The 2nd annual Virginia Inclusion Summit took place on November 16, 2020.

About the Virginia Inclusion Summit

The Virginia Inclusion Summit brings together workplace professionals, government employees, and higher education students and administrators for a day of learning, sharing, and connecting. The program includes a dynamic keynote speaker and interactive breakout sessions. Attendees have the opportunity to explore current events and learn about best practices to help institutions across Virginia become more equitable and inclusive.

8:30-9:35 am

  • Welcome
  • Opening Plenary Workshop
    Facilitated by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities
9:50am – 11:05 am
  • Workshop Session 1  (Choice of 2 workshops)
    • Advancing Diversity & Inclusion in Higher Education
    • Leading Change – Steps to changing your Diversity and Inclusion culture
11:20am – 12:35 pm
  • Workshop Session 2  (Choice of 2 workshops)
    • Creating a Sense of Belonging in Corporate America
    • Effectively Engaging with the Community

12:35pm – 1:05 pm

  • Lunch Break
1:05pm – 2:00 pm
  • Keynote Address | Sponsored by CarMax: Where We’ve Come From and Where We’re Going: Race, Immigration, & Citizenship in the U.S.
    Dr. Khyati Y. Joshi
2:15pm – 3:30 pm
  • Workshop Session 3  (Choice of 2 workshops)
    • A Courageous Nudge: An Approach to Drive Inclusivity in Your Interactions
    • Marketing to Diverse Audiences
3:45pm – 5:00 pm
  • Workshop Session 4  (Choice of 2 workshops)
    • Leading Strong & Effective ERGs
    • Values-Based Leadership

Click on the time for more information

Opening Session

  • Welcome
    • Charm Bullard, Director of Programs, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities
    • Dr. Janice Underwood, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Opening Plenary WorkshopFacilitated by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities
    • The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities will facilitate an interactive session to kick off the Virginia Inclusion Summit.  This program will include a structured networking opportunity to allow participants to meet one another.  It will also introduce the intersectionality framework for attendees to consider during their sessions throughout the Summit.  Intersectionality recognizes each person’s multiplicity of identities and the links within and across identities.  Through a deeper understanding of intersectionality, individuals can better understand bias and more effectively build pathways to inclusion.

Workshop Session 1  (Choice between 2 workshops)

  • Advancing Diversity & Inclusion in Higher Education
    Panelists: Vidal Dickerson; Mekbib Gemeda; Fanchon Glover; Aaron Smith

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education is an ongoing conversation and commitment at institutions across Virginia. Join us for an engaging session about access, equity, and retention. This workshop will include panelists with extensive backgrounds in a variety of different higher education contexts.  They will share candid perspectives and practical tips based on their experience working at a range of institutions.


    • Hear perspectives and expertise from leaders in D & I within Higher Education
    • Create conversation among panel and participants regarding best practices
    • Create a network of peers with similar professional experiences


  • Leading Change – Steps to Changing Your Diversity and Inclusion Culture
    Mel Smith, Jr.

Diverse and inclusive companies drive innovative results. Yet companies still struggle with diversity and inclusion, often failing to attract diverse talent, develop them, or retain them due to inclusivity issues in the workplace. For organizations looking to shape up their diversity and inclusion programs and policies, the change can be challenging and rewarding. In this session, we will discuss some important steps to changing your D&I culture – helping you and your organization attract, develop, and retain talented people of all backgrounds.


    • Learn how to change organizational D&I culture
    • Promote D&I culture in your organization
    • Create a network of change champions at your organization

Workshop Session 2  (Choice between 2 workshops)

  • Effectively Engaging with the Community
    Cameron Patterson

Building an effective community engagement strategy is important for organizations and must be mission-centered. Participants will explore community engagement best practices, using as context the Robert Russa Moton Museum in Farmville, Virginia. The museum has created community engagement opportunities around the telling of Prince Edward County’s civil rights history. Participants will have an opportunity to apply lessons learned to their organizations, internally and externally.

