The City of Bellevue held its first-ever summit concerning diversity on Jan. 8. The "Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Virtual Summit: History, Progress, Vision" was a free event for the community and partners.
The summit provided a progress report of Bellevue’s Diversity Advantage Initiative, now in its sixth year, sharing lessons learned and the important work that remains. The summit also featured this video commissioned by the City of Bellevue to show the city's long commitment to diversity and more recent formalization of the diversity advantage plan.
The summit included five breakout sessions to learn, share and re-envision together a more equitable future for all. Our partners in the government, nonprofit, education and business sectors explored topics of racial equity, accountability and skills-building for driving a more inclusive and equitable culture throughout the community.
- More information is available in the event flyer; program details are below.
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Agenda and Program Details
1–2:10 p.m. Welcome Remarks and Diversity Advantage Progress
2:10–3:30 p.m. Summit Breakout Sessions
3:30–4 p.m. Closing: Reflection and Connection
The Diversity Advantage Initiative: in Retrospect and Beyond
Hear about the progress achieved by the City of Bellevue in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at the city since the Diversity Advantage Initiative was adopted in 2014.
There will be five concurrent 75-minute breakout sessions to choose from, each focused on a specific audience or function of diversity, equity and inclusion work. You will only register to participate in one of the five sessions.
Session 1: Racial Equity - a North Star for decision makers
This session is geared for elected officials, leadership and others in decision-making roles.
Fredrick Douglas’ anti-slavery newspaper was called The North Star. As leaders and key decision makers in your organization with competing priorities, what do you need to know to help drive or support racial equity?
Christina Samir James (J.D., MSW) and Dean James, Esq., bring their combined 40 years of experience in civil rights, law and leadership and management to this session that will explore how to lead with racial equity as your organization’s north star. We will examine what a racial equity tool is, how to utilize in planning and decision making, and most importantly, how to integrate into measuring accountability to your work and commitment in racial equity.
Session 2: Creating a Vision for our Community Together
This session is geared for community members, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations and organizers.
Artist Anne Jess and facilitator Mark Manuel join this session for a powerful, interactive session where, with the attendees acting as the authoring voice, a sketch will be created in real time. This will be done through a facilitated conversation that centers attendees’ valuable perspective, lived experience and expertise.
This conversation, and the visual representation that is born from it, will focus on a future-state of Bellevue that is welcoming, equitable and safe for all. Attendees will be sent the virtual image as a reminder of the future you now have the tools to help create.
Session 3: Universal Design in Outreach and Engagement for BIPOC Communities
This session is geared for partner organizations in the private sector, education or nonprofits and/or government staff involved in outreach and engagement.
Marisa Herrera brings expertise on best practices for effective outreach and communications that centers the voices of Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), as well as other hard-to-reach populations. Through case scenarios, attendees will explore how implicit bias and racism functions in communications, how to prioritize an equitable communications plan, and how to develop messaging strategies that are both data-driven and story-driven.
Lastly, Marisa will provide concrete and practical methods for equitable outreach and “in-reach,” through Universal Design — a strategy focused on building rapport and trust.
Session 4: Responding to Race-Related Trauma
This session is specifically geared for BIPOC individuals and those who work alongside a diverse workforce or community and seek to have a better understanding of racial trauma.
In June 2020, King County declared racism as a public health crisis. The impacts of enslavement, social inequities and discrimination across institutions through time and present, have compacted adverse impacts on Black, brown, Indigenous and other people of color. What is race-related trauma? What can BIPOC individuals do to advocate for themselves and how may this look differently for each individual? This session is especially geared to give BIPOC individuals the tools and mechanisms necessary for working through and understanding racial trauma.
Session 5: A Facilitator’s Guide to Racially Equitable Group Norms
This session is geared for private or public sector facilitators, trainers, educators, or those who lead meetings.
