Opening General Session Keynote Speaker

Tuesday, November 2nd
3:00 PM

 

Dionardo Pizaña
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist, Michigan State University Extension

“Sharpening our DEI Lens for Personal, Institutional and Community Change”
The excellence, relevance, strength and very survival of organizations in a richly diverse world requires a commitment by the organization and all its members to sharpen and sustain our collective commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion. These commitments must take place at the personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural levels, to help inform and transform our work, our outcomes and our relationships with self and others.

How do we honor and hold complexity and paradoxes? Work toward moving from transactional to authentic and connected relationships? Connect our resources with the assets and wisdom of our most marginalized communities? And help to address historical and current systemic inequities and build our legacies of shared power, equity and inclusion. Come along on this lifelong journey of personal and professional growth for we have important and life-giving work to do.

Learning Objectives:

  • Work toward moving from transactional to authentic and connected relationships
  • Learn to connect your resources with the assets and wisdom of our most marginalized communities
  • Help to address historical and current systemic inequities and build our legacies of shared power, equity and inclusion.

Bio:
Dionardo Pizaña is the diversity, equity and inclusion specialist for Michigan State University Extension. He has over 30 years of experience developing, teaching, and facilitating educational programs through Michigan State University Extension, Adrian College, and Siena Heights University. Dionardo’s work as an educator is grounded in his conviction that deep and lasting institutional change requires an equally strong commitment to “working on oneself” while nurturing authentic relationships across differences. He believes that authenticity is far more than mere friendship or working affiliation. It is based on trust, honesty, risk-taking, mutual responsibility, humility, and acceptance that tension in relationships is a necessary component that leads to growth.

Since 2018, Dionardo has provided leadership in the development and co-facilitation of the national Extension Coming Together for Racial Understanding initiative train the trainer process, which has help to support the ongoing development of Extension staff and partners to facilitate dialogues on race and racism. These dialogues have engaged both Extension colleagues and leaders in over 28 states and helped to build the capacity of Extension professionals supporting and co-facilitating these dialogues in their local community settings. He is also a co-facilitator for the national Opening Doors project, a seminar for personal and professional growth and change.

As a lifelong learner around issues related to social justice and change, Dionardo has participated in foundational learning opportunities such as cultural bridges, VISIONS training, Opening Doors and The People’s Institute. His ongoing commitment to issues of social justice continues a legacy of community and social justice leadership inspired by his parents and grandparents.