Organizational Announcement

Organizational Announcement

November 7, 2018

Joint Statement from the University of St. Thomas and the Advisory Committee of The Forum on Workplace Inclusion®

The University of St. Thomas will host The Forum on Workplace Inclusion® in 2019 for the last time

For the past 23 years, the University of St. Thomas has hosted The Forum on Workplace Inclusion®. The Forum has become one of the premiere conferences on diversity, equity and inclusion not only in the United States but globally.  Last year, more than 1,600 people attended the event. While the University is committed to advancing inclusion and has been a dedicated supporter and convener of the Forum, the 2019 Forum will be the last year the University of St. Thomas will serve as host to this conference. The Forum is in the process of securing a new host for 2020 which will be announced during the 2019 conference.

The University and The Forum on Workplace Inclusion® Advisory Committee hold different perspectives on the kind of role Planned Parenthood should have in planning and presenting at The Forum. St. Thomas is a Catholic institution with very specific guiding principles of the Catholic faith.  One of those principles is a respect for life at all stages beginning with conception. These principles preclude the University from partnering with any organization where providing abortion services is inherent in its mission. To do so would appear to give support and a public platform for that work.  Therefore, Planned Parenthood cannot present, exhibit or serve on leadership committees while The Forum is housed at St. Thomas.  Planned Parenthood employees are welcomed as conference attendees.

The majority of the Advisory Committee as well as other Forum stakeholders including some sponsors, presenters, exhibitors and recipients of Forum awards believe the University’s decision is inconsistent with the inclusion values of The Forum. From their perspectives, Planned Parenthood should be given the same opportunity as others to present, exhibit or serve on leadership committees at The Forum.

The University and the Advisory Committee respect each other’s different perspectives on this issue and after thoughtful conversations, agree the best course of action would be for The Forum to become independent from the University. The University and the Advisory Committee have jointly determined a path forward that will preserve The Forum’s existence and values while at the same time respecting the University’s position and values.

Even with this decision and different perspectives, the University and the majority of the Advisory Committee of The Forum feel strongly that it is important the 2019 Forum continue under the auspices of the University.  Much of the planning is complete and neither group wants to disrupt the momentum or deny the many people who come to The Forum for the opportunity to learn and grow.

The University has agreed to support The Forum in the transition. In addition, both parties are working to ensure that there is a substantive learning opportunity at the conference to explore the parameters of inclusion and to create an atmosphere where difficult conversations can be discussed.

While the transition will not be easy, with support and mutual respect, it can happen as seamlessly as possible. A new Future Forum Organizing Committee, independent of the University of St. Thomas, is being established to determine transition details and to secure a future home for The Forum.  Mary-Frances Winters, member of The Forum Advisory Committee, President and CEO of the Winters Group, Inc. and Forum sponsor, presenter and past recipient of The Winds of Change Award, is taking the lead to organize this group.

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion® is an established, well respected conference and it will continue to grow even stronger in the future. The mission of The Forum is vital, especially during this polarizing socio-political climate.

You may direct any questions to Steve Humerickhouse, The Forum on Workplace Inclusion® Executive Director (, or Mary-Frances Winters (

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion®
2211 Riverside Ave, CB 54
Minneapolis, MN 55454
(612) 373-5994

Photos by Sarah Morreim Photography
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