By the conclusion of this session, participants will:

    • Define community engagement
    • Identify several key strategies for community engagement and how to implement them within their organization and community
    • Learn about the Moton Museum in Farmville, Virginia as a case study for community engagement


  • Creating a Sense of Belonging in Corporate America
    Beth Panilaitis

We all want to belong. Having a sense of belonging helps us feel socially connected and makes each of us better able to reach our full potential. But what does that look like in the workplace? Belonging is a key component of our D&I initiatives and helps employees feel valued, noticed and cared for. This session will focus on tangible strategies to build belonging in your companies including policies, programs and practices.


    • Learn strategies to increase belonging
    • Take inventory of their current practices
    • Begin building an action plan for how they can incorporate these initiatives at their companies.


Take some time for yourself to refresh.

CarMax Keynote

Where We’ve Come From and Where We’re Going: Race, Immigration, & Citizenship in the U.S.
Dr. Khyati Y. Joshi

At a time when injustices and discrimination are being understood in new and important ways, it is also critical to understand how we got to this moment as a country.  This dynamic keynote presentation provides a glimpse into strands of lesser-known history that have shaped this nation, particularly illuminating the role of race and religion in U.S. history. Audience members will be presented with a narrative that shows how Supreme Court decisions, immigration laws, and Jim Crow policies contributed to the development of current realities.  With this deeper understanding, attendees can better recognize patterns and can work to effectively advance equity and inclusion within their institutions and communities.

By the conclusion of this session, participants will:

  • Understand lesser-known events throughout United States history that inform how race and religion are navigated today
  • Recognize the links between past and present
  • Build awareness to be able to work towards a more inclusive future

Workshop Session 3  (Choice between 2 workshops)

  • A Courageous Nudge : An Approach to Drive Inclusivity in Your Interactions
    Somya Dwivedi-Burks

When was the last time you had a conversation where you came out feeling included?

Or been heard? Or understood? While having biases were an evolutionary advantage to the human species, the same biases are now an obstacle in driving inclusion and a sense of belonging in our relationships and our communities.

This workshop explores an approach of nudging our minds to think beyond biases, and embrace equality of thought to create inclusive and productive spaces and outcomes.


    • To understand the concept of an Inclusive Thinking Environment
    • To practice the Inclusive Thinking Environment concept using activities during the workshop
    • To share experiences of courageous nudges via storytelling in a learning community


  • Marketing to Diverse Audiences
    Clary Leffel

This workshop will focus on defining what we mean by diverse audiences in marketing, and exploring the value of marketing to these diverse audiences, while providing best-in-class examples across multiple industries. Participants will have an opportunity to consider their own practices and compare them with industry best practices in an effort to increase the efficacy of their marketing.


    • Importance of reaching diverse audiences
    • Measuring success and best practices
    • Ensuring your marketing reflects your D&I values.

Workshop Session 4 (Choice between 2 workshops)

  • Values-Based Leadership
    Sharon Amoss

In this increasingly uncertain, complex, and changing world, leaders need a clear personal compass and a strong sense of inner will. This session will introduce the philosophy of Values-Based Leadership (VBL) and the five leadership practices that underpin it. VBL is based on the idea that leadership is a choice, not a title. Participants will identify their own personal core values, and consider how to develop relationships and build trust with others, even when their values differ. We’ll explore the ways that the practices of Values-Based Leadership can honor diversity and foster inclusive environments that allow all to thrive.

Workshop Goals:

    • Learn about Values-Based Leadership and its five leadership practices
    • Identify and describe your own personal core values
    • Discover ways to lead that align to your own values and ignite the potential of others


  • Leading Strong & Effective ERGs
    May Nivar | Quan Schneider 

Employee resource groups (ERGs) give employees with shared identities and experiences a safe space, a voice to be heard and valued, and a sense of belonging. Their members can also provide insights and ideas on business and organizational strategies. Hear from a founding ERG chair and a diversity and inclusion manager about their journeys, learning, and perspectives on what it takes to lead strong and effective ERGs.

