35th Annual Year 

Diversity Awards 2023

Diversity Awards 2023

Sponsored by

Since 2008, The Forum’s Diversity Awards Program has recognized individuals or organizations showcasing exemplary insight and fortitude in the area of workplace diversity. Nominations are submitted for individuals, organizations, or a group within an organization such as an Employee Resource Group or Diversity Council.

2023 winners were honored in a Diversity Awards Ceremony at the Annual Conference in March

Nominations will open again in Fall 2023 for the 2024 Annual Conference

Since 2008, The Forum’s Diversity Awards Program has recognized individuals or organizations showcasing exemplary insight and fortitude in the area of workplace diversity. Nominations are submitted for individuals, organizations, or a group within an organization such as an Employee Resource Group or Diversity Council.

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Award Categories

Power the Future Award

The Power the Future Award goes to an individual new or emerging leader who:


Effectively leads from their current position by consistently demonstrating innovative, future forward, visionary thinking


Rallies, engages and inspires others around imagining and investing in future state possibilities


Leads by example demonstrating a commitment to bold exploration, risk taking, and learning from both failure and success


Seeks new challenges and challenges others to continually work toward making a difference in the work/life experiences of present and future generations

Robert K Tom, Associate Professor at Augsburg University, designed the 2023 award sculptures. 


The Chinese classic, I-Ching (Book of Changes), describes the 64 conditions of man within nature. Thousands of years later, modern science has quantified the existence of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) as a sequence of 64 combinations.


Sara A. Bates, MS., MA., of the National Institute of Health, states: “The DNA from any two people is 99.9% identical, with that shared blueprint guiding our development and forming a common thread across the world. The differing 0.1% contains variations that influence our uniqueness, which, when combined with our environmental and social contexts, give us our abilities, health, and behavior.”


To speak to this 0.1%, I have made the awards with the four sacred colors (black, white, red, and yellow) of the Native American, combined with the archetypal forms of the circle, square, and triangle.


Learn more about Robert K Tom here.

Power the Future Award

The Power the Future Award goes to an individual who:


Effectively leads from their current position by consistently demonstrating innovative, future forward, visionary thinking


Rallies, engages and inspires others around imagining and investing in future state possibilities


Leads by example demonstrating a commitment to bold exploration, risk taking, and learning from both failure and success


Seeks new challenges and challenges others to continually work toward making a difference in the work/life experiences of present and future generations

Winds of Change Award

The Winds of Change Award goes to an individual, organization, or group that:


Has demonstrated sustained support for advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace


Has raised awareness of workplace diversity and inclusion issues


Has been a catalyst for change regarding workplace diversity and inclusion and/or has impacted change within an industry, organization or local community

Jordan Maguire Roberge Friend of the Forum Award

Nominated and awarded by The Forum’s Program Committee, The Friend of the Forum Award goes to an individual who:


Has demonstrated sustained support of The Forum.


Has made significant contributions to The Forum in time, talent, leadership, content, vision or financial support


Has increased visibility or helped expand The Forum within the local community or throughout the United States


Has expanded the focus of The Forum as a nationally recognized premier diversity conference

2023 Diversity Award Winners

Eric Jolly

Jordan M. Roberge Friend of the Forum

Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D., is the President and CEO of the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation – an organization working to create an equitable, just, and vibrant Minnesota where all communities and people thrive. With roots in Saint Paul since 1940 and partners across the state, the Foundation is Minnesota’s largest community foundation, stewarding $2 billion in charitable assets.

As a lifelong educator and scientist, Eric’s signature leadership style has been to listen deeply to those in the community. As a result, he has focused the Foundation on three distinct strategies: inspiring generosity, advancing equity, and investing in community-led solutions.

Widely recognized for his work with communities and policy makers, Eric has published articles and books and has lectured around the world. He is also a frequent contributor to articles, opinion editorials, and global conversations and convenings about equity, inclusion, and community-building.

All this has led him to serve in many capacities, including with the arts and museums, educational development, community development, diverse populations, and higher education. It is as a member of the Board of Regents for Augsburg University that he and The Forum intersect. Eric was instrumental in advising Augsburg’s leadership about the alignment of the University’s and The Forum’s missions, the importance of bringing us together, and the feasibility of doing so. And through a grant, the Foundation he runs helped fund the move and transition.

