Inclusive Communities 2009-2010

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Diversity Focus Magazine

Text of Inclusive Communities 2009-2010

  • Inclusive Communities

    Diversity Focus is excited to publishthis second edition of InclusiveCommunities. We, the board of direc-tors and our stakeholders, hope thismagazine will help stimulate reflectivethoughts and discussions. The worddiversity may elicit a variety ofimages and preconceptions. Diversityis the differences each of us possess,including ethnicity, views of religion,cultural and family traditions, alongwith individual choices we make dur-ing our life. It may be difficult to haveone true definition of diversity,because like most facets of our complex lives, ideals and forward-thinking concepts take on greater significance and adapt as weactualize new principles.

    Our organizations goals pivot on communication. As our com-munity continues to be open to various forms of education and dia-logue, it is our hope to foster a Corridor that values diversity.Diversity Focus is a clearinghouse and a resource you can use forwork, family and personal growth. We offer programs and supportfor corporations, schools, government and any organization or indi-vidual wishing to positively impact inclusiveness where we work,live and play.

    At the core is a society which goes beyond that of acceptanceand understanding, to strive for appreciation of those qualities thatmake each of us unique. From the outside, one may first notice dif-

    ferences in anothers race or ethnicity; butas we delve deeper into the nature ofhumanity we can become truly inspired bythe richness of this world. Like nature itself,this biosphere of our world is strengthenedby the diversity of all people and the manycultural heritages learned over the millenniaof history.

    As we move from crisis to crisis, it isoften difficult to step back from the flood ofadrenaline one must employ to ask,Whatcan I do to make life better? It is my opin-ion that empathy for others is paramount.Empathy is not sympathy, but rather the

    capacity to think and feel oneself into the inner life of another per-son. It is the attribute that makes us human. A world where wejudge one another, show indifference and simply tolerate our neigh-bor is a world divided and without gratitude for the art of civiliza-tion itself.

    Reach out to a co-worker or neighbor that you dont know.Welcome newcomers to our Corridor. Consciously utilize empathy togo beyond tolerance to seek appreciation for the uniqueness withineach of us.

    Robert D. BeckerPresidentDiversity Focus

    Produced and printed entirely in the CedarRapids-Iowa City Corridor for DiversityFocus by the Corridor Media Group, Inc., 845Quarry Rd., Ste. 125, Coralville, IA 52241,(319) 887-2251.

    Publisher .................................. John F. Lohman

    Project Manager - Diversity Focus

    ...................................................... Stacie Bedford

    Editor ..............................................John Kenyon

    Cover Art..........'Diversity Tree' by Russ Fagle

    Layout ..................................................Jill Colbert

    Writers ..................................Katie Mills Giorgio

    John Riehl

    Ruth Paarmann

    Locke Peterseim

    Loren Keller

    Photographer ....................................Mark Tade

    Contents are registered to Diversity Focus. Reproductionor other use, in whole or in part, of the contents of thepublication without permission is strictly prohibited.While the information in this publication has been com-piled carefully to ensure maximum accuracy at the time ofpublication, it is provided for general guidance only and issubject to change. The publisher cannot guarantee theaccuracy of all information or be responsible for omis-sions or errors. Additional copies may be obtained fromDiversity Focus, 205 2nd Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401,

    29 Kory BassettChad Simmons 7

    32 Raj InaniJasmine Almoayed 10

    37 Ben RogersMichael Lynch 14

    41 Ife ChidebellAnne Pham 18

    44 Nicole NislyJenn Sesay 20

    49 Woo Jin JungAdisa Kudumovic 24Inclusive Communities 3


  • Inclusive Communities 5Inclusive Communities4

    I was in transit to Cedar Rapids to become the Executive Director of DiversityFocus on June 11 just as the historic flood of 2008 arrived. Not only was theDiversity Focus office destroyed, the staff was displaced and, on a personalnote, I could not find housing. I arrived in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa CityCorridor unprepared for the aftermath of a major disaster and was unpreparedfor some of the personal challenges I encountered both as a new member of thecommunity and as an African-American woman.

