2020 NW Diversity Learning Series Topics

Click on the topic of interest in the list below or simply scroll down the page to learn more about all of the sessions!
January 29, 2020:            Intersectionality: Confronting the Tensions Of Our Overlapping Identities
May 13, 2020:                  VIRTUAL session Marginalizing Immigrants Is an Old Story: It’s Time to Write a New Chapter  
June 24, 2020:                 VIRTUAL session Moving Beyond the Trauma: Innovative Response to the Differential Impacts of COVID-19
August 12, 2020:              VIRTUAL sessionCall It What It Is: Eliminating the Impact of White Supremacy in our Systems
September 23, 2020:      Latinx Rising: Delivering on the Promise
November 18, 2020:       Algorithms and You: Decoding the Bias Within
Logistics for all sessions:

Time:  8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (continental breakfast served at 7:45 am)

Location: Nordstrom Flagship Store, Seattle

                  1617 6th Avenue

                  5th Floor, J.W. Nordstrom Meeting Room


Accessibility:  Hearing assistance devices are available through Nordstrom. Please request this service at least two-weeks in advance of a session letting us know what kind of device you use so that we can coordinate with Nordstrom personnel. American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation, by certified interpreters, is available upon request at all Series sessions. Please note that requests for this service must be received by NWDLS at least three weeks prior to a session.

NOTE: (Please note: Order of session dates may shift for topics as we work with presenters. We will update the website if this occurs.)

NEW for 2020: The HR Certification Institute has pre-approved this activity for recertification credit towards the aPHRTM, PHR®, PHRca®, SPHR®, GPHR® ,   PHRiTM and SPHRiTMcertifications. The content of the activity submitted has met the criteria of the Approved Provider Program.


To learn more about the type of credit and number of hours as appropriate for each session please contact Nicolette Graham, email nicolette.graham@i4sdi.org


Intersectionality: Confronting the Tensions Of Our Overlapping Identities

Session 1: Wednesday, January 29, 2020

“Intersectionality is a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects. It’s not simply that there’s a race problem here, a gender problem here, and a class or LBGTQ problem there. Many times that framework erases what happens to people who are subject to all of these things.”  —Kimberle Williams Crenshaw


2020 promises to be a challenging year for identity dialogues of all kinds, both within and outside of the workplace. To aid participants in effectively engaging in these dialogues, our first session centers upon the concept of Intersectionality, and how to effectively apply it in the workplace. 


Legal scholar Kimberle Crenshaw coined the term, intersectionality, in the 1980s as a metaphor to understand our multiple social identities in relation to power, privilege, and oppression. In the past 10 years, however, intersectionality has emerged into mainstream conversations without being fully understood.  


Together, through thoughtfully designed experiential learning activities, we will clear up common misconceptions, explore how this concept applies to ourselves and how we can use it as an analytical tool to understand and improve workplace dynamics and relationships.


Join us as we engage this foundational topic for the 2020 Series—setting the tone and providing a springboard for each of the following five sessions.


Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this session, you will have practiced the following capabilities:


  • Effectively analyze the complexity of your own dominant and marginalized identities

  • Assist and support someone in identifying which of their identities maintain power, privilege, marginalization, or oppression in the workplace

  • Apply a systems lens to your organization’s culture to uncover how some identity groups may be privileged while others are marginalized

  • Draw from the experience of the web of intersectionality to build more trusting relationships—a process for change across levels of authority


Workshop Tools:

  • D & I Professional Awareness Scale - Pre & Post Test

  • Matrix Worksheets for Self Identity & Organizational Identity

  • Power & Oppression Wheels for Self and Organization

  • Reflection Questions Worksheet for Self & Organization

Presenter and Facilitators:

Michelle Rivera-Clonch, PhD, comes to the NWDLS with two decades of experience in higher education and community organizations. Early in her career she served as the Assistant Director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Rollins College, and as Director of the Women’s Center and Women’s Programs at Western Carolina University. After earning her PhD, she became an Assistant Professor of Psychology at historic Antioch College where she developed curricula emphasizing experiential education. Alongside her private practice - Peace Within: Counseling for Women - she currently teaches courses in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Critical Media and Cultural Studies at Rollins College.