This year, The Forum is celebrating its 35th anniversary and its fourth as a part of Augsburg University, thanks in part to Eric’s belief in the importance of combining our forces.

For his vision, sage advice, and financial assistance in creating a new home at Augsburg for The Forum, we are pleased to present our 2023 Jordan M. Roberge Friend of The Forum award to Eric Jolly.


Menah Pratt

Winds of Change Award (Individual)

Dr. Menah Pratt serves as Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Diversity and Professor of Education at Virginia Tech. In these roles, she leads the Office for Inclusion and Diversity and the Office for Strategic Affairs.

Her DEI duties include overseeing an education and engagement team that offers extensive programming to more than 5,000 faculty and staff members, including campus wide summits, diversity touchpoint events, community and cultural center programming, multiple webinars, and online education certificates. As the Chief Strategy Officer, she leads the integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion as a core strategic priority of the university. 

Menah conceptualized, developed, and oversees InclusiveVT, a diversity and equity framework focusing on four pillars: sustainable institutional transformation; representational diversity of faculty, staff, and students; a welcoming, affirming, safe, and accessible campus climate; and integrating issues of identity and equity into the culture and curriculum. 

Menah’s efforts in recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and staff are significant. She created the Faculty Diversity Committee, championing recruitment efforts resulting in almost doubling minority faculty representation to nearly 30%. Retention work includes programs for early career faculty, faculty of color, and women faculty, and the White Allies as Transformational Leaders program for senior academic leaders, helping them understand and advocate for DEI best practices. 

Additionally, she advanced hiring chief diversity officers in all 8 colleges, championed the creation of community cultural centers, and envisioned and stewarded three mandatory diversity curricular requirements: a Diversity 101 pre-enrollment course for entering students, an academic course on critical analysis of equity and identity in the U.S. for undergraduates, and a course on diversity for all graduate programs. She also supports ten faculty and staff caucuses (similar to Employee Resource Groups) through funding, programming, and strategic engagement. 

Menah is a nationally recognized and respected DEI leader and scholar in higher education. She is frequently invited to participate in conferences, including those hosted by the White House, Insight into Diversity, and the National Association for Diversity Officers in Higher Education, and extensively blogs on DEI issues. She is the author of four books on social justice for women and people of color, and received the 2018 American Educational Studies Association Critics’ Choice Award for scholarship deemed outstanding in its field. 

Menah is the founder of the Faculty Women of Color in the Academy National Conference, is deeply committed to developing new strategic engagements with HBCUs, Hispanic-serving institutions, and Virginia Native American tribal communities, and founded the Black College Institute, bringing together almost 500 academically curious, high achieving high school students for a week-long experience focused around a social justice project. 

These programs represent just a few of the initiatives which Menah has created, led, developed, or implemented over the past five years impacting Virginia Tech faculty, staff, students, and the greater community. 

It is for all these reasons that the Forum’s awards committee is proud to present Dr. Menah Pratt with the 2023 Individual Winds of Change Award.

Out of Hand

Winds of Change Award (Organization)

Winner of The New York Times Best Theater of 2020, Out of Hand Theater works at the intersection of art, social justice, and civic engagement. Using their expertise in theater, they work to create a racially and economically just world so that all people, especially people of the global majority, have the right to live and be seen in their full humanity.

Serving the community is at the core of Out of Hand’s four programming areas: Shows in Homes, Equitable Dinners, Community Collaborations, and Education. Over half of their audience is people who are unreached by traditional theater. Through programming, the theater brings together vulnerable communities, allies, and advocates, connecting them through art and conversation while building community, and increasing understanding and empathy for the experience of people of color and other marginalized and disenfranchised communities.

Out of Hand does not own or operate its own venue, preferring to bring theater to the community in living rooms, community centers, and online, making their programming as accessible as possible for those who wish to participate. Since 2001, Out of Hand has collaborated with dozens of local organizations to produce programs that combine art to open hearts, information to open minds, and conversation to process emotions and knowledge and make a plan for action. Examples include the City of Decatur, Georgia, Fulton County where Atlanta is located, and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

One example of the Theater’s work is offering a customized program called Equitable Dinners at Work. These events support their clients’ commitment to advancing equity and inclusion by providing meaningful opportunities for empathy and engagement. In addition, these programs build the muscle of courageous conversation by providing a safe space to practice talking about race and other difficult topics. Examples of these topics include gun violence and prevention, the stigma of HIV testing and treatment among young men of color, and mass incarceration. More than 12,000 people have participated in Equitable Dinners since they began in 2020.

