Harper College

Diversity Symposium

Since 2004, Harper College has hosted an annual Diversity Symposium. The diversity symposium provides Harper’s employees with a unique opportunity to learn and discuss important topics that are centered around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and critical conversations create an atmosphere of reflection and transformation. All employees are invited and encouraged to attend the facilitated discussions and presentations that occur throughout the symposium. The discussions and activities highlight a variety of diversity, equity, and inclusion topics that promote critical thinking and reflection. This annual event continues to be an anchor for many employees.


Our annual Diversity Symposium was held on Friday, October 20, 2023.

Registration is now closed.

The 2023 Diversity Symposium was open to all of Harper's faculty, staff, administrators, student workers, Social Justice Distinction and Global Scholar students. The theme was "ANTI: Meeting at the Intersection of Oppressions." Several speakers joined us for a transformative time. We dove into topics such as anti-racism, anti-Semitism, LGBTQIA+ allyship, and more. The full list of speakers, their sessions, and biographies are below! Speakers are listed alphabetically by their last name. All biographies were provided by the speakers. 

Click Here to View the Opening Keynote Address.

Click Here to View the Closing Address.

Moe Diversity Symposium Photo

Breakout Session: Transformative LGBTQIA+ Allyship in Higher Education

Moe Ari Brown, LMFT (they/he), is one of the leading mental health experts in Gender Identity. Over the past decade, Moe Ari has worked as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with LGBTQIA+ individuals, couples, and families. Through his professional work and journey as a person of Transgender experience, Moe Ari is now an expert in cultivating radical authenticity.⏤The process of integrating, accepting, aligning, and celebrating one’s intersecting identities despite threats to belonging. As a public speaker, Moe Ari offers the lessons he learned, hoping that his story will inspire others to unconditional self-love and alignment.

Moe Ari is the Love and Connection Expert at Hinge. Pairing Hinge’s research with Moe's expertise in LGBTQIA+ relationships, Moe is at the forefront of building an inclusive dating space where all daters can find love, both in the app and offline. His most recent participation in Hinge's Not-So Frequently Asked Questions (NFAQ) resource landed him on billboards throughout NYC, LA, and London (UK). The NFAQ resource features Moe and other LGBTQIA+ public figures answering commonly asked questions about LGBTQIA+ dating and identity. As a Treatment Action Group (TAG) board member, Moe Ari is passionate about ensuring that LGBTQIA+ people have quality access to care. Moe Ari is also a public speaker, educating others on allyship for the Trans community. Some of his academic work, "Transcending the Binary: A Narrative Therapy Approach to Helping Black Trans Men" is included in Black Couples Therapy: Clinical Theory and Practice, a textbook for couples therapy published by Cambridge University Press.

Moe has been featured in many news articles, podcasts, broadcast interviews, and magazines throughout the US, UK, and Australia. Moe is also a co-host of the Be your own Love Goals Podcast, co-host of WHO NU? The Northwestern Pride Alumni Club Podcast (NUPAC), a former adjunct professor at Adler University, a CE course presenter for Simple Practice Learning, a consultant on DEI & Belonging, and a 2023 TEDx Atlanta speaker.


Brian Cremins Diversity SymposiumBreakout session: Brad Lomax, the Black Panthers, and the Origins of the Disability Rights Movement (Co-presenting with Rebecca Ramirez-Malagon)

Dr. Brian Cremins, Professor of English at Harper College, is the author of Captain Marvel and the Art of Nostalgia (UP of Mississippi, 2016) and co-editor with Brannon Costello of The Other 1980s: Reframing Comics’ Crucial Decade (LSU Press, 2021). His essays on issues of race, class, and gender in comics and graphic novels have appeared in edited collections including Reading African American Autobiography: Twenty-First Century Contexts and Criticism (U. of Wisconsin Press, 2017), American Literature in Transition: 1980–1990 (Cambridge U. Press, 2017), and Desegregating Comics: Debating Blackness in the Golden Age of American Comics (Rutgers UP, 2023).


Rebecca Ramirez Malagon Diversity SymposiumRebecca Ramirez-Malagon is the Manager of Harper College’s Accommodations Services, which this year is celebrating 50 years of supporting the Harper community. Rebecca has fourteen years of higher education experience spanning several different institutions and areas including disability services, admissions, and student involvement. She notes that her passion for serving students with disabilities began in her childhood, as her mother worked at a school that was specifically for children with Autism and Down Syndrome. Throughout her youth, Rebecca was able to volunteer at the school, even serving as an aide during their summer program. When she decided to go to college, Rebecca knew that her major had to focus on helping individuals with disabilities. She assumed that would lead her to becoming a special education teacher, but she landed on the higher education route instead. Fourteen years later, and in a position here at Harper that allows her to review procedures and better serve students with disabilities, she is happy with her decision.


rabbi davisBreakout Session: Understanding the Jewish Experience in a Christian Society

Rabbi Cantor Michael Davis was born in the United Kingdom and grew up in Israel. He trained with the Chief Cantor of the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem and in leading rabbinical seminaries in Israel.

