations seek to make their programs more diverse and inclusive. Whether it is through professional development offerings or creating a workplace culture that focuses on positive customer and client experiences, having diverse and inclusive programs is the hallmark of a thriving workplace. In this interactive Learning Lab, participants will have the chance to explore the creation of programs that assist employee retention and learning while assisting the institution in meeting its bottom line around stronger decisions and increased success. 


    Charm Bullard is Senior Advisor to the CEO at the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. In her role, she designs and facilitates educational programs on diversity, equity, and inclusion for institutions across Virginia. Since joining the VCIC team in 2016, Charm has had the opportunity to conduct over 400 workshops across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Prior to joining VCIC, Charm spent 11 years working in various student affairs roles on collegiate campuses throughout the Southeast. One accomplishment she is particularly proud of is founding the Connecting Women of Color Conference at the University of Richmond, which was featured in Women in Higher Education and Essence magazines. Charm received her Bachelor’s degree in English from Lander University and her Master’s degree in Education with an emphasis on College Student Affairs Administration from the University of Georgia.

    Emma Yackso is Community Programs Coordinator at the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. In her role, she designs, coordinates, delivers, and evaluates diversity, equity, and inclusion programs for non-profit organizations, community groups, and government agencies across the Commonwealth. Emma comes to VCIC with a strong background in justice-oriented work, including a decade of experience in LGBTQ+ advocacy and support, community organizing, and southern-focused racial equity work. Most recently the Director of Programs at Side by Side, Emma is a clinical social worker who has worked in communities in Washington, D.C., New Orleans, LA, and Richmond and Charlottesville, VA.Emma received her Masters of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University, and she is a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Virginia. She earned her undergraduate degree from George Washington University.


    Policies | Erin Hanley, Jonathan Zur

    Institutions are increasingly recognizing the importance of policies that align with their commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion.  However, policies are not as neutral as they may seem.  A policy may impact employees or stakeholders differently depending on individual background, context, or needs.  In this interactive Learning Lab, participants will have the chance to explore the concept of an equity lens and apply that learning to critically analyze how policies impact different groups. They will also work together to identify policies and practices that advance inclusion.


    Erin Hanley is Vice President of Programs at the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.  In her role, Dr. Hanley designs and facilitates educational programs on diversity, equity, and inclusion for institutions across Virginia. She particularly specializes in VCIC’s workplace and community programs. Previously, Erin was Assistant Director in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Career Services office.  She has also taught courses at VCU and was previously a professional school counselor. Erin earned her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision at VCU, her M.Ed. from University of North Carolina and Chapel Hill in School Counseling, and her B.S. in Psychology from VCU.  Her dissertation (titled “From Kindergarten Classrooms to PhD Pursuits: Academic Narratives that Influence Career Decisions in Black Women Counselor Education and Supervision Doctoral Students”) was named the 2022 Dissertation of the Year from the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision. Additionally, she received a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace Certificate in 2021, is Safe Zone certified, and has been an invited presenter at a number of conferences.

    Jonathan Zur is President & CEO of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.  Under his leadership, VCIC has more than tripled the size of the budget and staff, and the number of programs delivered annually has increased by 3,000%. Additionally, the organization has been recognized locally and nationally for its effectiveness. An experienced facilitator and consultant, Jonathan was appointed by the Governor to the Commonwealth Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, formed in the aftermath of the tragedy in Charlottesville in August 2017. In 2016, Jonathan was a speaker at the inaugural White House Summit on Diversity and Inclusion in Government. In the community, Jonathan has served as a member of the Virginia Commission on African American History Education, the Virginia Complete Count Commission, the Leadership Metro Richmond Board of Directors, and the Capital Area Partnership Uplifting People Board of Directors, among other affiliations. Jonathan earned his B.A. from the University of Richmond and he received a Certificate in Nonprofit Executive Leadership from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

    Power Sessions: Diversity | Full Workshop Description & Facilitator Biographies
    The Age Inclusive Workplace: Belongingness at Work | Jenny Inker

    In this interactive workshop, participants will explore the paradox that we all share the experience of aging and yet our society often marginalizes us based on our age. Participants will learn to identify ageism and ableism and how these twin phenomena can influence the way we navigate age in the workplace across the generations. Participants will practice simple strategies for promoting age inclusivity at work that enrich our sense of belonging and bring benefits to both organizations and individuals.


    Dr Jenny Inker is an assistant professor of gerontology and the co-program director for the Assisted Living Administration Specialty Area in the Masters in Gerontology program at the College of Health Professions at Virginia Commonwealth University. She teaches sociology of aging, aging and human values (ethics), and financial management for gerontological leaders. Her research interests include the disruption of ageism in workplace, healthcare, and long-term care settings and the recognition of elderhood as a distinct and valuable life stage for both individuals and society. Jenny has served on the Virginia Board of Long-term Care Administrators since 2019 and was elected Chair of the Board in 2022.


