On Thursday, November 2nd, join the DAIP community at Hope Events on Main in Pawtucket to celebrate our 2023 Leadership in Diversity & Inclusion Award winners. Each year, this celebration provides a chance to honor exceptional leaders and engage our community in thought-provoking conversations.
This year, we’re considering the fuel that keeps us going. If our passion for this work is represented by a flame, we’re asking each of you to consider—what fans the flame for you? What inspires you to keep going? How do you protect your own well-being, and stand in solidarity with those around you? How can you sustain this flame so it’s strong and steady, yet not too hot?
In recent years, social justice movements have inspired many to embrace DEIJ—only to see this passion flicker and fade quickly. Many of us have even experienced burnout first-hand. Statistically, the average tenure of DEI professionals is 1.8 years, which is roughly one third the length of other executives.
This is unsustainable. This work is hard, and it cannot fall on just one individual or a small group within an organization.
This conversation is a call-to-action for all of us to fan the flame, regardless of our job title and sector, and whether we’re in a DEIJ or HR role, at a community organization, in academia, etc.
For its long history of supporting organizations and events that recognize, celebrate, and empower diversity and inspire a sense of belonging. For investing time and energy in the aftermath of the pandemic to reconnect employees to the organization’s mission—and one another—through a series of initiatives focused on embracing and celebrating employees and improving organizational communication and connection. For expanding investments in DEI initiatives across the organization internally, as well as externally by investing in events and projects of community nonprofit partners.
For her dedication to health equity and creating access for vulnerable communities. For being a connector of people and resources through the Health Equity Institute. For bringing people to the table where there are gaps, and connecting groups to expand conversations. For being willing to sit with issues, discuss concerns face-to-face, and seek resolutions. For making space for all people to create, fail, and create again—which leads to progress. For her vulnerability and transparency. For bringing people together and always cheering on her peers.
For always representing the voices of the vulnerable—whether at BCBSRI, when testifying at the State House, or out in the community. For her ability to create a safe haven for expressing difficult views and feelings. For championing differences and making astute decisions regarding philanthropic efforts. For her work on campaigns and programs in support of at-risk demographics—often in partnership with community partners and nonprofits. For her advocacy for under – or uninsured Rhode Islanders. For her championship of DEIB principles both inside and outside BCBSRI.
Moderated by Kevin Matta, the panel will include leaders from a variety of industries and perspectives to explore what goes into creating a workplace where all employees are set up to thrive, and to consider topics such as:
This program has been submitted for HRCI and SHRM CE credits.
Our annual event is a great time to join the businesses and organizations already supporting DAIP as sponsors—including Lifespan, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Coastal1 Credit Union, Gilbane Building Company, Roger Williams University School of Law, and many other organizations invested in advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice–in supporting our mission-driven work to drive change across Rhode Island.
Sponsoring DAIP’s work allows your organization to help shape the future of DEIJ work in Rhode Island—and can help you meet your DEIJ goals. We’d love to hear your ideas about the programs and professional development opportunities that you’d like for DAPI to offer.
Kevin Matta (he/ him) brings an extensive understanding and focused attention to the areas of diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging. Working closely with clients and the community, Kevin listens deeply and with empathy to fully understand their challenges and needs. Applying his insights and experiences, Kevin works in partnership to help shape the journey to raise awareness, expand connectedness, and strengthen inclusive practices. He also brings a sharp focus on client success and human engagement with his brilliant ability to make connections.
A strategic differentiator who is comfortable challenging the status quo, Kevin brings both passion and experience to his role. Bilingual in Spanish-English, he has worked in the non-profit, healthcare, financial services, small business, and within academia. He has a transformative effect on the numerous non-profit organizations he supports through his volunteer work including serving as Director of Operations for RI SHRM, serving on the board for the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, serving on Trinity Repertory Company’s Board of Trustees, and leading DAIP’s Board of Directors as President.
Kevin is a native Rhode Islander and known for his kindness. You’ll find him happily walking his rescue dog, Chloe, in Providence.
Adama Brown, PhD (she/her) As Director of Research & Data Analytics at United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI), Adama oversees UWRI’s research and data analytics activities, as well as the learning, evaluation and impact of UWRI programs and investments, and works with academic and community research partners to identify and undertake research to inform UWRI’s community investment and policy strategies.
At United Way, Adama is particularly interested in the ways that data and narrative inform philanthropic work and can act as a catalyst for change. Adama and her team utilize quantitative and qualitative approaches to better understand and reimagine UWRI’s impact, examine UWRI primary data sources, as well as information and referral data that serve as an indicator of community needs in Rhode Island. Adama also plays a key role in UWRI’s justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion work by curating UWRI’s annual Equity Challenge, and as a member of UWRI’s culture, equity, and strengths committee.
Adama is a sociologist by training and earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin and a PhD in sociology from Iowa State University with an emphasis in mental health, research methods, statistics, and social policy. She also earned an MDiv from Iliff School of Theology with a specialization in pastoral counseling and spiritual care, currently serving as a clergyperson in the New England Annual Conference (NEAC) of the United Methodist Church.
Adama is also a sixth generation Texan who is passionate about genealogy, jazz, and intersectional justice.
Gregory Brunson (He/him/his) is Diversity Outreach Coordinator for the Memory and Aging Program at Butler Hospital. He received his bachelor’s degree from The University of Rhode Island in Communication Studies and has acquired a Diversity and Inclusion certificate from both Cornell and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. Gregory has over 10 years of experience in business development.
In his role as Diversity Outreach Coordinator at Butler Hospital, Gregory collaborates with clinical site staff, as well as the communications and marketing teams, to enhance participation and engagement from traditionally underrepresented communities, and to raise awareness of the program and its mission.
He is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with national and regional organizations to build bridges to underrepresented racial, ethnic and geographical groups in the United States and establishing best practices for the Memory and Aging Program’s clinical and observational research trials.
Adama is a dedicated research leader with success defining scope, implementing QA strategies, ensuring compliance, adhering to strict deadlines, and utilizing key technological tools to optimize operations.
Orlena Cowan-Bailey, SPHR, SHRM-SCP (she/her) is an award-winning senior leader, speaker, influencer, DEI and culture consultant, a.k.a your favorite “Workplace Superhero.” She is the founder and CEO of HR Zoom Consulting LLC (www.gohrzoom.com and www.HRSwagShop.com), where she’s able to maximize her passion, innovation and expertise to positively impact workplace cultures, strategy and business results.
Orlena is a multi-faceted culture architect with experience in various industries in the public and private sector, across multiple U.S. regions and Fortune 100 companies. She demonstrates expertise in employee relations, talent management & development, diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging (DEIB), training, corporate communications, event & program management, leadership coaching & development. She currently serves as the Executive Director of CT Human Resources Council (CTSHRM), a non-profit and regional affiliate of SHRM.
Fueled by her own experiences in overcoming adversity, Mrs. Cowan-Bailey is a life-long stakeholder, advocate and change agent advancing social justice, equity and cultural competence in the community and behind corporate walls. She’s on a mission to elevate workplaces and talent one culture at a time. Out of the many crowns she wears, her most important roles include being a wife to her loving husband and mom to two beautiful children.