Rabbi Davis has served the Jewish community in Chicago since 1995. He founded Reform Cantors of Chicago (2009) and the Open Hillel Rabbinical Council (2014). He initiated and programmed the first three years of Yom Hashoah programming at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.

Rabbi Davis is a globally recognized religious leader. In January 2016, he addressed other faith leaders at Old St. Pat’s Catholic Church in a vigil against violence. In December 2015, Rabbi Davis represented the Jewish community at the nation’s largest gathering of Muslims. His rabbinic advocacy for peace received the recognition and praise of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He was a national clergy leader of the Hyatt workers campaign. He worked 2010–2013 on their behalf to secure a fair contract. He organized Jewish and Christian clergy to interview workers and meet with executives. His successful work was featured on the front cover of the Chicago Tribune Business Section.

Rabbi Cantor Davis has served on the faculty of the Hebrew Seminary in Skokie, training future rabbis in classic Hebrew and Aramaic text since 2009. He has served on the Certification Committee for the American Conference of Cantors in conjunction with the the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College. He has been a member of the South East Lake County Interfaith Clergy Association. Rabbi Davis established two cantorial pulpits, serving as the first full-time cantor of two Reform congregations in Highland Park, IL.


Joseph Flynn Diversity SymposiumClosing Address: The Anti-Antis: Advance and Backlash at the Intersection of Education and Identity

Dr. Joseph Flynn is the Executive Director for Equity and Inclusion and an associate professor of Curriculum and Instruction at Northern Illinois University. He is also a past-president of the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum. His teaching and scholarship focus on the intersection of curriculum studies, multicultural and social justice education, race and Whiteness Studies, and media and popular culture.

As part of his professional development work with regional K-12 schools and higher education institutions, Dr. Flynn founded the three-day Social Justice Summer Camp for Educators at Northern Illinois University , now going into its seventh year. The Camp brings educators to the Northern Illinois University campus for three days of lectures, workshops, films, and other activities designed to give “campers” a place to explore challenging issues in education. 

Dr. Flynn can be heard as an editorialist on Perspectives, a radio program on WNIJ, an NPR affiliate. This year he was awarded Best Commentary by the Public Media Journalists Association for his Perspective entitled "Racial Groundhog Day." Dr. Flynn has appeared on many news programs to talk about justice issues and challenges of race in the United States. 

Finally, Dr. Flynn published White Fatigue: Rethinking Resistance for Social Justice (Peter Lang, 2018). White fatigue is the idea that there are millions of White Americans who believe racism is wrong but struggle with understanding how racism works because of a focus on individual behaviors without recognizing larger systemic and institutional challenges. The book has been awarded the O.L. Davis, Jr. Outstanding Book Award from the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum. 


Nataka Moore Diversity Symposium photo

Keynote Address: Understanding Anti-Racism

Dr. Nataka Moore (she, her, hers) is on faculty at Adler University in the Department of Psychology. Dr. Moore is a licensed clinical psychologist with over 20 years of clinical and academic experience. In her role as professor, Dr. Moore has led social justice and diversity initiatives at Adler University. Dr. Moore currently sees individuals and couples in her private practice. Dr. Moore, as a human rights activist, has led major social justice based international initiatives and has won the 2019 social justice award at Adler University for her work. In Cuba her work centered around racial equity and women's rights as she co-led a delegation of 19 women through her work with the US women and Cuba Collaboration. Dr. Moore has been recognized by the Women Issues Committee through the National Council of Schools of Professional Psychology and was awarded the 2017 Diversity Award for her commitment to women's issues and intersectionality. In the Dominican Republic and Liberia she worked with issues related to human rights and mental health.  This past October through the support of a Department of State grant and an Adler University Seed Grant, in collaboration with Malagasy partners, she worked in Madagascar addressing post-partum depression with rural Malagasy women.  Dr. Moore also provides mental health and diversity trainings and mental health screenings across Chicagoland.


