Professional Staff Organization

2024 DEI Forum

Achieving Equity Together: Navigating Challenges While Empowering Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Forum, April 30-May 1, 2024

Forum held virtually


The DEI Forum offers a warm and inclusive virtual space where people from diverse backgrounds can unite to exchange ideas, foster connections, and jointly advance efforts towards anti-racism and social justice. Embracing an intersectional perspective, we honor and celebrate the diversity of identity, encompassing elements such as race, ability, age, gender, sexual orientation, language, socioeconomic status, and religion. Whether you’re just beginning your DEI journey or have been actively engaged for years, there’s something for everyone to learn and contribute to at the DEI Forum.

The theme of this year’s DEI Forum, “Achieving Equity Together: Navigating Challenges While Empowering Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education,” highlights the significance of working collaboratively to tackle the complexities and barriers involved in promoting equity within academic settings.

Over two enriching days, attendees will have the unique opportunity to glean insights from campus leadership, esteemed faculty, and dedicated professional staff. The event will feature engaging workshops and intimate small-group discussions, all centered around our unwavering commitment to social justice. Our primary goal is to ignite meaningful conversations and foster deeper connections within the UW tri-campus community. The diverse array of session topics will delve into actionable strategies for developing robust diversity initiatives, understanding the essential work required to dismantle systems of oppression, and laying the groundwork to ensure the success of marginalized communities in every facet of our campuses.

We believe that this forum will catalyze positive change, empowering each community member to contribute to the ongoing journey toward a more inclusive and equitable academic environment. Mark your calendars, and join us as we work together to create a university community that embraces diversity, champions equity, and values inclusion.

The DEI Forum is developed by pro-staff for pro-staff, and all in the UW community are welcome to participate!

DEI Forum Community Commitments

  • What happens here stays here. 
  • What’s learned here leaves here.  
  • Be open to experiencing some discomfort.  
  • Take the time you need to care for yourself.
  • Listen to understand, not to respond.  
  • Be aware of the space you are taking up and your identities and positional power.  
  • Exercise consideration and respect in your speech and actions. 
  • We don’t expect to always agree.  
  • Speak your own experience (“I” statements) and participate to the fullest of your ability.
  • Respectfully challenge one another, but share the space.  
  • Assume positive intent when listening. 
  • When speaking, recognize impact is more important than intent.  
  • Recognize that multiple truths exist.  
  • Expect and accept non-closure.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings and of your fellow participants.

Alert the DEI Forum planning team if you notice a dangerous situation, someone in distress, or violations of these Community Commitments, even if seemingly small.

*Adapted from the UW-IT DEI Community of Practice and the Foster School DEI Community of Practice

April 30, 2024: Day One

11:30am-12pm | Settling Into the Space

Welcome, Check-in, Mindfulness Activity

Speaker: DEI Forum Planning Group

This session was not recorded, but a DEI Forum Mindfulness script is available

12-12:55pm | Workshop: Reaching Inclusivity through Confronting Bias

In this engaging session, we will cover strategies to begin cultivating inclusivity and positively impacting organizational culture. Attendees will be equipped with the necessary tools to enhance equity amongst their teams and workplace through understanding and confronting implicit bias. We will also delve into methods to uncover how implicit biases are shaped, ways in which they adversely affect our ability to meaningfully connect in the workplace, and hinder organizational performance. In small groups, attendees will have the chance to counteract bias in discussions centered around change management with an emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion at the core.

Speaker: Elizabeth Umphress, Professor & William D. Bradford Endowed Professorship 

A recording of the workshop is available to view here. 

1-2pm | Workshop: Achieving an Inclusive Workplace

Join us for an engaging session with Assistant Vice President, Ujima Sands as she dives into the critical topic of DEI progress within our organization. 

In this interactive session, Ujima will provide insights into the strides we’ve made in hiring and retaining BIPOC staff. Get ready for an illuminating discussion as she shares valuable perspectives on how we’re shaping a more inclusive workplace. 

