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7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.    Conference Registration

** 6 SHRM continuing education credits is available for attending the conference.

​8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.    Corporate Exhibits

Please visit the exhibit booths and meet our sponsors.

8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.    Coach's Corner

Professional coaches from International Coach Federation – Houston Chapter  will be offering complimentary career and life coaching sessions. Sign-up at the Registration Desk to take advantage of this exciting opportunity!

​8:30 a.m. – 8:50 a.m.    Welcome Remarks  

8:50 a.m. – 9:10 a.m.     Ice Breaking Exercise

​9:10 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.    Plenary Session 


"DEI Change Management Tool Kit"

  • Kay Iwata, President, K. Iwata Associates


“I love change, as long as I am not the one who has to change.” This sentiment is often what is going on behind the scenes at both a micro and macro level especially as it relates to DEI change. DEI requires transformational change on an individual, team, organizational and societal level. Yet we as individuals and as organizations often overlook the essential change management tools required to craft a DEI strategic plan that is a source of influence and positioned as essential. Kay K. Iwata, internationally known for her work in the DEI field over the past 30 years will share three change management tools you can include and utilize to better ensure DEI has the staying power required to make a difference. This session will be interactive, and participants will have an opportunity apply the tools.


10:10 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.    Networking Break

​10:30 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.        Concurrent Sessions

A. The Future of DEIB: Doubling Down!

  • Moderator:        Kay Iwata - President, K. Iwata Associates

  • Panelists:           Mikki Hebl – Professor, Rice University

Christina Jones - VP HR DEI, Shell USA

Marco Martinez – Chair DEI Council, CenterPoint Energy

Zena Mohammed - Practice Leader, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited


The headlines are constantly filled with efforts to discredit and dismantle DEIB. Diversity is being called out by high profile individuals as the reason for Boeing’s faulty construction of aircrafts to the collision of a freighter into the Baltimore bridge.  State legislatures are cutting DEIB funds to universities. Yet we have data saying organizations are thriving with their DEIB successes. So, what does the research identify as the causes and dynamics behind this backlash? How are major organizations responding?


This session focuses on answering these questions. Our first panelist will set the context with what the research tells us and then each panelist will share how their organizations are “doubling down” on their DEIB strategies.

B. “Belonging and its Overall Impact on Wellness”

  • Mahnaz Kolaini, Psys D. LPC-S


A robust body of research proves the interplay between social connectedness, sense of belonging, and well-being. Using current research and data, this presentation is focused on the association between overall wellness and sense of belonging and connectedness to community. This session aims to promote the need for fostering belonging to combat loneliness and isolation and facilitate wellness.


C. Enable Adaptive Leadership with Critical Thinking

  • Dolly Brenneman – President, Soar to Greatness Coaching | Inclusion | Consulting


The number one common cause of organization transformation failure is dysfunctional leadership. The 2023 World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report pointed out the 2 most important skills needed: Creative and Analytical Thinking. An approach to survive and thrive is applying Red Team critical thinking skills.


A few tools will be introduced that you can implement immediately to augment engagement, innovation, and ROI by thinking and behaving differently. Individuals, leaders, and organizations can make better decisions faster and disrupt yourself before someone, or something else disrupts you. The practices of Red Team change the way you think and operate, allowing you to start making real difference in your workplace and in your personal life.

 Why leadership is failing.

 The psychology of critical thinking

 What is Red Teaming

 Psychological Safety

 A few tools to apply include:

- Think, Write, Shuffle, Share

- On the Contrary

- Pre-Mortem Analysis

11:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.        Luncheon

Diversity Champions Recognition

Corporate - Eduardo Nunez, Co-Founder and Co-President, Bluewave International

Community - Alison Chen, Partner in Charge – Houston, Akin

Team - People Operations, Goodwill Industries of Houston


1:05 p.m. – 2:05 p.m.        Concurrent Session

 A. "Applying an Intersectional Lens”

  • Kelly (Kleinkort) Montes – Executive Director, Catalyst

  • Derrick Brown-Richtel - Director of Supporter Success, Southern Region, Catalyst


The world is ever-evolving. There is increased fluidity and overlap among our multiple identities and how they affect our daily experiences at work and in society. For each of us, our various identities impact our daily lives, affecting how we perceive the world and how the world perceives us. When we look at how our identities intersect, we see the unique lived experiences—of ourselves and others—through the lens of privilege, oppression, power, and marginalization. Who has power? Who gets the benefit of the doubt? Who doesn’t? Who is automatically included in groups? Who isn’t? Understanding intersectionality—how social identities overlap with one another and with systems of power in a way that oppresses some people and favors others in the workplace and broader community—is a critical component of any diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative. This discussion will:

  • Define intersectionality, including what it is and what it is not.

