Deborah Levine is an award-winning, best-selling author. As Editor of the American Diversity Report, received the 2013 Champion of Diversity Award from diversitybusiness.com and the Excellence Award from the Tennessee Economic Council on Women. Her writing about cultural diversity spans decades with articles published in The American Journal of Community Psychology, Journal of Public Management & Social Policy, The Bermudian Magazine, and The Harvard Divinity School Bulletin. She earned a National Press Association Award, is a Blogger with The Huffington Post, and is featured on C-Span/ BookTV.
The Reverend Janet M. Cooper Nelson is Chaplain, Director of the Office of Chaplains and Religious Life, and faculty member at Brown University where she leads a multi-faith team of 4 Associate Chaplains and 40 Religious Life Affiliates, responsibilities she assumed in 1990 after appointments at Vassar, Mount Holyoke, and The Church of Christ at Dartmouth College.
She is ordained in United Church of Christ and holds degrees from Wellesley College, Tufts University, and Harvard Divinity School where she was awarded the Billings Prize for Preaching, the Rabbi Martin Katzenstein Distinguished Alumni award, and The Peter J. Gomes Memorial Award.
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Eric Kruger is an international, multi-lingual, business and policy economist, professionally trained executive coach and a specialist in customized cross-cultural management training. He has worked on international corporate strategy in German, British and French companies and worked in Latin America and East Asia.
Kruger founded Compass Development Strategies to bring the benefits of coaching and training to employees and professionals at all organizational levels. Since 2009, he’s been the lead international management consultant for Volkswagen Chattanooga.
An economics professor at the U. of Tennessee/ Chattanooga, Kruger holds degrees in international economics from the London School of Economics, University College, London and the Graduate Faculty of the New School U. in New York.
Father’s and Mother’s Day are great American traditions, but I’m not sure I like them. Unhappily, I have a really big problem with these days because I don’t have the goods. My mother and grandmother who were such loving figures in my life are gone. My father, who I take after in so many ways, is gone, too. I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself. My children live far away but will no doubt call or send a card. I’m grateful for their love but I would really like to call my own parents. Just knowing they were around made life balanced and feel more secure.
On special occasions, Veterans & Memorial Day, I reread this letter from a young soldier, my father, Aaron Levine to his dear wife. On the verge of being deployed to Europe during World War II, he wrote this 1944 note. He writes my pregnant mother who came to NYC to see him off, but missed him. My father didn’t see his son until he was one year old. Aaron Levine passed away at age 84 and worked on community projects even on his death bed. Literary, practical, loving, and compulsively methodical, here is his WW II good-bye letter …
Over the years, I’ve attended press conferences, graduations, receptions, and concerts at Volkswagen Chattanooga’s conference center, but I’ve never before seen it decorated entirely in pink. The event was the first ever Volkswagen Women Who Rock Awards Brunch. After having my picture taken in the photo booth wearing a pink Volkswagen hard hat, I meandered through the crowd waiting to hear from the keynote speaker, Julie Baumgardner, CEO and Founder of Chattanooga’s family oriented nonprofit, First Things First.
We watched profiles of the award nominees on the overhead screens as we listened to each of their favorite songs. It was a musical lesson in diversity. True to Volkswagen’s techie mindset, the playlist could be downloaded on Spotify. After much munching and brunching, we were brought to attention by Shireena Avery, the Volkswagen Diversity Sponsor to the featured Employee Resource Groups (ERG). The Women Who Rock program got underway with Megan Herndon, President of Volkswagen’s Women in Motion ERG.
Starbucks’ plan for an afternoon of unconscious bias training is admirable but may not be effective. The fuzzy, vague term of unconscious bias is often applied indiscriminately, but unconscious bias isn’t a one-size-fits-all term amenable to a one afternoon of training. Yes, it can refer to the incident where the police were called to arrest two African-Americans waiting for a meeting at Starbucks. But it can also mean only smiling at customers that look like you, rejecting resumes from diverse applicants, and promoting the employees who resemble the current leadership team. If we want to address unconscious bias effectively, we need to first be aware of how the senses, emotions, and brain interact to create unconscious bias. Second, we must go beyond awareness of our biases to sensitivity to their impact. Lastly, we need to develop a system that internalizes wise decision making with ongoing reinforcement of that competence.
Although she may disagree with the frequency (she’s entitled, eh, to be wrong), more often than not Deborah Levine, the founder of The American Diversity Report, and I laugh a lot during our conversations. Hey, given the nature of the kinds of issues we tackle – among them race, religion, harassment), the ability to step back and laugh is an essential survival tool.
So there’s a grain of truth in that old saying, “laughter is the best medicine.” Shucks, a side-splitting guffaw or two is a “day maker” for me. I get amazing energy and creativity boosts right after.
Is President Trump reconsidering the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)? Many American cities, like Chattanooga, have built their economies on international industries, their vendors, and outdoors sports competitions including Ironman. Before the halt to our participation in the TPP, there was a well-attended panel discussion on the controversial TPP at the Small Business Incubator with moderator Jim Frierson, who was Chief of Staff in the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) during the Reagan Administration. The cabinet agency is responsible for developing international trade policy for the President and negotiating with our trading partners. America’s first bilateral free trade agreements — with Israel and Canada — were initiated, negotiated, and implemented during his eight-year tenure. As intense competition from Japanese autos and semiconductors appeared to threaten the US and then receded, the seeds of an ambitious Pacific regional trade compact were planted in exploratory meetings by the USTR himself, Ambassador Bill Brock, a Chattanooga native.
A senior at Chattanooga’s McCallie School, Allen is an articulate representative for student activism. He is an avid violinist, has been recognized nationally for his scientific research, and will attend Princeton University (fall 2018).
Allen establishes an impressive image for student activist with his resume: State Math Team, MathCounts Team Founder & Coach, Science Olympiad Captain, Violin (All-State Orchestra Concertmaster), and String Theory Youth Initiative Chair/President (Arts Leadership), as well as leadership in Chattanooga Students Leading Change (CSLC) and Young Democrats.
Editor’s note: this article on anti-Semitism was originally published as an op-ed in The Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Russian President Putin got my attention when he suggested that Jews with Russian citizenship might have interfered in the 2016 US presidential election. “Maybe they’re not even Russians,” said Putin. “Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship – even that needs to be checked.” Putin reminded me why my great grandparents made the harrowing journey from Russia and the Ukraine to the United States. My ancestors weren’t the only ones. Between 1881 and 1924, over 2.5 million East European Jews sought to escape the relentless persecution and ghettoization. The slice of history was captured in the movie Fiddler on the Roof, but while Hollywood entertained, it didn’t fully show the history of anti-Semitism in Russia and Eastern Europe, or its ongoing ripple effect.