Countdown to the 2020 Diversity Summit:


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  • Don’t miss the valuable insight and information offered at the Chamber’s annual Diversity Summit.

    This year’s Diversity Summit goes beyond a simple understanding of what diversity means and why it matters with its theme “Leadership that Transcends: Diversity, Unity and Shared Prosperity.” The event will drill down on specific and actionable topics, including the impact and importance of leadership when it comes to:

    • Managing and growing a business with diversity, inclusion and equity as a core values
    • Developing, attracting and retaining talent and workforce development
    • Creating spaces and opportunities for diversity, inclusion and equity in communities and workplaces and spaces that are intentional in creating and spreading opportunities for prosperity

    The 2020 event will also spotlight changes in the wake of COVID-19, with discussions on post-pandemic organizational flexibility that will explore how office location and remote work affect diversity and inclusion.




    September 22nd, 2020  |  Where you are.

    We will be virtually sharing the learnings from leaders and those who are scattered across the US right to where you are.

  • WHO?

    The 2020 Diversity Summit is the premier conference in the region for Human Resource professionals, building leadership capacity and culture champions alike. Our speakers, panelist and tactical workshops will empower participants to gain a deeper understanding of the importance of a leadership that transcends through diversity, unity and shared prosperity.

  • HOW?

    This year we are changing things up. You can attend the 2020 Diversity Summit from wherever you are - home, your office, the beach, Alabama, Florida, New York or LA. This new format is in response to the COVID-19 situation. Register now, and before the event you’ll receive a link to a dynamic agenda that will guide you through the half-day virtual experience, including three options for interactive breakout sessions as well as the outstanding lineup of speakers.

  • Agenda Agenda


  • WELCOME  |  8:45am

    Chamber Chairman Arthur DuCote

    OPENING SESSION  |  9:00am

    The Equality of Opportunity
    Presenter: Rick Wade, Senior Vice President, Strategic Alliance and Outreach, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
    Driven by data and informed by conversations with business, government, academic, and civic leaders, we developed the Equality of Opportunity Agenda to advance private sector solutions and best practices, scale impactful programs, and drive policy action at the federal, state and local level. Developing real, sustainable solutions to help close race-based opportunity gaps in four areas:  education, employment, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice. Systemic inequalities in these four areas perpetuate broader inequalities in our society, hold back individual and business success, and hinder economic growth. 

    PLENARY SESSION  |  9:35am

    Developing Your Future Workforce
    Presenter: Brooks Harper, Author/Speaker/Career Expert
    Developing Your Future Workforce is a high-energy keynote that hits the HEAD, HEART and FUNNY BONE inspiring attendee’s to help their future workforce discover, develop, network and sell their talents, skills and abilities that bring tangible value to the workplace. Brooks discusses the essential 7 Skills to Make Mills students need to develop now for career and life success.


    WeeCat Industries - Educating the Workforce of the Future
    Presenters: Joylee S. Cain, Cofounder and CEO, WeeCat Industries and WildCat Industries, Director, Special Education, Enterprise City Schools; Deborah Owens, Cofounder and President, WeeCats Industries and WildCat Industries
    WeeCat Industries offers simulated workplace experiences and live work opportunities in the preschool classroom setting which provides 3 to 5-year old’s the framework to achieve basic citizenship skills through social opportunities that accelerate self-actualization and encourage civic engagement. The development of positive workforce habits creates an environment for success designed to change the child's trajectory in life.  

    "Charting the Course" - Creating Your Roadmap to Success
    Presenter: Rodrigua Ross, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas
    This workshop will give tools and real-world application for designing and implementing strategies to support organizational Diversity, Inclusion and Equity work success. 

    Workplace: Navigating in a Disruptive World
    Presenters: Wade Preston, Co-Owner, Prevail Union Montgomery, Ashley Jernigan, Owner, JDB Hospitality LLC,  and Felix Gilbert, Program Manager, Fearless; Owner, XCell  

    Join a conversation on how 3 entrepreneurs are navigating through a health crisis, civil unrest and a generational shift in the workplace, at the exact same time, without compromising their values, employees or customer base.

    KEYNOTE  |  11:10am

    Intentional Leadership
    Presenter: Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor, Morgan Stanley
    In past decades, particularly in “producer cultures” professionals were given positions of leadership and authority because they were great “producers”. The top trader, the  banker that posted the most revenues  or the lawyer  that had  the most billable hours were compensated with money, an elevated title and positions of leadership without much thought as  to whether the person  was the kind of individual that could motivate and inspire others to perform beyond their own expectations. Yet, today, we find ourselves in an environment where a growing majority of the professional workforce are Millennials and Generation Zers and they demand motivation and inspiration as table stakes for their performance in any environment. So the question is, “what does it take to be an outstanding leader in today’s environment?”. Carla Harris asserts that if anyone chooses to take on the leadership seat, then one must be INTENTIONAL about 8 things in order to be a powerful, impactful, influential leader in today’s environment. Hear her make the case for: Authenticity, Building Trust, Clarity, Creating Other Leaders, Diversity, Innovation, Inclusivity, and Voice as essential components of being a Powerful Leader today.

