15th Diversity Issues in Higher Education Conference Focuses on Diversity In Action: Moving Beyond Words

Diversity Issues in Higher Education conference is designed to involve corporate diversity leaders, recruiters, educators, students, and the general public. Credits: Courtesy of the American Conference on Diversity

The 15th Annual Statewide “Diversity Issues in Higher Education” conference will be held on Friday, November 6, at Ramapo College of New Jersey. It is the premier event within the tri-state area addressing critical diversity challenges in academia, the community, and the workplace.

“This is an opportunity to bring the community together to address pressing issues that have a direct impact on university and college campuses,” says American Conference on Diversity President and CEO Elizabeth Williams-Riley.

The event is designed to involve corporate diversity leaders, recruiters, career-advancement professionals, educators, university personnel, students, nonprofits, government and community leaders, and the general public. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Christopher Catching, Dean of Student Affairs at Southern Connecticut State University, who will discuss the multiple influencing factors that ultimately move us from awareness to action. Dr. Catching has done extensive research and offers a perspective that challenges us all to leverage diversity and inclusion.

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Immediately following the keynote address:

A Keynote Response Panel Discussion moderated by William Paterson University Director of the Office of Employment Equity and Diversity Michelle N. Johnson, Esq. Panelists will include Middlesex County College President Joann La Perla-Morales, Transgender Rights Advocate Barbra “Babs” Siperstein, and President and CEO of Beyond the Tenure Track Fatimah Williams Castro, Ph.D.

 Breakout Sessions on:

          “Law Enforcement and Race Relations: The Police, The Courts, and The Community” – Moderated by College of St. Elizabeth Career Services and Student Employment Director Teri Corso, this workshop will explore relevant issues around policing, the courts, and the community and will include former Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi, Esq., and immediate Past President of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives Jiles Ship as panelists.

          “While We Are Changing: An Exploration of Transgender Identity” This session, which will address gender as a new demographic, will be led by Executive Director of the Women’s Rights Information Center Dr. Esmilda Abreu-Hornbostel. Panelists will include author and parent Amy Eagan, Garden State Equality Executive Director Andrea Bowen, and transgender issues expert Jennifer Whitlock.

          A “Second Chance” Session with the Keynote Response Panel – An extension of the morning’s response panel, this workshop will provide more in-depth conversations with the keynote response panelists. It will be an opportunity to discuss access programs, ways to provide educational opportunities for first-generation and underrepresented students, and how to leverage diversity in the classroom.

          A Student-Led Action Session – Student leaders from several colleges and universities in NJ will facilitate a dynamic workshop to explore diversity and inclusion issues on college campuses.

An Afternoon Keynote Panel, “Robust Conversation About Diversity in Action,” which will further explore how to take the learnings from the day’s conference and make an impact in the communities and organizations represented. The panel will feature a varied and expert group of speakers, including our President & CEO Elizabeth Williams-Riley, all of whom have a unique role in creating meaningful change in the world of diversity and inclusion.

This information-rich conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Ramapo University, 505 Ramapo Valley Rd in Mahwah, NJ. Registration rates are $65, including breakfast and lunch, and $35 for students. To register, please visit

NOTE: Organizations interested in showcasing their efforts and seeking opportunities to connect with attendees are welcomed to support this event as an exhibitor. Deadline for exhibitor registration: Wednesday, September 30. For fees and additional information, please contact or

To learn more about “Diversity Issues in Higher Education,” watch Ms. Williams-Riley on Comcast Newsmakers:

Special thanks to the statewide conference planning committee: American Conference on Diversity, Bergen Community College, Bloomfield College, Brookdale Community College, College of St. Elizabeth, Georgian Court University, Kean University, Monmouth University, Montclair State University, New Jersey City University, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Rutgers: The State University of New Jersey, Saint Peter’s University, Seton Hall University, William Paterson University, and Corporate Partners BASF, Enterprise, L’Oréal USA, and  PSEG.

The American Conference on Diversity was founded in 1948 as the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Today the programs, services, and initiatives of the American Conference on Diversity are among the most important work focused on creating a more inclusive society. It is the unfinished business of living in a highly diverse nation: educating and empowering our next generation of leaders; enhancing our workplaces; and helping to create inclusive communities. The American Conference on Diversity builds on a historic mission and creates programs and activities relevant and vital to 21st Century life. It is a journey we can all take together. The American Conference on Diversity operates Regional Community Networks covering all of New Jersey. Visit to learn more.

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