Welcoming Environment® Summit


A positive office culture is one of the most important elements of a successful organization. It’s also one of the most difficult to attain. The culture of a modern office is a Welcoming Environment®.

A Welcoming Environment® uses inclusiveness to empower people to do their best and most innovative work. It attracts the best professionals to your organization and creates a team of diverse viewpoints, talents, and ideas.

This summit isn’t just talk. It’s a day packed with real-world examples and data on the impact a Welcoming Environment® has on the growth and sustainability of your organization.

You can’t afford to not attend. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Schedule of Events

8:30 – 9:00 Breakfast and Networking

9:00 – 9:30 Welcome and Introductions 
Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE
President and CEO
Association Forum

Bob Moore, CAE 
Chief Operating Officer
American Dental Hygienists Association
Welcoming Environment Committee

Celeste Smith, CAE
Director of Education
American Association of Law Libraries
Welcoming Environment Committee

9:30 – 10:30 Keynote: The Power of a Welcoming Environment- Innovation, Productivity, Commitment

The term DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) has been been around for a number of decades, however, challenges remain regarding how we embrace the topic and execute on it daily within our organizations. This conversation will highlight the key factors necessary to creating a welcoming environment where DEI is embraced and its impact can truly be realized.

This conversation will help you gain deeper knowledge around the factors necessary to creating a welcoming environment through the following objectives:

  • Identify the keys to a welcoming environment
  • Explore the impacts of a welcoming environment on an organization
  • Understand the important role leadership plays in making a welcoming environment a reality

Doug_Harris.jpg Doug Harris
The Kaleidoscope Group

10:30 – 10:45 Networking Break

10:45 – 11:45 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: A Research Driven Exploration
Learning Outcomes:
  • Understand the latest research into Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the association sector
  • Share most effective practices on DE&I from other industry sectors
  • Explore the business case – empirically grounded – for why further engagement with DE&I is an organizational imperative
  • Acknowledge gaps in research/areas in need of further exploration

Session Description:
McKinley Advisors’ recent research into Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the associate sector brought to light some difficult truths: while associations are fairly good at talking about DE&I, meaningful actions are woefully absent. This session will be a deep dive into what we know – and need to know better – about the research related to DE&I for associations and beyond. This data-driven exploration will be a different kind of journey into this topic. As a result you will be able to frame different conversations and ultimately more effective outcomes around this critical area of focus.

J-Hockman.jpg Jon Hockman, CPF, FASAE
McKinley Advisors

Candace_Headshot.jpg Candace Vanderpoel
Research Manager

McKinley Advisors

11:45 – 12:30 Lunch

12:30 – 2:00 Our WE Journey: Lessons Learned (moderated panel and Q&A)
  • Learn from association and corporation executives as they share what their organizations have learned on their welcoming environment journey. Understand their successes and challenges to better inform the next steps for your association.

Julie Felix
Assistant Vice President
Diversity & Inclusion Manager
Mesirow Financial

Laura-Birk.jpg Laura Birk
VP, Human Resource
Barilla America

nancy-okpe-gargura.jpg Nancy Ukpe Gargula
Director of Diversity & Inclusion
Institute of Food Technologists

2:00 –2:15 Networking Break

2:15 – 3:45 Build Your Own Action Plan
  • Collaborate with your peers and other attendees to translate today’s lessons into action. You will have the opportunity to create an action plan for your organization and receive feedback so you can truly accelerate your association’s WE journey.


jim-huberty.jpg Jim Huberty
Chair Emeritus
Out & Equal Chicago Chapter

moore-bob.jpg Bob Moore, CAE
Chief Operating Officer
American Dental Hygienists Association

3:45 – 4:00 Call to Action and Closing Remarks

  • Leave today feeling inspired and focused on what a welcoming environment will do to build your business.

4:00 – 5:00 Post-Event Networking

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Event Details

Location: Institute of Food Technologists
Date: February 13, 2019
Time: 9:00 – 4:00 pm
CAE Hours: 6

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Title Partners


Support Partner



Additional Resources

FORUM-Sept18.jpg b27b1d1c-a8ec-446b-ab2b-32afa5674631.jpg
Resource Kit


Laura-Birk.jpgLaura Birk
Laura Birk is the Vice President of Human Resources for Barilla America where she has been for over 12 years. Laura is responsible for all the talent management and people processes supporting the Americas business which includes Canada, U.S., Mexico and Brazil. She is a Board Member for the company, and has the pleasure to serve over 600 employees in the Americas.

nancy-okpe-gargura.jpgNancy Ukpe Gargula
Nancy Ukpe Gargula currently serves as the Director, Diversity and Inclusion for the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) where she leads work within and across IFT to advance the science of food and its application across the global food system by leveraging the value of a diverse and inclusive organization. In addition, Nancy serves on the Board of Trustees of the Sioux YMCA to ensure children and adults of the Cheyenne River Reservation have access and opportunity to reach their full potential.

jim-huberty.jpgJim Huberty
Jim Huberty is a founder of the Out & Equal Chicagoland Regional Affiliate and has served on the Leadership Council for 11 years. He is currently Chair Emeritus of the Affiliate. Jim has also served on the boards of Stop AIDS Chicago and was a founder of the Chicago AIDS Walk.

Doug_Harris.jpgDoug Harris
For almost 30 years, Doug Harris has impacted the American workplace with his work in Diversity & Inclusion (D&I). In fact, his work extends back far enough that he was a part of the movements and conversations that birthed the industry that has grown from what was once called “Affirmative Action: Next Phase”. Combining compassion and a keen business sense, he has shepherded organizations, teams and executives forward as the diversity dialogue has evolved from compliance, to fostering inclusion and, ultimately, achieving exceptional business outcomes.

moore-bob.jpgJon Hockman, CPF, FASAE
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.

moore-bob.jpgBob Moore, CAE
Bob Moore, CAE, currently serves as the first chief operating officer of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, a 30,000 member association. Previously, Bob served as the first executive director for the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA), an amalgamation of technology trade organizations representing more than 22,000 technology-related companies across North America. He has also served as vice president of knowledge & learning experiences for the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), an 18,000-member association.

smith-celeste.jpgCeleste Smith
Celeste Smith is the Director of Education at the American Association of Law Libraries. She leads the development of education strategy and implementation of all learning initiatives for legal information professionals. Responsible for cultivating education design and engagement activities, Celeste has over 15 years of training, instructional design, content development and delivery, serving corporate, government and nonprofit sectors. She is an established leader in organizational learning committed to delivering value across a broad spectrum.

Candace_Headshot.jpgCandace Vanderpoel
As a Research Manager at McKinley Advisors, Candace Vanderpoel leads the design and implementation of research projects, including survey development, management, analysis and reporting. Candace’s 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.