Impact leaders gather for DEI workshop

Impact leaders gather for DEI workshop

By Erin Lippert, Student Reporter

On February 24, 2020, the Baumhart Center hosted its final Impact Leaders gathering for the inaugural cohort. This exclusive four-part series brought together young professionals in the Chicagoland area to engage in workshops and panels focused on themes such as impact investing, education, and diversity.

The final session was centered on leading for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Tanja Coleman, President of Reimagine Organizational Development, moderated a panel featuring Lincoln Chandler, Founder and President of Chandler Decision Services, and Baumhart Scholars Erica Loper and Daniel Cervantes. Loper is a Manager of Operations Analytics at Hyatt Hotels Corporation, and Cervantes is the Senior Vice President of Programs at Skills for Chicagoland’s Future.

The panelists shared how they got involved with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), the trends they are seeing, and the challenges that still need to be overcome.

For Erica Loper, she was often the only person of color when she entered the corporate world. Out of a desire to create a more diverse workplace, Erica reached out to her HR department to see what they were doing to address DEI. Knowing more could be done, Loper began to support recruiting efforts at HBCUs. As she moves through her career, Loper believes that DEI is no longer a “buzzword,” but she is seeing “actual action and progress.” However, even with changes in behavior and mindset, Loper finds she is still “constantly making a business case for DEI.”

From a workforce development perspective in working directly with the private sector to place folks in promising jobs, Daniel Cervantes sees challenges in making sure resources are being allocated for DEI efforts. “There is an increase in self-realization that DEI is separate from HR. Now there needs to be leaders to dedicate themselves to that space.”

In his work, Lincoln Chandler finds himself at the interconnection of data and strategy. He understands from a data perspective the value that DEI brings, but the “data can tell you what to do, but you need the right mindset to make real change…We come to the table with good intentions, but we don’t always understand each other’s reality. The status quo is great for a lot of people.”

Viewing the status quo as a block of ice, Tanja Coleman had a call to action for the Impact Leaders. “If we all chip away at the ice block, it’ll go away. We can all make a difference together as empowered individuals.”

2019-2020 sessions of the inaugural Impact Leader Series included the following speakers and topics:

Impact Investing and ESG

  • Presentation on ESG frameworks by Bill Schleizer, CEO of the Delta Institute
  • Panel moderated by Laura Coy, Director of Philanthropy Strategy at William Blair, and featured panelists Dan Nielsen, Managing Director at Great Lakes Advisors, and Baumhart Scholars Greg Schmidt, Second Vice President at Northern Trust, and Charity Driggs, Associate Program Manager in ESG at Morningstar

Managing for Impact

  • Workshop led by Chris Wu, Associate, Impact Engine and Judy Li, Senior Associate, Energy Foundry
  • Panel moderated by Dorri McWhorter, CEO of the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, and featured panelists Bill Schleizer, CEO of the Delta Institute, and Baumhart Scholars Annie Weinheimer, Engagement Manager at Ryan Specialty Group, Adam Shafer, Business Development Associate at Buzzispace, and Mignon Senuta, Manager of Global Communications Strategy and Campaigns at McDonald’s

Driving Impact in Education

  • Presentation on current progress and challenges for Chicago Public Schools by La Tanya McDade, Chief Education Officer for Chicago Public Schools
  • Panel moderated by Eli Cole, founder of Aim & Arrow, and featured panelists La Tanya McDade, and Baumhart Scholars Jennifer Hodges, Director of the Whole Child Fund at KIPP Chicago, and Brian Barasch, Director of Marketing & Communications at Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School