posted on Wednesday, August 15, 2018 in Blog

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The University of Northern Iowa, the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber and several area agencies will present “Engage, Empower, Act: A Cedar Valley Conference on Economic Inclusion” from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday, October 12, 2018, at the Diamond Event Center in Cedar Falls.

“Engage, Empower, Act” will foster a day of crucial conversations on creating an inclusive community in the Cedar Valley. The conference will focus on best inclusion practices in business, community, and K-12 and higher education. Featured are a keynote speaker and several breakout sessions. For the past several years, the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber has hosted an annual Economic Inclusion Summit. Last year, UNI hosted its first Engage, Empower, Act Diversity Conference. However, this year, the two organizations are partnering to host one conference focused on economic inclusion both in education and industry.

“Economic Inclusion includes everyone. That’s why we are leading a collaborative to host a Cedar Valley Conference on Economic Inclusion that welcomes attendees from education, business and the community. Everyone is welcome,” explains Jean Trainor, chair of the Alliance & Chamber's Economic Inclusion Council.

“Last year, we saw people coming in with a thirst for more information about putting diversity and inclusion’s best practices into play within their organizations. It was so gratifying for all of us to be able to share knowledge and work on real-time workplace situations,” said Gwenne Berry of UNI’s 2017 conference. Berry is assistant to the president and chief diversity officer at UNI. “We are truly looking forward to bringing together our efforts with GCVA and serving our community in this crucially important area.”

The conference keynote is Dr. Nika White, author of “The Intentional Inclusionist,” a book inspired by philosophies of leadership and inclusion, containing principles to help individuals become more intentional in how diversity and inclusion is understood and practiced at the individual level.


Dr. White serves as the senior advisor to the Greenville, South Carolina, Chamber's Diversity and Inclusion initiatives and is responsible for creating and collaboratively implementing an overarching diversity strategy for the Greenville Chamber as an extension of the executive team. Since taking on the position, Dr. White has helped the Greenville Chamber gain the recognition of the Organization of the Year from the Minority of Economic Development Institute, 2014 Excellence in Diversity Award Recipient presented by Greenville Society of Human Resources Management (GSHRM) and a national platform as a leader in the space of diversity inclusion recognized by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. Dr. White is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Institute of Organization Management (IOM), is a certified trainer with National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) and is a Certified Diversity Executive (CDE) through the Institute for Diversity Certification (IDC).

The conference is open to community leaders, human resources professionals, recruiters, educators and those interested in developing inclusion strategies for the Cedar Valley. This event will foster the exchange of new ideas and approaches for meaningful and impactful diversity and inclusion.

Companies sponsoring the conference include University of Iowa Community Credit Union as the Premier Sponsor; Diamond Event Center, Table 1912, and Veridian Credit Union as Platinum Sponsors; Cedar Valley Nonprofit Association, Courier Communications, Covenant Medical Center, CUNA Mutual and KWWL as Gold Sponsors; and the Cedar Falls Human Rights Commission, Community Bank & Trust, SHRM and Viking Pump as Inclusion Partners. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.

The following organizations are collaborating to plan the conference: the Cedar Falls Human Rights Commission, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, IowaWORKS of Waterloo, Infiniti Enterprises, Legacy Branding and Events, University of Northern Iowa, UNI Center for Violence Prevention and the Waterloo Commission on Human Rights.

Registration for the conference opens mid-August via the UNI Diversity Matters website at and is free to the public. Organizations and individuals that cannot attend are encouraged to download information from the conference tool kit, available October 10, 2018. For more information, call 319-883-0219 or visit