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?


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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

Nikki McGruder

Session #1: It's Time: Elevating the Voices of Black Women

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: End the Awkward: Disability Awareness 101

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.

Mason Aid

Session #2: All the Colors of the Rainbow: A Glance at Queer Intersectionality

Mason is an LGBTQ Diversity and Inclusion Ninja. They love helping people take the next step on their path to greater inclusion through workshops as well as speaking to their personal experiences. They live in Columbia with their wife, daughter and two kittens.

Mohamed Shahin

Session #1: End the Awkward: Disability Awareness 101

As the Accessibility and Accommodations Specialist at the University of Missouri, Mohamed
assists employees with disabilities identify and arrange their accommodations in the workplace.
He also works to resolve accessibility issues on campus, as well as spread awareness about
the inclusion of individuals with disabilities. And he strives to ensure continual professional
development for individuals with disabilities.

Phil Cohen

Session #4: Humanity in Faith or Faith in Humanity?

Rabbi Phil Cohen is a graduate of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He holds a Ph.D. in Jewish thought from Brandeis University and an MFA in fiction from Spalding University in Louisville. He is the interim rabbi at Congregation Beth Shalom. His interests include theology, bioethics, Bible, Jewish history, and American-Jewish fiction. He is lately interested in the post-WWII development of interfaith relations. His novel Nick Bones Underground won a Finalist Award from the Jewish Book Council for Debut Novel.

Phil is married to Betsy Gamburg and is the proud father of Elly and Talia and the amazed grandfather of Ava Ruth, who sometimes calls him Tony.

Rev. Victoria Chance

Session #4: Humanity in Faith or Faith in Humanity?

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

Brittany Hughes

Session #4: Humanity in Faith or Faith in Humanity?

Brittany Hughes is the regional organizer for Columbia's chapter of the grassroots organizing group Missouri Faith Voices. Originally from Aliceville, Alabama Brittany spent most of her school age years in St. Louis Missouri. Her passion for this work is derived from her love of black folks and the desire to see the collective liberation of BIPOCs not only in America but globally. When she isn't working Brittany enjoys a good book, cooking, music, and grabbing drinks with friends.

Nafis Ricks

Session #4: Be Cautious; I'm Walking Black

Nafis Ricks
Collaboration Coach
Mental Heath Advocate
TedTalkx Speaker
Masters in Positive Coaching (Psychology)
Former Professional Overseas Basketball Player
Suffer from Depression,PTSD,Anxiety,

Kelly Hill

Session #1: Recruiting Allies of Color

Kelly completed her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Evangel University in Springfield,
Missouri in 2008, earning the distinction, “Outstanding Student in the Field of Social Work.”
Kelly moved to Columbia in 2011 to pursue her Master of Social Work degree from the
University of Missouri, which she completed in 2012. Kelly’s experience in the social work field
has focused on child abuse prevention, child welfare, and family preservation programs,
including a residential treatment facility, crisis care nursery, and now Heart of Missouri CASA
(Court Appointed Special Advocates). Kelly also spent 3 years at local nonprofit, Love INC,
where she created and implemented a financial management coaching program called Extra
Mile. Kelly has been in her position at Heart of Missouri CASA since October 2016 and believes
strongly in the mission of giving a voice to children who go unseen and unheard during the
chaos of foster care.

Rev. Regina Lowe

Session #4: The Two Q’s of Data: Gathering Data to Expand Reach

The Reverend Regina Lowe is the Director of Community Programs at the
Alzheimer’s Association Greater Missouri Chapter, where she provides
strategic leadership for program growth and delivery, volunteer recruitment
and engagement, and develops sustainable community partnerships to
increase referrals to the Association. Rev. Lowe has over 18 years of
business experience including business systems development, operations and
leadership. She has a Bachelors in Business Economics from Southern
Illinois University at Edwardsville; a Masters of Christian Formation from
North Park Theological Seminary; a Masters of Nonprofit Administration
from North Park University.

Christine Woods, MSW, LCSW

Session #2: Persisting at the Margins: Black Female Persistence at Predominantly White Institutions: "Things are not as rosy as they seem"

Christine currently serves as Director of the Bachelor of Social Work Program and Assistant Teaching Professor which affords her the opportunity to focus on recruitment and retention of African-American (minority and under-represented) social workers. Christine holds a Bachelor in Family Studies and Master of Social work. She is currently a doctoral candidate in MU’s Educational Leadership program.

Woods’ experience and influence has a reach that is far and diverse. For over 20 years, she has done meaningful work in the private sector, public sector, academic setting, and in non-profit organizations. As a leader by profession and in the community, she has contributed a significant amount of time to public service and continuing education. Her recent presentation Disability and Invisibility at the Faculty Institute of Inclusive Teaching Forum (MU) is exemplary of her position as an advocate for the vulnerable. She provides guidance to families as a Facilitator of the Parent Café as well as encouragement to children through her own founded programs Kids Empowering Kids and Cupcakes and Conversation. Woods also provides consultations and trainings to local agencies on best practices.

As the owner and lead therapist of CROWNED Counseling, Woods offers a mental health services for individuals, couples, and families where she guarantees relatable conversations with relevant context to create real change. Aside from being a respected professional in the community, Woods is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc and the Co-Founder of Urban Empowerment Ministries. She is the cherished wife of Dr. Lester Woods, Jr. and the adored mother of two beautiful young ladies.

Ashley Millham

Session 3: Community Resilience during COVID-19

Ashley Millham is a family physician in Columbia, MO. She graduated from medical school at Mizzou in 2011, completed her Family and Community Medicine residency training program in 2014, and has been a family physician practicing in Columbia, MO since that time. She became the medical director at Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services on January 1, 2020.

Aziza Rashid

Session #4: Humanity in Faith or Faith in Humanity?

Aziza Rashid is a member of the Islamic Center of Central Missouri community. As a resident of Columbia for almost 25 years she has raised 3 children here, works as an accounts manager for a medical office, & volunteers in various social justice organizations. She is an active member of Missouri Faith Voices' leadership, education, and immigration teams. As a practicing Muslim, her faith cements her commitment to stand up for justice and equality.

Secily Devese

Session #1: It's Time: Elevating the Voices of Black Women

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: Demanding Institutional Change: Action Planning

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 became a Certified Diversity FaciliTrainer with NCCJ-St. Louis in 2015. 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, anxiety, and a very large family and support system that helps her to keep everything mostly manageable!

Olivia Pener

Session #2: All the Colors of the Rainbow: A Glance at Queer Intersectionality

Olivia is an organizer, activist, and educator with a background in Sociology and Psychology. She focuses on cultural competency and racial/gender/sexual equity in non-profit spaces. Currently, she works with an organization dedicated to political action and bridging the urban/rural divide in agriculture. She lives in Columbia with her dog, Lola, her kittens, Nermal and Felix, and a gaggle of plants.

Chalana M. Scales-Ferguson, Esq.

Session #1: It's Time: Elevating the Voices of Black Women

Chalana M. Scales-Ferguson, Esq. is a licensed attorney who currently serves as the Director of Academic Success at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. Prior to joining Mizzou Law, Professor Ferguson was a practicing attorney at Lashly & Baer, P.C. in St. Louis where she represented corporations and school districts in education and business and corporate law matters before founding Ferguson Law Group, LLC in 2015, where she was the Managing Attorney before coming to Mizzou in 2019. In 2020, she received the Carroll Mae Carrol Award from the MU Women’s Law Association.

Chalana earned her Juris Doctorate degree with a concentration in employment law from Saint Louis University School of Law and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She will matriculate this fall as a candidate for a Doctorate of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis with an emphasis in Higher Education at the University of Missouri’s College of Education.
Prior to pursuing her legal education, Chalana gained professional experience in corporate and non-profit organizations, while devoting most of her time to raising her two daughters, Jazmyn and Raevyn. Having had aspirations of becoming an attorney for most of her life, she returned to law school at a time when she felt she could achieve appropriate balance in her family and professional life. They served as motivation for her completing law school and she knew she was setting an example for them of how to be committed to family while pursuing personal and professional goals.

Chalana is a very passionate and active servant leader, having engaged with civic organizations including the Women’s Leadership Cabinet for the United Way of Greater St. Louis, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Steering Committee, and the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. Chalana has devoted countless hours volunteering with organizations such as: Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, YWCA Metro St. Louis, Boys and Girls Club of St. Louis, and the St. Louis Gateway Classic Sports Foundation. She has served on the board of directors for YWCA Metro St. Louis and is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated in which she has held numerous leadership positions and is a current member of the St. Louis Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter.

In efforts to enhance her leadership and business acumen, Chalana matriculated through the FOCUS-St. Louis CoroTM Women in Leadership and the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative Fellows programs. Chalana has been recognized in the community for her service and leadership through awards including: St. Louis American Salute to Young Leaders, Ameren Community Lights, St. Louis Phenomenal Woman, DELUX Magazine Power 100 and Urban League Distinctive Young Leaders.

In 2012, Chalana, with her husband, Lathon, co-founded Saint Louis F.O.R.C.E. Athleticz, Inc., a volunteer-based non-profit organization for female athletes which emphasized holistic development, not only through athletic prowess, but also cultivating strong character and commitment to community through service. She has since co-founded, again with her husband, Marriage MasterMYnds, a couples mentoring ministry and network, in which they promote healthy marriages and family life. Chalana is thrilled to use her professional and personal achievements to pour into others, especially young women and girls, through education, service, and mentoring.

Rev. Sarah Klaassen

Session #4: Humanity in Faith or Faith in Humanity?

Rev. Sarah Klaassen is the pastor at Rock Bridge Christian Church and a member of the Faith Voices of Columbia leadership team.

C.W. Dawson

Session #4: Humanity in Faith or Faith in Humanity?

Clanton C.W. Dawson, Jr. is the Pastor, President, and CEO of Dawson Journeys Ministry, a Christian, multicultural, multigenerational ministry of hope. Dr. Dawson is Adjunct Associate Professor of Philosophy at Moberly Area Community College, Columbia Campus, and Columbia College, Columbia, MO. Dr. Dawson serves as a Board Member of Missouri Faith Voices. He is the former Associate Professor of Philosophy at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, FL and former Senior Pastor of historic Mt. Bethel Baptist Institutional Church (circa 1885), Daytona’s oldest historically black congregation. Rev. Dawson received his B. S.S. as a triple major in philosophy, religion, and political science from Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa. He has earned a M.Div. at Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, and a M.A. in Philosophy at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO. While serving as Riley Scholar in Residence at the Colorado College, Dawson completed his PhD in Philosophy at the University of Missouri-Columbia becoming the first African-American to earn a PhD in Philosophy in the history of the University.

The Rev. Dawson, ordained September 11, 1977, has served as a senior minister in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Missouri, and Florida for 41 years. During this tenure he has served as President of the Reading Branch of the NAACP, chair of Berks County Economic Development Council; Member of the National Economic Dislocation Committee, The United Presbyterian Church; Moderator, Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Association, Executive Secretary, Missouri Baptist State Convention, the Daytona Black Clergy Association, and the Volusia County Black Male Think Tank.

Dr. Dawson is a highly sought-after preacher, public intellectual, and speaker for churches, colleges, and universities across the country including Lincoln University, Michigan State University, University of Detroit, Lincoln University and Jacksonville University. He is a powerful preacher with a gift for inspiring hope in the heart and soul of the listener. He is the author of La Conversation Fracture: Concepts of Race in America, Xlibris Publishing CO, 2018, co-editor of An Introduction to Ethics, Dawson, Colombo, and Rodriguez, Kendall-Hunt Publishing, 2011 and contributing author in a new book on Martin Luther King, Jr.; Critical Essays on the Liberatoy Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Philosopher, King, Robert Birt, editor, Lexington Press, 2011-12. Dawson’s article is called “The Concept of Hope in the Thinking of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., He is the author of several articles and is currently a weekly columnist for the Columbia Missourian newspaper.

Raevyn Ferguson

Session #4: Be Cautious; I'm Walking Black

Raevyn Ferguson is a rising sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis, where she is a member of the Women’s Basketball team, as well as a John B. Ervin Scholar. At WashU, Raevyn studies African & African American Studies, with aspirations to attend law school after graduation. On campus, Raevyn is also an active member of the Black Pre-Law Association, Association of Black Students, and a member of the Performing Arts Department. She made her acting debut at WashU in fall 2019 as the Lady in Orange in “For Colored Girls” which was directed by Ron Himes, Founder and Producing Director of the Saint Louis Black Repertory Company. This production received rave reviews after five sold out performances.

Raevyn graduated from Lutheran High School North in St. Louis in 2019 where she was a member of National Honor Society, Vice President of the Senior Class, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Homecoming Queen, and a captain of the Varsity Girls Basketball team. Having a passion for social justice, Raevyn participated in the Missouri 1st Congressional Youth Cabinet and the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus Foundation Emerging Leaders program. She participated in the Saint Louis University School of Law’s Law and Advocacy camp where her public speaking skills were recognized as she received an award for best closing statement.

Raevyn’s leadership led to her receiving awards including the Brandeis University Book Award for Social Action and Civic Engagement, Youth Undoing Institutional Racism Award, and the 2018 YWCA Future Leader Award. Raevyn has been a dynamic leader and servant in the community at large, both locally and globally. She has been involved with SistaKeeper Empowerment Center and its “I Define Me” Movement as a mentor and public speaker, focusing on issues such as self-esteem and confidence, healthy relationships, and mental health. She has served as a keynote speaker and panelist in the SistaKeeper weekly support circles for girls and girls’ conferences, as well as YWCA of Metro St. Louis’ Future Leader program.

Raevyn has volunteered for numerous community organizations such as: Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, St. Louis Crisis Nursery, Annie Malone Children and Family Services, St. Louis Surge Women’s Basketball and Justin Tatum’s Basketball Camp. As an Officer of Outreach for Pioneers Association of Sports and Scholars (PASS Global), Raevyn traveled to China for a Cultural Exchange Program to provide instruction in basketball camps for Chinese youth. Raevyn is devoted to empowering Black women and girls, and contributing to uplifting youth and achieving justice in America.

Andrea Waner

Session #2: Demanding Institutional Change: Action Planning

Andrea Waner, MPA, is the Director of Advancement and Operations at Central Methodist University in Fayette, MO. Andrea has spent her career in the service of others through a commitment to community improvement. She currently serves as chair of the City of Columbia Commission on Human Rights and has worked to pass the first municipal ordinance banning the practice of conversion therapy on minors in the state of Missouri. She also serves as a board member for the Missouri Family Health Council, which oversees Title X family planning funding for the state of Missouri. Andrea utilizes her skills as a communicator and organizer to write and facilitate workshops on equity, diversity, and inclusion for a variety of institutions. Andrea has a Master of Public Affairs with an emphasis in Public and Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Missouri's Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Missouri.

She loves storytelling, learning from others, nerding out over data, and thinking about big ideas. She's not so great at sewing, arts & crafts, or stopping at just one cookie. Andrea enjoys antique shopping, justice, travel, concert-going, hockey, equality, roller derby, and politics. She is a mother, wife, listener, podcast lover, pizza enthusiast.

Leslie Rigdon

Session #1: Recruiting Allies of Color

Leslie Rigdon joined the organization Heart of Missouri CASA in 2010 by becoming a volunteer
advocate for children in foster care. For 6 years, Leslie served on 5 cases, giving children a voice
and hope during the court process. She was successful in her advocacy role by remaining with
the organization and continuing her advocacy for children until 2016. Leslie then joined the
Heart of Missouri CASA team as an Advocate Supervisor. Her main roles as an Advocate
Supervisor are to train and support volunteers to be the best advocates possible in speaking up
for children in foster care. Leslie finds a true passion in speaking up on someone’s behalf where
they may not feel they have a voice.

Sarah Lovegreen

Session #4: The Two Q’s of Data: Gathering Data to Expand Reach

As Vice President of Programs for the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Missouri, Sarah Lovegreen
leads efforts to expand care and support for people impacted by the disease. This work includes
individualized support for those affected by dementia, community outreach and education, healthcare
engagement and population level strategies to increase access to services. Sarah has worked in aging
services since 2006 expanding evidence-based practices to improve the health and quality of life in older
adults. She has a Masters in Public Health from Saint Louis University and is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist.

Jamie Kleinsorge

Session #3: Community Resilience During COVID-19

Jamie Kleinsorge, MS, is a Senior Project Coordinator at the Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES) at the University of Missouri. Jamie has trained thousands of organizations, community professionals, government agencies, and healthcare systems on the use and application of data and GIS for community assessment, programming, and evaluation. Jamie has a Master of Science in Rural Sociology with an emphasis in community development from the University of Missouri and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Western Illinois University.

Sandi Miller

Session #1: Fireside Chat: Cancelling and boundary setting while sitting with trauma and privilege

Sandi Lillard Miller has been working in the social work field in Columbia, MO since 1990. She has an MSW and an LCSW. She moved to Columbia for graduate school after accepting a position at Charter Behavioral Health Hospital in Youth Services. She went on to work as a victim's advocate and to develop and coordinate a children's program for domestic violence recovery. She later worked with University Extension developing materials for parents and children and providing continuing education to professionals in the field. Sandi was a child and family therapist for University Behavioral Health which became Burrell Behavioral Health for more than ten years. She was the lead clinician in the Burrell Access Center before joining the social services team at Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services (CBCPHHS). At C/BCPHHS, Sandi is the program manager of Healthy Families, a prenatal and early childhood home visiting program. She is the clinical supervisor for social services. When a state of emergency was declared in March because of Covid-19, Sandi became the coordinator for mental health services in Columbia/Boone County. Sandi believes strongly in a coordinated effort in social work between the micro level therapists and caseworkers and clients to the marco level planners and administrators. She strongly believes that the trauma experienced and witnessed at the micro level must also be addressed by the community, the state, and the nation.

Planning Partners

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