August 6, 2020

The Conference

A Day of Powerful Talks

06 August 2020

8:00 am

How do we hold each other accountable as we continue to press forward toward
inclusive excellence? We will address our collective responsibility toward a community
built on trust, transparency, equity, diversity and inclusivity. It is important that we
continue to monitor the state of our intentional work toward a community focused on
inclusive excellence. Even when times are quiet, the work must continue.

6.25 Social Work Clock Hours


Application approved by NASW-Missouri Chapter.

Pending certificates for Continuing Legal Education.


Interested in sponsoring?


Venue & Parking

Columbia College

1001 Rogers Street

Launer Auditorium

Columbia, MO 65201


Parking passes are not required for the event.

All conference programming will take place at Columbia College

Past Sessions

Past Speakers

Dr. Cynthia Frisby

Session #3: Mediated ‘Isms and Their Use in Journalism, Advertising and Public Relations

Dr. Cynthia Frisby is a nationally-recognized authority on media portrayals of minorities, athletes, women and teens. Frisby studies how media messages contribute toward creating or maintaining stereotypes and biases against minorities, athletes, women and teens. Among other topics, she has investigated the sources of American viewers’ fascination with reality television and the effects of idealized images on perceptions of body esteem among African American women. Frisby also studies race and gender representation in sports; she analyzed coverage of black male athletes by magazines and news websites from 2002-2012 and demonstrated that news stories involving instances of crime or violence were more heavily covered when they involved black athletes. Additionally, Frisby provides research-based decision-making assistance to health organizations developing communication campaigns for underserved populations. Frisby earned her doctorate degree and her master’s degree from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications. She joined the Missouri School of Journalism faculty in January 1998 and is a full professor of strategic communication with a joint appointment in the communication department in the College of Arts and Science.

Secily Devese, SHRM-CP

Session #1: Humanizing Our Co-Workers

Secily Devese is a University of Missouri graduate with a degree in Personal Financial Planning. Currently, she works on the culture team at Veterans United Home Loans in the Diversity and Inclusion department. There she manages projects, programs, and facilitates discussions that help educate her co-workers and community members on topics surrounding diversity. She is the founder of Executive of My Future, a mentorship program devoted to the success of young women by helping them to exercise problem-solving skills, decision making skills and promoting responsibility.

Kari Utterback

Session #2: Many Faces of Privilege Session #3: Diversity in Beliefs: Panel Session #4: LGBTQIAA+: Identity Inclusion

Kari Utterback graduated from Missouri State University in 2007 and promptly moved to Columbia, MO where she got involved with her municipal government. She is now working at the City of Columbia as an Administrative Supervisor and lead facilitator for their equity and inclusion training program. She has been integral in implementing a community-wide framework to look at how individuals can work to interrupt their biases and understand their privilege. She is the 2019 Columbia Values Diversity Award recipient. Outside of her work at the City, she has one husband, two dogs, a small business, severe anxiety, and a very large family and support system that helps her to keep everything mostly manageable!

Crystal Kroner, Ph.D.

Session #2: Using Data to Promote Equity: Balancing Individual Outcomes with Systems

Crystal Kroner serves as the Executive Director for the Cradle to Career Alliance, an education nonprofit believing all children and families deserve equal opportunities for well-being and success, as a basis of a thriving community. Before her position with C2CA, Dr. Kroner headed a research division at the University of Missouri, after serving as Project Director for a large educator evaluation system and several complex state-level projects at the Missouri Department of Higher Education. She earned her doctorate in Educational Policy Analysis (K-12) with a focus on educational equality, group dynamics and mediation and has an extensive background in evaluation and technical platform design.

Mason Aid

Session #2: Ally-Oops! Navigating LGBTQ Allyship!

Mason Aid graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology plus over 5 years experience in LGBTQ education and advocacy.

Rev. Sarah Klaassen

Session #3: Diversity in Beliefs: Panel

Rev. Sarah Klaassen is the pastor at Rock Bridge Christian Church and shares the church's commitments to peace, social justice and joyful welcome. She is active in sanctuary work, faith-based LGBTQ inclusion and housing justice efforts in mid-Missouri and beyond.

Jay-Dee Bush

Session #2: Many Faces of Privilege

Jay-Dee Bush graduated from St. Louis Community College in 2010 with an associate’s degree in journalism and again in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of Missouri. He is now working for the City of Columbia as a Video Producer and a Certified Diversity Facilitrainer for the Building Inclusive Communities program. He also volunteers his time outside of his working hours to engage in activities and conversations that foster a more equitable community in Columbia. He is married and has a 14-year-old son that keeps him on his toes. Also he enjoy writing poetry and attending spoken word venues around town whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Gwen Hinz

Session #3: Women in Tech

Gwen Hinz is an Agile Scrum Master in IT. She graduated in 2014 with a Masters in Information Science and Learning Technologies and worked as a librarian for several years before migrating into IT. She lives in Columbia, Mo with her 3 cats and her partner.

