Inclusive Conversations is a series of exchanges and dialogue among members of the UMMC community on stimulating topics in pursuit of sharing and understanding experiences, emotions, and different perspectives. This forum is held monthly and sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Contact Shirley Pandolfi if you would like to receive email notifications or get additional information about these and other events sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.Click the links below to learn more about the Inclusive Conversations series.
Cindy DittusAssociate DirectorThe Arc of Mississippi12-1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021 Virtual session Please click here to register for a link to the virtual presentation.
Ms. Dittus is the Associate Director of The Arc of Mississippi where she has worked since 2000 and is part of numerous boards, advisory boards and committees. She has been involved with The Arc movement since 1985 while searching for options for her first child Tory who was born with Down syndrome. In her present position, she provides trainings on various topics, works with local chapters and helps ensure quality services for people with cognitive and developmental disabilities. Ms. Dittus received training in Stop the Violence, Break the Silence from SafePlace, Austin TX, Professional Training Conference on Abuse and Disabilities from The Arc, Riverside, CA, and Personal Outcome Measures from the Council on Quality and Leadership. Ms. Dittus continues to work on behalf of people with disabilities.
Mei-Chi C. PiletzExecutive DirectorMississippi College’s Global Education Program12-1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020 (Postponed due to technical difficulty)Virtual session Please click here to register for a link to the virtual presentation.
"Best Practices when Working with International Students"
Ms. Mei-Chi Chen Piletz currently serves as the Executive Director of the Office of Global Education at Mississippi College. She leads an international student population of 125 students from 40 countries. Ms. Piletz brings over 20 years of experience to her leadership in higher education.
Ms. Piletz received her bachelor's degree in German at Fu-Jen Catholic University in Taiwan, where she was born and raised. She received a master's in Germanic languages and literature from the University of Cincinnati and later received her graduate certification in Translation and Interpretation in Chinese/English from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California.
Ms. Piletz was hired in 1995 by Jackson State University to teach German and in the year of 2000, ESL (English as a Second Language). In 2005, she started the Mandarin Chinese curriculum at Jackson State and expanded it to multiple levels. By 2006, she was appointed by Jackson State president to launch the Office of China Initiatives to build partnerships with universities in China. From 2006 to 2012, Ms. Piletz sent out more than 100 Jackson State students to study in China and Taiwan.
In 2010 Mississippi Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) honored Ms. Piletz during the Black History Month for "Serving as a Role Model and Promoting Diversity at Jackson State and throughout Mississippi."
In October 2012, Ms. Piletz was invited to join Mississippi College (MC) as the Executive Director of the Office of Global Education, where she doubled the international student population's size in two years. Ms. Piletz's passion for international education is evident through the Office of Global Education's rich and nurturing programs to MC international students.
She is proud to be addressed as the "mom" to all her international students.
Dr. Carolyn Adams-PriceAssociate Professor of Psychology, Chair of the University’s Gerontology ProgramMississippi State University12-1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020Virtual session
"Older Rural African Americans in Mississippi: Home and Community as a Cultural Haven"
Dr. Adams-Price will share her research regarding the well-being of older rural African-Americans with particular emphasis on these individuals’ attachment to place and linkages to perceptions of health providers.
Casey Loper, LMSWProgram Manager, Mississippi Nurse Voluntary ProgramMississippi Board of Nursing
12-1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020Virtual Session
"Don't Let the Past Steal Your Present - Transitioning Into Recovery" - PDF
Casey Loper received her Bachelor's of Social Work degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2008. She enrolled in the Advanced Standing Program through the University of Southern Mississippi and received her Masters of Social Work in 2009. Ms. Loper pursued the social work profession with intentions of working with individuals with disabilities. During an internship, however, she developed a passion for working with individuals experiencing substance abuse and/or mental health issues. Her professional career began in community mental health where she worked in many capacities, including assessments, recovery support, anger management, adolescent education, drug courts, municipal/justice courts, male residential and eventually becoming the coordinator of a female residential treatment center. Ms. Loper also has experience in federal grants management and victim advocacy. During those experiences, her passion remained with substance abuse/mental health recovery which led her to her current position at the Mississippi Board of Nursing as the Program Manager for the Mississippi Nurse Alternative Program which is an alternative to discipline program for nurses with substance abuse or mental health issues.
