UVA President Ryan kicks off Tom Tom equity conference

Today marks the beginning of the Tom Tom Foundation’s Race and Equity Conference which is a pay-what-you-can virtual event that seeks to explore “the intersection of workplace and community.”

The title of the multi-day series is From the Classroom to the Boardroom and is intended to address income disparities. The conference website cites the latest report on family self-sufficiency from Ridge Schuyler of the Network2Work program at Piedmont Virginina Community College.  (Orange Dot Report 4.0, January 20, 2021)

“In our hometown, Charlottesville, Virginia, 35% of Black families do not currently earn enough money to meet their basic needs, compared to 14% of white families,” reads the conference website. “Targeted interventions can help address this racial inequity where its impact is most often felt—in our classrooms, boardrooms, and on the pathways in between.” 

University of Virginia President Jim Ryan kicked off the event this morning.

“As we focus on re-building community, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, innovation and collaboration remain critically important, especially around issues of diversity, equity and inclusion,” Ryan said.

Ryan said efforts to improve the overall community are underway and that the Classroom to Boardroom conference would provide highlights.

“Throughout this week you’ll hear from local and national leaders on their experiences and perspectives,” Ryan said.

One of those national leaders is Symone Sanders, who served as press secretary to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders during his 2016 presidential campaign before becoming spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris. Symone Sanders was the keynote conversation this morning. She was asked to speak about some of the challenges and barriers she has experienced as a Black woman.

“I think we can all identify with the ‘isms’ and Donna Brazile, a good mentor of mine, a former chair of the Democratic National Committee and a former CNN political commentator, Donna Brazile was a political commentator before people had jobs as political commentators!” Sanders said. “She said something to me that I will never forget and will share it with you now because I think it is the best encapsulation of the answer to your question. She said racism, sexism, ageism are not going anywhere tomorrow. We have to work to eradicate it. We have to call it out.”

The event continues this afternoon with two more panel discussions. At 1 p.m. the topic is “Ascension: Joining Together to Rewrite the Code” and will be a discussion of the social fabric required for art and community to grow featuring Sahara ClemonsWilliam Jones, and Lisa Woolfork moderated by Sarad Davenport. At 3 p.m. the topic is The Transformative Value of Diversity and Inclusion and is moderated by Mary Coleman, the executive director of the City of Promise. 

Visit the Tom Tom Foundation’s site to learn more and register for the pay-as-you-can event which runs through April 8. (website)

Visit the site to learn about the rest of the Classroom to the Boardroom conference on Race and Equity

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the March 30, 2021 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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