Ibram X. Kendi headlining CCAC’s ‘Advancing Diversity at Community Colleges’ three-day seminar

Ibram X. Kendi

The New Pittsburgh Courier has learned that the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) will host “Advancing Diversity at Community Colleges: Constructing a CDO Playbook” on Sept. 22–24. The virtual diversity experience is designed specifically for Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs) at the nation’s community colleges, though anyone interested in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is invited to attend. Convener of the virtual institute will be Coopwood Diversity Leadership & Education Universal (Coop Di Leu).

CCAC Provost Dr. Stuart Blacklaw told the New Pittsburgh Courier in an exclusive interview that community colleges, at its core, always served those who were underserved, and it’s a no-brainer that CCAC would host such a forum.

“The idea came our way first,” Dr. Blacklaw said about Coop Di Leu approaching CCAC. The two entities were familiar to each other. “Dr. (Quintin) Bullock (CCAC President) thought that (the institute) was something we should be interested in, and so we started having talks.”

Dr. Blacklaw now anticipates 150-200 people will be attending the three-day virtual event, an event he had hoped could have been in-person for attendees. However, COVID cases surging in Allegheny County put that thought to rest for this year. The speakers and presenters will be in-person, at CCAC’s main campus, as they address the attendees.

Headlining the opening plenary session on Sept. 22, “Diversity and Social Justice,” will be author, professor and anti-racist activist Ibram X. Kendi. Director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, Kendi is one of the nation’s most prolific and accomplished young professors of race, writing for and speaking to both scholarly and general audiences. Other topics to be discussed on Sept. 22 include “Advancing Diversity for Special Student Populations” and “Critical Issues Facing Community Colleges.”

On Sept. 23, Dr. Angelica Perez-Johnston, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer for CCAC, will speak on “Advancing Diversity Leadership.”

On Sept. 24, Dr. Blacklaw will introduce Dr. DeRionne Pollard, president of Nevada State College, to speak on “The Role of the Chief Diversity Officer and the College President.”

Dr. Blacklaw told the Courier that while CCAC has employed a Chief Diversity Officer for years, Dr. Perez-Johnston is “reimagining” the position at the school. “It’s not an office on the side anymore,” Dr. Blacklaw said. “It’s actually interwoven into our brand new strategic plan. You will see that the equity mission is front-and-center that it hasn’t been before.”

Those wishing to attend can call 412-237-2222 (CCAC) for more information.



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