Population Trends, the 2020 Census, and Implications for Health and Development in Mississippi - PDF
John J. Green is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Population Studies at the University of Mississippi, where he also leads the Society and Health Program and is Affiliated Faculty with the School of Law. John earned a BA in Political Science and MS in Sociology at Mississippi State University before completing his PhD in Rural Sociology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Before joining the faculty at the University of Mississippi in 2011, he served at Delta State University for nine years.
Using Food and Story to Reclaim Rural Health Equity - PDF
Carlton Turner works across the country as a performing artist, arts advocate, policy shaper, lecturer, consultant, and facilitator. Carlton is the founder of the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production (Sipp Culture). Sipp Culture uses arts and agriculture to support rural community, cultural, and economic development in his hometown of Utica, Mississippi where he lives with his wife Brandi and three children. Carlton Turner is also co-founder and co-artistic director, along with his brother Maurice Turner, of the group M.U.G.A.B.E.E. (Men Under Guidance Acting Before Early Extinction). M.U.G.A.B.E.E. is a Mississippi-based performing arts group that blends of jazz, hip-hop, spoken word poetry and soul music together with non-traditional storytelling. His current work is River Sols, a new play being developed in collaboration with Pangea World Theater that explores race, identity, class, faith, and difference across African American and South Asian communities through embodiment of a river.Carlton is on the board of First People’s Fund, Imagining America, the Center for Media Justice, and Project South for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide. He is a member of the We Shall Overcome Fund Advisory Committee at the Highlander Center for Research and Education, a steering committee member of the Arts x Culture x Social Justice Network, a former Network of Ensemble Theaters steering committee member, and the former Executive Director of Alternate ROOTS.Carlton is a 2017-18 Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow and a Cultural Policy Fellow at the Creative Placemaking Institute at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design in the Arts. He is also a member of the Rural Wealth Lab at RUPRI (Rural Policy Research Institute) and an advisor to the Kresge Foundation’s FreshLo Initiative. In 2018, Carlton was awarded the Sidney Yates Award for Advocacy in the Performing Arts by the Association of Performing Arts Professionals. He has also received the M. Edgar Rosenblum award for outstanding contribution to Ensemble Theater (2011) and the Otto René Castillo Awards for Political Theatre (2015). In 2013, Carlton was named to the Kennedy Center honors Artist Advisory Board.
Nakeitra Burse, DrPH, MS, CHESOwner/CEOSix Dimensions, LLC12-1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019Student Union (Ballrooms C & D)Lunch served on first-come, first-served basis
Black Maternal Health - PDF
Dr. Nakeitra L. Burse is the owner/CEO of Six Dimensions, LLC, a certified woman-owned, minority-owned public health consulting company dedicated to creating healthier communities through innovative, strategic, sustainable and culturally appropriate public health solutions. She also serves as the grant writer for Jackson State University’s School of Public Health. Dr. Burse has been a servant in the field of public health for more than 10 years. She has worked across various sectors such as nonprofit, government agencies, and academic institutions. She is an experienced facilitator and has conducted capacity building trainings including program sustainability, grant writing, and program development and evaluation. Dr. Burse has extensive experience working with minority communities to address health disparities using an ecological approach. Examples of Dr. Burse’s recent work include, but are not limited to: helping organizations become breastfeeding friendly; developing a documentary on maternal mortality among African-American women; evaluating a teen health program; working with Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers (FQHCS) in the Mississippi Delta to decrease teen pregnancy through capacity building; increasing access to teen friendly health centers; introducing additional contraceptive methods to communities; and determining approaches to scalability of public health programs. Dr. Burse holds a BS in biological sciences and a MA in health education/health promotion from Mississippi State University and a doctorate in public health from Jackson State University. Dr. Burse is also a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). She has a passion for creating systems-level changes in organizations and agencies to ensure that populations that have been historically underserved, overlooked, and discriminated against receive equitable treatment in health and healthcare settings. She is currently focusing on work that aims to improve health outcomes for African-American mothers and their babies.