Establishing group norms and agreements on engagement is typical for workshops, trainings, retreats and day-to-day meetings. "Safe" and "brave" spaces, however, are often weaponized to police the tone of BIPOC participants, provide "safe" and "brave" spaces for white participants or to prevent the level of authenticity necessary to understand the deep issues at hand. This session will discuss how you can change that and incorporate racially equitable norms that move closer to centering the needs, experiences and cultural wealth of BIPOC participants, using a model created by Tracy Castro-Gill, executive director of Washington Ethnic Studies Now.
Closing: Reflection and Connection
Closing remarks will include participant sharing and reflection after the breakouts, so we all benefit from the lessons learned and perspectives shared.
In the spirit of working together toward anti-racism and equity, we will conclude our time together by sharing in an opportunity to meet with one another through a virtual “speed networking” exercise. This will allow participants to connect with each other, benefit from the collective knowledge in the room, and plant the seeds for future equity efforts that may grow from our time together.
Featured Speakers and Facilitators
Featured in Session 1: Racial equity - a north star for decision makers
Christina Samir James
Christina Samir James (JD, MSW) has over 15 years of senior level leadership and management experience within state, federal and local government, higher education, private industry and the nonprofit sector.
As a cofounder of Gemini Group LLC, her focus has been in civil rights, organizational development, strategic planning, leadership coaching, training, team building, workplace assessments, mindfulness, auditing human resources policies and practices, and discrimination investigations. Christina has created and led civil rights offices for federal government agencies and the Regional Transportation District in Denver, worked within the Colorado State Legislature and for the state office of a national nonprofit focused on women’s rights.
A long-time trainer, facilitator and teacher, Dante James has over 25 years of political and legal experience, and has worked in senior leadership positions with government and civil society. He is also a cofounder of Gemini Group LLC.
An attorney by education and training, Dante has provided legal representation in private practice, served as an administrative hearing officer as well as political appointee and political consultant. He served as the first director of Portland’s civil rights office and was the Colorado State Director for the Center for Progressive Leadership, a national nonprofit focused on developing the next generation of progressive leaders.
Featured in Session 2: Creating a Vision for our Community Together
Anne Jess, featured artist for the summit, earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics and worked many years in technology as a programmer, systems analyst, database designer, curriculum developer and trainer. She has a master’s degree in organizational development, which focused on systems thinking and process consulting.
And, no, she was not an art major, but she’s loving this creative work!
Former City of Bellevue outreach and engagement administrator, Mark Manuel was hired at the city during the launch of the Diversity Advantage Initiative. This gives him insights that will be valuable as he facilitates this session.
Mark has worked in community and engagement for over two decades in the fields of education, the nonprofit sector, and municipal government. He wholeheartedly believes that engaged neighbors bringing forth their best assets makes for stronger communities.
Featured in Session 3: Universal Design in Outreach and Engagement for BIPOC Communities
Marisa Herrera has been an administrator, consultant and small business owner, leveraging her knowledge of inclusive practices, human resource management, marketing, operations management, budgeting and systems architecture to increase efficiencies in diversity engagement.
As a vice president for Shoreline Community College and executive director for community building and inclusion at the University of Washington, she has managed a diverse portfolio of organizations dedicated to equity. She holds a doctorate from the University of Southern California, a master's degree in business management for NAU and a B.S. in agribusiness from ASU.
Featured in Session 4: Responding to Race-Related Trauma
Zunilda "Zee" Ogarro
Zunilda "Zee" Ogarro (MSW) is a practice advisor with Casey Family Programs, a Seattle-based foundation focused on foster care and child welfare. With many years of experience in both child welfare direct services and administration, Zee is leading Casey’s efforts to become more trauma-and healing-informed, as well as helping coordinate implementation of the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics in the treatment of mistreated children..
Featured in Session 5: A Facilitator’s Guide to Racially Equitable Group Norms
Tracy Castro-Gill is a writer, award-winning educator and the founder and executive director of Washington Ethnic Studies Now, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing ethnic studies in K-12 education. Tracy is a mother and PhD candidate, writing a dissertation on the role ethnic studies may play in retaining educators of color.