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CONFERENCE SPEAKERS

KEYNOTE ADDRESS:


Dr. Aeriel A. Ashlee, St. Cloud State University

Aeriel A. Ashlee, PhD (she/her) is a proud Asian American womxn of color mamascholar. Her professional praxis is guided by her desire and commitment to facilitating healing and liberation in higher education. Prior to her current role as associate professor and graduate director of the College Counseling and Student Development master’s program at St. Cloud State University, Dr. Ashlee worked in student affairs in higher education advocating for Students of Color and fostering brave space for bold conversations. Her research interests include pedagogies of belonging, womxn of color empowerment and critical consciousness in higher education, and coalition building between transracial adoptee and multiracial communities.

SELF-AWARENESS FOR SYSTEMIC CHANGE

Ian Gibbs-Hall, Sonder DEI Consulting & Professional Development

Ian Gibbs-Hall is a former chemist and teacher who now focuses on enabling perspective shifts to advance the progress of DEI. Ian believes the groups and labels we use to navigate our world and create meaning are the underlying source of our systemic issues. He believes our need to define overshadows our ability to understand each other. Growing up mixed race in predominantly White spaces, he had a front row seat to people’s confusion and need to define “what” he was. Ian now specializes in creating content, strategies, and communications to better understand ourselves and sees every interaction as a chance to learn from the one-of-a-kind perspectives of others.


TRAUMA IN THE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS LANDSCAPE


Shannon Cron, St. Olaf College

Shannon Cron (she/her) is an Associate Dean of Admissions at St. Olaf College. Alongside working with prospective students and families, her primary responsibilities include facilitating ongoing training and professional development for enrollment staff, developing information session content for the campus visit program, and liaising with Twin Cities college access organizations. She's passionate about the individual and collective power of education and strives to center creativity, equity, and empathy in her work. Prior to joining the St. Olaf Admissions Office, she worked as a High School Coach at College Possible, a theater director and educator, and a freelance writer and editor. This spring, she completed her masters' degree in organizational leadership, policy, and development at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, where her research focused on what trauma-informed admissions practices do (or could) entail.

UNDERSTANDING ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES (ACEs)

Ziyen Curtis, Carleton College

Ziyen (she/they) serves as an Access Team member at Carleton College, a private top-ten liberal arts school in Northfield, Minnesota. At Carleton, she serves as an admissions officer and as the lead for QuestBridge and Carleton's Travel Aid program (for both prospective and admitted students). Their passion to assist and develop access initiatives in support of first-generation students, low-income students, queer students, and students of color informs their work and inspires their endeavors.



Emily Owens, Venture Academy

Emily serves as the Director of Career & College Counseling at Venture Academy, a Title 1 eligible public charter school in Minneapolis. She teaches career and life skills classes in the school while also providing alumni persistence and support for Venture graduates. She initially started out as an admission counselor and worked in enrollment management for over 6 years before transitioning to the high school side, serving institutions like Cristo Rey -Twin Cities. Emily is passionate about readiness for adult life, workforce exploration, and breaking down barriers in post-secondary systems.

DEI SKILLS WORKSHOP

Chris Dávila, Dávila Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consulting

Chris Dávila is an experienced diversity, equity and inclusion professional with a demonstrated history of working in higher education. He is a gay, cis-male, Mexican American and a first generation college graduate. As an 18 year resident of Duluth, MN, I have served as an Academic Excellence Coordinator at the University of Minnesota Duluth Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the College of St. Scholastica and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Specialist at Life House. Chris earned a Bachelor of Arts in Teaching, General Business Certificate and Human Services Certificate at the University of Minnesota Duluth and I am a certified Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). Chris’s background in teaching greatly influences his planning, strategies, and approach to DEI work and learning. DEI work requires behavioral changes at its core and I believe that success starts with building strong relationships, supporting a welcoming environment that is challenging and safe for making mistakes and learning.

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