In 2018, Michelle was the Subject Matter Expert for the Central Florida Diversity Learning Series session on Intersectionality where members included Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI), University of Central Florida College of Medicine, Darden Restaurants, and Florida Hospital.

Working in South and Southeast Asia since 2002, organizations such as the Human Rights Commission of Thailand, Men-Tsee-Khang: The Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute of H.H. the Dalai Lama, and the International Women’s Partnership for Peace and Justice, Michelle underwrote trainings where she collaboratively facilitated a range of topics such as gender justice, conflict and root cause analysis, mindfulness in activism, capacity building, mental health, and empowerment skills for allies for social change. In 2015, Michelle was selected for a Rotary Peace Fellowship in Bangkok, Thailand, where she earned a professional development certificate in Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies at Chulalongkorn University.

Michelle Ilugbusi graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Rollins College. Michelle’s hope is that her education and personal experiences can be used not just to help counsel people, but to aid others in their own work with diversity and inclusion populations. In 2018, Michelle helped facilitate the session on Intersectionality for the Central Florida Diversity Learning Series in Orlando, Florida, where participants attended from Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI), University of Central Florida College of Medicine, Darden Restaurants, and Florida Hospital.



Barb Dos Santos received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Central Florida and is currently seeking a Master of Arts degree in Mental Health Counseling from Rollins College. Barb’s life goal is to open a holistic wellness clinic to provide accessible services to diverse populations. In 2018, Barb helped facilitate the session on Intersectionality for the Central Florida Diversity Learning Series in Orlando, Florida, where participants attended from Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI), University of Central Florida College of Medicine, Darden Restaurants, and Florida Hospital.

Marginalizing Immigrants Is an Old Story: It’s time to Write a New Chapter

Session 2: Wednesday, May 13, 2020 to be delivered VIRTUALLY!

Learning Goal: Learn how to make your workplace more welcoming and inclusive of immigrant employees by knowing the historical role immigration has played in the development of the United States, the contributions of immigrants to the advancement of the country and our economy—particularly in terms of start-ups, innovation, inventions and creativity, and confront the biases and myths about immigrants, particularly immigrants of color.

Why: We believe with the recent upsurge in anti-immigrant sentiment, it is imperative to set straight the false narratives that amplify the stereotypes and assumptions about immigrants. Hate crimes, discrimination, prejudice and mass shootings have accelerated against immigrants in the last few years. Well entrenched myths abound, such as, “immigrants steal jobs from American workers.” This false narrative has been further exasperated by politicians and the media and politicians. The truth is the “non-human immigrant” (technology/automation/A.I.) is the culprit doing away with human jobs, not incoming real people.

In the context of diversity, where one comes from, in this case, one’s nationality, is an important dimension of social identity (noted in the Diversity Wheel model as geographic location). In terms of intersectionality, to be called out, denigrated and attacked for one aspect of your identity creates fear and anxiety. This is a fierce culture clash currently.

We believe organizations and co-workers can take a higher road ensuring that co-workers and leaders of more recent immigrant background be treated respectfully and fairly so that they feel a sense of belonging and engagement in our workplaces. Creating relationships that are resilient to the cultural clashes surrounding immigrants is worthy of our time and skill development.

Immigration Facts:

  • 86.4 million: Population of immigrants and their American born children in the U.S

  • $2 Trillion: Estimated contribution of immigrants to the U.S. gross domestic product in 2016

  • 43% of Fortune 500 companies that were founded or co-founded by immigrants or their children as of 2017

  • 25% of all new business and half of Silicon Valley high-tech start-ups were founded by immigrants

  • 49% of immigrants are Naturalized Citizens


Potential Tools:

  • An infographic highlighting immigrant contributions to the U.S.

  • A timeline to show the history of hateful acts perpetrated against immigrants (in other words, not new in American political and social history)

  • The Diversity Wheel (the dimensions of our social identities)

  • Create a checklist that focuses on debunking the myths

  • Guide: What does “welcoming” and “respecting” immigrants look like?


