SSU Hosts Sold-Out Equity Summit

March 18, 2024
Man at podium

The Municipal Management Association of Northern California (MMANC) hosted its Inaugural Equity Summit in the SSU Ballroom on Friday, March 15 with the goal of supporting conversations and advancing strategies for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion within local government leadership. 

"Sonoma State is where you foster education and lifelong learning, so it could not be more appropriate for us to do that here. Having a summit like this brings us together, and that message is very powerful," said Marcela Piedra, city manager of Rohnert Park, who was one of the opening speakers.

SSU's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Political Science Department, and SSU's Police Department were co-sponsors, along with other local organizations, encouraging students, faculty, and staff to attend for professional development and inspiring those interested in community and government work. 

Additional welcoming speakers at the summit were SSU President Mike Lee, MMANC President Justin Lovell, and the opening keynote speaker – john a. powell, Director of the Othering and Belonging Institute and Professor of Law, African American, and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. 

"I am very pleased MMANC chose Sonoma State University to begin this important conversation within an institute of higher learning. We not only have the ability to help solve some of these thorny issues, but as a public university, we have the responsibility to do just that," President Lee said in his welcome speech.

The sold-out full-day event included a panel focused on equity and numerous breakout sessions providing actionable approaches, advice, and discussion on increasing inclusivity and diversity, as well as the importance of representation in teams, partnerships, and organizations. 

Powell said gathering at events like the Equity Summit creates a shared experience by bringing people together. Despite the fact there are different ways of supporting diversity, it is here to stay, he said.

"I think people have different approaches to growing diversity; some people are afraid, some are excited, and some don't even notice. But diversity is a reality. It is a fact, and it is going to increase in parts of our country, our schools, and our corporations. We could do it poorly, or we could do it well," powell said.

 - Krista Sherer, SSU Strategic Communications 


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Janet Durkin