Tracy DeVriesExecutive DirectorWomen’s Foundation of Mississippi
12-1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019Student Union (Ballrooms C & D)Lunch served on first-come, first-served basisCo-sponsored by the Group on Women in Medicine and Science (GWIMS)
Investing in Women's Health - PDF
Tracy DeVries is the executive director of the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi (WFM), the only grant maker in the state focused entirely on women and girls. The Women’s Foundation of Mississippi’s mission is economic security for women, aggregating resources to provide funding to organizations throughout Mississippi focused on access to education and skills certification, two-generation approaches, and our Healthy Women initiatives. The WFM also conducts research, provides leadership training, and offers community engagement and education sessions because women’s voices are needed at every table. She has worked in the nonprofit sector since 1999, working previously as a fundraiser at Special Olympics International and leading the corporate and foundation channels at the national headquarters of the American Red Cross. In addition to her role in developing mutually beneficial corporate alliances during her time at Special Olympics, she also oversaw a federal grant to promote social inclusion in schools across the United States, worked on providing health programs to individuals with intellectual disabilities throughout North America, created a family support network, and focused on organizational development through leadership and board training, and the creation of fundraising plans.
Tracy’s volunteer activities include fostering rescue dogs, teaching English as a Second Language, and coaching soccer. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Mississippi Low-Income Child-Care Initiative and the Animal Rescue Fund of Mississippi. She’s previously been certified as a trainer for BoardSource. Tracy is originally from northern Virginia, a graduate of Michigan State University, and lived in Washington, DC, for most of her professional life. She moved to Jackson in the fall of 2016 where she lives with her husband, Tony, and their four rescue dogs.
Patrick Elliot Alexander, PhDAssociate Professor, English and African American StudiesUniversity of Mississippi
12-1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019Student Union (Ballrooms C & D)Lunch served on first-come, first-served basis
Toward a Radical Togetherness: African American Literature, Abolition Pedagogy, and the Prison-to-College Pipeline Program - PDF
Dr. Patrick Elliot Alexander is associate professor of English and African-American studies at the University of Mississippi and co-founder of the Prison-to-College Pipeline Program. He holds a PhD in English from Duke University. A specialist in African-American literature, 19th-century American literature, and critical prison studies, Dr. Alexander published his first book, From Slave Ship to Supermax: Mass Incarceration, Prisoner Abuse, and the New Neo-Slave Novel, with Temple University Press (2018). His articles on teaching African American literature in prison are published in the Journal of African American History, South: A Scholarly Journal, and Reflections: A Journal of Writing, Service-Learning, and Community Literacy. He has also published several reviews, which appear in American Literature and Obsidian.
Before joining the faculty at the University of Mississippi, Dr. Alexander co-founded and directed Stepping Stones, an award-winning academic enrichment program for imprisoned students based in North Carolina. As a faculty member at Ole Miss, he co-founded the Prison-to-College Pipeline Program (PTCPP) with Otis W. Pickett, assistant professor of history at Mississippi College. The PTCPP is a university-community engagement initiative that promotes higher education in prison in response to the ongoing need for increased access to educational opportunities in Mississippi. The PTCPP, winner of the 2018 Humanities Educator Award from the Mississippi Humanities Council, offers on-site, humanities-based, for-credit college courses for imprisoned men at Parchman/Mississippi State Penitentiary and for imprisoned women at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.
Walter G. HenrySpecial AgentFederal Bureau of InvestigationsApril 17, 2019
Human Trafficking and Medical Needs of Victims
Special Agent Walter G. Henry has served in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) since 1991 in a variety of positions including as a supervisor, recruiter, new agent assessor, crisis negotiator, bank robbery coordinator, certified FBI instructor, SWAT team member, and surveillance operation group team leader. Currently, Special Agent Henry primarily handles Civil Rights (CR) matters in the northern district of Mississippi. The CR matters handled by Special Agent Henry include Color of Law, Hate Crimes, and Human Trafficking. In this capacity Special Agent Henry is required to investigate the aforementioned matters as well as provide training to law enforcement agencies and community groups/advocacy groups. Special Agent Henry works closely with local district attorneys’ offices and federal prosecutors in the Northern District of Mississippi, as well as with the United States Department of Justice – Civil Rights, in Washington, DC
Special Agent Henry received his undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s degree in Urban Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has served in the FBI’s Jackson Division Oxford Resident Agency since 2008.
