4th Annual Conference on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Education: Belonging

3rd Annual Conference on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Education

Presented by Gwynedd Mercy University's School of Business and Education

Join us virtually on Monday, April 8th and Tuesday, April 9th for GMercyU's 4th annual Diversity Equity and Inclusion in Education Conference with the theme of belonging. The event is free and offers Act 48 credits. It is open to PreK-12 and higher education educators, administrators, and staff, as well as interested students, parents, and community members.

Register here

See conference program

Monday, April 8

Keynote Address
Fostering a Sense of Belonging: Creating Community and Connection 

This session will discuss a sense of belonging within the framework of social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. The presentation will be interwoven with personal stories, the theoretical, and practical, in the hopes of finding common ground to move forward as educators and practitioners who desire to create equitable classrooms where all students feel valued and can succeed.

ElizabethOrtiz.JPGPresenter Dr. Elizabeth Ortiz, Educator
Elizabeth Ortiz's professional experience spans more than 35 years in public and private higher education. Throughout her extensive career, she has worked with educators, policy leaders, and community representatives committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in education. Before her retirement on June 30, 2023, Dr. Ortiz served as the Vice President of Institutional Diversity and Equity at DePaul University for 21 years. She was a pioneer in the DEI field, and she spearheaded policies, programs, and initiatives locally and nationally to increase the access and success of underrepresented students, faculty, and staff. Prior to her work at DePaul University, she was the director of Affirmative Action and Diversity Resources at Northern Illinois University and Director of Hispanic Programs at Chicago State University.

Dr. Ortiz has worked extensively on building institutional capacity to address structural racism in higher education. She was one of the contributing authors of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education's (NADOHE) Framework to Advancing Anti-Racism Strategy on Campus. Dr. Ortiz currently serves on the board of Niagara University, is the co-chair of the Consortium of Senior Diversity Officers in Higher Catholic Higher Education and has been the chair of the Public Policy Committee of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) since 2012 to present. She also served as the past president of the Illinois Latino Council on Higher Education (ILACHE) from 2000 to 2012.

Dr. Ortiz participated as a 2015 American Council of Education Fellow and a 2019 Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Liderazgo Fellow. She has been awarded numerous awards for her service, including the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Excellence in Leadership Honor for Educational Change, 2013/2014, Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations, Most Powerful and Influential Woman of Illinois, National Diversity Council, 2010, YWCA Women of Distinction, 2008 and was named in the “Who’s Who in Hispanic Chicago” List in the Education Category in 2014, 2015, and 2019. Dr. Ortiz has a bachelor’s in business management from Calumet College of St. Joseph’s, a Master’s in Leadership and Policy Studies, and a doctorate in counseling and higher education from Northern Illinois University.

Breakout Sessions at 7:00 pm Eastern

  • Exploring a Framework for Building Belonging Culture in STEM Classrooms

  • The School District of Philadelphia’s Student Well Being Survey: An Institutional Strategy for Assessing, Responding to, and Creating Belonging

  • A Place for All of Us: Creating Spaces of Belonging for LGBTQ+ and Gender Diverse Students

Tuesday, April 9

Breakout Sessions at 6:00 p.m. Eastern

  • Leave Room: Lifestyle Changes for Acceptance in the Culturally Responsive Community

  • Don't Put Me in a Box: Unboxing to Cultivate Belonging in the Classroom

  • Fostering a Culture of Belonging: Harnessing Faculty Learning Communities as an Institutional Strategy


Breakout Sessions at 7:00 pm Eastern

  • Teaching and Reaching with Comics/Graphic Novels

  • Healing in Community: Racial Affinity Groups as an Institutional Strategy for Self and Collective Care

  • Applying the Social Justice Standards: A Teaching Tool for Any Changemaker
Asynchronous posters on additional topics will be available as part of the conference registration.