Professional Staff Organization

2023 DEI Forum

Inspiring Belonging and Creating Community

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Forum, April 19-20, 2023


This event has passed; check back for resources! The purpose of this regular forum is to create an intersectional space for those interested in advocating for equity to come together to share ideas, network, and build coalitions to advance anti-racism and social justice efforts across UW and beyond. This includes intersecting aspects of identity such as race, ability, age, gender, sexual orientation, language, socioeconomic status, and religion.

This year, the DEI Forum theme was “Inspiring Belonging and Creating Community”. Pat Wadors, the CHRO of ServiceNow, is credited with adding “belonging” to the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) space. As she says, “D&I may capture your head, but belonging captures your heart.” In this spirit, the DEI Forum intends to create an inclusive space of belonging, and to provide resources, ideas, and connections so that we as a UW community can support each other in building and sustaining inclusive spaces of belonging in our communities, at UW and beyond.

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

Details of the 2023 DEI Forum:

  • When: April 19, 12-4pm; and April 20, 9am-1pm
  • Where: Zoom

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 19, 2023

12:00-12:05pm. Settling Into the Space

Welcome, check-in, how we got here, and where we hope to go.

Speaker: DEI Forum Planning Group

12:05-12:10pm. Land Acknowledgment

12:05-12:10pm. Introduction of Rickey Hall

12:10-12:15pm. Introduction

Speaker: Rickey Hall, Vice President for Minority Affairs & Diversity, University Diversity Officer

12:15-1pm. Panel: DEI Across Campuses

A chance to hear from DEI leadership across the Bothell, Seattle, and Tacoma campuses about what work has been done, and what has yet to be done.


  • Rickey Hall, Vice President for Minority Affairs & Diversity, University Diversity Officer
  • Ujima Sands, Assistant Vice President & Inclusion Strategist, Total Talent Management – Human Resources
  • Caroline Titan, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Bothell Campus
  • Elavie Ndura, Vice Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion, Tacoma Campus

1:00-1:05pm BREAK

1:05-1:45pm. Workshop: Cultivating LGBTQ+ Belonging on Campus

This session will focus on tangible strategies people can implement in their daily lives to better support LGBTQ+ community members. We will begin with foundational terms and concepts to ground our understanding. Then, we will identify major issues impacting belonging for queer and/or gender expansive students, faculty, and staff. We will close with actionable steps that participants can integrate in everyday interactions in order to become better, visible allies.

Workshop Lead:

  • Val Schweigert (she/they/siya), Interim Director & Associate Director at the Q Center
1:45-1:50pm BREAK

1:50-2:30pm. Workshop: Gendered Experiences of Women in Government: The Case of City Managers in the U.S.

Creating the space for inclusion and engagement should be an intentional effort by design.

Inclusion efforts are most important for groups that have historically existed on the margins.

To this effect, leaders play pivotal roles in designing and implementing inclusion and engagement efforts within organizations. Bishu’s work shades light on vital roles played by male city managers in facilitating inclusion and engagement opportunities that open leadership career paths for women in municipal governments in the U.S.

Workshop Lead:

  • Sebawit (Seba) Bishu, Assistant Professor of Public Management at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance
2:30-2:35pm BREAK

2:35-3:15pm. Workshop: Building Inclusive Spaces

Like a successful orchestra, building and sustaining inclusive spaces requires individual, group, and institutional action. The components of success are education, training, practice, critical observation, courage, candor, and humility. This session shall cover what can work, what should be avoided, and how we can collectively bring about an environment steeped in belonging.

Workshop Lead:

  • William Covington, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, School of Law, Director, Technology Law & Public Policy Clinic’

3:15-3:45pm. Panel: Disabled Community: Creating belonging through new collaboration norms

After the workshop on Disability Allyship at last year’s PSO DEI forum, a group of staff and faculty came together to work towards establishing a Disability Affinity Group at UW. Group members intentionally developed new collaboration norms and practices to support their multiple disabilities and intersectional identities. Learn more about these new norms and how they created a sense of belonging for group members. 

