Upcoming DEI Conference: Focusing on Next-Level Equity Work in a Time of Transition

Webster University’s 8th annual DEI Conference, themed Focusing on Next-Level Equity Work in a Time of Transition, will be held Feb. 27-March 1, 2023 on the University's main campus in St. Louis.

The conference aims to go far beyond typical DEI trainings and presentations to get to the heart of current issues, challenges and solutions relating to DEI today. This year's theme has been specifically designed to take a deep dive into the current global moment, explore timely pertinent issues as they evolve, and elevate tangible solutions for moving us all forward together.  

Webster University invites all to attend this international gathering of scholars, students, community members and other esteemed partners deeply committed to all things DEI. The conference will be livestreamed throughout its duration.

Early registration for the keynote session featuring musician and author Michelle Zauner is open. Registration for additional conference sessions will open in January. Topics include health and healing, immigrant and refugee neighbors, gender and sexual identity, education, neurodiversity, accessibility and diverse workforce development.


DEI 2023 keynote speaker Michelle Zauner

About Michelle Zauner

DEI 2023 keynote speaker Michelle Zauner

Our 2023 keynote speaker, Michelle Zauner, is best known as a singer and guitarist who creates dreamy, shoegaze-inspired indie pop under the name Japanese Breakfast. She has won acclaim from major music outlets around the world for releases like “Psychopomp (2016)” and “Soft Sounds from Another Planet (2017).” Her most recent album, “Jubilee (2021),” earned two Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album.  

Her first book, “Crying in H Mart,” an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean-American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity, is a New York Times Best Seller. Zauner is currently adapting the memoir for the screen for MGM’s Orion Pictures. 


Four light-skinned men sit on a stage, wearing: a blue suit and tie, a long orange robe with palm outstretched, a white and blue color-blocked sweater with gray slacks, and a brown jacket and tan pants with a blue yarmulke. Paul Stroble, Swami Nishpapananda, Elvir Mandzukic, and Rabbi Noah Arnow.
Rev. Traci Blackmon, an older medium-dark-skinned woman wearing a black jacket over a white shirt, stands behind a podium, hands gripping its sides.
A medium-dark-skinned woman wearing a light brown cardigan over black pants with a lanyard hanging around her neck stands holding a microphone with her other hand raised. Around her, people sit in chairs around tables.
Three young light-skinned people sit on a stage: a woman wearing a blue long-sleeved shirt with black pants, a woman in a light pink knee-length dress, and a man wearing black-framed glasses and an all-gray suit. Katie Fields, Katarina Ausley, and Garret Dohlke.
A large group of people of different age, gender, ethnicity, and race and all wearing face masks enter from the back of the brick meeting room with several people already seated around tables in the foreground.
Fireside chat with Olympian Laurie Hernandez
A younger light-skinned woman in all black faces and talks with a bald, older dark-skinned man wearing a yellow sweater. They sit at a round table covered with papers, drinks, and masks.
Five medium-dark-skinned women sit on the stage: one bald and wearing a long white and black herringbone cardigan over black top and pants; one talking, with straight green hair wearing a tan and black flannel dress over a white top who is talking; one with long dark braids wearing glasses and an orange jacket over black top and pants; one with long medium-dark braids wearing glasses and a jeans jacket over a red dress; and one with short black braids with light-tipped ends wearing glasses and a black jacket over purple shirt with “Be the Work” in bold white letters and black jeans. Rebeccah , Brittíni Gray, Rev. Gabrielle Kennedy, Adande Lane, and April Warren-Grice.
DJ Kaiser, a bald, light-skinned man with a dark brown goatee and glasses wearing a magenta jacket over a black shirt with a white bowtie, gestures with both arms bent and palms up.
A medium-light-skinned woman with long, straight brown hair wearing a black and tan lace top and a lanyard around her neck stands in front of a blue backdrop with Webster University logo on it and holds up a Red Card and the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Conference booklet.
Muthoni Musangali, a dark-skinned woman, stands at a podium. Behind her, a large screen reads Gender (In)Equity in the African Diaspora.
Vincent Flewellen, Chancellor Beth Stroble, President Julian Schuster

Please consider a donation to help fund Webster’s DEI efforts, including scholarships, programs such as our annual conference and other resources. In honor of Olympic Champion Laurie Hernandez’s visit to Webster and the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, consider donating to Webster's women's athletics.

Game Changer of the Year Michelle Li stands in front of podium talking excitedly with her hands with Chancellor Beth Stroble looking on

Making a Difference

Game Changer of the Year Michelle Li stands in front of podium talking excitedly with her hands with Chancellor Beth Stroble looking on

Webster University is an agent of change for our students, our community and for society. The DEI Conference is a key piece of that change strategy, and we’ve curated it with sessions from compelling thought leaders, interactive workshops and practical exercises that distinguish our conference as a bold and engaging departure from ineffective, boilerplate DEI trainings.

