2016 ERG & Council Conference:
Educate - Engage - Empower!
Presenters & Featured Events
Three of the Featured Events from 2015 included Pillsbury Theatre's production "Breaking Ice", Maysoon Zayid and The Flame Band.
Breaking Ice is a customized professional theatre experience created for organizations and businesses that need help with difficult issues both interpersonal and institutional. Because every organization wrestles with communication – often based on misunderstanding or cultural differences. But you don't have to let those differences block your organization's ability to move forward and succeed.
Maysoon Zayid is an actress, professional standup comedian, and writer. She received a BA in Acting from Arizona State University and is the co-founder/co-executive producer of the New York Arab American Comedy Festival. Maysoon was a full-time She is a recurring columnist at The Daily Beast and was a speaker at TEDWomen 2013.
Maysoon's screenplay, LAW, was chosen for the Sundance Middle Eastern Screenwriters Lab. She was a delegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and named one of 21 leaders of the 21st century by Women's Enews. She is the founder of Maysoon's Kids, an education and wellness program for disabled and wounded refugee children. Maysoon was delighted to be a 2013 honoree of United Cerebral Palsy of NYC's Women Who Care Awards and currently sits on the planning committee.
The Flame Band
The Flame Band is a group of talented musicians from upstate New York who happen to have disabilities and is capturing the world’s attention. In 2003 the band, from Lexington – Fulton County Chapter, NYSARC, Inc. started changing the world through their music. Since then, requests to hire Flame have poured in from all over the world. They are a phenomenon that connects with people of all ages and backgrounds like no other, from singing children to dancing executives. Parents of children with special needs are often overcome with emotion watching Flame, because they see that it’s possible to have their own child achieve great things, and even more importantly, have a fun and fulfilling life, like those in the band.
Their mission is to bring Flame’s music and message to the rest of the world to help change how the public perceives people with disabilities and increase the awareness and acceptance of all people.
Linda Stokes: Conference Host
President & CEO at PRISM International, Inc. &
the Association of ERGs & Councils
Linda founded PRISM in 1992 with the mission of increasing organizational performance by creating more inclusive workplaces that value the contributions of all employees and that connect D&I strategies and tactics to the business of the organization. Under her leadership, PRISM has provided D&I consulting services, training and products to millions of employees in hundreds of organizations around the globe.
She is the co-author of Multicultural Customer Service: Providing Outstanding Service Across Cultures, author of numerous journal articles, media contributor on topics of organizational strategic and tactical D&I, and a curriculum developer of over 120 cross cultural and D&I consulting and training programs. She is a recognized leader in the field of D&I and coaches and mentors Executives, CDOs and diversity professionals at several American and European global firms. As a women-owned certified business headquarter in Central Florida, Linda’s leadership and success was recognized by the Women’s Executive Council of Orlando when she was awarded their Women’s Achievement Award for Business.
In 2006, she recognized the special needs of Diversity Councils and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and created the Association of ERGs & Councils. That was followed in 2008 with the launching of the annual ERG & Council Honors Award™ and in 2012 with the first annual ERG & Council Conference™.
In 2014, Linda responded to the growing healthcare needs of providing exceptional service and care by increasing cultural and language competencies by developing a special suite of healthcare skills and tools.
Most recently she has taken confronting our unconscious biases, micro-inequities, and cultural misunderstandings to the next level by creating The Elephant We Can't See™- a unique workshop that uses storytelling followed by interactive, engaging, skill building training to help begin a dialogue about any difference that makes a difference in the organization.
Prior to PRISM, Linda's professional experience included management and executive experience in education, healthcare, banking and international customer service consulting and training. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and her M.A. in Educational Leadership from Stetson University in Deland Florida.
Fernando Serpa: Conference Host
Executive Director at the Association of ERGs & Councils
Fernando draws upon his two decades of in-depth diversity and inclusion experience across the public and private sector and excels at building dynamic, cross cultural diversity and inclusion strategies to influence systemic change across organizations. He has led diversity efforts for such Fortune 100 companies as Agilent Technologies, Symantec, JCPenney and Johnson Controls. His responsibilities have included worldwide diversity recruitment and retention, employee network groups, international programs and diversity and inclusion training.
Most recently he served as the Director of Global Diversity at Johnson Controls where he developed strategies to advance diversity and inclusion globally. He also developed and maintained strategic alliances and relationships between the business, affinity groups, and industry organizations, and actively supported workforce planning and talent attraction, development and retention. As the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at JCPenney, he led diversity strategy and training for over 150K associates. At Symantec, he was the Director of Global Diversity and developed a global diversity strategy that was country specific and presented diversity training around the world including Japan, Germany, Ireland, France and Singapore.
A graduate of George Washington University Law School in Washington D.C., he was appointed by the White House to the U.S. Department of Justice where he directed immigration policy and worked with Congress and Federal agencies to develop and implement legislation, policy and procedures. From 1995 to 2000, Fernando served at the United States Commission on Civil Rights where he represented the Commission on civil rights issues to state and local governments, citizen-based groups and corporations.