Virtual Summit on Welcoming Environment


Virtual Summit on Welcoming Environment®: From Conversation to Action

Diversity and inclusion topics such as gender identity and ableism (the discrimination against people with disabilities) are driving the conversation on what it means to be a Welcoming Environment® in the year 2020.

During this virtual summit, we’ll unveil the first-ever Welcoming Environment research study to illustrate the financial impact of implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives into your organization’s strategic plan, and the financial consequences of not taking action.

Most importantly, the conversation will not end when the conference is over. Attendees will develop an action plan for aligning external stakeholders and internal team members on these essential issues, and leaders will reconvene at both an online forum and an in-person discussion circle to share their experiences.

Register Now

Event Details

Wednesday, July 22, 2020
8:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. (CT)

$69 for members
$79 for non-members

Credit Hours: 
2.5 CAE

Schedule of Events

8:30-9:00 a.m.
Optional Session
Virtual Coffee & Zoom Orientation
Log in early with a cup of coffee or your favorite morning beverage and get acclimated with the ins and outs of the Zoom Webinar platform. Featuring fun activities, you’ll increase your comfort level for using Zoom’s interactive tools and be ready to participate in the Summit’s various learning exercises.

  • Ralph Gaillard, M.Ed., Chief Learning Architect, The Adele Learning Lab, LLC

9:00-9:15 a.m.
Welcoming Session
Establishing a Learning Community
In this welcoming session, we’ll begin the process of creating a community of learners among the Summit’s participants. We’ll accomplish this by interviewing Association Forum Board Chair Geoffrey Brown, CAE, who will define what is meant by a Welcoming Environment®, and why it is critical to the success of an association. We’ll then transition to a community-building activity that will allow participants to become acquainted with one another.

  • Ralph Gaillard, M.Ed., Chief Learning Architect, The Adele Learning Lab, LLC
  • Geoffrey Brown, CAE, Chair, Association Forum Board of Directors & CEO, National Association of Personal Financial Advisors

9:15-9:45 a.m.
Opening Session
The Strategic Reveal: The Welcoming Environment® Research Study
The wait is finally over! The first-ever Welcoming Environment® Research Study will be unveiled during this Opening Session. Learn about the DE&I tactics and strategies over 5,000 members find to be most necessary for a membership organization to implement and where associations have been most successful in creating a Welcoming Environment® to-date. Plus, we will discuss findings with the community and uncover actions to take for your own organization.

  • Candace Vanderpoel, Senior Research Manager, McKinley Advisors
  • Jon Hockman, Principal, McKinley Advisors

9:45-10:00 a.m.
Break #1

10:00-10:20 a.m.
Knowledge Burst Session
Over the Rainbow: Tools to Be an Authentic LGBTQ+ Ally
Thirty-one percent of Generation Z and 20% of millennials are identifying as LGBTQ+, yet the “alphabet soup” of letters confuses many well-meaning allies. This engaging presentation provides the tools and know-how to better understand LGBTQ+ colleagues and learn how to avoid (and recover from) common micro-aggressions experienced by this community. In this talk, we will define key terms, dig into policies which affect the LGBTQ+ community, and share best practices in allyship. This humorous and practical session is designed to empower allies to be advocates and ensure everyone feels comfortable and confident working alongside LGBTQ+ colleagues and clients.

  • Bernadette Smith, Founder/CEO, Equality Institute

10:20-10:35 a.m.
Break #2

10:35 a.m.-11:00 a.m.
Knowledge Burst Session
Inclusion, Diversity and Equity: Implications for Association Leadership
You are invited to learn about ASAE Research Foundation initiatives to investigate models that associations use to promote Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (IDE) throughout the organizational leadership and governance structure. The research being launched addresses leadership development; board composition, performance and effectiveness; and governance practices as they relate to IDE strategies and goals. The session will cover topics being investigated such as the current state of board IDE; ways in which IDE strategies are established and measured; and the influence of IDE practices throughout the layers of the organization and the industry or profession served. How IDE strategies align with an organization’s culture of foresight will also be discussed.