Past Conferences

Since 2016, the Webster University community has prioritized challenging misconceptions and developing positive and accurate stories for our students through in-depth discussions, dialogue sessions, and shared experiences at our annual Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Conference.

interviewer and Laurie Hernandez seated on stage in living room setting

2022 conference: Fireside Chat with Olympian Laurie Hernandez

President Julian Schuster and Chief Diversity Officer Vincent Llewellyn stand with four conference speakers.

2020 conference

Chancellor Beth Stroble hands Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee a globe-shaped award.

2019 conference: Webster University Chancellor Beth Stroble and guest speaker, Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

People from left to right: crouching with hands over eyes, covering mouth, on the floor with arms raised with one above them reaching down, in back of group holding self, and with arms crossed over upper arms.

2017 conference

Charlotte Clymer

Transgender activist and military veteran Charlotte Clymer was a speaker during the 2021 virtual Conference.

woman holding a plate dishing food from the buffet

2019 conference

five people sitting on stage, two in wheelchairs

2019 conference

Michael Brathwaite

Michael J. Brathwaite at the 2019 conference

Five women sitting on stage, the center person with a microphone

2018 conference

student in hijab shaking hands with a man in a suit

2016 conference

four actors on stage acting out a scene from a bus ride

2019 conference

Art Holliday seated on stage with the interviewer

Art Holliday at the 2017 conference

a person standing to ask questions from the audience

2018 conference

Michelle Li stands at the podium with Chancellor Beth Stroble in the background

2022 conference: Game Changer of the Year award presented to Michelle Li

attendee holding plate of food picking up information from a conference display table

2019 conference

woman in wheelchair speaking, three women sit next to her on stage

2016 conference

2022: Every Day Inclusion: Right Here, Right Now!

The Webster University's Seventh Annual Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Conference: Every Day Inclusion: Right Here, Right Now! was held both in person and online on March 1-2, 2022, on the Webster Groves campus in Missouri.

“What can we do?” It is a common question in response to the social inequities that persist in our communities. This year's conference delivered immediate, practical, and impactful ways to practice everyday inclusion as individuals and institutions. We know that community exists wherever we come together under a common purpose or mission. We see the workplace, classroom, board room, and civic life — as community.

  • Laurie Hernandez |Two-time Olympic Champion in Women's Gymnastics, Author, and Mental Health Advocate
  • Rabbi Noah Arnow | Rabbi | Kol Rinah
  • Katarina Ausley | Student | Webster University
  • Rebeccah Bennett | Founder & Principal | Emerging Wisdom LLC & InPower Institute
  • Traci Blackmon | Associate General Minister, Justice & Local Church Ministries |United Church of Christ
  • Kwofe Coleman | President and CEO | The Muny
  • Vanessa Cooksey | President and CEO | Regional Arts Commission
  • Garrett Dohlke | Student | Webster University
  • Katie Fields | College Outreach Coordinator | Starkloff Disability Institute
  • Anne Geraghty-Rathert | Professor | Webster University
  • Ben Greene | Transgender Inclusion Consultant and Educator
  • Art Holliday | News Director | 5 On Your Side
  • Kendra Holmes, Pharm. D., CHCEF | Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer | Affinia Healthcare
  • Kristin Johnson | Chief Human Resources Officer | Edward Jones
  • DJ Kaiser, Ph.D. | Professor and Director, Teaching English as a Second Language | Webster University
  • Michelle Li | Anchor | 5 On Your Side
  • Emma Lumpkins | Senior Director, DE&I | Schnuck Markets, Inc.
  • Elvir Mandzukic | Faculty Development Center | Webster University
  • Muthoni Musangali | Associate Professor | Webster University
  • Swami Nishpapananda | Assistant Minister | Vedanta Society of St Louis
  • Valerie E. Patton | Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer/President | Greater St. Louis, Inc./Greater St. Louis Foundation
  • Sekhar Prabhakar | CEO | CEdge
  • Paul Steger | Dean, Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts | Webster University
  • Paul Stroble, Ph.D | Professor | Webster University and Eden Theological Seminary
  • Sonji R. Young | Global Vice President Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI) | Armstrong Teasdale LLP

2021: Beyond Conversation: Driving Our Future

The 6th annual Diversity & Inclusion Conference was, for the first time, held virtually on Feb. 23-25, 2021.

The powerful and insightful conference featured nationally renowned speakers, lectures and panel discussions designed to share experiences, research and emerging trends.

