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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Join us for the annual

Webster University Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference March 1-2, 2022.

This year's theme is Every Day Inclusion: Right Here, Right Now!

The conference is FREE to all attendees, thanks to the generous support of our conference sponsors. Registration is required.

Diversity in Faith Traditions 

March 1, 2022, 9 am


Paul E. Stroble, Ph.D (he|him|his) - Professor, Webster University and Eden Theological Seminary


  • Elvir Mandzukic (he/him/his) - Faculty Development Center Coordinator, Webster University

  • Maharat Rori Picker Neiss (she/her/hers) - Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Council

  • Swami Nishpapananda (he/him/his) - Assistant Minster, Vedanta Society of St. Louis

Dr. Paul Stroble will moderate a panel discussion of leaders across a spectrum of faith traditions to provide their perspectives on why diversity is an important aspect of their beliefs, discuss how they themselves understand diversity, discuss sources of biases and stereotypes in our perceptions of other faiths. Some faiths, notably Judaism and Islam, are especially targets of prejudice. How do these leaders encourage understanding, while also dealing with discouragement and emotional fatigue? The discussion will share ideas for inclusive behaviors that help make a difference in community relationships.



Dr. Paul Stroble is a teacher and writer with interrelated interests in world religions, social ethics, Bible studies, spirituality, the sense of place, philosophy and American history. He has taught courses in religion, philosophy and history for over twenty-five years and has served in different church and community capacities for many years. Writing as a freelance author and as an independent scholar, he has authored about 250 publications.

A native of Vandalia (Fayette County), Illinois, where he attended the local public schools K-12, he holds a B.A. in history from Greenville College (now University), an M.Div. in religious studies from Yale Divinity School and a Ph.D. in religious studies (philosophical theology) from the University of Virginia. Dr. Stroble currently teaches at Webster University and Eden Theological Seminary. Among his Eden courses is "Evangelism" and "Christians and the Common Good." Among his current work at Webster University, he teaches courses for the Global Citizenship Program, teaches both classroom and online courses and designed the "religion and democracy" component of a Keystone Seminar on The Democratic Process. He also served on the Global Citizenship Program's Ethical Reasoning Taskforce.


Related Resources

Journeys Home: A spot about faith, life, place, art & music, answers, and questions. : Professor Stroble's personal blog.

Reza Aslan - Unity in Diversity : Ted Talk, TEDxConejo, May 20, 2011. Dr. Reza Aslan tells his story as an Iranian-born Muslim in America.

Embracing Religious Diversity & Inclusion at Work Business Summit : The Freedom Forum, via YouTube, Jan 6, 2021. Kristen Farrington, expert on religious literacy, discusses what religious literacy in a workplace environment means. 

Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise : The Aspen Institute, Sep 6, 2018. Panel discussion on Religious Diversity in America led by Eboo Patel.

Decolonizing DEI

March 1, 2022, 10:30 am

Rev. Traci D. Blackmon (she|her|hers)

Associate General Minister, Justice & Local Church Ministries, United Church of Christ

This session is an invitation to examine the many ways well-meaning efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion remain vulnerable to the influence of white Eurocentric culture perceived as normative in our society. DEI efforts can be inconspicuously derailed by embedded dominant ideologies that manifest through words and language. 



Rev. Traci Blackmon is the Associate General Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for The United Church of Christ and Senior Pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ in Florissant, MO.

Initially ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. Blackmon served in various ministry capacities for 9 years, prior to becoming ordained in the United Church of Christ and installed as the first woman and 18th pastor in the 162-year history of Christ the King United Church of Christ. A registered nurse with more than 25 years of healthcare experience, Rev. Blackmon’s clinical focus was cardiac care and in later years her focus shifted to mobile healthcare in underserved communities with the greatest health disparities in her region. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Birmingham – Southern College (1985), and a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary (2009).

A featured voice with many regional, national, and international media outlets and a frequent contributor to print publications, Rev. Blackmon’s communal leadership and work in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown, Jr., in Ferguson, MO has gained her both national and international recognition and audiences from the White House to the Carter Center to the Vatican. She was appointed to the Ferguson Commission by Governor Jay Nixon and to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships for the White House by President Barack H. Obama. Rev. Blackmon also co-authored the White Privilege curriculum for the United Church of Christ.