  • Speakers Speakers



  • Joylee Cain serves as the Director of Special Education for Enterprise City Schools. Mrs. Cain is the co-founder and CEO of WeeCat and Wildcat Industries. Over the past 20 years, Mrs. Cain has served elementary and secondary special education students in both public and private educational settings. She has earned a B.S. in special education from Auburn University; a M.S. in School Psychometry from Troy University; and an Ed.S. in Educational Leadership from the University of West Florida.

    Download bio here


  • Carla Harris is Vice Chairman and Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, where she also serves as a senior client adviser. Ms. Harris has extensive industry experience in the technology, media, retail, telecommunications, transportation, industrial, and health care sectors. Ms. Harris was appointed by President Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council. She is the author the books Expect to Win and Strategize to Win. She is an accomplished singer with 3 albums, 5 sold out concerts at Carnegie Hall and a sold out concert at the Apollo Theatre under her belt.

    Download bio here


  • Wade Preston is Co-Founder of Prevail Coffee, a coffee brand whose mission is to roast and serve ethically sourced, sustainably grown coffee that acts as a connection point, cultivating an authentic, diverse community. He has won several US Coffee Championships competitions and has pioneered innovative coffee brewing techniques that are praise throughout the US and Australia. Wade has also leveraged his background in non-profit work and education in philosophy to craft Prevail Coffee into a brand that has grown throughout the Southeast and has become a hub downtown Montgomery.

    Download full bio here


  • Felix Gilbert is the CEO of XCell, a full-service Human-Centered Design agency in Baltimore Maryland. Over the last 20 years, Felix has helped transform and grow organizations in the government, private, and non-profit sectors. In addition to running XCell, Felix is a Program Manager with Fearless where he served as the lead for Bespin’s LogUX team based in Montgomery Alabama. He is also a Certified Life and Recovery Coach and CoFounder of Repurposed Life. His true passion is to educate, empower, and equip healthy leaders.

    Download bio here


  • Ashley Jernigan is the founder and principal of JDB Hospitality, LLC; a firm specializing in event management, marketing, and community relations. Her firm recently led the project management for the state of Alabama’s Bicentennial celebration and the City of Montgomery’s Vigil for Congressman John Lewis. Ashley is also a faculty trainer for Troy University’s Continuing Education and Outreach program teaching courses on diversity, interpersonal communication, management and leadership.

    Download bio here


  • Rodrigua Ross serves as the Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas. She advocates for children and families in under resourced, marginalized, and access deficient communities. She works with government entities, public and private nonprofit agencies, and corporate partners nationwide to address issues such as youth development program deficiencies, improving family stability, increasing access in low income communities, poverty, and reducing social stigmas associated with “at- risk” populations.

    Download bio here


  • Brooks Harper is the premier college and career readiness speaker in America! He has spoken on hundreds of K12, college and corporate campuses to more than 750,000 students and professionals. His books, Why Should We Hire You? and 7 Skills to Make Mills, have been incorporated into career-success curricula as the go-to-books for teaching interview skills, self-marketing, personal branding and soft skills development. He believes that EVERY DAY is an interview and an opportunity to turn LEARNING into EARNING and your passion into your paycheck.

    Download bio here


  • Deborah Owens is co-founder and president of WeeCat Industries and Wildcat Industries. Ms. Owens has also served as a behavior consultant, developmental specialist, PECS facilitator, and teacher trainer for the Enterprise City School System. Ms. Owens is a graduate of Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science degree in special education. Ms. Owens has made contributions to the field of education through teaching, curriculum development, and conducting professional development for teachers.

    Download bio here


  • Rick C. Wade is Senior Vice President of Strategic Alliances and Outreach at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Wade develops and implements programs and initiatives to help the Chamber create new business relationships and partnerships across diverse audiences. He also provides counsel on policy issues and leads special projects. Wade’s wealth of knowledge and experience in both the public and private sectors enable him to give a megaphone to the voice of business across the country and share the positive impacts of the free enterprise system.

    Download bio here

  • Thank you to our Sponsors Thank you to our Sponsors

  • Presenting Sponsor



  • Speaker/Book Sponsor



  • Gold Sponsor


  • Silver Sponsors


  • Small Business Diversity Workshop Sponsors



  • Diversity Partners

    City of Montgomery  |  Montgomery County Commission  |  Alabama Ag Credit  |  Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, Inc.  |  ASE Credit Union  |  BBVA

    EMERGE  |  Enterprise Rent-A-Car  |  Health Services, Inc.  |  Heritage Barber & Style Shop LLC  |  Hill, Hill, Carter, Franco, Cole & Black, PC

    Hodges Warehouse + Logistics / Hodges Commercial Real Estate  |  Industrial Development Board of the City of Montgomery  |  Inspirien

    Jackson Thornton  |  Leadership Montgomery  |  Lear Corporation-Montgomery  |  Montgomery Police Department  |  Morgan Stanley

    Sandra Nickel Hat Team, REALTORS  |  Southern Poverty Law Center  |  Staybridge Suites Montgomery Downtown

    T.C.U. Consulting Services LLC  |  Trenholm State Community College  |  Trustmark National Bank  |  Valley Bank

    WSFA  | YMCA of Greater Montgomery 


  • Power Pack Sponsors

    MAX  |  Montgomery Airport Authority

  • Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce
    600 S. Court St, P.O. Box 79
    Montgomery, Alabama 36101
    Tel: 334.834.5200   Fax: 334.265.4745

  • Receive the latest announcements and updates.

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