Diversity Forum

Diversity Forum 2019

Journeys to Equity in Public Service

Diversity Forum Assessment


8:00AM: Breakfast
8:30AM Welcome & Keynote
9:55AM: Morning Workshops
11:10AM: DEI Practitioners Panel
NOON: Lunch
1:00PM: DEI Updates & Equity Award
1:45PM: Afternoon Workshops
3:00PM: Elected Official Panel
4:00PM: Dismissal

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Mira Krishnan

From Ensuring Safety to Building the Community’s Future: The Challenge and Opportunities of Building an Ottawa County that Includes and Celebrates Gender and Sexually Diverse Residents

The explosion of visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people has led to tremendous opportunity as well as challenges related to implementing fair and equitable policies and procedures. Dr. Krishnan will share her story of coming out as transgender as a healthcare provider in West Michigan. She will share challenges faced by the LGBTQ community, including risk of violence, homelessness for LGBTQ youth, and the impacts of minority stress on mental and physical health. Case studies will be investigated including benefits of inclusion for business and economic growth. A framework will be presented for an inclusive community, and participants will learn practical steps, from the personal to the organizational level, that can enhance inclusion for LGBTQ community members and also build a better community for all the people of Ottawa County.

Panel Discussions

Elected Officials Panel (Afternoon)

Facilitated by Al Vanderberg, Ottawa County Administrator
Topic: What are challenges and opportunities elected officials have in living out DEI?
Panelists: Frank Garcia-Ottawa County Commissioner | Monica Sparks-Kent County Commissioner | Kimberley Sims-Muskegon Heights Mayor | Kurt Reppart-Grand Rapids City Commissioner

Diversity Equity and Inclusion & Racial Equity Officers Panel (Morning)

Facilitated by Esther Fifelski, City of Holland
Topic: What are challenges and opportunities faced in this role, specific to government?
Panelists: Alize Asberry Payne-Washtenaw County Racial Equity Officer | Darius Quinn-Kent County Human Resources Manager-Employee Relations-DEI | Stacy Stout-Grand Rapids Assistant to City Manager/Racial Equity | Alfredo Hernandez-State of Michigan Racial Equity Officer | Robyn Afrik-Ottawa County Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director


AM Workshops

The Racial Equity Toolkit: A Road Map for Government, Organizations and Communities by Alfredo Hernandez
This workshop highlights the importance of a racial equity lens and the commitment and intentionality required to implement long-term organizational change. In this session, we will explore strategies the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) has embraced to increase racial consciousness and cultural competency as well as the role government plays at creating and sustaining diversity, equity and inclusion. Alfredo Hernandez – MDCR’s Equity Officer – will present racially conscious strategies to operationalize equity long-term along with the racial equity tool-kit designed to guide government agencies, communities and organizations advance equity.

Leading with Racial Equity – The Ups and Downs of One City’s Journey by Stacy Stout and Patti Caudill
The City of Grand Rapids formally started their journey to advance racial equity in 2016 when they applied to be in the Racial Equity Here (REH) cohort with 4 other cities from across the country with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity. Over the past 3 years, the City has made significant progress and mishaps. Attend this workshop to learn about why the City decided to be on this path, strategies that led to their progress and success, and what they would have done differently.

Racial Wealth Gap Learning Simulation by Ottawa County Cultural Intelligence Committee
In this interactive session, attendees will participate in a learning simulation activity to explore how federal policies created structural inequalities around race. The simulation, created by the non-profit organization Bread for the World, helps participants understand how government policies have affected the opportunity landscape of today. The simulation will provide a foundation for participants to discuss the impact of these policies on the communities in which we work today.

PM Workshops

City of Grand Rapids Equal Business Opportunity Program by AJ Hill and Patti Caudill
The City of Grand Rapids has had a Supplier Diversity program since 1982 when they established their first construction set-aside program to ensure that minority and women-owned firms would have opportunities to bid on projects within the City. Since that time, their plans have undergone a number of changes and alternations based on federal, state and local laws. Most recently, the City adopted the Equal Business Opportunity Program consisting of four specific policies designed to utilize the City’s Strategic Plan and focus to encourage the utilization of small, local, minority and women-owned businesses on all projects of the City. The workshop will talk about their path and outline how current programs work to increase and enhance the equity efforts of the City.

Inclusion in Hiring: Using an Evidence-Based Selection Process by Sarah Allen
Presented by talent acquisition leaders from the City of Grand Rapids, Ottawa County and Kent County. Finding talent is harder than it has been in decades. Yet, even in a tight labor market, some populations struggle to find employment. The use of evidence-based selection can help West Michigan decrease those disparities and improve the quality of our workforce. In this session, talent acquisition leaders from the City of Grand Rapids, Kent and Ottawa Counties will discuss their experience in piloting an Evidence-Based Selection Process with the HireReach initiative. Evidence-based selection is a fair, objective, data-driven strategy that helps organizations make better hiring decisions. It has proven to improve quality of hire, reduce first-year turnover, and increase workforce diversity.

Building Health Equity Capacity by Lisa Stefanovsky and Sandra Lake
The Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) is journeying towards becoming an agency that prioritizes health equity in all their work. This presentation will provide attendees with information on how this local organization arrived at its vision and its plan for operationalizing health equity. Participants will glean insight on how to expand their role and contextualize equity initiatives in order to ensure that all staff, customers, and constituents are safe, valued, and heard.