Speaker: Disability Affinity Group

3:45-4:00pm. Day One Wrap-Up

Speaker: DEI Forum Planning Group

April 20, 2023

9:00-9:30am. Day Two Opening: Settling Into the Space

Welcome, Mindfulness Activity

Speaker: Whole U

9:30-9:50am. Breakout Groups: Reflect on yesterday

Activity: Intersectionality Wheel of Privilege

Speaker: DEI Forum Planning Group

9:50-9:55am BREAK

9:55-10:35am. Workshop: Getting to belonging

What does it really take to nurture belonging on our teams? In this session, we will examine what belonging is and is not. We will also explore the concrete actions that nurture inclusion, instill trust, and  work to create environments and teams where colleagues truly feel they belong.

Speaker: Leilani Lewis, Assistant Director for Diversity, Communications and Outreach

10:35-10:40am BREAK

10:40-11:20am. Workshop: UW Sisterhood Initiative: A Year in the Life

Speaker: Rashida Love, Director of the Sisterhood Initiative

The UW Sisterhood Initiative is completing its first year with cohort 1. Come learn about how this innovative program came to be and what the staff has learned about inspiring belonging and creating community among women of color undergraduates on the Seattle Campus.

11:20-11:25am BREAK

11:25am-12:10pm. Workshop: Wellness and Anti Racism – One School's Journey

A discussion surrounding the ability to increase a sense of belonging through affinity group organizing and somatic wellness anti-racist practices. Through these efforts, we can build a safer community space and redefine wellness in pursuit of belonging.

Speaker: Victoria Gardner (she/they/siya), Assistant Dean, School of Public Health

12:10-12:15pm BREAK

12:15-12:45pm. Breakout Groups

Speaker: DEI Forum Planning Group

12:45-1:00pm. Forum Closing

Reflections and next steps

Speaker: DEI Forum Planning Group


Speaker Bios

Rickey Hall

Rickey Hall is the Vice President for Minority Affairs & Diversity and University Diversity Officer at the University of Washington. Appointed in August of 2016, Hall oversees the university’s progress in diversity and works to ensure and facilitate an integrated vision and shared responsibility for diversity. 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. He 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.

Ujima Sands

Ujima Sands is the Assistant Vice President & Inclusion Strategist for Total Talent Management – Human Resources at the University of Washington, where she provides strategic direction and oversight for the DEI team. She also leads units across UWHR Total Talent Management, including Professional & Organizational Development, Recruiting and UTemp Staffing; facilitates leadership and DEI training; and performs coaching and consulting for executive leaders across the UW.

Caroline Titan

Caroline Titan serves as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Washington, Bothell. In her current role, Caroline provides strategic vision, implementation, and evaluation of campus-wide DEI effort.

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.

Val Schweigert

Val Schweigert is a proud queer, “mixed” Filipinx-American professional and social justice educator. She analyzes her lived reality through sociological frameworks and an intersectional feminist lens. Val has worked in higher education student affairs for the last 6 years. Her work aims to center, amplify, and empower voices from the margins. Her praxis embodies a love ethic of collective care, accountability, and dreams of liberatory futures. Val currently serves as the Associate Director of the Q Center, the 2SLGBTQIA+ resource centers for the University of Washington campus.

Sebawit G. Bishu

Sebawit G. Bishu is an Assistant Professor of Public Management at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her scholarly work explores race and gender relations in public organizations with a focus on leadership, street-level bureaucracy, identity, and organizational behavior.

William Covington

William Covington is Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the School of Law. A 1973 graduate of New York University he spent two years working in a Harlem-based juvenile justice diversion program. Following graduation (1977) from the University of Michigan School of Law, Dean Covington served as a staff attorney for Evergreen Legal Services assisting indigent clients with family law, landlord-tenant, and consumer protection problems. In 2003 Dean Covington joined the UW Law faculty as director of the Technology Law and Public Policy Clinic. During his time at the law school, Dean Covington chaired or co-chaired the Dean’s Advisory Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and coordinated the work of crafting the law school’s Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Multiculturalism and Antiracism. Beginning in the academic year of 2021, Dean Covington served full time in his current position.