But that’s not all! You’ll also gain a glimpse into our overall staff demographic data profile, helping us better understand the diversity landscape across the university. 

Moreover, Ujima will connect the Diversity Blueprint to an initiative near and dear to her heart designed to support professional development. Discover how this initiative aligns with our commitment to fostering a culture of growth, equity, and empowerment. 

Don’t miss out on this chance to be part of the conversation driving positive change within our organization. Mark your calendars and join us for an insightful session that promises to inspire and inform! 

Speaker: Ujima Sands, Assistant Vice President & Inclusion Strategist, Total Talent Management – Human Resources

A recording of the workshop is available to view here.  

2:15-3:15pm | A Long Talk about the Uncomfortable Truth

A Long Talk is an anti-racism activation experience designed to expose you to a level of truth about the duration and intentionality of the systems of oppression that have existed since the inception of the United States. It is an open, honest discussion designed to explore and give voice to the uncomfortable truth of our shared history. It is an ongoing conversation which serves as a catalyst for creating a culture of individual change and collective anti-racism activism. A Long Talk About The Uncomfortable Truth is an interactive and immersive experience which serves to teach people how to engage in these uncomfortable conversations more productively.

Speaker: Kamal Carter, President of A Long Talk

To prepare for the workshop, please review the relevant resources using the link below provided by the speaker. 

This workshop was not recorded. 

3:15-3:45pm | Reflection and Mindfulness Activity

Speaker: DEI Forum Planning Group

This session was not recorded. 

3:45-4pm | Day One Wrap-Up

Speaker: DEI Forum Planning Group

This session was not recorded. 

May 1, 2024: Day Two

9-9:10am | Settling Into the Space

Welcome, Check-in, Mindfulness Activity

Speaker: DEI Forum Planning Group

This session was not recorded, but a DEI Forum Mindfulness script is available

9:10-10am | Workshop: to Change: A Humanistic Approach to Overcoming Erasure and Oppression

Join us for an enlightening session on “ to Change,” where we explore the subtle yet pervasive ways in which anti-black racism and other forms of oppression infiltrate our everyday interactions. Leveraging the humanistic “Navigating Courage” framework, this workshop will delve into the unconscious biases and socially normed behaviors that disproportionately affect BIPOC and other marginalized groups. Participants will gain insights into identifying these subtle forms of discrimination and learn strategic approaches to actively dismantle these biases. Engage with us in a critical dialogue aimed at rethinking and reshaping the norms that perpetuate inequality, fostering a more inclusive and equitable environment for all.

Speaker: Robin Martin, President and CEO of Navigating Courage

A recording of the workshop is available to view here. 

9:30-10:25am | Workshop: The Importance of the DEIA Work in the Global Health Space and Effective Strategies for Leading an Employee Resource Group in Academic or Research-Based Settings

This session will focus on the importance and value of the DEIA work in the global health space, ranging from the inception and history of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility work within the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), the formation of the DEI Council and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), to how IHME works with stakeholders around the world to ensure that our research analyses and burden of disease estimates truly raise awareness of persistent systemic inequities not only in the United States, but on a global level. Lack of integrated DEIA approach and inequities in access to healthcare are a serious issue, affecting many populations globally both in terms of their quality of life and life expectancy. To move the needle on DEIA globally and with external stakeholders, we first have to ensure that our work on DEIA internally is reflective of the diverse and intersectional voices, perspectives, and identities of our staff and that our work environment is a safe and welcoming space where each individual can thrive and bring their true selves. The second part of the session will focus on the work of Rainbow IHME ERG and its work on centering the LGBTQIA2S+ voices within the organization and more broadly, our external stakeholders. The session will end with some practical steps on how to set up an ERG, strategies on effective ERG leadership, and building momentum within your ERG, and the UW community as a whole.  

Speaker: Maja Pašović, Research Manager, Clinical Informatics and Non-fatal and Risks Quality Enhancement; Co-Chair, DEI Council; ERG Lead, Rainbow IHME: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

This workshop was not recorded. 