    Disability Inclusion – Inclusion above Compliance in the Workplace | Matthew Shapiro

    Advancing disability inclusion in the workplace is essential and more vital than ever. As the pandemic modified the way our workplaces operated, it has created the opportunity for dialogue around digital accessibility and hybrid workplaces moving forward. These new models of remote work provide an ideal scenario to support employees and new hires with disabilities. In this session, participants will explore the importance of developing a positive disability corporate culture and learn practical strategies for how workplaces can implement common-sense solutions in transforming their physical space and their overall disability inclusion efforts. The session will address barriers facing the 56 million Americans living with disabilities and highlight the positive impact they have on our workplaces.


    Matthew Shapiro is a 2013 VCU graduate who completed a Bachelors of Interdisciplinary Studies degree. Throughout college, he participated in several internships, including opportunities with The White House, The U.S. Department of Transportation, and several Virginia area disability organizations.  In 2014, he developed a disability consulting company called 6 Wheels Consulting.  6 Wheels Consulting, LLC aims to work with businesses of all types to help advance their understanding of disability culture. In his free time, he enjoys learning about politics, watching sports, and hanging out with his dog, VP.


    Navigating Race in the Workplace | Archana Pathak

    In this power session, participants will explore race from a U.S. sociohistorical lens. They will have the opportunity to examine the impacts of anti-blackness, immigration/migration and global race frameworks on the U.S. workplace. Additionally, they will be able to will critically reflect on their own racial identity and how it shapes their work experience.


    Archana A. Pathak, Ph.D. is a diasporic feminist scholar-activist who examines issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, and nationality from a social justice perspective. Academically trained in intercultural communication and qualitative research methodologies, she utilizes autoethnography to explore how we tell ourselves and each other who we are. Her TEDx Talk “Embracing My Superpower: Living in the In-Between”, is based on her scholarly work on immigration, gender and race. She also served as president and board member of The Conciliation Project, a not-for-profit social justice theater organization that addresses issues of racism and oppression. While serving with The Conciliation Project, she co-authored a staged reading, “A Canary’s Call: dismantling the ‘master’s house'”, which is a satirical look at the experiences of women of color in academia. She currently serves as the Interim Assistant Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs in the Office of the Provost at Virginia Commonwealth University, where is also an associate professor in the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies.

    Power Sessions: Inclusion | Full Workshop Description & Facilitator Biographies
    Developing Advanced Inclusive Facilitation Skills | Alejandro Prince

    This interactive training will provide powerful lessons for veteran facilitators and leaders who are interested in advancing their knowledge and building on their facilitator skill-set. Participants will be able to role play varying scenarios in an effort to better guide discussions and increase confidence when facilitating conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through this session, participants will clearly understand how a facilitator’s role evolves as a group develops and they will proactively identify responses to common challenges.


    Alejandro Prince is Educational Programs Coordinator at the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC). In his role, Alejandro designs, coordinates, and facilitates programs, events, and conferences on diversity, equity, and inclusion primarily for educators and students across the Commonwealth. Prior to joining VCIC, Alejandro worked with a Community Action Agency delivering programs centered on violence prevention, trauma-informed education, healthy relationships, and college and career readiness for youth. His research and experience with curricula development center on the connections of moral philosophy, racial justice, gender & sexuality, history, and psychology. In the community, Alejandro serves on the Governing Body of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies from Azusa Pacific University and his Master’s in Theological Studies with a Certificate in African American and Diaspora Studies from Vanderbilt University.


    Fostering Workplaces of Belonging | Sarah Cribbs

    Belonging is a key component of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Having a sense of belonging helps individuals feel socially connected and makes each person better able to reach their full potential. In this session, participants will engage in reflective and interactive exercises that will help them to understand characteristics for creating a sense of belonging. Participants will also explore tangible strategies to build belonging, including policies, programs, and practices.


    Sarah E. Cribbs, Ph.D., is an associate professor of sociology at Randolph-Macon College where she teaches courses related to social identities, social inequalities, and research methods. Her research interests include examining pathways to improve intercultural competence, studying how individuals accomplish racial boundary-making, and exploring how racial attitudes influence policy decisions. She currently serves as the Director of Black Studies, an affiliated faculty member of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, and Chair of the RMC Non-Discrimination Committee.


    Creating Inclusive Data Collection and Assessment Practices | Trina Willard

    As its core purpose, data collection supports an organization’s ability to receive and process information that guides decision-making; however, the specific practices we use to gather data illuminate our values and our commitment to inclusivity. In this facilitated session, participants will take part in exercises to reflect on their own data collection strategies and identify barriers to inclusive data practices. Attendees will also consider practical methods for integrating more inclusive data collection and interpretation techniques, with a special emphasis on promoting an inclusive data culture within their own organizations.


