Villanova’s Annual Leadership Summit: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Erin Gormley Co-News Editor

On Thursday, October 24, the University’s Alumni Association hosted its annual Leadership Summit. This year, the themes surrounded dialogue focused on diversity, equity and inclusion in the Augustinian community. In particular respect to Villanova, the Leadership Summit focused on fostering a feeling of awareness, welcome, and belonging for everyone, in communities, in workplaces, in classrooms and in daily life.

Wes Moore, a social entrepreneur, author and decorated Army veteran among other attributes, was the keynote speaker. Moore is the founder of BridegEDU, a social enterprise committed to reinterpreting the freshman year and easing the transition for incoming college students. Moore is also the CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, an organization working to fight poverty by funding schools in need, food pantries and shelters across New York City. Moore’s keynote address to the Leadership Summit prefaced a day filled with meaning and placing importance of what each individual brings to the table. “We don’t have to focus on it because it is air. It is just present,” Moore said, speaking about inclusivity and its importance on college campuses, but more importantly, in life.

The Leadership Summit answered the challenge to build a stronger community through a diversified portfolio of panels with topics such as “Cultivating Belonging: A Foundational Look at Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” and “Leading by Example: Inclusiveness as a Shared Responsibility.” These sessions described diversity in action and emphasized the need for allyship in the context of how all environments can and should address it.

In the morning session, a panel entitled “Building Community through Mentorship” emphasized not only the knowledge and skills students can learn from mentors, but also the professional socialization and personalized support mentoring provides to facilitate success in future endeavors. “An organization’s structural supports are increasingly important especially for those from diverse backgrounds,” Dr. Tyonne Hinson, DRPH, ’01 MSN, RN, NE-BC, said. Hinson emphasized the need for diversity in the workplace and how mentors can help facilitate both productivity and diversity. “What systems do you have to hire and retain, to connect those individuals?” Hinson said.

Through its focus on community, the Summit encouraged attendees and speakers to work towards a personal mission of fostering a more equitable environment in the University community and beyond, specifically a focus to build a community that is both diverse and inclusive. Attendees left the Annual Leadership Summit feeling inspired, determined and committed to activation change. “Progress doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because we fight for it,” Stephanie Lim Capello, ’97, who spoke on the panel on mentorship, said.