Meet these 7 champions of diversity, equity and inclusion

Meet these 7 champions of diversity, equity and inclusion

December 16, 2021
Category: Citation Award Dinner
Tags: , , , , , ,

NCCJ’s mission of fighting bias, bigotry and racism and building more inclusive and compassionate communities for all of us – not just some of us, is a big mission that takes all of us, and not just some of us, to advance.

So at last month’s Citation Award Dinner, we gave sponsoring organizations the chance to spotlight someone who has gone above and beyond to champion diversity, equity and inclusion (“DEI”) efforts in their workplace.

(Interesting in spotlighting someone at your organization at next year’s Citation Award Dinner? Email Erika.)

Keep reading to learn more about each of these 7 champions and the work they are doing to advance DEI at the organizations that nominated them for this spotlight.

Jessica Short | AVP, HR Business Partner at Arch MI

“Jessica has been critical to the launch and continued focus of our D&I journey. She is committed to working across the organization with a wide range of employees to create a diverse and inclusive workplace. She not only listens to all voices but advocates for an environment where all voices are both heard and welcome.” – David Gansberg, CEO, Arch MI

  • Works with our Employee Resource Groups and Employee Engagement Committee providing direction and guidance on projects, activities, membership and collaboration.
  • Served as the D&I liaison to the Executive Steering Committee during an interim period to ensure forward momentum.
  • A key source of information to our D&I key stakeholders. She ensures that information flows amongst groups and actions are coordinated.

Kiva Elliott | Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer at Cone Health

“Kiva is an inspirational leader who reaches across barriers of all kinds to include our people in conversations that lead to possibilities of growth, hope, and change. She has made an impact in our organization by challenging us to embrace our differences and the power they bring us.” – Dr. Mary Jo Cagle, CEO, Cone Health

  • Led the creation of the first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Strategic Plan for Cone Health.
  • Positions Cone Health as an engaging and inclusive workplace for all, attracting and hiring diverse leadership.
  • Develops leadership that challenges bias and racism inside and outside the walls of Cone Health.
  • Focuses on Cone Health’s community impact by encouraging the hiring of diverse suppliers and employees.

Kevin Gray | President of the Weaver Foundation (recognized by The Cemala Foundation)

“We’re grateful to Kevin for collaborating to navigate this endeavor – engaging larger organizations;   identifying the need for better coordination at the school district level;    developing with schools a plan that Weaver could fund each year;   enabling volunteers to free-up school employees time;  encouraging innovation;  and ensuring that more and more hungry students are fed.” – Susan Schwartz, Executive Director, The Cemala Foundation

  • Lead the Weaver Foundation board to focus on addressing food insecurity in Guilford County Schools
  • Co-chairs the Equity Strategies Committee of Ready for School, Ready for Life.
  • Worked to build an Equity Action Plan to infuse equity practices throughout the operations, governance, and programming of Ready Ready.

Dr. Andrea Hunter | UNCG Department of Human Development and Family Studies

Dr. Hunter “is a leader, collaborator, and a change agent. As UNC Greensboro’s Chancellor’s Fellow for Campus Climate, she has advanced actions, policies, and practices that have created a more equitable and inclusive campus, for which we have received national recognition and become a model on how to achieve inclusive excellence.” – Chancellor Frank Gilliam, UNCG

  • Collaborated with students, faculty, and staff at UNC Greensboro to develop an online Action Framework and Roadmap for Equity, Diversity and Inclusive Excellence.
  • Helped to create a new leadership pipeline program at UNCG to address the persistent national gap of people of color holding leadership positions in academia.
  • Established pathways to equity, developing anti-racist and anti-bias training opportunities, and continues to track the University’s progress toward inclusive excellence.

Rodney Meheux | Reverse Logistics Coordinator at Ralph Lauren

“As a member of Ralph Lauren, North Carolina Campus Diversity and Inclusion Council, Rodney is passionate & engaged in every meeting, event, discussion, and learning. His willingness to learn from other cultures, and be an ally to so many communities, show his authentic commitment to Diversity and Inclusion.” – Roz Frazier, Diversity and Inclusion Lead, Ralph Lauren

  • Member of Ralph Lauren’s NC Campus Diversity and Inclusion Council and RL NC Campus Co-Lead for Ralph Lauren’s Black Advisory Council.
  • Member of the NC Campus Black Advocacy Advisory Government Committee
  • Co-project lead for RL Hispanic Heritage Month and an ally to many more communities!
  • Gradate of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce’s Other Voices program

Thurmond Toland | Wells Fargo at Work Senior Program Manager

“Thurmond has been instrumental at leading our segment through our diversity journey. Thurmond speaks with candor about his life experiences and delivers in a way that empowers all of us to think differently about our actions.” – Bill Tarleton, Regional Manager for Wells Fargo at Work Atlantic

  • Key contributor and spokesperson in the formation of the DEI Journey Team for the Affluent and WFAW LOBs.
  • Lead several courageous conversations and panel discussions on the “The Racial Wealth Gap” across multiple LOBs and work groups..
  • Organized and facilitated a curriculum of financial wellness workshops in partnership with a local non-profit (Crosby Scholars) to plant Seeds Of Wealth and inspire long-term investment strategies for selected members of the AAMPED (African American Males Pursuing Educational Dreams) program.

Halle Vakani | Partner and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee chair at Wyrick Robbins

“All of us at Wyrick Robbins are tremendously proud of the work Halle has done to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts both in our firm and throughout our community. Her leadership as our DEI Committee Chair has brought creative programs and meaningful conversations to our firm. There is still work to be done to bring true equity to the legal profession and our broader community, but we are fortunate that our work is made a bit easier and certainly more fun because of Halle’s spirit and tenacity for change.” – Jimmy Yates, Managing Partner and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee chair at Wyrick Robbins

  • Partnered with NCCJ to host over half a dozen firm-wide discussions on racial equity and systemic racism
  • Participation in the Midsize Mansfield Rule Certification, designed to increase the number of attorneys from historically underrepresented groups working in and leading law firms.
  • Helped award The Wyrick Robbins Diversity Scholarship, given to a 1L law student with strong academic and professional credentials, a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and an interest in the firm’s practice areas.

Thank you to these sponsors who helped us spotlight these remarkable folks and the work they are doing every day within their organizations.

Of course, you don’t need to be an executive or work within a large company to be a leader in building more inclusive communities.

You can be a leader in creating positive change (in ways big and small) in any role, group or space you find yourself in.

NCCJ has your back. We’re here for you – and we’re here because of you. Thank you for being an ally in our mission to fight bias, bigotry and racism and build more inclusive, respectful and compassionate communities.

Interested in an NCCJ program on implicit bias or other DEI topics for your workplace or organization? Let’s talk. Email us or call 336-272-0359.