Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Site Image

2015 Diversity & Inclusion Conference Speakers and Topics

​Here's a brief overview of this year's topics and speakers.

Keynote: Tiana Tozer, "Redefining Disability"

Tiana Tozer will discuss "Redefining Disability" in this inspiring presentation, where she plans to challenge everything you think you know about people with disabilities! Tozer offers a disability awareness training like you’ve never experienced before. She’ll share her own story, the progress we’re making toward inclusion of people with disabilities and what we can do to continue moving forward.

Breakout Sessions

Generations in the Workplace. Grant Axtell is back to talk about generations and their often highly frustrating differences. Axtell, who works at the Employment Department, will discuss with attendees how our differences are both a challenge and an opportunity.

Reading in the Dark: De-mystifying Oregon’s free library for the Print-disabled. Elke Bruton of the Oregon State Library will help attendees learn more about the state’s Talking Book Library, a highly underused resource that’s been in operation since 1932! See how this service can benefit you, your clients and your community.

The Final Diversity Frontier? Introverts and Extroverts in the Workplace. A popular speaker the past few years, Beth Buelow will once again lead conversations about the traits of introverts and extroverts and how to be inclusive. An introverted entrepreneur, Buelow will look at why this is a diversity issue and how to bridge the gaps.


Gentrification Personified: Understanding the education and familial impact on lifelong residents when Urban Pioneers arrive. Gentrification has created a domino effect in Portland’s Black community. Today an entire community has been pushed out of the city leaving many with a sense of loss. Presenters Noni Causey and Lakita Spencer will share information on the patterns of Black exclusion in Oregon, displacement in North and Northeast Portland, and what is necessary to rebuild a cultural legacy.

Breaking Poverty Barriers. Lynda Coates is a popular speaker from previous conferences who brings unique insight into the challenges facing people of poverty. This workshop will shatter common myths and provide research-based strategies for helping people break though the iron cage of poverty.

The Intersectionality of Race and Economic Status in the Workplace. Dr. Jamein Cunningham of Portland State University will lead discussions on recently released studies showing physical characteristics playing a role in economic opportunity, such as distinctly Latino names resulting in a reduction of housing opportunities. He will explore with attendees how impersonal communication – although unintended – can often reinforce the perception of discrimination.

It’s Just a Potluck. Dr. Jennifer Dennis, Associate Dean and Professor of Horticulture at OSU, will help attendees explore biases and stereotypes related to food – because who ever thought you could discriminate, even unintentionally, through food? The session will also examine attitudes and norms associated with cultural values around food.

Emotional Intelligence: Self-awareness, curiosity and empathy as an antidote to bias. Popular repeat presenters Carol French and April Lewis will help attendees understand the pervasiveness of implicit bias and explore how our cultural filters help us make sense of our world and develop our points of view. They'll also lead discussions on how to improve intercultural flexibility and effectiveness.


From Whence We Come: Race in Oregon. This workshop will explore the racial history of Oregon from the early legislation establishing an "all white state" to the more recent history of immigration from Asia to Russia to Africa and beyond - and what we can learn from it in order to "...craft a purposeful journey to our collecctive best tomorrow." Carla Gary, a repeat presenter, will lead the discussion.


Understanding Cognitive Bias. In this workshop, led by OSU’s Associate Director for Affirmative Action and Advancement Anne Gillies, attendees will learn about unintentional biases and explore strategies to mitigate or reduce them. Gillies has been well-receive at previous conferences on this subject.

He’s a Pimp, She’s a Hoe: Sex Trafficking Today.  Repeat presenter Kristin Heydel subtitles her presentation “Sex Trafficking in a ‘media informed’ vs. ‘trauma informed’ world. She’ll work with attendees to understand how technology reinforces violence against women and what we can do to make positive changes.

Emerging Latino Workforce in Oregon: So Rich in Culture and History. Dr. Leo Rasca Hidalgo will provide an historical perspective about Latinos in Oregon, discuss the demographic changes and more.


Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon? The ‘hidden history’ will be explored by Walidah Imarisha, author, educator, organizer and poet – who will discuss how exclusion and discrimination also helped create rich, vibrant communities of color. Learn how law and government can be used in the future to reinforce racial justice.

Before Gender Was An Issue: Building Lego Bridges Across the Gender Divide. Leigh Anne Jasheway uses humor to help people manage stress, embrace change and become healthier. She will help participants understand communication and workplace differences that have biological and social gender components, while also exploring strategies to work together more effectively and joyfully.

The "R" word: Religion in the workplace. Religion is often seen as a taboo topic, especially at work. But religious identity is an aspect of diversity and inclusion that cannot be ignored. In this session with Liz Joslin of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, participants will learn why religious diversity is an issue, how and when it comes up, and what to do about it.


Bully Nation: Dealing with Workplace Bullying. Popular repeat presenter Dr. Johnny Lake will lead a discussion on defining bullying behavior, exploring the causes, and strategies for dealing with it in the workplace.

The Color of Silence. In this workshop, John Lenssen will engage participants in examining the roles and responsibilities of white males in equity and anti-oppression work. The discussion is based in part on Lee Mun Wah’s film, “The Color of Fear.”


Who are the Tribal Peoples of Oregon? This presentation will address the basics of tribal sovereignty, the diversity of Oregon tribes, and information about lands and resources, history and contemporary issues. David Lewis is with Ethnohistory Research, Inc. and lives in Salem, the homeland of his ancestors, the Santiam Kalapuya.


Gender, Gender Identity, and Social Justice in the Workplace. In this workshop, Karin Moscon and Amy McLaughlin of the Oregon Department of Education will lead an examination of experiences associated with gender and gender identity, how they influence our own behavior, and how we can identify strategies to avoid unintended discriminatory practices.

Everyday Biases That Affect People of Color & Others in the Workplace. Deena Pierott returns as a presenter with the skills and experience to help attendees understand the value of diversity in the workplace. A long-time advocate for equity and inclusion, Pierott will help attendees gain tools to recruit and retain a multicultural staff and create an inclusive workplace.

Veterans Reintegration Back into the Workforce: Myths and Sterotypes. This workshop, led by retired Army Major Patrick Preston, will bring attention to the realities that the veteran faces when returning from Military Service, and how we can help in that transition.


Unmasking Unconscious Bias: Microagression in the Workplace. Attendees who want to gain a better understanding of micro-aggressions, how damaging they can be, and how to eliminate them will be interested in Colleen Puentes’ presentation. Puentes, a senior diversity trainer with Interface Network, Inc., will even help attendees examine their own personal lenses.

Building a Better Oregon: Including All Employees Through the Americans with Disabilities Act. OSU’s Director of Disability Access Services Martha Smith will give a brief overview of the ADA, help attendees understand what ‘essential functions’ means, and discuss working through the accommodations process.

Engaging a Diverse Workforce. Erin Solomon is an experienced state employee who has lived first-hand through efforts to recruit and retain women and people of color, and she knows it takes involvement from everyone to make it stick. Explore how to create an inclusive environment in a state agency.

Gay is for White People: Exploring Where Race and LGBTQ Experiences Intersect. Lavell Wood, an advocate for youth, racial equity and restorative justice, will guide attendees in a look at LGBTQ experiences through a racial lens and help develop ideas to create and maintain an inclusive environment.

Voices of the Community – Supporting Domestic Violence Survivors. This workshop, sponsored by the DHS/OHA DV Council, includes a panel of experts that will outline the impact of domestic violence on diverse communities and offer action steps for moving forward while being sensitive to cultural differences. Panel members include Tawna Sanchez, Family Services director of the Native American Youth and Family Center; Gabriella Gomez, domestic violence service provider from the Unica program of Catholic Charities; Stacey Vu, project director for the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization’s Family Strengthening program; and Kimberly Lane, a Portland State University student, graduating this fall with a BS in Social Work with an education rooted in social justice and anti-oppressive practices. Choya Adkison-Stevens, Equity & Inclusion coordinator for the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, will moderate.


For details on the conference itself, visit the website, www.oregondiversityconference.com.