John Lopez, Ph.D., is president of Lopez Research and Consulting, LLC (johnelopez.com), and author of the Amazon bestselling book “An Immigrant in the C-Suite: From the Journey, Lessons for the Business Community.”


Dr. Lopez has over two decades of successful thought-leadership, strategic and operational management, and public policy experience as chief administrative officer and multiple vice president positions at higher education institutions, nonprofit, private, international and publicly traded organizations. His roles have included chief administrative officer of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, vice president of government affairs for Apollo Education Group, vice president of planning and research for The Institute for Professional Development, director of the minority student program in the College of Business at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and staff for a state senator in the Nebraska Legislature.


In his book, John addresses many topics including immigrants’ lenses of competing cultural characteristics, workplace dynamics on the journey to the C-Suite, and the importance of embracing talent of all ethnicities and origins in an increasingly global, diverse workforce. He develops an approach that consists of 4 levels and 20 activities organizations can implement to increase cultural competence, enhance synergy and productivity between and among teams, and experiences diverse/immigrant leaders can pursue to prepare for or excel in C-Suite positions.


John immigrated to the United States as a young child, served in the U.S. Navy and is a father, golfer and traveler. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in higher education specializing in management and policy and is a contributor to the C-Suite Network. John holds dual U.S. and Belizean citizenship and enjoys philanthropic projects in Belize. 

Carlos B. Gil As immigration becomes more hotly debated in the United States, the arguments have become cartoonish, with one side often painted as naïve, and another as xenophobic. What has become lost is the human story of immigration to America, with all its complexity, heartache, and hope.


Professor Carlos Gil sought to understand immigration by tracing his family’s history from the 1920s to the 1970s. In the process, he discovered the excitement, culture shock, inter-family conflict, and questions of identity that many immigrants face when seeking a better life in another country. The stories are detailed in his book, “We Became Mexican-American: How Our Immigrant Family Survived to Pursue the American Dream” (2012).  A Spanish language edition of "We Became Mexican American" will soon be available.

Carlos B. Gil writes about Mexico and Mexican Americans. He is an emeritus professor of the University of Washington where he taught the history of Latin America for 30+ years. He was born in San Fernando, California, and has lived in Seattle, Washington for 40+ years.

Carlos was commissioned as a Humanities Washington Speaker for 2019-2020 for which he delivered his presentation, "From Mexican to Mexican-American: A Family Immigrant Story," based on his 2012 book. He has delivered his talk to selected libraries, museums and schools throughout Washington State during the last 14 months. Two of his recent presentations took place at the Monroe Correctional Complex, Monroe WA, and at Washington State University.


Carlos presides over The Latino Development Organization of the Monroe Correctional Complex. LDO is a non-profit organization that supports the self-improvement of Latino inmates at the MCC. LDO offers educational courses, supports guest speakers and performers and promotes the rehabilitation of the MCC prisoners who associate with LDO.

Carlos is also the president of The GilDeane Group, a small business that publishes information about diversity, equity and inclusion, and intercultural communication, in companies and organizations (www.diversitycentral.com).


Moving Beyond the Trauma: Innovative Response to the Differential Impacts of COVID-19

Session 3: Wednesday, June 24, 2020 to be delivered VIRTUALLY!

Why this session: COVID-19 has presented us with an unprecedented challenge at a scale that is completely new to us. While its effects appear to conform to what we understand with concepts like 'traumatic event,' 'catastrophe,' or 'natural disaster,' the scope and duration go beyond any of those terms or frames of understanding and response.  Presenter, Dr. Maurice Stevens, will weave into the session the current complexity surrounding George Floyd's murder and subsequent protests, and how to deepen our capacity to respond to all that events like these bring up.


It didn't take long, though, for us to see that in times of extreme upheaval, safety, belonging, agency, being enough, and worthiness come into question. When our taken-for-granted ways of knowing the world are shaken, individuals and groups often rely on habitual patterns of response to restore a sense of control, orderliness, and predictability. For example:


  • At the individual level—emotional and physiological habits of denial, rage, depression, and numbing abound.