10:30-11:15am | Workshop: Tending to Our Emotional Safety

What is emotional safety and how can we cultivate it? When you cultivate safety within yourself, you become a safer person for other people. As we engage in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) work across campus, it’s important to pause and assess ourselves. To engage in DEIB work is to invite challenge into our lives. For many people this work amplifies the hardships and trauma that they carry. While resilience grows like a weed, we should start to look at what flowers can flourish when we practice self-compassion. 

In this session Tyneshia and Sasha will lead us through defining emotional safety, identifying what you need to feel safe in this work, and how to move forward with action. They will discuss how safety and action is not one-size- fits all. 


  • Sasha Duttchoudhury, Program Operations Specialist at the UW Resilience Lab
  • Tyneshia Valdez, Human Resources Manager

A recording of the workshop is available to view here.* 

*This recording started a few minutes into the session. If you would like to review the information shared prior to recording, please review a PDF of the PowerPoint slides

10:30-11:15am | Workshop: Promoting DEI in your Sphere of Influence

In today’s rapidly evolving workplace, the imperatives of Accessibility, Belonging, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (ABIDE) are more critical than ever. This 45-minute session, led by a seasoned expert in the field, offers a practical roadmap for managers aiming to cultivate a more inclusive and equitable work environment. Drawing on extensive experience in leadership development and organizational change, the session will delve into the ABIDE framework, a comprehensive strategy designed to enhance workplace culture and promote a sense of belonging among all employees. 

Participants will be guided through the core components of the ABIDE framework: Accessibility, ensuring that all resources are available and usable for everyone; Belonging, creating a supportive atmosphere where every voice is valued; Inclusion, integrating diverse perspectives into everyday decision-making; Diversity, embracing the unique attributes of each team member; and Equity, ensuring fair treatment and opportunities for advancement. The session will provide actionable insights and tools for managers to implement these principles effectively within their teams. 

Interactive discussions will illustrate successful ABIDE integration, highlighting the positive impacts on productivity, innovation, and employee satisfaction. Managers will leave equipped with the knowledge and skills to drive meaningful change, fostering a work environment where everyone can thrive. This session is essential for leaders seeking to leverage diversity and inclusivity as catalysts for organizational success. 

Speaker: Thomas Jacob, Co-Founder of Hatpin Revolution

This workshop was not recorded. 

11:30am-12:30pm | Workshop: Achieving Belonging: Uplifting Diverse Leadership

This workshop focuses on uplifting diverse leadership and creating an inclusive environment where every voice is heard and valued. Attendees will gain a deeper understanding of the multifaceted dimensions of diversity, actionable strategies for fostering inclusive cultures, and the skills and mindset needed to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Join us in our collective pursuit of achieving belonging and uplifting diverse leadership for a brighter, more equitable future.

Speaker: Michelle Purnell-Hepburn, Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Foster School of Business

A recording of this workshop is available to view here.* 

*This recording contains 2 sessions. The first half is Achieving Belonging: Uplifting Diverse Leadership. At the 44:10 mark, is the recording of Achieving Equity Together Through Actionable DEI Efforts.

12:30-1:30pm | Panel: Achieving Equity Together Through Actionable DEI Efforts

In this session, our panelists will provide strategies for navigating the challenges of DEI in a climate of increased scrutiny within Higher Ed. Some points that will be discussed are ongoing diversity initiatives, future DEI goals, and strategies to equip our staff to engage in this critical work to make a tangible and positive impact in our workplaces. Rickey Hall, VP of the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity; Dr. Maya Angela Smith, Associate Dean for Equity, Justice, and Inclusion in the College of Arts & Sciences and Dr. Elavie Ndura Vice Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion, will provide their insight into how we can cultivate a more accessible, inclusive, and equitable campus that dismantles barriers and ensures all individuals can thrive. The session will conclude with an opportunity for attendees to pose questions on the topic.  


