2023 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Conference

New York Times Best Seller author Michelle Zauner, lead vocalist for the band Japanese Breakfast, will be this year’s keynote speaker at Webster University’s 8th annual Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Conference. She will be interviewed by Michelle Li, the news anchor from KSDK 5 On Your Side and recipient of last year’s Game Changer of the Year Award.

Other guests who will speak during this year’s conference include Lion Forge Executive Producer Carl Reed, KMOX News Anchor Carol Daniel, Missouri Commission on Human Rights Executive Director Alisa Warren, St. Louis Public Schools Former Superintendent Kelvin Adams, and many more.

The 8th Annual Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Conference is themed “Next-Level Equity Work in a Time of Transition.” It will be held Feb. 27-March 1, 2023 on the University's main campus in St. Louis. Zauner’s appearance will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 in Webster University’s Loretto-Hilton Center for the performing arts. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required as seating is limited.

Zauner is best known as a singer and guitarist who creates dreamy, shoegaze-inspired indie pop under the name Japanese Breakfast. She has won acclaim from major music outlets around the world for releases like “Psychopomp” (2016) and “Soft Sounds from Another Planet” (2017). Her most recent album, “Jubilee” (2021), earned two GRAMMY nominations for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album.  

Her first book, “Crying in H Mart,” is an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity. It was a New York Times Best Seller for 60 weeks and is currently being adapted for the screen for MGM’s Orion Pictures. Last year, the New York Times listed her on their annual “100 most influential people in the world” list under the “innovators” category.

The 2023 DEI Conference topics include gun violence and trauma healing, immigrant neighbors, gender and sexual identity, equity in education, neurodiversity, accessibility and diverse workforce development.

Details and Schedule:

WHAT:          Webster University 2023 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Conference

Featured keynote guest Michelle Zauner, bestselling author and lead vocalist for Japanese Breakfast


WHEN:          Monday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.


WHERE:       Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, St. Louis, MO 63119

NOTE: Attendance is free, registration is required. To register for the keynote address or any other session, click here. All sessions will also be live-streamed.

Tuesday, Feb. 28 Schedule:

9 a.m. – 10 a.m. Gender & Sexuality, Understanding and Allyship
Ben Greene, transgender inclusion consultant and educator

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Trans in the Workplace & School, Best Practices & Belonging                                                  Featuring Alisa Warren, PhD, executive director of the Missouri Commission on Human Rights; Sonji Young, Global vice president, DEI Armstrong Teasdale, and Hayden Molinarolo, videographer/creative specialist, Webster University

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.  Best Practices in a Neurodiverse World: Tools to Support Neurodivergent Minds
Josette Bradford, PhD, director; Emily Stroble, student access coordinator, and LaToya Griffin, academic ADA coordinator – Reeg Academic Resource Center, Webster University

2 p.m. – 3 p.m.  What it Means to be Seen: Representation in Children's Animation                                                            

Moderator Aja Williams, vice president and chief content officer, Nine PBS Featuring Elaine Cha, host and producer of St. Louis on Air, St. Louis Public Radio, and volunteer community advisory member, Drawn In; Alex Stallings, senior director of early learning, Nine PBS; Arionna Ralleigh, EdD, curriculum design manager, Nine PBS; Kate Midgett, vice president of organizational excellence (DEI) - Nine PBS;  Carl Reed, executive producer, Lion Forge; David Gorden, writer, Drawing in Comic Books; Lisa Greening, project director, Turn the Page

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Public Education: Breaking the Wheel
Stephanie Mahfood, interim dean, Webster University School of Education


Wednesday, March 1 Schedule:

9 a.m. – 10 a.m. The Ripple Effect: Guns Violence, Community Trauma & Healing                                    Featuring Dr. Steven Player, vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, BJC HealthCare; Kelvin Adams, PhD, former superintendent St. Louis Public Schools; James Clark, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis vice president of the Division of Public Safety and Community Response; and Dr. LJ Punch, executive and medical director of The T.

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Balm:  Community Healing as a Pathway to Liberation                                           Featuring Rebeccah Bennett, founder & principal, Emerging Wisdom LLC and InPower Institute; Sandra Moore, managing director and chief impact officer, Advantage Capital

1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Coming to America
Nisha Ray Chaudhuri, PhD, assistant professor, Webster University George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology; Sonette Magnus, litigator and business advisor, Thompson Coburn LLP; Igho Ekakitie, founder, igowithIGHO

2 p.m. – 3 p.m.  Envisioning Equitable & Sustainable Housing                                                                       Moderator Carol Daniel, KMOX news anchor. Featuring Neal Richardson, president & CEO, St. Louis Development Corporation; Michael McMillan, president & CEO, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Diverse Workforce Development in Action
Simone Cummings, dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology. Featuring Desiree Coleman-Fry, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Ebony Jones, director and inclusion & diversity lead, Accenture Federal Services; Ashley Storman, EdD, manager of diversity, equity and inclusion, New Honor Society


Wednesday, March 1, 2023 at 9:00am to 4:30pm

Webster University
470 East Lockwood, 63119

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This event requires registration.