  • At the level of group identity—we see familiar patterns of inclusion and exclusion, blame and recrimination being projected onto racial, ethnic, or political 'others.'

  • Our institutions—often relying on obsolete strategies of response and organizational protocol, reveal familiar fault lines of systemic oppression and harm as poor people and people of color see much higher fatality rates in relation to COVID-19.

  • Racism, classism, homophobia, ableism, ageism, and sexism—are now undeniably the deadly 'underlying conditions' determining life outcomes in very immediate and visible ways. Indeed, we are all in this together, but not in the same way.


COVID-19's Differential Impacts:

  • Blacks represent 70% of Chicago's COVID-19 fatalities (while making up 29% of the city population)

  • Women make up 77% of health care workers, 78% of social workers and more than 2/3rds of grocery store and fast-food employees

  • COVID-19 related closures have wiped out Native American Tribal tax bases

  • Nearly 5.8 million people have jobs in health care that pay less than $30,000 per year, 50% are nonwhite and 83% are women

  • Women account for 73% of health care workers who have been infected with coronavirus

  • People in ICE detention facilities or correctional facilities are at increased risk for infection (many of whom are immigrants and/or people of color)

  • 62.5% of Washington DC's COVID-19 fatalities are African-American (of a 46% population share)

  • Over the past 5 months we have seen a dramatic increase in Anti-Asian assaults, harassment, and hate crime in the U.S. and globally

  • As of April, the Navajo Nation had the third-highest per capita rate of COVID-19 in the country


We simply must come up with innovative responses and we must do so together. Moreover, we must do so in ways that do not simply reproduce the conditions or duplicate the social relationships that have defined our reactions to this point. We have an opportunity to learn from this unique circumstance and to create practices that will prepare us to respond in more just ways when we face future challenges of this magnitude.


Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this session, you will:

  • Increase your understanding of trauma, and the habitual ways individuals and institutions respond to overwhelming events

  • Apply an “inclusive lens” to sort out the differential impacts of COVID-19

  • As an individual, identify innovative and generative responses to trauma, to replace habitual ones

  • As an organizational leader, gain innovative ways to guide the organization through the immediate needs, then beyond toward the future



Maurice Stevens is a Professor in the Department of Comparative Studies at the Ohio State University and an adjunct faculty member for the Pacifica Graduate Institute in the department of Depth Psychology’s Community, Liberation, and Eco-Psychology Program. Dr. Stevens is also a writing coach for the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity and, in addition, offers Polarity-based individual and organizational coaching.


Dr. Stevens brings expertise in designing interdisciplinary and engaged research methodologies, participatory leadership models, and community-driven social justice informed research to their scholarly interests and community engagements. They have worked with such organizations as the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Ohio Health, Design Impact, the Athens Foundation, St. Mary's University, Ohio State University, Capital University, Otterbein University, My Brother's Keeper, and many other organizations and community partners.


Dr. Stevens’ research interests include the formation and representation of identity in and through visual culture and political performance, critical trauma theory, disability studies, critical and transformative pedagogy, science and technology studies, popular cultural performance, theories of affect and embodiment, and participatory knowledge production. Dr. Stevens’ first book is titled Troubling Beginnings: Trans(per)forming African-American History and Identity, and they are currently working on a second book called Catastrophe’s Glow: A Critical Trauma Theory for Chaotic Times.


Stevens received their B.A. in Religion and Anthropology from Princeton University and their M.A. and Ph.D. from the interdisciplinary History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Call It What It Is: Eliminating the Impact of White Supremacy in Our Systems

Session 4: Wednesday, August 12, 2020 to be delivered VIRTUALLY!

One’s interpretation of the phrase “White Supremacy” depends largely on one’s understanding of systematic inequality.  When you understand systematic inequality, you understand how “white supremacy” impacts outcomes.