    My personal experiences confirmed that I was indeed in the right place atthe right time to carry forth the vision that brought me here the vision thatled forward-thinking community leaders to form a one-of-a-kind organization,Diversity Focus. Those same experiences fueled my longtime passion for diver-sity and inclusion work, particularly Diversity Focus unique approach.

    Timing is everything! Diversity Focus mission is to enhance diversity andinclusion throughout the cities in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Corridor.The goal is to minimize losing a population of people who are different fromthe long-term, homogenous population. This approach: to provide opportuni-ties, resources and experiences to promote understanding, valuing and embrac-ing differences.

    These leaders embarked upon a novel approach to diversity, to provide thecommunity with resources to help understand Diversity and Inclusion:

    What is it?Why it is importantHow to embrace itThe consequences of not embracing it

    Early on, Diversity Focus created communitywide events and conferences toengage, educate and solicit input from the community to enhance and supportour mission. From that input, we developed learning and awareness opportuni-ties as well as skill-building programs and tools that continue today. They are:

    Spanish Conversation Circles network and have fun while learning Spanish (no need to be Spanish speaking) in informal settings, meets weekly.FindIt online resource to find everything from personal grooming providers, lifestyle groups to houses of worship and everything in between, continuously available.Diversity Focus Ambassadors helps newcomers become acclimated by matching with volunteer community members, continuously available.Crash Dialogues workshop based on the Oscar-winning film, which brings awareness to personal attitudes and beliefs about diversity and inclusion, meets monthly.Student Diversity Leadership Conference annual conference for high school students to empower them to embrace diversity and inclusion.

    A Message from ExecutiveDirector Hazel Pegues

    Brown Bag Speaking Series community experts speak on a variety of diversity and inclusion topics, meets bi-weekly.Inclusive Communities Publication, bi-annual magazine that celebrates diversity and inclusion in the Corridor.Consulting, as requested.

    In late 2008, Diversity Focus commissioned Vernon Research Group to conduct a diversityclimate study, the first study of its kind in the state. We wanted to understand how people inthe Corridor experience diversity and how they could be encouraged to develop a deeperunderstanding of its importance. We also wanted to benchmark the communitys perceptionsand attitudes on diversity and inclusion to measure the impact of our work.

    The Corridor Diversity Climate report chronicles the results of the study, some of which are:

    Many respondents 53 percent believe the community does an average or better job embracing diversity; among minority respondents the study found that discrimination persists.

    While most respondents agree on which community diversity objectives are mostimportant, there are substantial perception gaps between Caucasians and non-Caucasians, especially African-Americans, on how much progress has been made.

    These and other major findings in the study tell us there is work to do in making theCorridor a more welcoming and accepting community for all people. Diversity Focus is usingthese findings to prioritize and focus our efforts and resources to work toward closing some ofthe gaps the study highlighted. We are focused on finding, acquiring and making availablebest- in-class awareness and skill-building opportunities for the community at large and forsectors highlighted in the study specifically.

    The Corridor Diversity Climate results provide Diversity Focus and the community withinvaluable direction and insight on how together we create the welcoming and accepting cli-mate that we want to live in. We are committed. I hope you will join us!

  • The University of Iowa had alwaysintrigued Chad Simmons. For thelongest time, he didnt quite know why.

    But after reflecting on the careerpath that led him back to where heearned his masters of business admin-istration degree18 years earlier, the42-year-old Chicago native arrived atan explanation. I came back to Iowabecause of the people, says Simmons.People make all the difference. Thatsthe selling point of Iowa.

    Its a good thing, because Simmonsis squarely in the people business.Appointed as the first-ever associatevice president for human resourcesfor UI Health Care, he was given thedaunting task of integrating thehuman resources functions forUniversity of Iowa Hospitals andClinics, the Carver College ofMedicine and University of IowaPhysicians, a multi-specialty physiciangroup practice.

    When he began his new role inJanuary 2009, he hit the ground run-

    ning and hasnt stopped since.With just over 180 days on the job,he and his human-resources teamsuccessfully completed a restructuringof the UI Health Care humanresources entity, negotiated three laborcontracts, implemented two voluntarycost-reduction programs, managed apotential pandemic, h