Related Resources

White Privilege: Let's Talk - A Resource for Transformational Dialogue, (Kindle, 2016), ASIN B01M71CWA8. Reverend Blackmon's White Privilege curriculum for the United Church of Christ.

Justice work and the gospel: A conversation with Traci Blackmon, Yale Divinity School, January 29, 2018. A Transformational Leadership program talk with Rev. Traci Blackmon.

50 Years Since MLK's Assassination, GBH Forum Network, via YouTube, May 4, 2018. A Reflection on the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

United Church of Christ, Traci D. Blackmon : Reverend Blackmon's UCC bio page.

Gender Equality in the African Diaspora

March 1, 2022, 12:30 pm

Muthoni Musangali, Ph.D (she|her|hers)

Associate Professor, Department of Professional Counseling

Webster University

Gender equality is goal #5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. While much progress has been made towards this goal on the African continent, there remains a great deal yet to be done. The problems of gender inequality in Kenya specifically, and the African continent in general, are mirrored in the African Diaspora, with women bearing the brunt of the majority of household responsibilities while also contributing to the economy of their homes. This presentation looks into the lives of African women living in the United States and examines the challenges of gender inequality, with a particular focus on Kenyan women living in Saint Louis. The presentation describes some initiatives that aim to improve the lives of African women in the diaspora.



Muthoni Musangali is an Associate Professor in the Department of Professional Counseling at Webster University. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Missouri and also a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). Her research interests include the development of culturally-responsive approaches to counseling minority clients, advancement of counseling in sub-Saharan Africa, globalization of counseling, coping responses and caregiver burden among family caregivers, and cultural considerations for conducting cross-cultural and international research.

Muthoni earned her Bachelor of Education degree from Kenyatta University (Kenya). After teaching high school in Kenya for 8 years, she moved to the United States in 2001 and joined Heidelberg University (Ohio) where she earned an MA in Counseling. She holds a Ph.D. in Counselor Education from the University of Central Florida.

Muthoni was recently honored as Mentor of the Year by Vitendo4Africa for her work with the African Diaspora community.


Related Resources

Muthoni Musangali- Webster University : Professor Musangali's University bio page.

“BLACK GIRL VISION: Inter-generational Movement Building for Race & Gender Equity”: The Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University. (IRAAS) The Department of African American & African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University (AAADS), via YouTube, May 24, 2017. The annual Zora Neale Hurston Lecture by Joanne N. Smith on the effect of the Girls for Gender Equity organization.

2020 Women of the Diaspora Summit - Addressing Gender & Race Discrimination: 2020 Women of the Diaspora Summit, UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund, via YouTube, Sep 25, 2020. A  summit addressing the problems of discrimination and violence faced by women and girls, particularly those from the African Diaspora.

Creating a Culture of Acceptance

March 1, 2:00 pm

Presented by the Reeg Academic Resource Center


Katie Fields (she|her|hers)

College Outreach Coordinator

Starkloff Institute

This session will share three students’ stories, personalizing and humanizing experiences to help illustrate why a culture of acceptance is important. Through their stories, the audience will explore visible and invisible disabilities, including mental health and PTSD, to come to understand that disability is not an impairment but an important dimension of diversity and identity. The panel will emphasize that a culture of acceptance requires active listening and focusing on other people’s perspectives – or possible perspectives – as opposed to one’s own perspective. This culture also allows people to reconceptualize advocacy as a tool and not as a manipulation.



As a graduate of Webster University with undergraduate degrees in business administration and management, Katie Fields is presently the College Outreach Coordinator at Starkloff Disability Institute. She helped to create and currently coordinates Access U, a free career development program designed to prepare college students with disabilities to successfully begin their careers. As an individual with multiple invisible disabilities, Katie has a passion for accessibility, disability pride, and self-advocacy. She loves helping disabled college students grow their confidence and enjoys training career and access professionals on how to best support students with disabilities in their transition from college to career.


Related Resources

Access U: An organization committed to empowering college students with disabilities to successfully launch their careers.

America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion: Office of Disability Employment Policy, U. S. Department of Labor, Oct 20, 2021. U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and other department officials host a virtual celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities: United Nations, December 3, 2021. A page dedicated to the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, including videos and an upcoming list of events.

Re-Envisioning Public Health Practice to End Institutional Racism: Where Practice Meets Policy

March 1, 3:30 pm

Fredrick Echols, MD (he|him|his)

Commissioner, City of St. Louis Department of Health

This presentation by Dr. Echols will focus on the history of health inequity and disparate health outcomes between whites and non-whites and highlights the steps the local public health system needs to take to narrow the gap and address intersectionality.