For some, “white supremacy” speaks to extreme but largely unsophisticated violent behavior that targets racial minorities.  Yet for others, white supremacy is a global phenomenon that has created and reinforced social inequity.  In any case, all parties would agree that white supremacy is dangerous, problematic, and distasteful.  However, if our collective understanding of the impact of white supremacy only focuses on individual behavior and does not consider the impact of institutional policies, systems and practices, we will not be successful in eliminating its impact. If our collective understanding of white supremacy is shared, nuanced, and systemic, than the remedy for eradicating white supremacy will be effective.


In this workshop, we help future-oriented leaders and influencers define, illuminate, and examine the notion of white supremacy at a deep level in order to generate strategies—personal, organizational, and global—that will fully uproot white supremacy from our social and workplace environment (including organizational practices and systems), and build norms that are aimed at uplifting and liberating all people. 


This workshop is designed to begin the tender but very necessary journey of healing our workplaces from the harm that has been inflicted by the systematic impact of white supremacy.  As facilitators and consultants, Joel and Nick treat this topic with great care and our participants with great compassion.  We believe in crucial dialogue and courageous truth-telling.  We invite participants with a range of knowledge of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging to attend this session and approach this experience with curiosity, openness, and resilience.

Learning Outcomes:​

By the end of this session, participants will:


  • Gain a clear understanding of what white supremacy is and how it impacts the lived experience of people in the workplace.

  • Evaluate how white supremacy manifests itself at a systemic and interpersonal level, particularly in organizations.  (Participants will become familiar with a tool for assessing how white supremacy manifests itself within organizations.) 

  • Learn the guidelines for facilitating conversations about white supremacy in the workplace. 


Dr. Joel A. Brown is the Chief Visionary Officer of Pneumos, a management consulting company based in San Francisco, USA, specializing in cultural intelligence, leadership development, and organizational strategy. As a change agent, Joel works strategically with organizational leaders and professionals to cultivate innovative, creative, and adaptive environments where the cultural genius of everyone can be harnessed and leveraged successfully.

Best known for his critical analysis, creativity, humor, and his ability to build
consensus, Joel has partnered with Fortune 500 Companies, non-profit organizations, and government agencies to help them achieve sustained growth and organizational breakthroughs. He has worked with the City and County of San Francisco, Apple, Workday, UserTesting, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Charles Schwab, Inc., LinkedIn, the San Francisco Bar Association, Johnson & Johnson, Kansas City Power & Light, the Bar Association of San Francisco, the Human Rights Campaign Fund, Groundspark, the University of South Florida, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and many other Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, and institutions of learning.


Joel is also an Executive Coach who works with C-level executives, emerging leaders, visionaries, and “cultural creatives.” Certified by the Coach for Life teaching institution in Orlando, Florida, Joel employs a holistic approach, focusing on the employee as both an indispensable part of the organization, and as an individual seeking greater self-realization. In 2018, Joel co-created a program entitled Magic Machismo, which is dedicated to nurturing healthy male leadership in a multicultural world. Magic Machismo seeks to neutralize the white supremacist, patriarchal, classist, and heteronormative aspects of masculinity, and build new norms around male leadership that focus on empathy, compassion, growth, honor, and allyship.


Joel is a member of several international think tanks, including D2K, the Diversity Collegium, SIETAR, SIETAR Europa, Young SIETAR, and the Global Community Dialogue. He is also an Expert Panelist with the Global Diversity & Inclusion Benchmarks, and a certified facilitator with the Cultural Detective suite of intercultural tools. Joel is a visiting professor at the IESEG school in France, and is a nationally recognized spoken word artist in the United States. As of May 2018, Joel completed his doctorate in educational leadership from Saint Mary’s College of California, with included domestic and international coursework in design thinking, global citizenship, innovation, and peace education.

Nick van Santen, M.Div., Ed.D. is the co-founder of Magic Machismo, a consulting practice that seeks to neutralize the white supremacist, patriarchal, classist, and heteronormative aspects of masculinity, and build new norms around male leadership that focus on empathy, compassion, growth, honor, and allyship. Nick specializes in creating transformative learning experiences, offering a wholistic approach to human development, and relationship building.