  • Dr. Sharon Moss, CAE, President and Chief Research Officer, ASAE Research Foundation

11:00-11:30 a.m.
Closing Keynote Session
Remote Inclusion & Distant Presence – Are They/We So Different?
We are living in an oxymoron world where two opposites exist in tandem. How do we cope from one zoom meeting to the next, attempting to grab and hold someone’s attention? What seemed dry live and in-person, is positively dead online. Over the course of Michael’s talk, he will discuss how to overcome online challenges – especially around issues of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Everybody’s got a story, so why aren’t we using ours to engage and discover commonalities? Coming at the conclusion of two and half hours, you’d better be ready to tell your story!

Key learning takeaways:
  • Intergroup Contact Theory – Storytelling, why it is important.
  • Get comfortable being uncomfortable (while sitting in your most comfortable chair!)
  • Understand there are realities outside of your own experience.
  • Don’t cut corners…give 100% to any online interaction.

  • Michael Fosberg, President, Incognito

11:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Wrap-Up Session
Moving from Conversation to Action
To close out the Summit, you will participate in an interactive discussion with your peers to synthesize key learning takeaways and identify actions you’ll take to bring these takeaways to life within your organization. Plus, you’ll find out how you can participate in an exciting social media challenge after the Summit, allowing you and the rest of the learning community to further move the Welcoming Environment ®Virtual Summit from conversation to action!

  • Ralph Gaillard, M.Ed., Chief Learning Architect, The Adele Learning Lab, LLC


Geoffrey E. Brown, CAE- Chief Executive Officer, National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA)
Geoffrey E. Brown, CAE, is the chief executive officer of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). In this role, he is responsible for the association’s strategic direction, external relations, and ensuring its operational success. He has worked in association management since 2000, and currently serves as Chair of the Association Forum Board of Directors.

Michael Fosberg- President, Incognito, Inc
Chicago native Michael Fosberg has been working to create a national dialogue on race and identity since 2001 when he launched his one-man autobiographical play Incognito. The author-activist has used the unique presentation, along with engaging interactive training sessions and speeches, to embrace diversity in an effort to change corporate and organization cultures.

Ralph Gaillard, M.Ed.- Founder, Adele Learning Lab, LLC
Ralph is the chief learning architect of The Adele Learning Lab, based in Chicago, IL. Ralph founded the boutique learning design firm to specialize in helping organizations incorporate the latest education strategies, models and technologies into their training portfolios. He serves a variety of clients, including those in the accounting, legal, healthcare and IT software sectors as well as those in the nonprofit association space.

Jon Hockman- Principal, McKinley Advisors
Motivated by organizations’ missions and driven by results, Jon Hockman brings more than two decades of consulting experience with over 100 associations in the U.S. and abroad to McKinley Advisors. His personal mission is to help leaders of organizations make the best decisions regarding their strategy, people and performance challenges.

moss-sharon.jpgDr. Sharon Moss
Dr. Sharon Moss serves as President and Chief Research Officer at the ASAE Research Foundation, where she directs the association’s development, research, publication and knowledge dissemination efforts. Dr. Moss’ professional career has included association management; research administration; and clinical research in both academic and biomedical research settings. She received her Ph.D. and master’s degree in speech-language pathology, with emphasis in cognitive neuroscience from the University of Florida; and a bachelor’s degree in biology from South Carolina State University.

Bernadette Smith- Founder/CEO, Equality Institute
Bernadette Smith is founder and president of Equality Institute, and an award-winning author of three books. In 2004, Bernadette started 14 Stories, an award-winning wedding planning firm with an LGBTQ specialty. Her vision was to disrupt the heteronormative wedding industry with a vision of inclusion of all couples. Several years later, she took this passion and started to share her expertise with her peers in the global wedding and travel industry.

Candace Vanderpoel, M.A.- Senior Research Manager, McKinley Advisors
As a Research Manager, Candace Vanderpoel works closely with consultants and clients on survey development, management and analysis to synthesize data into actionable recommendations and deliverables. Candace manages the focus group process at McKinley as well. Her specialization in diversity studies during her academic career ensures she can appeal to internal and external audiences when leading the design of research instruments for McKinley’s association clientele.

Title Partner


Supporting Partner

Hospitality Partner


Resource Partners

Research Partners

aapmr_logo.jpg American_Planning_Association_logo.png asa-logo.jpg aem-logo-color-stacked-name.png
AWHONN_Logo.jpg ilcma-logo.jpg irem-logo.png napfa-logo.png
Smithbucklin-Logo.png soa-logo.jpg wcma-logo.png

Welcoming Environment® is a registered trademark of Association Forum.  Permission to use is required.