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Advancing Diversity Gathering

Advancing Diversity Gathering

January 10, 2024

9:00AM - 5:00PM EST

Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center

LiveStream and In-Person

Registration Open Now

2024 Keynote Speaker

Sumun Pendakur

Sumun Pendakur Keynote Speaker for the 2024 Advancing Diversity Gathering

Dr. Sumun L. Pendakur

Senior Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategist | Consultant, Speaker, and Trainer | Founder, Sumun Pendakur Consulting

Dr. Sumun L. Pendakur is a seasoned, national expert and sought-after speaker on diversity, equity, and inclusion, who believes that we have infinite capability to imagine and enact a more just, equitable, and compassionate world. She has served as a thought partner, capacity-building trainer, and speaker for over 250 higher education institutions, associations, non-profits, and corporations. Sumi's research and work over the last two decades, both in student affairs and as a chief diversity officer, focus on helping organizations build capacity for social justice and racial equity by empowering individuals at all levels to be transformational agents of change in their spheres of influence.

A graduate of Northwestern University with majors in Women’s Studies and History and a minor in Spanish, Sumi also holds an M.A. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Michigan. She earned her doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from the USC Rossier School of Education where she received the Dissertation of the Year award for her study on institutional change agents.

Sumi recently completed her second term on the Board of Directors for NADOHE, the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. In 2019, she was named one of the top 35 women in higher education by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine. Sumi is the multilingual daughter of immigrants, was raised in the Midwest, and now calls Los Angeles her home. She is the wife of actor Sunil Malhotra, and proud mommy to Shashi Veer and Shama Shakti.

2024 Schedule

Date (EST) Description Location
9:00am -
Welcome : Dr. Menah Pratt and Provost Cyril Clarke
Keynote with Dr. Sumun Pendakur | DEI Strategist | Consultant 
Latham Ballroom A/B/C
The Significance of the AANAPISI Designation at Virginia Tech   
Nina Ha, Director of the APIDA+ Center and Melisssa Faircloth, Director of the Ati:Wa:oki Indigenous Community Center
Latham Ballroom A/B/C
Lunch on your own  
2:00pm -
Advancing Diversity Through the Arts
Jon Catherwood-Ginn, Associate Director of Programming, Moss Arts Center 
In Person Only                
Latham Ballroom A
Recommended Audience: All are welcome
2:00pm -
Constructive Dialogue in the Workplace
Kourtney Bradshaw-Clay, Director of Partnerships, Constructive Dialogue Institute 
Assembly Hall                   Recommended Audience: Everyone
2:00pm -
Experiences, Barriers, and Challenges for Engaging International Students in STEM
Jingrong Pearl Xie, Director of Universal Design for Learning & Accessibility Services at TLOS 
In Person Only
Recommended Audience: Faculty, AP Faculty, GTAs
2:00pm -
Muslim Ally Training
Led by Colleagues from the Islamic Center at New York University
VirtualOnly                                                  Recommended Audience: Everyone
2:00pm -
Small Changes, Big Consequences: Allies Working to Create Inclusive Work Environments
Jennifer Hart, Brett Shadle, Mark Barrow, Professors and Current/Former Department Chairs of the History Department
In Person Only   
Latham Ballroom B                Recommended Audience: Faculty, AP Faculty, Staff
2:00pm -
Uncovering Our Beliefs and Intentions for Inclusive Teaching 
Roel Snieder, W.M. Keck Distinguished Professor of Professional Development Education,
Colorado School of Mines 
Qin Zhu, Associate Professor of Engineering Education 
Latham Ballroom C   
Recommended Audience: Student-facing
3:30pm-5:00pm Academic Allies for Inclusive Excellence – Mentoring for an Inclusive Academy
Rachel Gabriele, Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs
Barbara Lockee, Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs 
Latham Ballroom C
Recommended Audience: AAIE cohort, prior WATL cohorts, senior faculty and academic department chairs
3:30pm-5:00pm Standing Up to Antisemitism: A Workshop for Higher Education Leaders
Lisa Armony, Executive Director, Campus Climate Initiative, Hillel International
In Person Only
Latham Ballroom B                   Recommended Audience: Student-facing faculty and staff
3:30pm-5:00pm Sustaining Ourselves, Opening Our Advocacy: The Community Resiliency Model’s Shareable Language and Tools on VT Campus
Erica Berry Coates, LCSW and Charlotte Amenkhienan, PhD, LPC, Cook Counselling Center 
Assembly Hall 
Recommended Audience: Anyone on campus

For questions, please contact Jeneen Preston at

Advancing Diversity Gathering Menah Pratt Ellington Graves Erica Cooper Tara J. Yosso Michele Deramo


Please join the Office for Inclusion & Diversity as we gather to discuss the issues facing our community and celebrate exemplary diversity, equity, and inclusion practices occurring across campus.

We look forward to welcoming you!