David Shih Diversity SymposiumBreakout Session: Understanding Anti-Asian Racism

Dr. David Shih is Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he has taught since 1999. He holds degrees from the University of Texas, the University of Oregon, and the University of Michigan. He has published in national outlets such as the New York Times, The New Republic, The Progressive, Slate, NPR’s Code Switch, Electric Literature, and Inside Higher Ed, and he has presented his ideas at local, state, and national levels, including NPR’s All Things Considered, WPR’s The Joy Cardin Show, and WNYC's All In with Alison Stewart. His book Chinese Prodigal: A Memoir in Eight Arguments (Atlantic Monthly Press) is forthcoming in August 2023. He grew up in north Texas and lives in Wisconsin with his wife, Robin, and son, Jacob. Learn more about Dr. Shih HERE.


Nina Shoman Diversity SymposiumBreakout Session: Understanding the Palestinian Experience – In Solidarity from the Diaspora

Dr. Nina Shoman-Dajani is the Assistant Dean of the Learning Enrichment and College Readiness department at Moraine Valley Community College. In addition, Dr. Shoman-Dajani works as an adjunct professor in Middle Eastern Studies at Saint Xavier University and has served as a visiting lecturer at the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC), where she taught Arab American studies.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies and her Master of Arts in International Affairs with a focus on U.S. Foreign and Domestic Policy from California State University, Sacramento. She completed her Doctor of Education degree at Benedictine University in Higher Education and Organizational Change. Her doctoral research focused on the racial identity construction of Arab American college students.

She is a member of the National Advisory Council for the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE) and serves as the co-chair for the Transnational-International Committee, is a board member for the Arab American Studies Association and a board member for the Syrian Community Network, a refugee resettlement agency in Chicago.  She is a student and community advocate who has volunteered as the advisor to the Arab Student Union for over a decade and currently serves as the Executive Director for the Chicago Palestine Film Festival. Dr. Shoman-Dajani has been recognized with the Delores Huerta Activist Award for her commitment to social change from the Freedom Bound Center in Sacramento, California, and was honored with the Moraine Valley Embracing Diversity Award in recognition of the various initiatives she spearheaded to support students from marginalized communities. In 2017, she was honored by Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs with the Outstanding Commitment in Education Award. In recognition of her advocacy on behalf of immigrant populations on campus and in her community, Dr. Shoman-Dajani was the Spirit of Empowerment Award by Arab American Family Services in 2018. In 2019, she was recognized by Saint Xavier University for her academic contributions to the Middle Eastern Studies program. Her most recent publication was a co-authored report published by the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Illinois, Chicago titled: Beyond Erasure and Profiling: Cultivating Strong and Vibrant Arab American Communities in Chicagoland (published in January, 2023). LinkedIn: Nina Shoman-Dajani, EdD – Twitter @DrNinaShoman  



Previous Diversity Symposium Highlights

2022: Theme: Understanding Systemic Racism: Past, Present, and Making it Personal

Keynote speakers: Dr. David Shih and Amanda Mesirow. Breakout sessions included presentations by Chicago Compass Consulting, LLC, Dr. Durene Wheeler, and Dr. Scott Cashman.

Click here to view the Opening Keynote address. 

Click here to view the Closing Keynote address.  

2021: Theme: Mental Health Awareness

A panel discussion was led by LaVonya Williams, DuBoi McCarty, and Jason Altmann. Guest speakers: Becky Fein, Jennifer Wegener, LCPC, CEAP, Andrew Wade, Stefan Bjes, M.S, Elle McClinton, Beth Ripperger, and Cindy Washburn.

2020: Theme: Disability and Ableism

Keynote speaker: Dr. Stephanie Cawthon. Guest speaker: Dr. Richard Reddick.

2019: Theme: Indigenous Populations

Guest speakers: Dr. Anton Treuer and Adam Lopez.

2018: Theme: Latinx Success Commitment at Harper

Keynote speaker: Dr. Michael Benitez. Guest speakers: Harper College’s Latinx Success Taskforce team.

2017: Theme: Student Persistence

Keynote speaker: Tom Brown. Guest speakers: José Leyba and Mario Rivas.

2016: Theme: Understanding Veterans and Deconstructing Gender

Keynote speaker: Kristin Beck. Guest speakers: Kelly Holt, a student veterans panel, and a panel discussion with the “Staff, Administrations and Faculty for Equality” (SAFE) Employee Resource Group.

2015: Theme: Global Aspects of Diversity and their Local Impact.

Keynote speaker: Steve Pemberton. Guest speakers: Dr. Michael Armato, Dr. Jeanine Ntihirageza, and Dr. Maria Krysan.

2014: Keynote speaker: James Wright “Unconscious Bias.”

2004-2013: A wide range of DEI practitioners, clinicians, and guest speakers contributed to Harper’s DEI Symposiums. Past guest speakers included Dick Gregory and Tim Wise.

Last Updated: 12/14/23