Workshop Goals:

    • The power of ERG intersectionality and collaboration
    • Data to gain insights and allocate resources
    • Internal and external tools and resources to achieve goals
    • Your organization’s ERGs’ unique value proposition

Khyati Y. Joshi is a public intellectual whose social science research and community connections inform policy-makers, educators, and everyday people about race, religion, and immigration in 21st century America.

Her most recent book is White Christian Privilege: The Illusion of Religious Equality in America (NYU Press, 2020). She is the author and co-editor of Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, 3rd edition (Routledge, 2016), one of the most widely-used books by diversity practitioners and social justice scholars alike. Her other works include New Roots in America’s Sacred Ground: Religion, Race, and Ethnicity in Indian America (Rutgers U. Press, 2006); Envisioning Religion, Race, and Asian Americans (University of Hawaii Press, 2020) and Asian Americans in Dixie: Race and Migration in the South (U. of Illinois Press, 2013), both as co-editor; and numerous book chapters and articles. She has lectured around the world, including at the White House; to policy-makers at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE); and for scholarly and popular audiences in Denmark, India, Lebanon, and across the United States.

She consults on equity and inclusion for schools, colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations, and businesses; she has provided professional development to educators across the U.S., and continuing education programs for lawyers and judges. As a Professor of Education at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Dr. Joshi received the 2014 Distinguished Faculty Award for Research and Scholarship. She was a consultant for the Pew Research Forum’s groundbreaking 2015 survey on Asian Americans and Religion, and is a founder and board member of Jersey Promise and co-author of its groundbreaking report on Asian Americans in New Jersey.

Professor Joshi earned her doctorate in Social Justice Education at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is a graduate of Emory University and the Candler School of Theology, and pursued post-graduate studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Often contacted by journalists, Prof. Joshi has appeared on television and radio such as C-Span, Voice of America, and PRI’s The World, and has been quoted in numerous publications in the U.S. and abroad, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, The Timesof India, and The Record.

Visit Her Website

With over 20 years of experience in Values Based Leadership, Sharon Amoss practices VBL in her role as InnerWill’s Director of Operations and shares the practice of VBL with others through group facilitation. She particularly enjoys working with organizations to articulate a clear mission and actionable set of organizational values, and working with teams to help them navigate conflict and leverage each members’ individual gifts.

Sharon serves as Secretary of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities’ Richmond Chapter, and is a Facilitator for the Richmond Pledge to End Racism ( She holds an MBA from William & Mary’s Mason School of Business and a Certificate in Facilitation from Georgetown University.

Vidal Dickerson serves as the Special Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs at Christopher Newport University (CNU) where his focus is diversity, equity, and inclusion matters related to the student experience. His work includes student outreach & support, leadership development, education & training, student-alumni relations, first generation college student initiatives, among other university efforts. He is in his fourth year at CNU.

Vidal has had a fruitful 22-year career in higher education that spans many different functional areas including: admissions, student activities, residence life, international support services, religious & spiritual life, community engagement, and predominately multicultural affairs/diversity and inclusion. Additionally, he has directed college access programs for low-income students and families like the Aim Higher St. Louis program for St. Louis Public Schools and the Governor’s Village Program for Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC) Public Schools.

Vidal received a BS in Mathematics from Austin Peay State University and an MS in Higher Education & Student Affairs from Indiana State University. He is currently a pre-candidate doctoral student in Human and Organizational Learning at The George Washington University.

Somya Dwivedi-Burks has thrived in the intersection of learning, performance improvement, and design.