Nick is formerly the Assistant Director of Student Formation and Immersions at Saint Mary’s College of California outside Oakland, USA. As an educator, Nick works strategically with community partners to accelerate participants’ learning and development by integrating social justice theory with reflective practices so that leaders can personally grow in ways that promote the common good. 


Best known for his innovative programs, community engagement, warmth, and his ability to cultivate diverse and authentic teams, Nick has partnered with non-profit organizations to maximize resources and impact through innovative instruction and community engagement opportunities ranging from food justice in Salinas, CA to gentrification in West Oakland to youth and homelessness in Los Angeles to immigration along the US/Mexico Border. Nick’s “sweet spots” include men’s mentorship, leadership development, and social-emotional support.  


Nick is a member of the National Steering Committee for Fair Trade Colleges and Universities and participant of the Interfaith Leadership Institute. He is also an Adjunct Faculty member with the Kalmanovitz School of Education at Saint Mary’s College. Nick is a SafeZone facilitator, instructor of a campus-wide introductory leadership course, and Title IX officer. Nick is a graduate of the College of Idaho and Princeton Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Saint Mary’s College of California in 2018.

Latinx Rising: Delivering on the Promise

Session 5: Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Learning Goal: Encourage relationships between Latinx and other groups by exploring the dynamic sphere of Latinx, from the growth engine it represents in terms of talent, leadership, purchasing power, and population, to continued underrepresentation and lack of inclusion.

Why: Latinx, Latino/Latina, Hispanic—what is the evolution of these terms? Do they even resonate with the people being labeled?


We believe the 2020 NW Diversity Learning Series should reflect the attention Latinx are receiving nationally, such as the 2019 Hispanic Promise, a collaborative pledge signed by 45+ corporations, including SAP Concur and Microsoft locally, along with more than a dozen Hispanic organizations, to advance and empower U.S. Latinx* employees, customers and citizens.


The Hispanic Leadership Summit (2018) reported in its 2020 Vision that “a significant difference exists between the demographic and economic presence of the Hispanic community, and how the community participates, and how it is represented and portrayed in American society.” The result of this difference is that “the Hispanic community’s potential is not being realized.”


We believe by encouraging relationship building across groups, we will help disarm the distrust and discomfort some may feel, and steadily replace the culture clash with resilience. 


*The Latinx population is the second largest racial or ethnic demographic group in the U.S. (18%) after whites (Pew Research).  


Potential Tools:

  • Latinx ERGs, best practices and how to develop a Latinx ERG

  • An infographic- surprising statistics

  • A history lesson: Hispanics in the U.S. – pre-session survey?

  • Recruitment and retention strategies for Latinx

Algorithms and You: Decoding the Bias Within

Session 6: Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Learning Goal: Learn what Artificial Intelligence (AI) means, how it impacts you as an individual, your work environment and influences how you and others think, perceive, believe and act.  Gain understanding about how AI is affecting diversity and relationships, and what we can do about it.

Why: We believe that Algorithms, the engine of Artificial Intelligence, are so pervasive that they are profoundly changing the way we experience and do things, and that we should become more aware of how they will affect us as people of multiple identifies intersecting with equity and inclusion.

One of the developments in A.I. is the use of persuasion architecture using demographic and psychographic information to create angst, fear and outrage against targeted identity groups. This development is seeping into the workplace through social media—it seems innocent, but it has negative ulterior motives and hidden agendas.

We believe it is important to build and equip relationships to be more resilient to the culture clashes involving diverse groups spurred by social media and Artificial Intelligence.

Potential Tools:

  • A primer on Artificial Intelligence and Algorithms and some of the ways they are being used

  • A checklist to see which social media platforms are using and potentially manipulating one’s personal data.

  • A list of questions to ask:

    • How might AI affect my professional development if my background includes being a person of color, a woman, LGBTQ, an immigrant?

    • What are the intersections I need to watch out for?

    • Are there ways to recognize persuasion architecture in my individual feeds? 

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