Charlotte Clymer| Transgender Activist, Military Veteran

Patrisse Cullors |Co-founded the global Black Lives Matter movement in 2013

2020: From Conversation to Action

Our 5th annual Diversity & Inclusion Conference was free and open to the public on our Webster Groves campus, Feb. 24-27, 2020.

Diversity and inclusion are not only critical to our success, they are what constitute a strong and loving community. A diverse and inclusive community fosters unprecedented innovation, and also cultivates a community of understanding, a community of compassion, a community that stays vigilant in dismantling bigotry, and a community that rages against the death of tolerance and justice.

This powerful and insightful conference featured a keynote address, lectures, film screenings, panel discussions and demonstrations designed to share experiences, research and emerging trends.

Sam White Civic Entrepreneur & Advocate | @samwhiteout

Michele Norris |Peabody Award-winning Journalist & Founder of The Race Card Project | @michele_norris

Aisha Sultan |Syndicated Columnist & Independent Filmmaker | @AishaS

Shelly Tochluk |Witnessing Whiteness | @shellytochluck

five students standing in the reception area
Sam White
audience member standing to ask a question
President Schuster and Chief Diversity Office Vincent Flewellen sit on stage with four journalists from The St. Louis Business Journal
audience members talking
three participants observe a tea ceremony
Cillah Hall and P.J. Randawa
Shelly Tochluk
Group of Webster students sit on stage to discuss Africana Studies
seated audience members talking

2019: Expanding the Conversation

Our 4th annual Diversity & Inclusion Conference was free and open to the public on our Webster Groves campus, Feb. 26-28, 2019.

From Webster's inception, we have been an institution that opened worlds that were previously closed to students. Our student body has become increasingly diverse in every way. We are a microcosm of the world across the Webster campus network and within each campus.

This powerful and insightful conference featured a keynote address, lectures, panel discussions and a theatrical performance designed to share experiences, research and emerging trends.

Marilyn F. Booker| Managing Director & Head of Urban Markets Group, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Jackie Joyner-Kersee| Olympian; Founder & CEO, Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation

Neal Richardson |Head of Financial Education Strategy, U.S. Bank; Co-Founder & President, Dream Builders 4 Equity

2018: Elevating the Conversation

Our 3rd annual Diversity & Inclusion Conference was free and open to the public on our Webster Groves campus, Feb. 28 - March 1, 2018.

In prior conferences, we have focused panels and speakers on populations who have struggled to be included with equity and dignity. While this conference does explore the role of women and media, current issues with immigration and our keynote which focuses on racism, we have elevated the discourse in other sessions across many demographics. We want to examine hate speech, activism, the criminal justice system – even diversity of thought. We are also varying the format – giving everyone an opportunity to participate in a variety of ways, awakening habits and thought patterns we may not even know we have.

Dr. Donald Suggs |Publisher & Executive Editor of St. Louis American

2017: Critical Conversations

Our 2nd annual Diversity & Inclusion Conference was free and open to the public on our Webster Groves campus, March 1-2, 2017.

How can we make progress on this continuous path to equity? We can build on the knowledge we already hold, seeking to learn from and with each other. We can join with our neighbors to address the most pressing concerns from humanitarian and environmental perspectives.

We can learn from speakers at this forum what next steps are needed. We will maintain our focus—staying true to our core values—by continuing to learn, to create, to listen to each other, to seek the best in each other, and to want the best for each other.

Joan Lipkin| Artistic Director, That Uppity Theatre Company

Art Holliday |Broadcaster, KSDK NewsChannel 5

2016: Critical Conversations

Our inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Conference was free and open to the public on our Webster Groves campus, Feb. 29–March 1, 2016.

Keynote addresses, student panel discussions, and facilitated dialogue sessions will be planned to create opportunities for those present to share their experiences, research, and emerging trends in creating communities that embrace diversity in ways that welcome and include. The intention during these two days is to explore ways to move forward on the continuous path of equity, valuing the strength that comes from the diversity of the community.

Lee A. Gill | Chief Diversity Officer & Special Assistant to the President at Clemson University

Adis M. Vila | Senior Fellow for the Institute for Cross Cultural Management at Florida Institute of Technology

Julia Serano | Writer, Performer, Activist & Author

Tahil Sharma| Youth Representative for the Parliament of the World’s Religions to the United Nations

Photo of Tory Russell
Webster Speaks

“What I found through Ferguson, what I found through Michael Brown, is that I liked speaking into people. I like speaking power to people. I like waking people up.”

Photo of Tory Russell
Tory Russell

Mission Director of The International Black Freedom Alliance

Listen on Webster Speaks

Learn More

At Webster University, we embrace all human differences while building upon our commonalities as people. Read more about our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

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