Community Conversations

Community Conversations 2020-2021

Continuing our focus on capacity building, this year we are honoring two pillars of DEI work – Human Transformation and Organizational Change -- and recognizing the importance of the transformative process in achieving better understandings of the systems, behaviors, practices and policies that drive progress relative to DEI and Inclusive Excellence. Working collaboratively with members of Wellesley’s staff and faculty, we have developed our most ambitious series yet. One that acknowledges the power of well-meaning, informed, community members to create and support thoughtful change initiatives and give voice to those who may feel unheard. And we plan to have to some fun – thanks to our amazing line-up of speakers and facilitators. We look forward with pleasure to your attendance and active participation. See you there!


Upcoming Programs


Unpacking Gender and Privilege: Thursday, April 8, 2021 from 11 am – 1 pm

Register via Workday Learning

Please join us for this interactive workshop that will support the Wellesley community as it continues to address systemic issues of gender bias, transphobia, and cis-gender privilege.  Within wider efforts of anti-racist practice and praxis, this workshop will serve as safe space in which to continue learning about transgender and non-binary identities and on LGBTQ inclusion through an intersectional lens. Using discussions and interactive activities, we will work through addressing gender privileges in various contexts. Join us to strategize about Wellesley’s areas of strength, potential for growth, and resources available to activate gender and LGBTQ equity across campus.

Presenter: Abigail Francis, LCSW


On Being An Active Antiracist: April 20, 2021 from 4 pm to 6 pm

Register via Workday Learning

Anti-racism consultants Donna K. Bivens ’75 and Paul Marcus welcome you into this learning circle – a safe, if challenging, space in which to share your experiences, your insights, your struggles and hopes relative to being an effective and active anti-racist. Donna and Paul, who have been doing this work for many years, believe that there is no one way to be an anti-racist. You gain mastery by engaging, by questioning and learning, unlearning and relearning who you are. We will talk about the challenges and the myriad ways of demonstrating leadership, supporting those wanting to effect meaningful, lasting change. During this two-hour session we will have opportunities to work in both large and small groups to learn from each other, consider evolving strategies and determine the work that resonates with you most powerfully. Of equal importance, you and you colleagues will form a cohort group that you can lean on to learn and address issues as they emerge.

Presenter: Donna Bivens ‘75, and Paul Marcus



Previous Programs

The Race Card - August 8, 2019

Increasingly, as a nation we are grappling with how to confront racism.  Some deny its existence, some prefer thinking about it in certain contexts, while some live with its impacts every day. Understanding the very personal manifestations of the social construct that is race, is one way to center our perspectives in dignity, empathy and respect.  It is also the way to better understand our own and others’ the experiences and to further develop our capacity to push for change. With this in mind, we invite you to join us in a very personal exploration of racial identity as we dive into Peabody Award winning journalist Michele Norris’ Race Card Project. Launched in 2010, this project has become an effective “vehicle for expression and voice” with people living in all 50 states and 90 countries sharing personal back stories, sentiments and hard truths rarely expressed out loud. 

Guest Speaker: Sonja Spears, Esq. – Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer for the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.


Knotty Problems Roundtable Discussions - November 19th

Community Conversations is delighted to collaborate with Prof. Alex Diesl to bring you this special edition of “Knotty Problems Roundtable Discussions.” For the past six years, Alex has been running these sessions to provide opportunities for informal, cross-disciplinary, small group conversations about teaching. However, this special 2-hour edition, invites conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as well as inclusive excellence and belonging. As with the traditional Knotty Problems Sessions, this forum is open to all Wellesley College faculty and staff who are interested in a thoughtful, informal discussion about these timely matters. The format will be small group conversations, to allow everyone a chance to both speak and listen. Please come; ask questions; share concerns; exchange stories and ideas; and engage with others for whom these matters are compelling, challenging and/or thought-provoking. And, snacks will be provided!

Speaker: Prof. Alex Diesl


Tools for Leaning into Cross-Cultural Interactions - December 12th, 2019

If you were asked to recall at least one occasion when you were interacting with one or more colleagues in either a work or social situation and you felt some tension or discomfort not directly related to actual work content, what might come up for you? When reflecting on the incident(s), are you pleased with the outcome(s) or do you wish you could have handled it better?  If the latter, you are not alone. This excellent presentation by Dr. Duncan Spelman will provide a set of excellent tools (some surprising) for managing such situations with skill and grace. Some pre-work is required.

Speaker: Dr. Duncan Spelman


Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am - February 3rd, 2020

In partnership with the Office of Intercultural Education, we bring the critically acclaimed documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am to campus. Though in the theaters for a surprisingly short time, one reviewer wrote, “Within minutes of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ new documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, it’s obvious that the distinguished author is a born storyteller. Her words are precious, perfectly placed in her melodic speech. Even her childhood memories come off as tiny epics, revealing some part of her, and by extension, some part of us in the process. Her reverence and awe at the power of the written word are as strong as ever. With a knowing smile, she revisits her memories in one-on-one style interviews, looking directly at the camera—at us—to tell her story. A chorus of scholars, critics and friends join her to sing praises for her work that she’s too modest to bring up herself." The screening will be followed by facilitated talk back.

Speaker: Akua Sarr - Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs at Boston College


Power & Privilege - June 18th

While there seems to be a greater awareness of the use and abuse of privilege and power, many are still left wondering how, on an individual level, these two concepts impact day-to-day life and interactions, especially in the workplace, and how they relate to the broader issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  This virtual workshop will discuss the relationship of privilege, power, and oppression and how we can increase awareness of behaviors to decrease abuse of privilege in the workplace.
Speaker: Robert Amelio

The New Transformation Imperative: January 19, 2021 

We are delighted to introduce Dr. John Silvanus Wilson, Jr. to the Wellesley College Community. Dr. Wilson will highlight the critical need for more of us to go beyond merely being conformers and reformers, by finally becoming true transformers. Given that Dr. King's birthday is the day before this talk, he will use Dr. King's biography as an illustration of what it means to climb the ladder of those phases from aspiring to conform, through aspiring to reform, to aspiring to transform. He will then describe and discuss a new transformation imperative, and what it may look like once it is activated in our world, in our country, and in our colleges...yet, all beginning with the activation in ourselves. Dr. Wilson’s career in academia includes, college president (Morehouse College), senior academic administrator (MIT and George Washington University), executive director of President Obama’s White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and, more recently, senior adviser and strategist to the president of Harvard University relative to her Presidential Task Force for Inclusion and Belonging.


Facilitating Across Cultures: February 9, 2021 and February 18, 2021 

With the Boston College Courageous Conversations Initiative as a model, this two-part program will train participants to effectively facilitate cross-cultural dialogues. More specifically, it will focus on technique as well as the processes of building strength and the other abilities needed to effectively lead and facilitate these extremely important, enlightening and sometimes challenging conversations.

Presenters: Karen Groce-Horan and Jayne Ogata


Navigating Whiteness: March 9, 2021 and March 16, 2021 

Created especially for Wellesley College, this two-part conversation will be led by Laura Brewer, a nationally renowned leadership coach who supports social revolutionaries in their work to build change and justice. Participation in this program will provoke you to deepen your conviction to interrupt white supremacy conditioning in your own life and circle of influence and clarify your personal role in and practice of racial justice.

Presenter: Laura Brewer, Founder of Mean Well. Speak Well. Do Well., Inc.