2022 Conference on Diversity, Equity, and Student Success

Plenary Sessions

Conference Welcome and Keynote Address
Thursday, March 17, from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm CT

Racelighting in the Time of COVID: Towards Supporting Students, Faculty, and Staff of Color

Racelighting is the process whereby people of color question their own thoughts and actions due to systematically delivered racialized messages that make them second-guess their own lived experiences and realities with racism. Racelighting includes messages that reinforce stereotypes that people of color are academically inferior, have lower capabilities, are morally destitute, and are of lesser worth; however, unlike gaslighting, where the messages are intentional, racelighting messages can be intentional and unintentional, depending on the perpetrator(s). This session will examine how racelighting impacts students, faculty, and staff of color. Recommendations for institutional and personal action will be discussed.

Closing Plenary
Saturday, March 19 from 11:45 am to 12:45 pm CT

The Imperative of Turning Words into Actions: Creating a World Without Racial Hierarchy Through Equity Leadership

This session will address the real work required to convert equity talk into authentic systemic and sustainable ​equity-based culture on a college campus. What does it mean to lead equity work as a white woman serving as president at a community college? What privilege and power do I and other white leaders bring to this work in higher education? Why are white voices and actions so essential in dismantling racism in higher education and in our world? A college campus is a culture comprised of people from varying backgrounds, lived experiences, and education. No college can truly achieve equity for students and employees by simply setting goals, priorities, and policies from the top down. The necessary work to convert equity talk to equity walk centers wholly on investing in the individual members of the college culture to expose and confront racism, acknowledge historical truths, and critically examine the white supremacy cultural norms that have governed higher education. It also requires clearly articulated expectations and accountability at all levels of the institution. Join this session to explore how one college is engaging in the process of becoming an anti-racist, equity-based culture for all those who study and work at the institution.

Dr. Suzanne Johnson

Dr. Suzanne Johnson

Dr. Suzanne Johnson is President at Green River College. She began her career in higher education as a full-time psychology faculty member at Dowling College, New York. In 2012, after many years as a faculty member, Dr. Johnson moved into administrative roles and became Dean of the College at Dowling College. She intentionally made the move to community colleges in 2014 when she had the opportunity to serve as interim campus president at Sylvania Campus of Portland Community College in Oregon. Her move to community colleges was driven by her commitment to the community college mission and the essential role community colleges play in providing educational pathways to opportunity. Prior to becoming president at Green River College, Dr. Johnson served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Suffolk County Community College in New York. She has been serving as president of Green River College since July 2017. Her time at Green River College, thus far, has focused on facilitating and supporting the collaborative efforts of the college’s outstanding faculty and staff as they work to ensure equitable student outcomes and deepen a culture of caring and belonging for all students. Of equal importance is her work to position the college as an invaluable partner with businesses and industries to contribute to the economic growth, vitality, and stability of the cities it serves. Dr. Johnson holds a B.A. in Psychology from Ithaca College, New York; and a master’s degree in psychology and Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Stony Brook University, New York.