As a Principal consultant of Somya Trains, LLC, Somya has helped teams in a broad range of organizations to move beyond the prescriptive “training for awareness” and provided targeted results for intercultural communication and building cohesive teams.  Her experience as an immigrant and a non-white woman catalyzed her learning journey.  She’s a practitioner of inclusion and cultural intelligence and works these components into her work.  Her firm’s services portfolio consists of developing learning strategy, the digital transformation of content, and training for cultural intelligence, inclusive leadership, and coaching skills for people managers.

Somya lives in the Virginia Beach area and has been a member of VCIC’s Tidewater Chapter since 2018. When she is not working, she’s being a teacher to her daughters who are virtual learning and juggling her life in the COVID-19 world.

You can learn more about her at

Mekbib Gemeda serves as the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) leading efforts to advance health equity and enhance diversity and inclusion in the healthcare workforce. Since joining EVMS in this inaugural role, Mekbib Gemeda has implemented diversity and inclusion strategies that have enhanced inclusion training and doubled matriculation of underrepresented groups into the medical program.

Prior to joining EVMS, Mekbib served as the Assistant Dean for Diversity Affairs and Community Health and founding Director of the Center for the Health of the African Diaspora at New York University School of Medicine.

Mekbib’s efforts to advance equity nationally include serving on the steering committee of the Group on Diversity and Inclusion of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). He is the inaugural chair of the Health Professions Chapter of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) and serves on the State Board of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. He also serves on the Board of Commissioners of the Norfolk Airport Authority.

Dr. Fanchon Glover serves as the founding Chief Diversity Officer at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Glover serves on the President’s Executive Leadership Team and provides strategic leadership on campus and in the community that advances university initiatives to foster inclusion, equity, and excellence. In addition to serving as the university’s Chief Diversity Officer, Glover is an Executive Faculty member in the William & Mary School of Education. Glover has been at William & Mary for 23 years–starting first as the Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs.

Glover earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Presbyterian College (SC) and Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Higher Education Administration from the College of William & Mary. She has worked in higher education for over 20 years beginning her career as the first African-American administrator at her alma mater, Presbyterian College (Clinton, SC).

Her research interests include leadership, diversity in higher education, women’s leadership, and cultural competency training. In her spare time, Dr. Glover serves on community boards and volunteers with local civic and national organizations. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (Williamsburg Alumnae Chapter); Newport News Chapter of The Links, Inc., YJCW NAACP (Scholarship Committee); former board member for Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society; and All-Together Board of Directors.

Clary Leffel is an experienced marketing professional, across multiple industries including: consumer goods, start-ups, financial services and automotive retail. She has worked globally to include her native country, the Dominican Republic, as well as the United Kingdom and the United States.

She has pioneered Multicultural Marketing roles and campaigns at Scotts Miracle-Gro, earning Best Hispanic campaign at the 2011 ANA Multicultural Awards for their first campaign targeting Latinx consumers. She also held marketing roles at Capital One, targeting underserved segments, and most recently at CarMax where she has combined her passion for diversity and inclusion with her integrated marketing role.

May Nivar has been a Richmond chapter member of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities since 2019. In 2017, she was appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe to the Virginia Asian Advisory Board and has served as its chair since 2018. She is also the founding chair of the Asian & Latino Solidarity Alliance of Central Virginia. Previous board service includes the Asian American Society of Central VA and OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates – Central Virginia Chapter.

May is currently a senior manager in Corporate Citizenship at Altria, a Fortune 200 company based in Richmond, VA. May was the founding chair of Altria’s Asian employee resource group, EAST, and helped pilot the Women’s Network’s first mentoring program.

May is a second-generation American of Chinese descent. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from New York University. In 2017 she was a graduate of Leadership Metro Richmond, and has a multitude of leadership experience including:  corporate communications; public relations; diversity, equity, and inclusion; brand management; social media marketing; and nonprofit advocacy expertise.