Dr. Fredrick Echols is the Commissioner of the City of St. Louis Department of Health. He previously served as the Acting Director of Health and was the first medical doctor to serve as health director since 2007. Prior to serving as the acting director, Commissioner Echols served as director of Communicable Disease, Vector and Veterinary Programs for the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, where he was responsible for overseeing daily operations, strategic planning, fiscal management of a multi-million dollar budget and program development and implementation. Prior to starting his position with St. Louis County, Echols served as Chief of Communicable Diseases for the Illinois Department of Public Health and as a physician in the U.S. Navy, where he managed a staff of medical and ancillary personnel.

Echols holds a bachelor’s degree in biology/pre-med from Clark Atlanta University and a medical degree from the Boston University School of Medicine.

He is a current member of the American Public Health Association, Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists, the American Sexual Health Association and several other professional organizations and national work groups.


Related Resources

Re-envisioning Public Health Practice : WUSTL Brown School, Via YouTube, April 1, 2021. A  presentation highlighting the ongoing efforts of the City of St. Louis Department of Health to improve population health and change the trajectory of health using evidence-informed and data-driven approaches.

Prioritizing Equity: Examining Race-Based Medicine : American Medical Association, Oct 29, 2020. An AMA panel on approaches to dismantling race-based medicine across clinical practice, education, and research.

Public health leaders speak candidly about racism, health : The Ohio State University School of Public Health, April 16, 2021. A panel discussion on how to reduce racism's role in health inequities.

DEI in the Business Community: Right Here, Right Now

March 1, 5:00 pm


Valerie E. Patton (she/her/hers) - Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer/President, Greater St. Louis, Inc./Greater St. Louis Foundation


Emma Lumpkins (she/her/hers) - Senior Director, DE&I, Schnucks Markets, Inc.

Sekhar Prabhakar (he/him/his) - CEO CEdge

Sonji Young (she/her/hers) - Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Armstrong Teasdale

This panel discussion will highlight the challenges businesses must address when seeking to improve DE&I—particularly with regard to power, resources, and culture.

Our panelists will address:

  • What is the one thing that organizations are doing well and that has the greatest impact on advancing DE&I matters?

  • Where are organizations falling short of reaching their DE&I goals?

  • What is your advice to organizations that say they want to do a better job at executing DE&I initiatives?


Related Resources

Greater St. Louis, Inc: Creating Jobs and Expanding Inclusive Economic Growth: Bringing together business and civic leaders to create jobs, expand inclusive economic growth and improve St. Louis’ global competitiveness.

Modern strategies to promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in today's workplace: The Social Impact Show, Jun 17, 2021, via YouTube. A discussion about strategies to promote and address diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace.

Daryl Dixon DEI Transformation Journey with California Employers Association: California Employers Association, Dec 17, 2021, via Youtube. Daryl Dixon introduces the DEI Transformation Journey with California Employers Association (CEA) members at our monthly Business Over Breakfast roundtable.

A Fireside Chat with Laurie Hernandez

March 1, 7:00 pm

Laurie Hernandez

U.S. Olympic Gymnast

A second-generation American, Hernandez was the first U.S.-born Latina to make the U.S. team since 1984. Since bringing home the Gold and Silver medals at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Hernandez has gone on to become a bestselling author, a fierce advocate for the importance of mental health, and won the coveted Mirrorball trophy on “Dancing with the Stars” Season 23. Laurie will discuss her journey as a gymnast, recovering from an eating disorder, healing from verbal and emotional abuse by her former coach and overcoming setbacks caused by injuries.



A second-generation American, Hernandez was the first U.S.-born Latina to make the U.S. team since 1984. Since bringing home the Gold and Silver medals at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Hernandez has gone on to become a bestselling author, a fierce advocate for the importance of mental health, and won the coveted Mirrorball trophy on “Dancing with the Stars” Season 23.


Related Resources

Olympic Gymnast Laurie Hernandez Reads Her Book "She's Got This: Team USA, via YouTube, Laurie Hernandez reads and discusses her children's book about resilience and believing in yourself.

Laurie Hernandez talks overcoming abuse, Tokyo 2021 and helping teens: The Today Show, May 18, 2020. Laurie Hernandez is interviewed about the abuse allegations against her coach and the Stronger Than You Think campaign.

