Chief Creative Catalyst, FacilitatorCompany: Collective Concepts, PRISM International Inc.
Role: Session Presenter
Session: Working Through Whiteness (SEM-L )
Chevara Orrin is an award-winning diversity and inclusion practitioner, social entrepreneur, published author, social justice activist, independent filmmaker, and dynamic public speaker—signed with the nationally recognized speakers’ bureau, CAMPUSPEAK. She is a forward-thinking catalyst who is passionate about igniting organizational transformation.
In her current role as chief creative catalyst for Collective Concepts, Chevara is best known for having conceived and co-created We Are Allies, a national marketing campaign to support equality and move toward passage of inclusive policies to protect the LGBTQ community, and #WhiteAndWokeTM, an initiative to raise awareness about racial inequality and promote equity through intentional action. The successful Allies campaign has drawn the participation of prominent figures such as feminist-icon Gloria Steinem, Olympic gold medalist and civil rights attorney Nancy Hogshead-Makar, cultural and faith leaders, and superstars from the corporate world including the CEOs of Florida Blue and SunTrust Bank. The Allies campaign was instrumental in the February 14, 2018, passage of a fully comprehensive human rights ordinance in Jacksonville, Fla. Additionally, Chevara is executive producer of an independent documentary, “The Story of Denise,” which explores the transgender experience and family acceptance.
Chevara is deeply inspired by the legacy of her parents. She is the daughter of a white Jewish mother who served as the lead coordinator for the 1967 March on the Pentagon in opposition of the Vietnam War, and a Black father who was a top lieutenant of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a driving force behind many critical civil rights campaigns of the 1960s, including the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade, 1965 Selma to Montgomery March, and passage of the Voting Rights Act. Chevara is also a survivor of childhood poverty, incest, teenage pregnancy, and domestic violence. It is because of, not in spite of, her personal journey of tragedy and triumph that she is inspired to use her experiences and voice as a catalyst to ignite social transformation.
Chevara’s work and passion lives at the intersection of gender parity, racial equity, LGBTQ equality, and arts activism. She is an innovative leader with more than 20 years of experience ranging from senior management in the arts and higher education sectors to consulting with Fortune 500 clients. As a diversity and inclusion strategist, Chevara specializes in devising and facilitating leadership and employee learning sessions on improving cultural agility and work climate, developing comprehensive organizational strategies, building marketplace D&I brand awareness, and developing business resource groups (BRGs).
Chevara has served as a member of numerous nonprofit boards including the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce Women’s Council, Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville’s Cultural Services Grants Panel, RiverRun International Film Festival, Atlanta History Center Advisory Council, and the Winston-Salem Symphony. An outspoken advocate for the eradication of sexual violence against women and girls, Chevara founded WhiteSpace SafeSpace, a monthly support group and forum for incest survivors. She’ll be published in fall 2019 in an anthology, “#LoveWITHAccountability,” a collection of writings that examine how accountability is a powerful and necessary form of love needed to address child sexual abuse.
Chevara is a frequent conference presenter, lecturer, and motivational speaker and has facilitated workshops and dialogues across the U.S.—from TEDx Jacksonville, to serving as keynote speaker for the NSA (National Security Agency) Diversity Speaker Series, to co-hosting ‘Jazz Under the Bridge’ with legendary Tony award-winner, Ben Vereen. She believes that, “There is a human cost when we fail to connect. Ideas unborn. Dreams unrealized. Communities un-ignited.”
Chevara has been recognized by the White House and the Human Rights Campaign as a leader, advocate and ally for the LGBTQ community, and featured in publications including The Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Tikkun Magazine, and The Feminist Wire. She has also been a featured guest on SiriusXM Radio and was highlighted in John Blake’s 2007 book, “Children of the Movement,” a powerful glimpse into the heart and soul of the Freedom Movement of the Sixties as seen by its children. Her numerous awards for community service include the HandsOn Jacksonville Unity in Action award, University of North Florida Woman of Influence, Jacksonville “Who’s Who for Justice” award, Jacksonville Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women honoree, Girls Inc. Jacksonville “Women of Vision” award, Spelman College Game Changers award, Triad Business Journal “Forty under 40,” and Winston-Salem Urban League Community Leader of the Year. Chevara is a 2010 graduate of Leadership Winston-Salem and a current member of the Leadership Broward Class XXXVII.
A native of Washington, D.C., Chevara was raised in Memphis, Tenn., and earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from the University of Memphis. She is a 2017 graduate of Georgetown University’s Strategic Diversity and Inclusive Management program. She is the proud mother of Michael, a graduate of Columbia University and senior trainer with The Posse Foundation, and William, an actor, yogi, and college student in Atlanta, Ga., who is featured in the film, “Wait No Longer,” the true story of the 1964 race riots in St. Augustine, Fla.