    Trina Willard has provided program evaluation and measurement services to nonprofits and government agencies for nearly three decades. Through this work, she discovered that many local organizations don’t have the capacity or tools to capture the data that could optimize their operations and outcomes. This need, blended with her passion to work with those who serve the community, motivated her to launch Knowledge Advisory Group in 2010. Trina works directly with decision-makers, including government legislators, executive directors, and leadership teams, equipping them to make the most informed decisions. But the part of her job that she enjoys the most is changing mindsets about data, or helping clients understand how powerful data can be in reaching their goals. Previously, Trina served as Vice President of Transformation Systems, Inc. and Evaluation Chief at the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, Criminal Justice Research Center. Trina received her training from Virginia Tech in Applied-Experimental Psychology. She is a Licensed Consultant for the Nonprofit Standards for Excellence and a graduate of Leadership Metro Richmond Class of 2020.

    Closing Plenary | Panelist Biographies
    Pathways to DEI in the Workplace

    The past few years have been a period of great change in Virginia and across the country when navigating diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Individuals and institutions have had to be strategic and thoughtful about how to support DEI.  Some have established offices, others have worked under human resources or other functions, and many have pursued programs and initiatives.

    In this closing plenary, three leaders will reflect on their experiences and share ideas and recommendations for how to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within organizations and the community.  This will be a candid, open, honest consideration of what is and is not working, as well as ideas about the road ahead.


    Dana Beckton joined Sentara Healthcare in Norfolk, Virginia as their first Chief Diversity Officer in 2019. At Sentara, she is responsible for engaging across the organization to set the vision and strategy to cultivate an inclusive work environment where diversity is embraced and developed and where all employees feel valued and have equal opportunities to succeed. Dana serves as the interim president of the Virginia chapter of the National Association of Health Service Executives. Additionally, she currently serves on the boards of the Virginia Community College System and the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. She has served as a guest speaker on various diversity and inclusion topics for companies and non-profit organizations.  For her professional contributions, Dana was recently recognized by the National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Healthcare Diversity Officers. Dana has her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Temple University and her graduate degree in Organizational Development and Leadership from St. Joseph’s University.


    May Nivar leads all enterprise programs and frameworks that engage Altria employees in supporting their communities, such as giving and volunteering. Previously on behalf of Altria, she was a fellow with CEO Action for Racial Equity, the first business-led coalition of its kind focused on advancing racial equity through public policy and corporate engagement strategies. May was a founding member and chair of Altria’s Asian ERG and helped pilot the Women’s Network’s first mentoring program. May is a Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities State Board and Richmond chapter member and a founding member of the Asian & Latino Solidarity Alliance. Previous board service includes OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates – Central Virginia Chapter; Asian American Society of Central Virginia; and most notably, Virginia Asian Advisory Board to the Governor as vice chair and chair. May holds a B.A. in Journalism from New York University and is a 2017 graduate of Leadership Metro Richmond’s Leadership Quest program. She is currently in the 2023 Political Leaders Program at UVA’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership.

    Paula Pando is a strategic, forward-thinking educator with nearly 30 years of experience in both public and private higher education. In May 2018, Dr. Pando was appointed the fourth president of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. Prior to that role, she served as the Senior Vice President for Student and Educational Services at Hudson County Community College in New Jersey, where she spent nearly sixteen years of her career. Dr. Pando’s strong student advocacy and contributions to the field of higher education have been widely recognized. In 2017, she was one of 38 community college leaders selected from across the country for the Aspen Institute’s Presidential Fellowship. She serves on multiple boards including the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, Chamber RVA, and the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, among others. Dr. Pando was in the inaugural class of the Rowan University Community College Leadership Initiative in 2007, earning a doctorate in educational leadership. She earned an M.A. in education administration from Saint Peter’s University, and a B.A. from Stockton University.

    Mel Smith is the inaugural Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Genworth Financial in Richmond, Virginia.  In this role, Mel drives the diversity and inclusion programs and his efforts span the boundaries of Genworth working in close collaboration with people program areas like human resources, talent recruitment, analytics, marketing, communications, and branding in an effort to enhance diversity throughout Genworth. Mel earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and an MBA with a concentration in Management and holds a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell. He started his work in D&I back in his home town of New York City, where he was involved with many movements and campaigns to provide fair and equal opportunities for all the people of New York. Mel has over 20 years’ experience as a diversity advocate in several sectors: education, government, communities and youth services. His work in diversity and inclusion has encompassed affirmative action planning, diversity and inclusion education, coordinating youth programs, coordinating ADA programs and Title IX programs, and helping with employee assistance programs.

    Thank you to the 2023 Virginia Inclusion Summit Sponsors


    Allianz Partners


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