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Changing Lives in Lake, Porter, & LaPorte Counties





“Diversity and Inclusion – Courageous Conversations”

Dr. Vanessa Allen-McCloud,

President and CEO, Urban League of Northwest Indiana


Sometimes we can feel that we are up against impossible odds.  The challenges of racial and economic injustices, the difficulty many find moving forward on the path to equality and the resistance we see on a national level to policies leading to the “greater good” can leave us wondering about the future of our region and our nation.

A profound and relevant response to these challenges is to see new possibilities that can arise out of diversity and inclusion practices.  This year at our Diversity and Inclusion Symposium we took on employer issues such as doing business with the State of Indiana and creating supplier diversity.  But we also tackled the harder conversations about race, privilege, power and identity.  We believe that silence is not an option, especially when so much is at stake.

The Urban League event was held on Thursday, November 9th, 2017 at Purdue University Northwest.  As Urban League President and CEO, I am proud to say that ours is the only region-wide symposium that focuses on these issues within Northwest Indiana.

The morning began with a panel of State and Local executives who provided information on diversity and inclusion as it relates to job training requirements, heavy highway jobs, construction, women and minority certification, and trades union job opportunities. Other collaborative panelists included NAACP President Steve Mays and the Indiana Human Right Commission Executive Director Haneefah Khaaliq.

We then introduced a number of innovative break-out sessions whereby participants were able to discuss the realities of uncivil behavior, racism, privilege and inequality in a safe and non-threatening environment.

We believe that information and conversation are crucial elements in bringing about new understandings among employers and people in the workforce.  Therefore, every year, through this event, we rededicate ourselves to our goals of knocking down barriers and opening doors to equality and prosperity by providing strategies to overcome these barriers.

As follow up to the symposium, on March 22nd, 2018, the Urban League’s Diversity and Inclusion luncheon will acknowledge the achievements of local organizations that promote diversity and inclusion.

Business and surrounding area organizations are encouraged to apply for a diversity and inclusion award. Awards will be presented at the luncheon. For more information on submitting an award application, visit the website at www.ulofnwi.org . For questions, phone the Urban League offices at (219) 887-9621.

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