Stronger Than You Think: Lauren Jauregui and Laurie Hernandez: One Mind, via YouTube, September 11, 2020. A conversation with host Laurie Hernandez and Lauren Jauregui during the Stronger Than You Think three-day livestream event for brain health.

Slipping Through the Cracks or Freefalling Through the Gaps? Perspectives on Wrongful Incarceration and a Legal System Gone Wrong

March 2, 2022, 9 am

Anne Geraghty-Rathert (she|her|hers)

Professor, Department of Law, Crime and Social Justice

Webster University

Anne Geraghty-Rathert is the founder of and attorney for the WILLOW Project. For the last nine years, she and Webster University student interns have represented the project’s incarcerated clients in their post-conviction clemency cases. Anne will discuss current and former clients of the project and challenges faced in their representation. She will also explore how the clients’ stories reveal significant gaps in access to justice, and what changes would need to happen to begin to bridge those gaps.



Anne Geraghty-Rathert is a professor in the Department of Law, Crime and Social Justice at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. She teaches many courses in the Legal Studies program including Introduction to Law, Criminal Litigation, Evidence, Women and Law, and Wrongful Convictions, among others. Anne also teaches in the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies program and serves on its Executive Committee. Her research interests include legal issues surrounding domestic violence, as well as issues related to criminal justice reform.

In addition to teaching full-time, Anne is an attorney in private practice. She is the director of and attorney for The WILLOW Project, where she represents wrongfully convicted female clients, all of whom have lengthy sentences in prison.

Professor Geraghty-Rathert is a graduate of St. Louis University School of Law.


Related Resources

The WILLOW Project : Professor Geraghty-Rathert's organization dedicated to women who cannot access the justice system for any reason.

Wrongful Convictions: The Latest Scientific Research & Implications for Law Enforcement: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, March 1, 2013. Jon Gould of American University discusses the findings of the first large-scale study identifying ten statistically significant factors distinguishing a wrongful conviction from a "near miss."

Just Wrong: The Aftermath of Wrongful Convictions: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, October 1, 2017. Documentary chronicling six individuals impacted by wrongful conviction.

Balm - The Emerging Field of Community Healing

March 2, 2022, 10:30 am

Rebeccah L. Bennett (she|her|hers)

Founder & Principal

Emerging Wisdom LLC & InPower Institute

Changing our current state requires an intentional focus on and concerted action around individual and community healing.  After all, it’s transformed people who transform systems. Learn about an emerging framework for community healing that is arising from racial equity movement work, pandemic response initiatives and deep-seeded cultural practice.  Rebeccah Bennett and her partners at InPower Institute and the Black Healers Collective will share insights from their ongoing efforts to build a community healing field of practice.  They will also discuss their development of public healing rituals that support groups and collectives in processing social harm and building transformative resilience.  



Rebeccah Bennett is Founder and Principal of Emerging Wisdom LLC and its subsidiary, InPower Institute. Launched in 2006, Emerging Wisdom is a forward-thinking social enterprise that helps individuals live empowered lives; leaders build impactful organizations, and communities advance brighter futures. At Emerging Wisdom, Rebeccah and her team conduct professional development programs, organizational improvement efforts, and multi-stakeholder transformation initiatives. Within these areas, they provide an array of offerings, including consulting, training, facilitation, planning, coaching and professional speaking.

Through Emerging Wisdom and InPower Institute, Rebeccah has helped tens of thousands of people and countless organizations effect positive change in the areas of organizational and community leadership, economic development, racial equity, public health and safety, environmental sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and girls and women’s and empowerment. Though her areas of interest and expertise are wide-ranging, her work is singularly focused on elevating the human condition. Rebeccah is supported in this work by corporate, non-profit and government clients, including Anheuser-Busch InBev, Wells Fargo Advisors, Slalom, BJC HealthCare, the IL Department on Aging, the Missouri Foundation for Health, the Deaconess Foundation, Focus St. Louis, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the United Church of Christ, the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, the Ferguson Commission, For the Sake of All, and St. Louis and Hazelwood Public School Districts.

In addition to her professional activities, Rebeccah currently serves as Immediate Past Co-Chair of the board of Forward Through Ferguson (the successor organization to the Ferguson Commission) and as Past Chair of the board of Generate Health (formerly the St. Louis Maternal Child & Family Health Coalition).