Christy Ainsworth, LCSWChild Advocacy Studies (CAST) CoordinatorChildren's Advocacy Centers of MississippiMarch 6, 2019
Creating a Trauma-Informed Workforce
Christy Ainsworth provides training and technical assistance to the colleges, universities and community colleges in the state implementing CAST. Mrs. Ainsworth, a Hattiesburg native, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from the University of Southern Mississippi. Mrs. Ainsworth has over 15 years of social work experience. She has done extensive work with victims of crime. She has a proven track record in management, clinical intervention, project development, and public speaking. Mrs. Ainsworth is motivated creatively, with the ability to communicate effectively, provide meaningful continuing education learning opportunities and consistently surpass project goals. She has also managed state and federal grants totaling more than 40 million dollars.She has broad knowledge in the areas of trauma work with women, substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, volunteer management, and disability related issues. Mrs. Ainsworth is certified in Lethality Assessment and Batterer’s Intervention. She served on the Mississippi Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists for four years. She also has served on the Advisory Board for the Center for Violence Prevention in Pearl, MS. Mrs. Ainsworth also has presented at numerous conferences and workshops including the International Time Banking Conference in 2007 and National Association of Social Workers in 2014, 2015, and 2016, as well as numerous others.
Paula Bingham GrangerTraining and Technical Assistance Coordinator Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic ViolenceFeb. 13, 2019
Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Interpersonal Violence
Paula Bingham Granger is the training and technical assistance coordinator for the Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence. In this position, she is afforded the opportunity be a part of one of the most important causes in our state, country and the world - helping to raise awareness about interpersonal violence. She does this by offering support to Mississippi’s certified domestic violence shelters, coordinating statewide training on various aspects of domestic violence (including developing presentations), representing the coalition at awareness events, speaking to teens and adults, offering tools to form healthy relationships and to identify signs of unhealthy ones. Ms. Granger serves as senior advisor to the Coalition’s Teen Advisory Council. She is the mother of three adult children - Reuben, Rachel and Ryan - and a graduate of Jackson State University with a degree in Communications.
Rashanda Booker, PhDDirector of Institutional Equity & PartnershipsUMMC Office of Diversity and InclusionJan. 9, 2019
No Longer 'Waiting to Exhale': Overcoming Impostor Syndrome and Battle Fatigue
In April 2018, Dr. Rashanda Booker was appointed in the new role of director of institutional equity and partnerships. In her role, Booker’s responsibilities include collaborating with institutional leaders by playing a lead role in carrying out the institution’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, promoting equitable policies and practices, and establishing strong partnerships with public and private higher education institutions, especially HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions. Her extensive experience as a higher education practitioner, and an individual with deep understanding of the importance of diversity and equity will help advance the institution’s mission by utilizing her creativity, attention to detail, relationship building, and proven track record as an effective leader.
Prior to joining UMMC, Dr. Booker was the assistant dean of the college, Williams College, the No. 1 liberal arts college in the nation. During her time in the dean’s office, Dr. Booker became well known for her advocacy and diverse programmatic efforts across campus. In response to critical incidents (sexual assault, harassment, bias), she worked in collaboration with Campus Safety, the Davis (Diversity) Center, Office of Student Life, and with the Director of Sexual Assault and Prevention to support all parties associated with cases to identify appropriate outcomes.
The 2017 NASPA Women in Student Affairs – Phenomenal Woman received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southeastern Louisiana University, and her doctorate in Educational Leadership, Research, and Counseling from Louisiana State University.
Monica Daniels, MSExecutive Director, Special Olympics MississippiNov. 14, 2018
The Revolution is Inclusion
Monica Daniels is a native Mississippian with 25 years’ experience working in the non-profit sector. She received her BA in Psychology from Delta State University and her MS in Behavior Analysis and Therapy from Southern Illinois University. She began her post graduate work in pediatric neuro-rehab until learning that her (then) 18-month old daughter was profoundly deaf. It was then that Monica began to work for non-profits; starting with Magnolia Speech School where her daughter was enrolled as a student. After 11 years at Magnolia Speech School, Monica went to work for United Way of the Capital Area as the Vice President of Resource Development, while there she initiated the organization’s first young professionals board and implemented Imagination Library in the tri-county area. Upon leaving United Way, Monica served as the Director of Annual Giving for Millsaps College.