Beth Panilaitis joined the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank in 2015 and currently serves as the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Manager and Deputy Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI) Director. Prior to this work, she held leadership positions in the nonprofit sector including serving as the Executive Director of ROSMY (now Side By Side), a Richmond-based nonprofit that provides support services to LGBTQ+ youth throughout Central Virginia. Beth’s policy and direct service experience includes working with individuals experiencing homelessness, underserved youth, individuals who are dually diagnosed, and individuals who are incarcerated.

Beth is a 2015 graduate of Leadership Metro Richmond, was honored by Style Weekly as “Top 40 Under 40” in 2012, and is a member of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities’ Board of Directors. She earned a Bachelor of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Social Work with a concentration in policy from the University of Connecticut.

Cameron Patterson is the Executive Director of the Robert Russa Moton Museum, a Civil Rights National Historic Landmark. Since joining Moton in January of 2017, Cameron has led efforts to grow staffing support, increase Moton’s presence across the Commonwealth, solidify a thriving partnership with Longwood University, increase programs, and expand young visitors’ resources. Professionally, Cameron is actively involved as a member of the Board of Directors for the Virginia Association of Museums. Before joining Moton, Cameron worked in numerous roles within Longwood University. Cameron is actively involved in the local community and across the Commonwealth, including serving as a member of the State Board for the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. Cameron is a native of Lynchburg, Virginia, and a graduate from Longwood University with a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Counselor Education.

Quan Schneider is a manager on the Inclusion & Diversity Team at Altria and her core role focuses on maximizing the contributions of the Employee Resource Groups at Altria to support the company’s vision and goals.   During her 22-year tenure, she has led teams and worked in Altria’s sales force and in Learning & Development. She currently co-chairs the Programming Committee in Altria’s ERG, EAST – Elevating Asians Strengths and Talents. Quan has been affiliated with VCIC since 1993, when she participated as a delegate in the high school program “Metrotown.” She has served on VCIC’s State Board of Directors since 2016. She also is serving on the Board of Directors and co-leads the recruiting committee for Leadership Metro Richmond and is an alum of Leadership Quest, Class of 2018. Quan is a graduate of the University of Virginia.

Dr. Aaron D. Smith serves as the Vice President and Dean for Student Development at the University of Lynchburg, in Lynchburg, Virginia. Aaron received his doctorate in Leadership Studies at the University of Lynchburg in 2018 with a dissertation entitled, “This is How We Did It: A Grounded Theory Approach of Black Male Success.” Aaron is an author with academic work and a book titled, “So I’m a Leader, Now What?” published by Outskirts Press Inc. Aaron has an extensive background in leadership while working within his local community and beyond towards the success of People of Color. Aaron has a wife and two beautiful children, currently, residing in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Mel Smith Jr. serves as Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Genworth. As Genworth’s Chief Diversity Officer, Mel leads and coordinates efforts to create and sustain a diverse, inclusive and welcoming environment for all Genworth employees including consultants, suppliers and customers. Mel’s goal is to make diversity & inclusion Genworth’s way of doing business. His vision is to advance our culture of belonging where open hearts and minds combine to unleash the potential of the brilliant mix of people, in every corner of Genworth.

Since beginning this role, he has launched a major “Respect in the Workplace” initiative aimed to arm every employee with the proper tools and information to become a diverse and inclusive community. He has partnered with organizations who are in the forefront of D&I.

Mel has made recruitment, which was once a dotted line, a major component of his strategy, enlisting resources that have proven success in creating a diverse workforce. His overall goal and strategy is to bake D&I into everything at Genworth.

The 2020 conference will be held virtually.

Registered attendees will receive information on how to attend the conference shortly prior to the date.

Thank you to the 2020 Virginia Inclusion Summit Sponsors



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Cost to attend:

$150 ($60 for college/university students)

To register:  

  • By check or invoice: contact Katie Hathaway at VCIC to make arrangements to pay via check (a link will be provided at that time to register online)
  • By credit card: Use the form below or visit our registration site Note: all fees are passed on to registrant. Receipts are sent to the email address used when registering.
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