Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Logo 2020

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leadership Conference

Conferences & Events
Diversity and Inclusion

Location & Dates

Conference Details

  • Overview


    The Future Is Now: Discover, Elevate & Implement

    MRA’s Annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Conference offers a powerful line-up of nationally renowned speakers and panel discussions. Keynote Tara Jaye Frank kicks off the morning and helps attendees discover what it means to have an inclusive culture – and what it takes to sustain a culture that works for everyone. Panel discussions feature emerging topics and an opportunity to learn and interact with DEI champions who have successfully rolled out efforts in their organizations. Closing keynote Ryan Sallans wraps up the conference by sharing his inspiring personal experience with gender inclusion in the workplace how to successfully break down barriers.

    Diverse and inclusive teams, along with an equitable culture, create a dynamic work environment that inspires creativity and innovation which fosters business growth. MRA’s DEI Conference is designed for everyone along the DEI journey. Attendees will leave the conference feeling inspired and equipped with practical resources to help launch, build, and elevate their company’s DEI strategy. Join us Thursday, May 13, 2021 at the MRA DEI Conference to create the future now!

    Sessions will be recorded and available after the event to all registrants.

    HRCI and SHRM recertification credits applied for.

  • Agenda


    Schedule Sessions
    8:00 a.m. – 8:15 a.m. Welcome
    8:15 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. Session 1: Inclusion Now: A Bridge to Progress
    9:15 a.m. – 9:25 a.m. Break
    9:25 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

    Session 2A: Getting Started on Your DEI Journey
    Session 2B: Keep the DEI Momentum Going to Drive Employee Engagement
    Session 2C: How to Launch a Diversity Council

    10:15 a.m. – 10:25 a.m. Break
    10:25 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Session 3A: Disability Inclusion Strategies
    Session 3B: What is Allyship and Why Is it Important?
    Session 3C: Equity vs Equality: What’s the Difference in the Workplace?
    11:15 a.m. – 11:25 a.m. Break
    11:25 a.m. – 12:25 p.m. Session 4: Gender Inclusion and the Workplace
    12:25 p.m. - 12:30 p.m. Closing
  • Sessions


    Session 1: Inclusion Now: A Bridge to Progress

    Presented by Tara Jaye Frank

    What does it mean to have an inclusive culture, and why should you care? Culture often exists on three levels - the claim, or what we say about it; the policies, or how we reinforce our claims; and the norms, which are the behaviors we abide by every day. Building and sustaining an inclusive culture takes more than our good intent. It requires vision, discipline, and personal accountability. In this honest conversation about workplace systems, we explore the many ways our norms sometimes work against our highest aspirations, and how we can use our voices and our influence to shape a culture that works for everyone.

    Session 2A: Getting Started on Your DEI Journey

    Research shows that investing in DEI makes a company stronger and more resilient. While jumping into DEI work can feel intimidating, because there are so many things that could be done, it’s worth investing the time to learn from others, reflect, and create strategies that have long-term positive impact for your organization. It’s more than a check-the-box approach; it involves intentional leadership and action to drive the changes needed. Regardless of the size of your company or industry, there are actionable and measurable steps you can take to shift from conversation to practice.

    Two experts will share their insights and what they have learned on their own DEI journey:

    • Ritika Singh, Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Catholic Relief Services
    • Makda Fessahaye, CHRO, City of Milwaukee

    Session 2B: Keep the DEI Momentum Going to Drive Employee Engagement

    We know that diverse and inclusive workplaces enable people to perform at their best, and as a result, there is a high level of engagement, job satisfaction, and innovation. There can be energy and excitement around DEI work at first, and then it becomes a challenge to keep going. Keeping DEI at the center of everything you do will help sustain a better world of work and harness workplace engagement for the future.

    Two experts will share their perspectives on how to keep the strength of DEI work going to further employee engagement:

    • Laura Brock, Vice President, Inclusion & Diversity, nVent
    • Sarah Waite, Sr. HR Director, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

    Session 2C: How to Launch a Diversity Council

    Inclusive leaders (whether formal or informal) are known to be proactive, forward thinking, flexible, and reflective of their organization’s unique culture. Partnering together to move DEI initiatives forward may mean forming a diversity council or committee to put plans to action. There can be a lot of questions about what makes a diversity council work, who should be involved, and what’s the best approach to grow it over time.

    Two experts will share their tips, challenges, and rewards of starting a diversity council at an organization:

    • Dibin Lassila, Sr. HR Director and D&I Leader, Daikin Applied
    • Steven Brown, VP Diversity Equity Inclusion, Molson Coors

    Session 3A: Disability Inclusion Strategies

    Employers that have a commitment to include individuals with disabilities, including veterans with disabilities, experience a wider pool of talent and skills. This type of commitment involves developing a strategy and having an ongoing practice of eliminating barriers and implementing reasonable accommodations. Whether you are starting to explore disability inclusion strategies or accelerating your work in this area, there is always more to learn to ensure your organization is welcoming and accessible to applicants and employees with disabilities.

    Two experts will share the work they’ve done to support organizations in their disability inclusion initiatives:

    • Chelsea Budde, Executive Director, Good Friend Inc.
    • Juan Banda, Director, Human Resources Operations, Froedtert Hospital

    Session 3B: What Is Allyship and Why Is It Important?

    Allyship is more than just a word. It’s an action and typically involves collective actions that work together to remove barriers to ensure all voices are heard. When individuals in the workplace are courageous and advocate for others, they create an environment for all people to thrive. Allies in the workplace acknowledge their biases and help create a culture of empathy and understanding, which plays a crucial role in promoting equity and inclusion.

