Deborah Levine is Editor in-Chief of the American Diversity Report. She is a Forbes Magazine top Diversity & Inclusion Trailblazer and an award-winning author of 15 books. She received the Champion of Diversity Award from diversitybusiness.com, the Excellence Award from the TN Economic Council on Women and is featured on C-Span/ BookTV. Her published articles span decades in journals & magazines: The American Journal of Community Psychology, Journal of Public Management & Social Policy, The Bermuda Magazine, The Harvard Divinity School Bulletin. A former blogger with The Huffington Post, she is now an opinion columnist with The Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Our Tennessee state legislature has made it illegal for educators to say that systemic racism is an American phenomenon. Making sure to successfully intimidate teachers, they’ve threatened to withhold funds if the proper words in their estimation aren’t used.At the same time, Chattanooga’s Chamber of Commerce took steps to promote the economic and racial equity that has been systemically limited. Its pledge for racial equity has been signed by corporate CEOs, organization directors, and diverse business leaders.
Was anyone surprised by the push-back to the Chamber’s pledge from the conservative organization, Hamilton Flourishing? Saying that the goal of Chambers of Commerce is to recruit new businesses to the area, not just help a few businesses and certainly not by radically changing our economy and culture.
Hear the conversation about equity of education from these experts based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This podcast is part of the ADR Black-Jewish Dialogues and is the September back-school episode.
Ardena Garth Hicks: Education Activist
Ardena is a Hamilton County native and practicing attorney who is the 2020 Legal Aid Society Pro Bono Attorney of the Year. She is a member of the Hamilton County Partnership Network Board of Directors, appointed by TN Education Commissioner Candace McQueen. The Partnership’s charge is to “review the progress of the five schools in the Partnership Network- which have been deemed priority schools by the state…and make recommendations to the Hamilton County Board of Education and Network leadership to support students’ growth and development.”
She is President of Chattanooga Endeavors, Inc., a non-profit organization which advocates for the interests of citizens repatriating from incarceration. Ardena previously was Special Prosecutor for Child Abuse cases with the Hamilton County District Attorney’s office. She served as Hamilton County’s first elected District Public Defender from 1990 to 2014 (3 successive 8-year terms), having been appointed to the newly-created position by Gov. Ned McWherter in 1989. Ardena graduated as a Ooltewah HS valedictorian, earned her bachelor’s degree at Middle TN State U. and earned her Juris Doctor (JD) degree from the U. of Kansas.
Dr. Jill Keegan Levine: Education Administrator
Jill is the Chief of Innovation and Choice for Tennessee’s Hamilton County Schools, a district of over 45,000 students. Prior to this role, she served as the Chief of the Opportunity Zone, a learning community focused on turnaround of the twelve highest needs schools in the district, as well as serving previously as the Chief Academic Officer of the school district.
After graduating from Wellesley College with a double major in Music and History, Jill began her career teaching 3rd grade and directing musical theater productions in the New Orleans Public Schools. She was the principal of Normal Park Museum Magnet, a Chattanooga Pre-K through 8th grade school, for 14 years. She led the transformation of two low performing schools into award winning, innovative, exciting and challenging places of learning. In 2012, Jill was recognized as the National Magnet Schools Principals of the Year. From 2013-2015, she served in the Obama administration as the first full time Principal Ambassador Fellow at the US Department of Education. In that capacity, she worked closely with Secretary Arne Duncan to increase the department’s focus on the importance of school leadership.
The world has been fascinated by the arrival of the British culture wars on American shores with former Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.Millions of people watched Oprah Winfrey interviewed them and the show was the highest-rated entertainment special since the February 2020 Oscars ceremony. While some question Markle’s integrity, most of us are we mesmerized by the comeuppance of a former colonial empire.
Harry’s brother William denies any royal racism and the U.K. government issued a report denying any institutional racism in Britain. British Black journalists blast the report while anti-Markle press says that she’s endangering the monarchy. Markle is hijacking the British government and she’s a bully, embraced by Americans who don’t know any better. No wonder Harry and Meghan plotted their escape.
I experienced remnants of the British Empire as a kid in the colony of Bermuda. We were taught the ‘Golliwog’ dance in ballet class. Considered entertainment, Golliwog was an embarrassing stereotype of its African colonies.