  • Rickey Hall, Vice President for Minority Affairs & Diversity, University Diversity Officer
  • Maya Smith, Associate Dean for Equity, Justice, and Inclusion, College of Arts and Sciences, Seattle Campus

A recording of this workshop is available to view here.* 

*This recording contains 2 sessions. The first half is Achieving Belonging: Uplifting Diverse Leadership. At the 44:10 mark, is the recording of Achieving Equity Together Through Actionable DEI Efforts.

1:30-1:45pm | DEI Forum Closing

Reflections and next steps

Speaker: DEI Forum Planning Group

This session was not recorded. 


Speaker Bios

Elizabeth Umphress

Dr. Umphress is a Professor of Management and holds the William D. Bradford Endowed Professorship at the University of Washington. She received her B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and her PhD in Organizational Behavior from Tulane University.  

Under the rubric of social justice research, Dr. Umphress pursues three primary branches of inquiry: diversity, ethics and organizational justice. Dr. Umphress teaches Dynamics of Negotiations and Ethical Leadership to executive and masters students MBAs at the University of Washington. She has extensive consulting and executive education experience. She has conducted executive education programs for companies. She specializes in teaching executives Inclusive Leadership, Strategic Communications and Negotiations, and Ethical Leadership. Her consulting work focuses on helping employees feel included, empowered, and more productive in the workplace. She has worked with companies such as Microsoft, NASA, Citigroup, and Lockheed Martin.  

To date, in collaboration with co-authors, she has published thirty-one peer-reviewed research articles. Regarding teaching, she has received various teaching awards including the Hybrid MBA Excellence in Teaching Award (2023, 2022, 2020), Professor of the Year for Master of Science in Entrepreneurship (2019) and the Evening MBA (2014) programs. She is committed to teaching and mentoring doctoral students, exemplified by authoring sixteen publications with current or former doctoral students. She also provides important service to her profession, including being a former Associate Editor for the Academy of Management Journal. 

Ujima Sands

Ujima Sands is the Assistant Vice President of UW Total Talent Management and Inclusion Strategist for UW Human Resources. She has served as the lead facilitator for the award-winning Strategic Leadership Program (SLP) for the past 15 years while also frequently being called upon as a consultant and sounding board for UW leaders and organizations. Ujima came to the University of Washington after 15 years at SeaFirst/Bank of America, where she last served as an assistant vice president for Training & Development. She has expertise in leadership development, coaching, consulting, facilitation, and training; change management; diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting; staff development; and organizational development. Although Ujima wears a number of hats, she has long since been a champion and important voice for DEI at UW as well as other communities and organizations in which she engages. Ujima brings her experience coaching and facilitating people through change to her work in DEI and sees the capacity to and for change as key in the ongoing work of systemic equity. She enjoys being a thought partner and collaborator as she helps position individuals and teams for success. 

Kamal Carter

Kamal Carter is a scientist, an activist, an educator and a management consultant. Kamal brings more than 25 years of corporate development and growth strategy experience. He has held multiple global leadership positions at leading companies. What he is most proud of is walking away from millions of dollars to serve as a high school chemistry teacher at an inner city school in Atlanta. For more than a decade, Mr. Carter has pioneered innovative strategies in education. He co-wrote a script for a PBS science show which he also stars in. He has been a National Institute of Health (NIH) Research Fellow and a member of the State of Georgia Superintendent’s Teachers Advisory Council. Kamal graduated from Hampton University with a Biology Pre-Med degree. He turned down two full scholarships to medical school to pursue his passion in business, community development, and science education. Kamal Carter is chairman of the board of Step Ahead Scholars, Inc., a nonprofit he co-founded 10 years ago whose mission is to eradicate college access inequality.

Robin Martin

Dr. Robin Martin serves as the President/CEO of Navigating Courage, bringing with her over two decades of experience in guiding both individuals and organizations in the realms of social impact investment and higher education. Her primary focus centers on seamlessly integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion into strategy and leadership development to drive transformative change.