Jon Swallows

Jon Sallows has been a DEI Committee Member for the Office of Research for two years and helped form the Disability and Staff Working Group as an ally. In addition, he’s an administrator in the Office of Sponsored Programs with several years of experience in closed captioning media, PDF accessibility, and staff advocacy. Jon is happy to be a resource for neurodiverse allyship for those interested in supporting and advocating for neurodiverse staff but may not self-identify as disabled or neurodiverse.

Christine Lew

Image Description: Asian American woman (Christine) with long brown hair smiling at the camera.

Christine Lew (she/her) is a disabled and neurodivergent-identifying CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) committed to breaking down barriers for Deaf/disabled people in education and employment, and creating inclusive, accessible spaces for all. A UW graduate in psychology and disability studies, she served for two years as director of the ASUW Student Disability Commission and served as the program operations manager at UW Disability Resources for Students.

Deborah Alterman

Deborah Alterman has been Director of Program Operations for the MS in Data Science program since it began in 2016. Her ADHD has helped her to create, strengthen and expand operational support for a highly successful professional master’s program created by 6 departments across 4 schools and colleges. Her ADHD also makes it hard for her to arrive at meetings on time, even if she is leading them.

Leilani Lewis

Leilani Lewis serves as Assistant Director for Diversity, Communications and Outreach at the University of Washington.

Rashida Love

Dr. Rashida Love was born and raised in California’s San Fernando Valley. After graduating high school, Dr. Love and her family relocated to Washington State, where she attended South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia. Dr. Love then transferred to The University of Southern Mississippi, where she completed her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Counseling Psychology. Over the course of the last 15 years, Rashida has worked in a variety of staff, administrative, and faculty roles within higher education at several colleges and universities around the country, most notably in senior leadership roles at Multicultural Offices at The Evergreen State College and University of Nevada Las Vegas.

In 2021, Rashida completed her doctoral degree in Higher Education Leadership from Colorado State University. Her doctoral dissertation: We Are Not The Same: The Experiences of Black Women Multicultural Directors at Predominantly White Institutions examined the experiences of Black Women Multicultural Directors at Predominantly White Universities, and reflected her ever-evolving commitment to centering the experiences and voices of women of color at predominantly white institutions. Rashida is passionate about supporting women of color in academic and professional spaces where they often experience intersectional oppression, and believes this journey starts with our students. As the Director of the Sisterhood Initiative, Rashida strives to build a community where women of color are uplifted, acknowledged, and celebrated for their authentic selves. She believes the University of Washington is made stronger and richer by the women of color who attend and work here, and is deeply proud to serve in this role.

Outside of work, Rashida is a devoted daughter, sister, and friend. She can be found enjoying live music, spending time with family and friends over a good meal, cuddling with her dog Kahbee, and sharing endless celebration, laughter, and conversation with the people she loves.

Victoria Gardner

Victoria Gardner Ed.D., M.Ed.,(she/they/siya pronouns) is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Health Systems and Population Health and the Assistant Dean of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the School of Public Health at the University of Washington.  She has been residing in Duwamish territory (Seattle) for 40 years after migrating from the Philippines in 1981.  In 2009, she received her Doctorate in Education with a focus on Workforce Development and Cultural Competency Education from the UW.  She utilizes her Education degree in combination with anti-oppression experience to develop workplace and academic programs that helps increase the health careers ecosystem for individuals from diverse backgrounds, retain faculty and staff of color, and help leaders around her to lead with anti-racism, humility and equity.  Most recently, she has delivered Universal Anti-Racism Training – a six hour virtual workshop – to over 1000 SPH faculty and staff.  Designed to meet school wide competency requirements around racism and health, UART is a large part of the work SPH is doing to become an anti-racist organization.

In Collaboration With

Professional Staff Organization


Whole U

If you have any questions, please email us at