As we come to the end of March, Women’s History Month, we need to see this time as a wake up call regarding women’s safety. The shootings at Asian spas in Atlanta, where most of the victims were women, underscore the vulnerability of these women. Yes, the Asian-American community as a whole is experiencing a rising number of hate crimes given COVID. And Asian-American women experience twice as many hate incidents as men.
An Asian American studies professor noted that women have always dealt with harassment and public safety issues, but COVID provided another excuse to target Asian women. Bullies attack the vulnerable and stereotypes of Asian women as meek and subservient make them easy targets. That’s why it was unusual that a 75-year old Asian-American fought back when attacked on a street corner, sending her attacker to the hospital. She isn’t the only woman to be fed up with harassment and violence.
The White House lowered its flag in mourning for victims at the FedEx facility. It’s hardly the first time this year that this flag has been flown at half-staff. There have been 147 mass shootings, defined as killing four or more people not including the shooter, since January. There have been 45 in just the past month. That comes to more than one mass shooting per day. It’s an increase of almost 73% over the same time period last year and they’re deadlier with almost twice as many fatalities. Maybe the White House should leave the flag in mourning mode permanently.
It’s unlikely that we’ve seen the last of these massacres. Gun violence researchers describe the situation as a contagion effect with each incident spawning copy cats. This deadly disease is particularly contagious to revenge-seeking males who make up 98% of these shooters.
Tiffany R. Warren
Executive Vice President, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer
Sony Music Group Founder & President, ADCOLOR
As Executive VP, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for Sony Music Group, Tiffany will expand equity and inclusion activities and policies across all Sony Music Group’s (SMG) global recorded music, publishing and corporate divisions, reporting directly to SMG Chairman Rob Stringer. Previously, as the Senior VP, Chief Diversity Officer for Omnicom Group, Tiffany oversaw a team of 25+ Chief Diversity Officers and Directors focused on Omnicom-wide change efforts through the award-winning Omnicom People Engagement Network (OPEN) for the support, advancement and retention of top performing talent inclusive of women, people of color and LGBT professionals.
The Arts have existed since folks drew on cave walls and I suspect that there was some humming and harmony back in the day before song writing was a thing. Communal dancing around fires at night was an aboriginal celebration in humanity’s history. Artistic expression by individuals and groups seems to be embedded in our DNA. And one of the things that saved me when I first came to America as a kid, was this country’s passion for Arts and Culture.
Joshua DuBois is the CEO of Gauge.ai. He is a multicultural marketing expert and the former Faith Advisor to President Barack Obama. Joshua will explain how business leaders can adequately engage in conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion, in ways that match the moment. Learn how businesses can engage with the communities in which they operate, and tap into the potential of their talent pool. Be introduced to Gauge.ai and NXTLAB work and why they are the future of corporate responsibility. Take advantage of DuBois’ tips and insights for how business leaders can “get it right” in terms of aligning themselves with marginalized communities.
Todd Cherches is the CEO & Cofounder of BigBlueGumball, an innovative New York City-based management consulting firm specializing in leadership development and executive coaching. He is also a three-time award-winning Adjunct Professor of leadership at NYU, and a Lecturer on leadership at Columbia University. Todd is a member of Marshall Goldsmith’s “MG100 Coaches”; a TEDx speaker; and the author of VisuaLeadership: Leveraging the Power of Visual Thinking in Leadership and in Life, published by Post Hill Press/Simon & Schuster (May, 2020).
Mirette Seireg is the founder and owner of Mpath LLC, the first woman-owned library of its kind to achieve gender parity. Changing the music world for females and other underrepresented composers, Mirette has scouted talent world-wide from nearly every continent on earth.
Mpath’s music library is represented by APM Music in North America and EMIPM in the rest of the world (both owned by Sony). In addition to managing Mpath, Mirette Seireg is an active member of the Production Music Association where she spearheaded the creation of and chairs the Inclusion and Diversity Committee, and she serves on the Mark Awards Committee. The renowned Berklee College of Music / Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Mpath have an on-going mentorship program to provide emerging composers hands-on experience.
Mpath music is curated by two-term governor of the Television Academy (Emmys) and multi-award-winning Film, Television, Advertising, Game, composer/producer, Michael A. Levine who notes, “When music is created by composers who have different life experiences, they bring different musical ideas to the table. At Mpath we feel diversity isn’t just the “right” thing – it makes the music better.”