Related Resources

Emerging Wisdom (InPower Institute)Rebeccah Bennett's organization helping individuals, groups and organizations manifest the best within themselves and create communities that sustain the best in us all.

Community Healing and an Ancestral Wisdom Model for BIPOC Community Care: Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, via YouTube, August 6, 2021. A discussion on how BIPOC communities can think beyond systems-reliant care models for survivors of complex trauma.

Ending youth violence through community healing: Temi Mwale, TEDxHamburg, via YouTube, Aug 1, 2017. Temi Mwale discusses the 4Front Project and its attempts to  empower young people and communities to live free from violence.

Where Are You Sitting?

March 2, 2022, 12:30 pm

Ben Greene (he|him|his)

LGBTQ+ Inclusion Consultant and Educator

Ben will share his story as an openly transgender man who came out at 15. After reviewing what it means to be transgender and all of the language that comes up in these conversations, he’ll discuss issues facing the transgender community in the workforce and the world at large, why it matters to be proactive about your support, and what individuals, schools, and organizations can do to create a safe, supportive environment for all people. Session will close with a 100% judgment-free Q&A where attendees can ask any burning questions, talk through new strategies, and address any lingering misconceptions they may have had about the transgender community.



As one of only two transgender people in his hometown, Ben Greene has always been the “designated educator”. After giving a successful TEDx talk in 2019 called “Where are you Sitting?”, he decided to go into education and advocacy full time and now works as a public speaker and LGBTQ+ inclusion consultant. Since graduating from Brandeis University in the summer of 2020 he has spoken in many different domains: at HR conferences like DisruptHR, and SHRM, school training sessions for religious and secular high schools, DEI summits like diversity Live! in the UK and Pitt Diversity Forum 2021, Higher Education Institutes including Washington University Medical School, Cornell ILR, and Tufts graduates school of arts and sciences, government agencies including NASA, legal organizations including Lowenstein Sandler and Eckert Seamans, and internal events for global corporations including FactSet, AXAXL, and Northwestern Mutual. He also sits on the advisory board of a global branding firm. He is passionate about educating others from a place of compassion--no matter where they’re starting from.


Related Resources

Ted Talk: Where are you sitting? | Ben Greene | TEDxBrandeisUniversity , Jun 4, 2019. The TED Talk version of Ben Greene's presentation.

Leading for Change: Achieving LGBTQ Equity and Inclusion in our Schools: Human Rights Campaign, via YouTube, Jan 26, 2021. A powerful conversation with HRC’s Alphonso David and NEA’s Becky Pringle on how to support and protect Black and Brown LGBTQ students.

The Trans Experience: A Panel Discussion: Children's Health Council, January 31, 2019. A panel of transgender adults, parents and other experts share their personal experiences and insights.

Challenging Racism in the Arts and Media

March 2, 2022, 2 pm


Art Holliday (he/him/his) - News Director, 5 On Your Side


Kwofe Coleman (he|him|his) - President and CEO, The Muny

Vanessa Cooksey (she|her|hers) - President and CEO, Regional Arts Commission

Paul Steger (he/him/his) - Dean, Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts, Webster University

Michelle Li (she/her/hers) - Anchor, 5 On Your Side


This panel discussion will focus on access and inclusion in the arts and media, as well as addressing racist and racially sensitive content in the arts and media. What is important in historical context? What should be considered harmful or triggering and filtered accordingly? The panel will also discuss next steps in response to the broader calls for reform across the arts and media sectors.

Kwofe Coleman Bio:

In January 2022 Kwofe Coleman assumed his newest role as The Muny’s President and CEO.A proud St. Louis native, Kwofe is a graduate of St. Louis University High School and Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2011, Kwofe formed The Muny’s first digital communications department. In 2014, he was promoted to director of marketing and communications. During this time, he was key in the creation of both our Second Century Strategic Plan and our $100 million Second Century Capital Campaign. In 2018, Kwofe was named The Muny’s managing director, a role he fulfilled until January 2022. Beyond The Muny, Kwofe serves as the president-elect on the Board of Directors for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre. In addition, he is an active contributor to the St. Louis community, serving on the St. Louis University High School Board of Trustees, Cor Jesu Academy Advisory Council, Common Circles Advisory Council and as a proud founding board member of Atlas School. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Saint Louis Club, as well as other various social service organizations. He is the 2015 recipient of the St. Louis American’s Salute to Young Leaders Award and was named to the 2020 St. Louis Business Journal 40 under 40.

