"How do we find engaging, inclusive, educational diversity speakers and presenters for our conference?"
Many associations with diversity and inclusion goals are keen to make sure these goals are also reflected at their meetings and events. But with limited budgets for speakers, how to find excellent presenters on a topic that can be exciting but also emotionally charged?
First and foremost, keep an open mind, and think broadly. It is important to acknowledge sensitivity around these issues, and to seek speakers who avoid lecturing, and instead foster an open dialogue among participants. Conference chairpersons, committee members, and association leaders should try to keep in mind their own biases when selecting speakers (see resource box below) seek commonalities rather than differences, establish these conversations as safe space, then suggest best practices.
Some other tips and best practices when considering diversity speakers and presenters:
- Start with NASFAA's Diversity and Inclusion speaker registry - a resource for NASFAA members who wish to locate a speaker or volunteer to present;
- Build appropriate funds into your event budget, as there may be a cost associated with speakers who are not volunteers from the financial aid office (sometimes just expense and travel reimbursement);
- Make sure to search for speakers at your own school, or other local schools. Institutional resources may include:
- The Student Affairs office
- The Human Resources office
- your school's legal counsel
- Your school's Diversity Officer
- Faculty and researchers on your campus whose areas of research may involve various diversity and inclusion.
- Next, reach out to off campus resources, such as:
- Published authors and researchers with expertise in the specific diversity topic you're seeking
- Professional organizations on the state, regional and national levels
- Presenters and attendees your enjoyed at conferences
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