Dr. Martin is recognized for her strategic acumen, skill in building systems, and her role as a catalyst for change. She has thrived in high-pressure roles, ranging from the sidelines to executive boardrooms. Her remarkable career includes a stint as the former Deputy Director of Strategy, Planning, and Management at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In this role, she oversaw the operational and financial aspects of the Postsecondary Success team, managing a $128 million strategic fund aimed at transforming colleges and universities nationwide. Her leadership was instrumental in enhancing operational efficiency and effectiveness to further the foundation’s mission.

During her tenure at the Gates Foundation, Dr. Martin orchestrated its largest gift within the U.S. Program division’s history: a $15 million grant to Historically Black Colleges & Universities. This grant was dedicated to supporting COVID-19 diagnostic testing and technology, enabling these institutions to reopen and assist their surrounding communities safely.

With a track record spanning over two decades in higher education and philanthropy, including roles as a former Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Cincinnati, Director of Athletics, and tenure-track faculty member, Dr. Martin possesses a unique ability to integrate strategy, leadership, and equity seamlessly. Her expertise has been instrumental in transforming organizations and individuals on a global scale.

Drawing on her extensive research, Dr. Martin recently introduced a groundbreaking approach to leadership known as the Navigating Courage Framework. This framework emerged in response to the growing demand for practical support and resources to help leaders and organizations navigate courageously. Grounded in the African philosophy of Ubuntu, which translates to “I am because you are,” this framework comprises four core principles: Be Human, Be in Community, Be Curious, and Be Courageous. Together, these principles shift teams from individualistic thinking to collective success, significantly accelerating their impact. The Navigating Courage framework, pioneered by Dr. Martin, seeks to normalize courage at all levels within organizations and communities.

Dr. Martin holds a doctoral degree in Urban Education Leadership from the University of Cincinnati. In 2018, she authored the book “Navigating Courage: Leading Beyond Fear.” This collection of narratives and insights, drawn from her own experiences, academic research, and humanism, offers a fresh perspective on the challenges faced by women of color and minorities in the workplace, providing practical strategies for managing them.

With her extensive expertise and unwavering commitment to transformative leadership, Dr. Robin Martin continues to make a profound impact, empowering organizations and individuals to navigate complex landscapes with courage and compassion.

Maja Pašović

Maja Pašović (she/her/hers), MA, M.Ed., is the Research Manager on the Clinical Informatics and the Non-fatal and Risks Quality Enhancement (NFRQE) teams at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). In this role, she manages and coordinates projects aimed at improving non-fatal data coverage in the Global Burden of Disease (GBD), and works with a team of research and data scientists, post-docs, and senior faculty on improvements to health metrics methodologies and disease modeling used in the GBD Study, with the aim of enhancing the study’s precision and applicability. Additionally, she sits as Co-Chair on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council at IHME, working closely with the Chief Diversity Officer and the DEI Program Officer to advance DEI at the organizational level. Apart from this, Maja also leads and manages the work of Rainbow IHME, an employee resource group for the LGBTQIA2S+ identifying staff and allies. In her previous roles at IHME, she managed the strategic work of a global GBD Collaborator Network, as well as country/regional collaborations and partnerships in the European Region and Central Asia. Prior to joining IHME, Maja worked at the National Alliance for Caregiving in Washington D.C., and the UNICEF Country Office in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Originally from Sarajevo, she earned her M.Ed. at the University of Sarajevo, and an MA at the University of Waterloo, Canada. In her spare time, Maja enjoys learning a new language (currently she speaks 9 languages), reading, cooking and trying out new recipes, doing wildlife photography, and exploring the magnificent nature and national parks across the U.S. with her spouse.  

 What DEI means to me: Having grown up in Sarajevo, a city defined by a plurality of ethnic groups, languages, and religions, has taught me that diversity is beautiful, equity is essential, and inclusion is a basic human need. 

Sasha Duttchoudhury

Sasha Duttchoudhury is the Program Operations Specialist at the UW Resilience Lab. In this role, Sasha supports our BeREAL and Resistance through Resilience Offerings to staff, and facilitates learning opportunities related to well-being and mindfulness. Outside of their work at the Lab, Sasha is a therapist in private practice, organizational facilitator, and UW Study Abroad support staff. 