Vanessa Cooksey Bio:

As the Regional Arts Commission’s (RAC) third leader and first President and CEO, Vanessa Cooksey leads the largest public funder of the arts in St. Louis. Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2020, RAC has been pivotal in nurturing the vibrant arts sector throughout the region, awarding more than 7,000 grants totaling over $100 million since its inception in 1985.

Vanessa has more than 25 years of business and civic leadership experience. Vanessa is an impactful change-maker and has led innovative arts, education, technology and health & wellness initiatives reaching millions of children and adults over the course of her career. Always willing to serve in her community, Vanessa’s humanitarian efforts over the last three decades have helped promote and advance human welfare and social reform across the United States. Highly sought-after for her expertise in governance, organizational culture, talent development, DEI and reputation risk management, she has served and continues to serve on multiple local and national non-profit boards including the SIFMA Foundation for Investor Education, Harris-Stowe State University, Vote Run Lead and Mercy Hospitals.

Vanessa earned her bachelor’s degree in Radio-Television-Film from the University of Texas at Austin, a master’s degree in Business Administration from Webster University and has studied and traveled extensively in Europe, Africa and Asia. Vanessa has received more than 50 awards for her industry and community work including the 2016 Eisenhower Fellowship

and the 2018 St. Louis American Corporate Executive of the Year. Not one to take life for granted, Vanessa enjoys cycling, cooking and spending quality time with her family and friends.


Related Resources

Anti-Racism And The Arts: Howlround Theater Commons, April 16, 2021. A conversation bringing together four leaders in theater, music, dance, and opera for a frank discussion on the industry, anti-racism, and their aspirations for the future of the field.

In Solidarity: A Statement from The Muny: The Muny Opera, Jun 2, 2020. A statement by the Muny promising to combat the plague of hate and bigotry through their mission.

How to be Anti-Racist in the Arts: Sydney Opera House, Presented by Diversity Arts Australia and the British Council, July 20, 2020. A panel discussion and Q&A on the subject of what the creative sector can do to advance racial equity.

Very Asian Foundation: The Very Asian Foundation is committed to amplifying diverse AAPI voices through education, storytelling, and community connection. 

Voices That Need to Be Included: Advocating for Linguistic Diversity

March 2, 3:30 pm

DJ Kaiser, Ph.D (he|him|his)

Associate Dean, School of Education

Webster University

As English has become a global language with non-native speakers outnumbering native speakers three to one, proficiency in English for all speakers must encompass the skills to understand a variety of diverse accents. Differences in language patterns can lead to miscomprehension, disrespect, and outright discrimination—also known as accent bias. This session will explore how these attitudes can impact everyday communication in English.


DJ Kaiser is an Associate Dean in the School of Education at Webster University, where he is both a Professor and the Director of Teaching English as a Second Language. He currently serves as director for a five-year National Professional Development grant from the U.S. Department of Education. With more than two decades in the field of English Language Teaching, he has delivered presentations, workshops, and seminars on language instruction, teaching pronunciation, language planning and policy, technology for education, and program development throughout the United States and in Mexico, Canada, China, Thailand, Vietnam, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Spain, Greece, Holland, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Ecuador. He has also presented virtually to teachers in Honduras, Tajikistan, Brazil, Uruguay, and Uzbekistan.


Related Resources

DJ Kaiser-Webster University: Professor Kaiser's University bio page.

Centering linguistic diversity and justice in course design: The Linguistic Society of America, via YouTube, Aug 14, 2020. A webinar in the series on "Racial Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Linguistics Curriculum."

The Unconscious Bias of Voice and Accent: European American Chamber of Commerce, via YouTube, Sep 21, 2020. A discussion exploring what people think of as the "voice of leadership" and trying to understand some of the biases that can develop as we listen to different voices, speech patterns, communication styles, and accents.

Webster University Book Club

Everyone is welcome at the next session of the Webster University Book Club on Zoom:

The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantu


The instant New York Times bestseller, “A must-read for anyone who thinks ‘build a wall’ is the answer to anything.” –Esquire

For Francisco Cantú, the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Driven to understand the hard realities of the landscape he loves, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. Plagued by a growing awareness of his complicity in a dehumanizing enterprise, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantú discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the full extent of the violence it wreaks, on both sides of the line.

Courtesy of the publisher: