Unity through Diversity & Inclusion: It Begins with All of Us

The purpose of this event is to bring together individuals and organizations who – by discussing topics that pertain to today’s workforce – will speak to the importance of diversity, inclusion, accessibility, equity, and how it pertains to individuals with disabilities in the workplace. The summit’s theme is The Power of Disability Inclusion. The summit will educate organizations on fostering outreach and inclusion of individuals with disabilities. This involves more than simply encouraging people; it requires ensuring that adequate policies and practices are in effect in a community or organization. This event will serve as a platform for organizations, leaders, and individuals to share their stories, experiences, best practices, and contributions in creating a more equitable and inclusive workplace. Our goal is to educate, inspire, and encourage attendees to reflect on their commitments and practices as they strive to advance DEI within their respective organizations and communities. And more than ever, we hope to help companies embrace and champion policies and practices to ensure everybody has the same opportunities to participate in every aspect of life to the best of their abilities and desires. For event and sponsorship information, please contact [email protected]

For questions or comments, please contact Ivy Hunter at [email protected]

Oakland University Oakland Center, 312 Meadow Brook Rd, Auburn Hills, MI 48326


9:00am-9:15am Opening Session - Ángeles Valenciano, CEO, National Diversity Council
9:15am-9:45am Keynote Address - Kathy Martinez, President and CEO, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA)
9:45am-9:55am Interim Break
9:55am-10:55am Concurrent Session I: Culture and Employee Engagement

1.1 Disability Inclusion in the Workplace: The Realities Beyond The Business Case- More than ever, companies realize the importance of a customer-centric approach as they prioritize shared values and social responsibility. In relation to disability inclusion, corporations often analyze various ‘business cases,’ all to measure themselves. However, it’s time businesses look beyond the business case and make the necessary investment in affirming the agency and dignity of humanity. Join this session to hear from business leaders on the various ways in creating a more equitable and inclusive organizational culture. The “Bottom line” is organizations play a significant role in shaping the broader dynamics in our society.

Sonya Payne, Regional Human Resources Manager, Walgreens
Bryan W. Gill, Operations Director for the Business Solutions Team (BeST), JPMorgan Chase
Jenny Brown, CEO and Founder, Dutton Farms
De'Andrea Matthews, Director of Diversity and Community Engagement, Detroit Zoological Society

TyKiah Wright, Ohio Director, National Diversity Council

1.2 Driving Inclusion: The Role of Executive Sponsors and ERG's- The ERGs/BRGs are the backbone and the heart of DEI initiatives because they provide opportunities for employees at every level to get involved in supporting diversity awareness and helping to advance discussions on policies, processes, and systems that may impede the advancement or development of people with disabilities. Executive Sponsors are critical to the success of ERGs/BRGS because they serve as advocates within the company to help advance the work of DEI. This session will offer a better understanding of ERG’s/BRG’S and Executive Sponsors as an impactful vehicle in driving strategic priorities and business outcomes, in addition to diversity, inclusion, community, and employee engagement.

Curtis Kesler, Sr. HR Partner, DOW
Henry Werner, Senior Director - Facilities Management and Support Services, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Jordan Walker, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager, Consumers Energy

Rich Stevenson III, Senior Corporate Trainer/ disAbility ERG Chair, Flagstar Bank

1.3 Workplace Culture and the ADA- Workplace culture, values, practices, written and unwritten rules of how a group functions- is an important part of work-life that relates to the goals of the ADA. However, changing attitudes or values that lead to discriminatory practices is a complex task that requires us to look beyond the law itself. In this panel discussion, we will take a deeper dive into the intent of the ADA in organizational settings in creating inclusive environments that welcome equal opportunities for people with disabilities in the workplace.

James Clinkscale, State ADA Coordinator, State of Ohio Department of Administrative Services
Robin Jones, Director, Great Lakes ADA Center | University of Illinois at Chicago
Christopher Samp, Director of the Office of Disability Affairs, The City of Detroit

Zachary Fairchild, Total Rewards Manager-Culture & Engagement Department, LakeTrust Credit Union

1.4 Mental Health And Disability Inclusion- In the United States, 1 in 4 adults—61 million—have a disability. Mental health conditions are the most common disability in the U.S., yet there are significant disparities in employment. These disparities exist despite policy protections for people with disabilities, as seen in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, mental health is not as visible as other diversity dimensions. Mental illnesses often give way to “invisible” or non-apparent disabilities, and too often, mental health is often misunderstood, stigmatized, and overlooked. This panel discussion will raise awareness, educate, destigmatize, and challenge assumptions about mental illness, in addition to providing a better understanding of how to remove barriers to inclusion.

Joy Calloway, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York,
Dana Lasenby, Executive Director and CEO, Oakland Community Health Network
Debra Pinals, Director of the Program in Psychiatry, Law, & Ethics, University of Michigan Medial School

Vernita Duvall, Sr. Vice President, Patterson Bryant

10:55am-11:55am Lunch
11:55am-12:55pm Concurrent Session II: Through the Lens of Inclusion

2.1 Disability Rights and Social Justice- Many people with disabilities and allies achieved important historical work in developing disability rights in the U.S., creating success in advancement and opportunities. We cannot effectively challenge inequality and inequity—or advance social justice—unless we address the needs, concerns, and priorities of the one billion people worldwide who live with disabilities. This session will identify a social justice framework tied to our broader commitment to diversity, access, equity, and inclusion, incorporated through a disability lens in building a fully inclusive world.

Kellie Blackwell, Assistive Technology (AT) Specialist, Michigan Disability Rights Coalition
Annie Urasky, Director of the Division on Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing, Michigan Department of Civil Rights
Nadia Vann, Assistant Attorney-General with the Health, Education, and Family Services, Michigan Office of Attorney General
Tameka Citchen-Spruce, Independent Film Producer, Screenwriter and Disability Justice Activist, Warriors on Wheels

Darlene King, Executive Director, Michigan Diversity Council

2.2 Identity Beyond Disability: An Intersectional Approach- Coined in 1989, by legal scholar and civil rights activist Kimberlé Crenshaw, intersectionality takes into account overlapping identities and experiences to understand the multiple sources of oppression and the complexity of prejudices people face. Despite increasing awareness of the need to understand and design for intersectionality at work, most organization’s do not apply this framework in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Attendees will leave this session with a better understanding of the: 1. history; 2. effect of intersecting identities on employees; 3. role of micro-inequities and microaggressions; 4. value and importance for employers; and 5. real-world application. Organizations that prioritize intersectionality enable employees to embrace, express, and celebrate all aspects of themselves – without fear of discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.

Sarah Kirwan, Founder and Principal, Eye Level Communications

2.3 Disability Etiquette- A basic understanding of disability etiquette involves treating people with disabilities with respect. It includes respectful communication and interaction with people who have disabilities. Good disability etiquette can also expand business opportunities and help organizations serve customers more effectively. Join this training and increase your knowledge, awareness, challenge​ ​assumptions, and increase cultural competency related to disabilities, leading to a more inclusive workforce.

Nacsha Ealy, Business Relations Consultant-Business Network Division, Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS)
Lisa Stanley, Business Relations Consultant, Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS)

12:55pm-1:15pm Interim Break
1:15pm-2:15pm Concurrent Session III: Inclusion and Accessiblity

3.1 Digital Accessibility and Communication Technology- About 20 percent of the US population has an accessibility barrier, which means improving accessibility and technology goes a long way in creating more equitable opportunities and advancements offered to more people. Join our panel of business leaders as they discuss technology and accessibility’s impact in driving diversity and inclusion. Topics include determining where the barrier lives-internally and externally, policies and procedures, training, inclusive designs, and understanding accessibility as a human right.

Lisa Kisiel, Vocational Rehabilitation West Region Manager, Michigan Bureau of Services for Blind Persons
Tonia Peterson, Program Manager- Business Network Division, Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS)
Richard Ramirez, Innovation / Technology Corporate Social Responsibility, DTE Energy
Hung Jen Kuo, Assistant Professor | Office of Rehabilitation and Disability Studies, Michigan State University

Brad O'Brien, Learning Experience Manager, GreenPath Financial Wellness

3.2 Implementing a Neurodiversity Employment Program Post Covid - Leading organizations are finding that neurodiverse individuals can spur innovation, creativity, and bring a unique skill set to the workplace. By implementing successful neurodiversity programs, organizations can gain the competitive advantage they’ve been looking for. In this breakout session, panel leaders from CAI’s Autism2Work and Flagstar will share how they learned to adapt to a virtual environment, provide support for neurodiverse teams, and share recommendations for moving forward post-COVID.

Mary Mbiya, Vice President, Director Diversity & Inclusion, Flagstar Bank
Anthony Pacilio, Vice President-Autism2Work (A2W), CAI

Laurie Morse-Dell, Chief Operating Officer, Incompass Michigan

3.3 Media and Disability Advocacy- Media representation for all groups, including marginalized groups, is crucial. Our worldview is significantly shaped by what is or isn't represented in the media. Poor representation or lack of leads to misinformation, stigma, stereotypes, and societal exclusion. In the case of disabilities, an example of this would be the misunderstanding that persons with a disability have fewer capabilities or potential than those who are able. In this session, discover the media’s role and responsibility in promoting positive branding and fair diverse representation promoting inclusion and acceptance of individuals with disabilities.

Allison Norlian, Co-Founder l BirdMine Contributor l ForbesWomen Journalist/Writer, Birdmine
Jourdan Saunders, Founder and CEO, The Resource Key
Josh Loebner, Director of Strategy, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Designsensory
Stacie de Armas, SVP Diverse Consumer Insights & Initiatives, DE & I Practice, Nielsen

Kanetra Hights, Director of Inclusion and Diversity, C.H. Guenther & Son Inc.

2:15pm-2:25pm Interim Break
2:25pm-2:55pm Awards
2:55pm-3:00pm Closing Remarks - Darlene King, Executive Director, Michigan Diversity Council

Sponsored By

Award Nomination

Deadline for nominations is September 3, 2021


  • Designated as a Bronze Sponsor of the summit; this designation will be on the event webpage, all pre-event and event online and email promotional material, and printed event materials
  • Professional photographs of event for organizational use
  • Quarter-page ad in the printed event program
  • 2 tickets to the summit


  • Designated as a Silver Sponsor of the summit; this designation will be on the event webpage, all pre-event and event online and email promotional material, and printed event materials
  • Professional photographs of event for organizational use
  • Half-page ad in the printed event program
  • 4 tickets to the summit


  • Designated as an Gold Sponsor of the summit; this designation will be on the event webpage, all pre-event and event online and email promotional material, and printed event materials
  • Gold Sponsor(s) will be included in recognition of 50% event proceeds donation to the Ohio Stem Learning Network
  • Professional photographs of event for organizational use
  • Full-page ad in the printed event program
  • 8 tickets to the summit


  • Designated as Presenting Sponsor of the summit; this designation will be on the event webpage, all pre-event and event online and email promotional material, and printed event materials – limited to two co-title organizations
  • Presenting Sponsor(s) will be included in recognition of 50% event proceeds donation to the Ohio Stem Learning Network
  • Presenting Sponsor(s) will be listed on all nametags, table tents, and signage during the event
  • Receive a formal plaque as Presenting Sponsor of the event
  • An opportunity to have a representative from your organization provide remarks to open or close the event (10 minutes)
  • Professional photographs of event for organizational use
  • Two full-page ads in the printed event program
  • 16 tickets to the summit