Fun Fact: Sasha is always looking to try something that scares them- from singing to rock climbing!

Tyneshia Valdez

Tyneshia Valdez is currently a staff member and 1st generation alumni of the University of Washington. She is facilitator of the Be REAL program, and has a strong passion for promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging across campus. Tyneshia is strongly committed to DEIB work and hopes that everyone can work together to cultivate systemic change.

Thomas Jacob

Based in Bremerton, WA, Thomas Jacob is a seasoned consultant, educator, and IT professional with a rich background in Information Technology, Education, and Organizational Change Management. His education includes BSBA (Information Systems), an MBA (Technology Management), and an EdS (Education Technology). He recently worked in the UW Finance Transformation Technology Pillar as Sr Organizational Change Management Lead where he and his team worked closely with UW IT leadership and management to help technologists and Finance personnel adopt new finance systems. As a cofounder of Hatpin Revolution, he is dedicated to enhancing leadership and change capabilities within educational, governmental, and private sectors. 

With a passionate commitment to fostering inclusive environments, he has developed comprehensive programs aimed at advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion among managers. His initiatives are designed to equip leaders with the tools necessary to embrace and champion diversity within their organizations, ensuring a more equitable and inclusive culture. His extensive experience allows me to speak authoritatively on leadership, technology, science, education, neurodiversity, and change management, making me a valued resource and advocate for transformative organizational practices. 

Michelle Purnell-Hepburn

Michelle Purnell-Hepburn serves is the Associate Dean of Inclusion & Diversity at the UW Foster School of Business. Prior to this she held the following positions:

1. Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Director and Managing Director, Controller at
the Seattle Foundation;
2. Vice-President/Controller of Salal Credit Union;
3. SVP/Chief Financial Officer at Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union; and,
4. Vice-President of Finance at Group Health Credit Union.

Ms. Purnell-Hepburn earned:

  • Bachelor of Arts – Finance and Business Economics, UW Foster School
  • Masters of Business Administration – Finance and Accounting, from the UW Foster School
  • Credit Union Management Degree – Pomona College
  • Certified Credit Union Executive degree – UP Wharton School, Johnson School at Cornell, and UV Darden.

Fun facts:

  • Born in Seattle
  • Very happily married, two stepsons, and a goddaughter
  • A vocalist and a student of hula

Rickey Hall

Rickey Hall was appointed as the eighth vice president for minority affairs and diversity and the university diversity officer at the University of Washington effective Aug. 1, 2016.

Hall leads the university’s equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging efforts, and plays a key role in advancing institutional excellence. He has oversight of the UW Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity (OMA&D) which administers programs that broaden college access, support student success and enhance diversity-related teaching and learning across campus. As the university diversity officer, Hall also works collaboratively with and serves as a resource for the UW campuses, colleges and administrative units as they establish, coordinate and assess their contributions to institutional diversity goals.

Hall has over 25 years of experience in higher education and is involved with a number of national organizations including the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education and a trustee on the ACPA College Student Educators International Foundation board.

Hall came to the UW after serving as the inaugural vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville for three years. Prior to that role, he served for six years as the assistant vice president for equity and diversity at the University of Minnesota.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in American studies and a master’s degree in higher education, both from the University of Iowa.

Maya Smith

Maya Angela Smith is the inaugural Associate Dean for Equity, Justice, and Inclusion in the College of Arts and Sciences and an Associate Professor of French at the University of Washington. Her scholarship broadly focuses on the intersection of racial and linguistic identity formations among marginalized groups in the African diaspora, particularly in the postcolonial Francophone world. 

Elavie Ndura

Elavie Ndura serves as Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion and holds faculty rank of professor of education with tenure. Her leadership focus is to collaborate with campus and community partners to foster a learning and working environment where all students and employees feel safe and welcomed so that they can bring their authentic best selves to campus and thrive in realizing their academic and professional dreams.

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