Spark Action

Be inspired. These Breakfast for Champions and Equity Conversations sessions feature industry leaders and DEI experts offering their insights.

Don’t forget to check the videos in the Learn with Others and the Trainings & Workshops categories.

June 11, 2020 Oregon’s Historical White Supremacy Structure and Its Impact on You

Oregon – particularly Portland – is often seen as progressive and tolerant. A deeper look at its history will reveal a different reality. Members of Partners in Diversity are invited to Equity Conversations about Oregon’s history of racial exclusion and structures of white supremacy. Eliza Canty-Jones, editor of Oregon Historical Quarterly and director of community engagement at the Oregon Historical Society, will facilitate the discussion.

Participants will learn about and discuss:

  • Oregon’s historical white supremacy structures
  • Where these structures still exist today and how they affect you and your employees of color
  • What you can do to tear them down.

A special thanks to Columbia Sportswear for sponsoring this session.


July 23, 2020 Moving Beyond a Company Statement and Into Action, featuring Dr. Michael McAfee

After the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and so many other senseless deaths of Black Americans, millions of people took to the streets demanding racial justice. In offices and boardrooms across the country, companies issued statements to express solidarity and support for the movement. So, now what? How can companies take that energy in the streets and turn it into actions that institutional leaders must take?

Michael McAfee, Ed.D., president and CEO of PolicyLink, will share his thoughts about this watershed moment in history and how employers can move beyond making a company statement and toward real change. Dr. McAfee will share examples of business practices that need to be changed, as well as the roles that businesses play in civil society.

A special thanks to Cambia Health Solutions for sponsoring this session.



February 25, 2021 Diversity in Leadership, featuring Lisa Wardell

“Now is the time for corporate leadership to really say, ‘We are not going to hide behind more comfortable terms,’” said Lisa Wardell, the only Black woman to serve as CEO and chairperson in the S&P 400 Index when she took over Adtalem Global Education in 2016.

Many executives are making commitments to add more underrepresented minorities to boards and senior leadership. Ms. Wardell has already done it. Under her leadership, gender and ethnic diversity increased at the Adtalem board to 62% and 78% within the senior leadership.

Partners in Diversity presents Breakfast for Champions Diversity in Leadership: How to Make it Happen. During this time, Ms. Wardell will shared:

  • How she boosted her company’s culture.
  • Her recipe for change and sustainable success.
  • How she reached the top as a Black woman and mother of six.

This Breakfast for Champions program will be moderated by Allison Davis-White Eyes, Ph.D., Director of Community Diversity Relations at Oregon State University.


February 16, 2022 Black Achievement and Anti-Blackness: An Intersectional Understanding of Oregon Black History

In this Equity Conversation for Black History Month, we were joined by Dr. Carmen Thompson, a historian, scholar and consultant on the Black experience in America. This presentation provides a historical introduction to the paradoxical relationship Black people in Oregon have with the State — one that renders Black peoples’ incredible achievement and vibrancy against systemic oppression, exclusion and exploitation in the creation and maintenance of White supremacy. This history is not purely oppositional, yet it cannot deny the ongoing imprint of this legacy on the character of the State.

Special thanks to Agate for sponsoring this session.