Shyane Shade

Session #3: Women in Tech

Shyane Shade is a fourth year Information Technology student at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University from Atlanta, Georgia. She has always had an interest in new and innovative technology and the need to protect it. This led her to choose concentrations in cyber-security and mobile applications. Her dream career is to be a White Hat Hacker and being able to use her skills to exploit the weaknesses within a company's network and assist in creating solutions to remedy them before problems arise. Her extracurricular activities in college include mentoring incoming students in Technology and being a part of an organization called Secured Rattlers. Secured Rattlers is a cyber-security group on campus that discusses current events and the possible vulnerabilities in new technology.

Vovanti Jones, MD

Session #1: Disability is Diversity: Panel

Vovanti Jones, MD is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Clinical Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). She joined the University of Missouri in August 2018. She received her medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine in 2014. Dr. Jones completed her residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital/University of Chicago in 2018. Dr. Jones specializes in the rehabilitation of patients with neuromuscular diseases, amputations and neurological injuries and disorders including strokes at the Rusk Rehabilitation Center Hospital an affiliate of Encompass Health and MU Health Care. She is currently the Medical Director of the Stroke and Amputee inpatient rehab unit at Rusk and is Director of the PM&R Adult Neuromuscular Medicine Program. Dr. Jones is also interested in electrodiagnostic medicine. She sees patients in the multidisciplinary Muscular Dystrophy and ALS clinics. Dr. Jones has a strong interest in advocacy for persons with disabilities. She is currently a member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) and the Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP).

Leland Rehard

Session #3: Diversity in Beliefs

Lelande Rehard is the District Manager for the Mid Missouri Solid Waste Management District which serves the Columbia, Jefferson City, and surrounding area with waste diversion grant funding and services. Before coming to the District, Lelande worked in the City of Columbia, City Manager's Office. Lelande has a Bachelors in Greek and Latin and a Master's in Public Administration, both from the University of Missouri. Professionally, Lelande is focused on source reduction projects, product stewardship, and being a facilitrainer of the City's Building Inclusive Communities program. Personally, Leland Rehard Leland enjoys mountain biking, commuting by bike, hiking, running, and sharing these activities with his two children and wife.

Abbie Coleman

Session #4: LGBTQIAA+: Identity Inclusion

Abbie Coleman is a graduate of Southeast Missouri State University and now calls Columbia home. She began working for her local government in 2015 and has recently joined the City’s equity and inclusion training program as a facilitator. She strongly believes in doing the work, both internally and externally, to “break the wheel” of oppression and affect real change in our community.

Kurt Saxton

Session #3: Diversity in Beliefs

Kurt Saxton is a member of the Columbia Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'i Faith.

Nikki McGruder

Session #1: Really Addressing the Current Environment (RACE) Session #3: Paradigm Shift in How We Serve

Previously served as Regional Manager of the Columbia Branch of the Diversity Awareness Partnership. Under Nikki's leadership, more than 12,000 community members as well as several businesses and organizations have been touched in and around the Columbia community through inclusive events, training, and community dialogues. Prior to joining DAP, Nikki worked with leading recruitment process outsourcing firm, Cielo, in the recruiting and hiring of top candidates for technology, pharmaceutical and finance positions. The bulk of her professional experience was with Edward Jones Investments where Nikki served in various capacities over a ten-year time frame. In her time with Edward Jones, Nikki was afforded the opportunity to work closely with the Inclusion initiative serving as a trainer and coach for minority advisors in the firm’s Cross Cultural Development training program as well as with a team of professionals working diligently to improve the inclusion initiative for the recruitment and hiring of minority advisors. Nikki received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Columbia College in Columbia, MO, and her Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Arts in Human Resources Development from Webster University in St. Louis, MO.

Amber Cheek

Session #1: Disability is Diversity: Panel

Amber manages all aspects of ADA compliance across the university, including accessibility, program access, and reasonable accommodations for faculty and staff. Amber came to Mizzou from the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington D.C., where she was a Presidential Management Fellow and Co-Director of the Workforce Recruitment Program, a nationwide employment program for persons with disabilities. Amber also has experience working for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Amber is a person with a disability and a first-generation college graduate.

Rachel Johnson

Session #4: Addressing Difficult History Without Sugar-Coating the Truth

Rachel L. Johnson teaches Kindergarten through 5th grade in a multiage classroom at The Children’s School at Stephens College in Columbia, MO. As a seventh-year teacher, she also mentors preservice teachers. She earned her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Stephens College and is passionate about the teaching and learning of black history, anti-racist education, and tolerance. Additionally, she has developed Whiteness 101, a class she teaches on white identify, privilege, and supremacy to community groups and churches in Columbia.

Philip G. Peters, Jr.

Session #2: Using Data to Promote Equity: Balancing Individual Outcomes with Systems

Philip G. Peters, Jr. serves on the board of directors of the Cradle to Career Alliance of Boone County, a nonprofit created to help reduce educational disparities. He chairs its Data Committee and analyzes local school district data to ascertain disparities and to identify opportunities to reduce them. He has taught at the MU School of Law for 30 years and is currently the Ruth L. Hulston Emeritus Professor of Law. He served on the board of First Chance for Children for many years and took a two-year leave of absence from the law school to serve as its Executive Director of First Chance for Children. First Chance is a local nonprofit whose goal is to help more children arrive at school ready to flourish. He began his legal career in 1976 as a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Mary Hartigan

Session #3: Diversity in Beliefs: Panel

Mary Hartigan is a member of Congregation Beth Shalom in Columbia, MO. She identifies as a Conservative Jew. She is also trained and certified by the Union of Reform Judaism as a rabbinical associate.

Rev. Victoria Chance, H.Ps. 3*^

Session #3: Diversity in Beliefs: Panel

Rev. Victoria Chance, H.Ps. 3*^ has been been a priestess for over 22 years. Tori serves the Conclave of the Craft as President of the Board of Directors and High Priestess of both the Conclave proper and of Naofa Tintean, a Conclave working group.

John J. Bowders, PhD.

Session #1: Disability is Diversity: Panel

John J. Bowders is the William A. Davidson Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Missouri. He completed his BS and MS Civil Engineering degrees at Drexel University, and his PhD at the University of Texas at Austin in 1985. During the past 34 years, Dr. Bowders has served on the civil engineering faculties of West Virginia University, The University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Missouri. He is a registered professional engineer in West Virginia and Missouri. His research interests include: the effects of chemicals and wastes on the properties and behavior of soil, subsurface containment systems, in situ remediation systems, and design of experiments for laboratory and field tests involving water and chemical movement in soil. He has served as a member or chair of the University of Missouri Chancellor’s Committee for Persons with Disability since 2015 and serves on the City of Columbia Missouri Disability Commission.

Mary Beth Anthony

Session #3: Women in Tech

As an Associate Director of Software Services at Veterans United, Mary Beth does more than wrangle software development teams. With more than 20 years’ experience as a servant leader, she is obsessed with empowering people, elevating individual and team performance, and partnering with diverse groups to achieve organizational goals. Mary Beth also works as a strategist, interviewer, coach, and sometimes therapist. No matter what she is wearing, her goal is simple - to deliver results.

Kawajalyn Collins

Session #3: Women in Tech

Kawajalyn Collins has over 25 years of experience in the Information Technology and Healthcare fields and has degrees and certifications in both areas. Due to having a compassionate spirit and loving to help others, she volunteers at Hospice Compassus, Wolfner Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Big Brothers Big Sisters and is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Inc. Sorority. She currently works at Shelter Insurance Home Office as an Information Security Auditor where she identifies control weaknesses and tests system security by performing complex data analysis and recommends improvements. Kawajalyn enjoys working in the technology field because of its diverse domains (development, networking, security, data analytics, project management, etc.) and because it is constantly changing/evolving there are always opportunities to learn new things if you want to challenge yourself and solve problems and deep think!

Elizabeth "Liz" Lea

Session #3: Women in Tech

Liz is originally from the Chicagoland area and has been a resident of Columbia, MO for almost 20 years. She is passionate about agile development, problem solving and building highly successful teams. She started her career in Software Business Analysis, Testing and Project Management, then grew into IT management roles, and is currently the Associate Director of Software Quality Services at Veterans United Home Loans. Liz attended Columbia College and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with emphasises in Marketing and Management and a minor in Computer Information Systems. She has served on the Mid-Missouri PMI Chapter Board and holds certifications as a Project Management Professional (PMP) and Scrum Master (CSM).

Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

Session #3: Diversity in Beliefs

The Rev. Molly Housh Gordon is a Unitarian Universalist minister serving the UU Church of Columbia, Missouri. A lifelong UU from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Molly holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Religion from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas and a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Molly was ordained in 2011 and in addition to her ministerial work has served with the Growth Services department of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and the UUA’s 50th Anniversary Committee. In her free time, Molly particularly enjoys creative endeavors such as reading and writing fiction and poetry, ballet dance, and singing. She also loves to bake, cook, and spend time outdoors. Molly and her husband James currently reside in Columbia, Missouri.

Lieutenant Carmon Camp

Session #3: Diversity in Beliefs

God picked me to be the Corps Officer and lead the work of The Salvation Army in Columbia, Mo in June 2017. As an ordained minister, It has been my honor to be a part of the mission of saving souls and serving God's people in this community for the last two years. I am seasoned with love and life experiences that include a degree in Elementary Education. Teaching is my passion and spiritual gift. I love that God has used me greatly and I am excited to be a part of this community as a member of Columbia Kiwanis and a life style coach for Live Well By Faith. I take my role as a functioning community member seriously and am dedicated to community partnerships. I share my joy of life with my two beautiful sons who make me proud to be a mother.

Planning Partners

©2019 by Inclusive Impact Institute. Proudly created with