In December of 2016 she was offered the position of Executive Director for Special Olympics Mississippi. In this role she serves over 5,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities who participate in sports training and competition. As a movement, Special Olympics is one of the largest health care advocates for individuals with intellectual disabilities. She is humbled and honored to serve all of the athletes and their families of Special Olympics.
Robert E. Luckett Jr., PhDAssociate Professor of History, Director of the Margaret Walker Center for the Study of the African-American ExperienceJackson State UniversitySept. 10, 2018
Margaret Walker: This is My Century
Robby Luckett received his BA in political science from Yale University and his PhD from the University of Georgia with a focus on modern civil rights movement history. A native Mississippian, he returned home, where he is a tenured Associate Professor of History and Director of the Margaret Walker Center for the Study of the African American Experience at Jackson State University. His book, Joe T. Patterson and the White South’s Dilemma: Evolving Resistance to Black Advancement, was published by the University Press of Mississippi (2015). Along with several publications and presentations at numerous academic conferences, he has appeared in documentaries, including the Independent Lens film Spies of Mississippi as well as An Ordinary Hero about the life of Joan Trumpauer Mulhollhand. He is an Advisory Board member for the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, and he is on the Board of Directors of Common Cause Mississippi and the Association of African American Museums. In 2017, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba appointed him to the Board of Trustees of Jackson Public Schools. He has three children.
Michelle Johansen2018 IHL Diversity Educator of the YearQuality Enhancement Plan CoordinatorStudy Abroad CoordinatorHistory InstructorDelta State UniversityMay 7, 2018
A World Class Experience: Improving Cultural Competency at Delta State
Since 2014 Delta State University has fully committed to improving campus cultural competency through an intensive five-year plan for all constituencies. The plan’s goals are to assist students in discovering and learning about other cultures; understanding cultural biases and differences; improving intercultural communication skills; developing empathetic skills; and moving effectively within a globalized society. This talk will outline the implementation of DSU’s plan, the successes and lessons learned from across campus, and the next steps for greater engagement and sustainability.
Byron D'Andra Orey, PhDProfessor of Political ScienceJackson State UniversityApril 2, 2018
Race-Based Trauma and the Fear of Driving while Black
In recent years, there has been an increase in media coverage of African Americans being shot and killed by police officers. With the increased use of social media, individuals are indirectly exposed to these events even if they do not live in the areas where the shootings occur. By using galvanic skin response data and individual-level attitudinal data, funding from the National Science Foundation supported Dr. Orey’s research to examine whether viewing such imagery creates an arousal among African Americans based on what he labels as "Racially Traumatic Stressful Events."
Stephanie Rolph, PhDShepherd Higher Education Consortium on PovertyAssociate Professor of History, Millsaps CollegeMarch 5, 2018
Teaching Antipoverty Work: Undergraduate Experiences in the Classroom and the Field
Stephanie Rolph is Academic Director for the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP), an inter-institutional nonprofit committed to preparing undergraduates for antipoverty work. With 26 member institutions, including Millsaps College, SHECP partners classroom instruction on the complexities of poverty with experiential learning opportunities in agencies across the nation where the daily work of alleviating the conditions of poverty is being done. In addition to her work with SHECP, Stephanie is associate professor in the History Department at Millsaps and serves as the director of Community Engaged Learning there.
Disability Inclusion: Getting to Know & Interact with People with Disabilities Disability inclusion is defined as including people with disabilities in everyday activities and encouraging them to have roles similar to their peers who do not have a disability (CDC, 2017). To implement disability inclusion, it is important to understand the status of this population. This talk will address prevalence of people with disabilities and statistics about the population.
The Intersection of Religion, Faith and Professionalism in the Workplace Panelists from the UMMC community will share thoughts about expressions of faith in the workplace and what institutions can do better to make inclusive communities for those who have varying religious, ethical or moral beliefs.
Critical Mass: Examining Race, Violence, and Medicine in the 21st Century Dr. Williams was the lead surgeon on call with the trauma team called to care for 12 Dallas police officers and two civilians who were shot during what was to be a peaceful protest July 2016 in Dallas, TX. Dr. Williams will share how that experience has impacted his life both personally and professionally.