    Three experts will share how they have seen allyship in action and the power it can have to stop cycles of inequity:

    • Alicia Kiser, Vice President of Human Resources, M3 Insurance
    • Kevin Sucher, Executive Director, 88Nine Radio Milwaukee
    • Scott Cross, Human Resources Business Partner, Baird

    Session 3C: Equity vs. Equality: What’s the Difference in the Workplace?

    The terms equity and equality are sometimes used interchangeably in the discussions about inclusion workplaces. However, they are quite different. While it’s important to offer equal access to opportunities, what often gets overlooked is that the needs of employees cannot be addressed by a one-size-fits-all approach. Like equity, equality aims to promote fairness, but it can only have a positive effect if employers provide resources, tools, and support that ensure all employees can make an equal impact.

    These experts will share what they have learned, so you can apply this understanding into the diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies within your organization:

    • Jen Murray, Director, LGBTQ+ Resource Center, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
    • Heidi Moore, Director of Emerging Markets and Inclusion, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin

    Session 4: Gender Inclusion and the Workplace

    Presented by Ryan Sallans

    Many organizations have questions surrounding how they can break down gender barriers in the workplace, including how to support transgender employees, partners and clients.

    Gender Inclusion and the Workplace breaks down barriers in understanding the differences between a person’s sex, gender, expression and orientation. Walk through Mr. Sallan’s personal transition journey and how he has learned to address barriers in the workplace, healthcare access, and family acceptance.


    • Learn about the different barriers presented to people due to gender.
    • Understand the importance of respecting a person’s name and pronoun.
    • Understand how current societal barriers impact a person’s abilities to navigate life and work.
    • Learn how to navigate respecting a co-worker or employee who has, or is undergoing, a gender transition.
  • Speakers

    Keynote Speakers:

    Tara Jaye Frank

    As a sought-after equity consultant, speaker, and leadership experience designer, Tara Jaye Frank helps organizations define a vision and develop strategies to accelerate their culture and leadership goals.

    Before founding TJF Career Modeling LLC, Tara spent 21 years at Hallmark Cards, Inc., where she was the company’s first Black female vice president, and at the time of her promotion to executive management, the youngest person to rise into senior leadership in Hallmark’s history.

    Today, Tara works closely with Fortune 500 companies across consumer goods, retail, technology, finance, aerospace, defense, sports and media industries, as well as member organizations like Network of Executive Women and The Executive Leadership Council to customize talent solutions and facilitate equity-based learning experiences through conferences, intensive leadership programs, workshops, panels, and keynote addresses.

    Hear from DEI speaker Tara Jaye Frank


    Ryan Sallans

    Ryan Sallans, MA is an inspirational transgender speaker and author who specializes in inclusion, diversity, and healthcare. Over the past 20 years, Ryan has worked in the fields of eating disorder recovery, sexual orientation, and gender identity development. His work focuses on building inclusive environments and providing trauma-informed care for students, patients, employees and clients. His growing body of texts and teachings assist corporations, healthcare institutions, federal agencies, universities, and communities.

    His teachings are based on personal narrative storytelling, interwoven with his academic training, research and science. Over the years, Ryan has designed his work to break down barriers that gender presents us all, no matter the labels we currently use to describe ourselves.

    Ryan Sallans graduated Sigma Tau Delta from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he received a Bachelor of Arts in cultural anthropology and English, a Master of Arts in English (specializing in creative writing), and a Master of Arts in Educational Psychology (specializing in human health behavior).

    Hear from DEI speaker Ryan Sallans

    Session 2 Breakout Speakers:

    2A: Getting Started on Your DEI Journey

    Ritika Singh
    Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
    Catholic Relief Services
    Makda Fessahaye
    Chief HR Officer
    City of Milwaukee
    View Biography

    2B: Keep the DEI Momentum Going to Drive Employee Engagement

    Laura Brock
    Vice President, Inclusion & Diversity
    Sarah Waite
    Sr. HR Director
    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
    View Biography

    2C: How to Launch a Diversity Council

    Dibin Lassila
    Sr. HR Director and D&I Leader
    Daikin Applied Americas
    View Biography
    Steven Brown
    VP Diversity Equity Inclusion
    Molson Coors
    View Biography

    Session 3 Breakout Speakers:

    3A: Disability Inclusion Strategies

    Chelsea Budde
    Executive Director
    Good Friend Inc.
    View Biography
    Juan Banda
    Director of Human Resources
    Froedtert Hospital
    View Biography

    3B: What is Allyship and Why Is It Important?

    Kevin Sucher
    Executive Director
    88Nine Radio Milwaukee
    View Biography
    Scott Cross
    Human Resources Business Partner
    View Biography
    Alicia Kiser
    Vice President of Human Resources
    M3 Insurance
    View Biography

    3C: Equity vs. Equality: What’s the Difference in the Workplace?

    Jen Murray
    Director, LGBTQ+ Resource Center
    University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
    View Biography
    Heidi Moore
    Director of Emerging Markets and Inclusion
    Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin
    View Biography
  • Fee


    Live Stream Conference:

    Member / Nonmember: $100 per person.

  • Sponsorship


    Sponsoring MRA events is a tremendous opportunity to bring your message of business value to our growing membership of organizations HR professionals and business leaders. Our members represent all industries including manufacturing, service, distribution, finance and health care! 80% of event attendees are new at each event offering you the opportunity to network with new contacts. We are very excited about the event this year and hope you can join us!

    For more information on corporate sponsorships, contact Kathy Krohn at 262.696.3661 or [email protected] or Jim Morgan at 262.696.3309 or [email protected].

Thank You to our 2021 Sponsors!

Presenting Sponsor:

Leadership Sponsor:

Corporate Sponsors:

Event Sponsors:

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