After Equitable Dinners, 96.7% of survey respondents feel moved, and 98.4% feel inspired to make a change. This is especially exciting because Equitable Dinners does not just reach people who are already interested in racial equity; Equitable Dinners at Work reaches thousands of employees at their jobs.

It is a core attribute of their mission and values that Out of Hand serves those most affected by racism, poverty, and economic injustice, and those who are invested in eradicating these issues. To achieve this, it is important that their staff, artists, and volunteers reflect that philosophy. Out of Hand continues to employ people of color as the majority of their artists, staff, board members, and volunteers, and attracts diverse audiences in Atlanta and beyond. They have hired more than 100 BIPOC artists, speakers, and facilitators, all while developing one of the most diverse audiences in Atlanta.

With clear impact, a collaborative approach, and a willingness to reach people where they are, one by one, The Forum is happy to present to Out of Hand Theater its 2023 organizational Winds of Change award.

Geneva Greene

Power the Future

Geneva Greene is both an established and emerging leader. After 13 years at Lockheed Martin, she recently struck out on her own to bring wellness and better communication to DEI-invested organizations. At the beginning of her career at Lockheed, Geneva worked in communications, public affairs, and media relations. After several years, she transitioned to the DEI team, and that’s where her Power the Future story truly begins.

Geneva brought vision and execution to her work with women and the disability communities at Lockheed through comprehensive allyship strategies, bi-weekly meditation moments, and a Slack mindfulness channel. These programs included training and development about privilege, mental health, mindfulness, BRG engagement, holistic health, and safe spaces.

Recently, as a full time doctoral student at Howard University, Geneva envisioned an organization that would support workplace wellness, women’s equity, and organizational development through DEI communications and inclusive leadership training. Consequently, in 2021, Geneva established Sprouts, a DEI consulting and training firm.

Currently, Sprouts focuses on planting seeds of inspiration, personal empowerment, and community well-being through interactive learning experiences and insightful consultations. Through Sprouts, Geneva partners with Howard University School of Business’ Executive Education Program to advise corporate social responsibility programs and educate company executives on inclusion. She also works with White Men as Full Diversity Partners to facilitate inclusive leadership learning experiences.

But that’s not all…

Geneva developed and taught the first DEI communications course at Georgetown University’s Master’s in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program. She also expanded her teaching to other organizations, helping communicators understand their role in driving inclusive workplace culture.

In 2022, Geneva founded Women Without Limits, a global community encouraging women to unlock their voice, reclaim their power, and pursue their spirit-led path. Women Without Limits empowers women to believe that their opportunities are endless, possibilities boundless, and potential limitless.

Geneva’s academic research focuses on dance as a transnational communications vehicle that shares messages of spirituality, healing, and activism. Her work connecting cultural music and dance fueled her support of the Traditional Arts DC cultural mapping partnership with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Building on this, Geneva developed a wellness workshop connecting healing and communal well-being with movement, incorporating African diaspora dance and history.

Geneva also inspires success with the next generation through her role on the Board of Directors for Omniquest, a leadership development and mentoring program for grades three through twelve in the District of Columbia. Its pillars include cultural competency, conflict resolution, financial literacy, and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math).

Geneva is a strategic thinker who takes action to create the bigger picture for all. She dedicates her efforts to engaging, rallying, and inspiring others, and her work is laying a foundation for future generations.

Due to her unwavering spirit of change and courageous willingness to forge forward into unknown territory to create a better and more inclusive present and future, The Forum is delighted to present the Power the Future award to Geneva Greene.

