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Coming to Fruition: Engage! Cleveland Staff Celebrates Inaugural DE&I Conference 

Written by Marketing & Communications Manager: Belle Mercurio, Events Manager: Abby Petty, and Membership & Sponsorship Manager: Megan Brown

Engage! Cleveland, a prominent community engagement organization, recently made waves with the launch of their first-ever Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference. This groundbreaking event sought to facilitate meaningful discussions, share best practices, and inspire actionable strategies to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in all sectors. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with in-person tickets selling out within two weeks of the conference announcement.

Taking place at The Cleveland Museum of Art on October 25, 2023, the event brought together a diverse group of over 200 thought leaders, experts, young professionals, and advocates. Attendees could join either in person or virtually, and the event saw representation from 86 different Cleveland companies, including well-known organizations like the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Foundation, The J.M. Smucker Company, Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio, and Sherwin Williams. Industries represented spanned healthcare, media, manufacturing, education, government, accounting, real estate development, and more.

The conference featured 14 diverse individuals in keynote or panel discussions, each addressing the multifaceted dimensions of diversity and its profound impact on organizations, communities, and society at large. Notable speakers included Alan K. Nevel, Senior Vice President and Chief Equity and Community Impact Officer for the MetroHealth System; Kimberly Chapmon-Wynne, Senior Director of Race, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at United Way of Greater Cleveland; and Crishawna Cunningham, Chief DEI Officer at Union Home Mortgage.

On the agenda were discussions and insights focused on fostering inclusive workplaces, addressing systemic barriers, promoting equitable opportunities, and developing strategies to create a more just and inclusive society.

One conference attendee shared their enthusiasm, saying, “What an incredible opportunity to come together with other like-minded young professionals to dig even further into the importance of DEIB in the workplace. Thank you, Engage! Cleveland – I look forward to coming back next year!”

“The Inaugural DEI conference was also my first conference with Engage! Cleveland and it was an awesome learning experience in a lot of different ways for me,” said Events Manager, Abby Petty. “Participating in this planning process, I thought I knew what to expect from the day’s content…but, I was completely blown away by the rich presentations that each speaker brought to the stage. I think I can speak for the whole team in saying that our expectations were met and exceeded by the expert speakers, panelists and moderators who contributed to the day’s programming. A true sign of a successful day: attendees chatting on the way out of the auditorium about how they can bring these insights to the rest of their teams and best practices to implement within their organizations moving forward. I look forward to doing just the same in my personal and professional life.”

The conference concluded with a special VIP behind-the-scenes tour of the art museum, highlighting works by diverse artists. Attendees were guided by curators, docents, and art educators who provided exclusive content related to the pieces, including their history, social and historical influences, and facts about the artists.

The overarching goal of the conference was to equip attendees with actionable takeaways, networking opportunities, and a renewed commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion both personally and professionally.

Another attendee expressed their excitement, saying, “I left the Engage! Cleveland DEI Conference reinvigorated. There were many ideas I wanted to take back to my organization, and I was happy that the speakers represented peers from Northeast Ohio.”

“Our inaugural Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Conference was such a valuable learning experience,” said Membership & Sponsorship Manager, Megan Brown. “I’m really proud of the event that we put together – the speakers and panelists had so many vital insights to share, and it was clear that the people in attendance were eager to learn. There were some wonderful thoughts that I want to try to better integrate into my own life and interactions, both at work and in my personal life.”

This inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference received generous sponsorship from several organizations, including the Boler College of Business at John Carroll University, Oatey Co, CBIZ, Oberlin College, Cohen & Co., Union Home Mortgage, National Interstate Insurance, Mars Electric, Taft Law, and Wellspring Financial Advisors.

We can’t wait to see everyone next year!

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