  • Dispel myths about intersectionality—going beyond checking a box or stacking one identity on top of another.

  • Discuss what Emotional Tax is and why it's so important to discuss as part of the intersectional lens.

  • Offer starter insights on how to apply an intersectional lens to your work.



 B. “Inspiring People with Your Authentic Story in 2 Minutes”

  • Sandy Dang, Co-Founder and Principal, Co-Innovate Consulting


As we shift to a new normal, workplace culture is forever changed. With fully remote and hybrid schedules, teams are often not meeting in person to share their values and vision. Organizations must find ways that allow colleagues old and new to connect to each other, their work, and the organization. Public Narrative is a leadership framework that explores personal and community values. Through storytelling, people can inspire and motivate listeners to work toward a common goal. In this workshop, you will learn how to tell an authentic story in two minutes. Participants will learn how to apply their public story to enhance their communication skills and inspire people to join them in achieving a collective mission.

C. Small Group Discussions

  • Donna Davis, Sr. Director DEI, South Texas College of Law Houston

  • M. Helen Cavazos, Director of Human Resources, AAMA

The siloed spaces of our personal and professional lives, combined with the often political discourse around the subject, have often hindered  healthy dialogue around the subject of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The small group discussions will provide a space for interactions among DEI practitioners around current DEI topics related to the following issues:

• Current DEI State and Federal Legislation
• Advancing Anti-Racism Initiatives
• Maintaining a Culture of Empathy
• Building a DEI System of Accountability
• DEI Crisis Mode: Advancing Equity and Justice • Altering the Status Quo: Confronting Bias



 2:10 p.m. – 3:10 p.m.        Concurrent Sessions

A. "DEI Systemic Barriers: Advancing an Inclusive Workplace Environment"

  • Donna Davis, Sr. Director DEI, South Texas College of Law Houston


This presentation will examine the current systemic barriers challenging diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs, policies, and initiatives. These barriers have increased challenges for organizations to advance DEI beyond the status quo to address inequities. Organizations lacking intentional inclusivity negatively impact workplace climate, culture, productivity, and employee morale. This session introduces the importance of consistent assessments by organizations to positively impact inclusivity and equitable practices. Attendees will receive a framework to advance inclusivity beyond societal norms in the workplace to improve hiring and retention practices while promoting transformational change.  



B - Inclusion and Belonging: The High Cost of Covering

  • Mayra Marshall, Sr. Manager DEI and Organizational Development, Greystone

  • Pranika Sinha, Managing Director DEI and Organizational Development, Greystone


Covering is the attempt to downplay an identity to blend into a group or the mainstream. Often workplace DEI efforts don’t achieve maximum results because covering, or the pressure to conform or fit in, is so widespread. This session will discuss covering and how helping people to uncover in our organizations will propel forward inclusion, equity and belonging.  We will discuss:

  • What does covering look like in the workplace?

  • How does it manifest and how does it feel?

  • What is the cost to our employees and our workplace?

  • What can organizations do to address it and how can leaders help empower employees to uncover?

We will touch on the critical role of leaders in either perpetuating or challenging a culture of covering and talk about practical solutions that leaders and employees can implement to help build an uncovering culture.

C. “Moving from Ally to Accomplice”

  • Brandon Mack, M.Ed., LGBTQ+ Educator/Activist/Advocate


Allyship is a method of showing support for marginalized communities. However, there is a call for the concept and practice to be more effective in establishing sustainable community support. There are calls for a deeper connection and a more profound paradigm of support for marginalized communities: Accompliship.


This session will focus on the difference between being an Ally and an Accomplice and how you can move from being an Ally to an Accomplice. This workshop will focus on how this concept applies to multiple identities, including racial, sexual, and gender minorities, and intersectionality.

3:10 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.        Network Reception & Drawing for Door Prizes

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