2023 Honorable Mention

Power the Future

JAzz Hampton | TurnSignl

Jazz Hampton could have pursued a comfortable life as an attorney. Instead, he took big risks, leaving that behind to fill a need for his and other communities. His start up, TurnSignl, a Minnesota tech company, provides real-time legal guidance when drivers are stopped by law enforcement or involved in an auto accident. These exchanges use proven de-escalation techniques to ease anxiety and reduce risk for all parties, and are recorded for post- interaction access. By putting anyone’s civil rights in their own hands, and offering face-to-face conversation rooted in de-escalation in the moments that matter most, this app creates a new kind of environment for individuals to participate in protecting their civil rights, and ensures transparency and accountability if future legal action is required.

Winds of Change Individual

Niru Kumar | Ask Insights

After a career in public health, including Indian government leadership positions and recognition by the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO), Niru Kumar set out to convince Indian businesses of the validity of diversity, equity, and inclusion principles and, specifically, the value of women employees at all levels in their organizations. Tirelessly, she traveled to even the remotest corners of India, training, coaching, and empowering CEOs, managers, and thousands of factory workers, bringing them a transformation in mindset and receiving accolades in return. Her global training footprint includes presentations across Asia, Europe, and North America.

Milagros Phillips | The Race Healer

For 35 years, Milagros Phillips has created programs and authored books, columns, and other publications helping organizations across North America and across industries advance equity in their workplaces. Her unique offerings place racism at the heart of her DEI trainings, explaining that racism is ‘why’ DEI is needed in the first place. Her focus has always been healing from racism, a crucial distinction since we are all affected by racial conditioning. As founding executive director of the National Resource Center for the Healing of Racism, the combination of her lived experience backed by historical and scientific research unlocks deep dimensions of understanding on our human condition.

Winds of Change Organization

CHILDREN’s Minnesota

Nearly 40% of the kids Children’s Minnesota serves within their two hospitals are people of color (POC), and this number continues to grow. Their DEI team has been a champion for ensuring that both clinical and non-clinical staff reflect the patient families they care for. They have done this by increasing the percentage of POC leaders, general staff, and interns; providing health education through the media and other sources; tracking progress on a health equity dashboard; strengthening the cultural competence and sense of belonging of their employee resource groups; and–through their Health Equity Council–providing implicit bias training, eliminating health disparities, and preventing emotional harm among patients and employees.

Past Diversity Award Winners

Winds of Change

  • Bitwise Industries (2022) Stephen Frost (2022)
  • Barilla America (2021), Candi Castleberry (2021)
  • Subha Barry (2020), Scott Fearing (2020)
  • Marnita’s Table (2019), Dr. Saundarya Rajesh (2019)
  • US Business Leadership Network (2018), Frederick A. Miller (2018)
  • Department of Citywide Diversity and Equal Employment Opportunity for the City of New York (2017), Michele Meyer-Shipp (2017)
  • CAIR MN (2016), Mary-Frances Winters (2016), J.T. (Ted) Childs Jr. (2016)
  • The Mayo Clinic’s LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex) Employee Resource Group (2015), Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole (2015)
  • Stinson Leonard Street (2014), Ken Charles (2014)
  • University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (2013), Howard Ross (2013)
  • City of Brooklyn Park’s Human Rights Commission (2012), ConAgra Foods (2012), Emily King (2012) Chaplain John Morris (2011)
  • Dr. Reatha Clark King, (2010) Deb Dagit (2010)
  • Lee Butcher (2009), Ghafar Lakanwal (2009)
  • Richard (Dick) Gaskins (2008), Eric Watson (2008)

Jordan M. Roberge
Friend of The Forum

  • Amy Batiste (2022)
  • Manichan “Joy” Nguyen (2021)
  • Destiny Xiong (2020)
  • Betsy Lofgren (2019)
  • Robby Gregg (2018)
  • Jordan Roberge (2017)
  • Dave Baker (2016)
  • Renee Pagano (2015)
  • Kurt Wiger (2014)
  • Elsa Batica (2013)
  • Lyle H. Iron Moccasin (2012) Sue Plaster (2011)
  • Jim Burnett (2010)
  • Syl Booth (2009)
  • Terri Ricci (2008)
  • Vivian Tanniehill (2008)

Power the Future

  • Farah Siddiqui (2022)
  • Youlanda Gibbons (2021)
  • Melanie Muñoz (2020)
  • Brian Richardson Jr. MS.Ed (2019)
  • Joshua Love (2018)

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Photos by Sarah Morreim Photography
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