How do we remove obstacles to inclusion?
We begin with open and honest dialogue that acknowledges the potential danger to our enterprises and people if we employ policies and engage in practices that facilitate or support the exclusion of any of our citizens from meaningful participation in economic, social, political and cultural life.
A group of committed citizens joined in a facilitated discussion on inclusion at the second annual Cocktails & Conversation event at Waller hosted by the LGBT+ College Conference Advisory Board. The event served to kick-off the upcoming LGBT+ College Conference at Middle Tennessee State University, April 6-8, 2017.
Dr. Patrick McCarthy, Industrial Organizational Psychology Professor at MTSU, moderated the discussion with the following panelists: Lisa Howe, Nashville LGBT Chamber CEO; Aron Karabel, a partner at Waller who focuses on labor and employment law; Dr. Marisa Richmond, MTSU history professor and Metro Human Relations Commission member; and Lynne Walker, First Tennessee Bank’s Executive Vice President for affinity banking.
In the same vein as the conference, audience members were not only given opportunities to ask questions, but to also share their expertise and experience on the intersection of gender expression and identity with race, religion, economics, industry, the legal system, civic engagement and other areas that impact our region. The audience comprised a cross-section of community members from industry, government, and the non-profit sector, including representatives from Change Healthcare, Department of Children Services, Dollar General, Fifth Third Bank, KPMG, Ministry of Equality Tennessee, Nashville CARES, Street Works, Tennessee Human Rights Commission, WellCare Health Plans, and others.
Conversation will continue at the 2017 LGBT+ College Conference, now in its fourth year. The conference provides an opportunity for students, faculty, administrators, practitioners, professionals, and leaders to focus on research, learning, and thought on issues of diversity and inclusion in the academy, the workplace, and the “worldplace.”
The slate of high-profile speakers includes: Retired Atlanta U.S. Immigration Attorney Terry Bird; Nashville Black Pride Founder Dwayne Jenkins; Cigna Senior Medical Executive Dr. Renee McLaughlin; University of Alabama Head of Sports Management and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Board Member, Dr. Ken Wright; First Tennessee Vice President of Credit Risk John Rainwater. The Conference Awards Dinner Keynote Speaker is highly respected diversity & inclusion practitioner, Eric Watson, president and CEO of the Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council. Community members are invited to nominate individuals and organizations that have advanced efforts of support and inclusion in the LGBT+ community.
Registration is complimentary to both students and community members. A complete agenda can be viewed online. For additional information about the conference, please contact Dr. Will Langston, MTSU Psychology Professor and MT Lambda Faculty Advisor, via email.
Bea Perdue is the development director for the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences at Middle Tennessee State University.