Diversity Speaker Series

An initiative of The Center’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, the program was created to contribute to a stronger, healthier community by sharing information and creating a safe place for open dialogue around historic problems of race and exclusion.

This series features presentations by local leaders who are helping to shape a culture of anti-racism and inclusion in Charlottesville. The online event runs for six consecutive Wednesdays. The series is free and open to all, but registration is required.

To register: Click on the date/time (in blue) of the presentation you wish to attend, then click on the blue registration link. Fill out the information requested and click "Register." You will receive an email confirmation. Please note that you must register for each presentation individually.


What IS White Privilege?

Susan Bro 

March 3, 5:30 pm

What is white privilege and why should we care? How does white privilege play out in our lives and in our communities?

Susan Bro is the mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed on August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville. Susan works as an advocate for anti-racism through the Heather Heyer Foundation, Heyer Voices, and on-going hate crime legislation work.


The Origins of Racial Categories

Jalane Schmidt, Ph.D.

March 10, 5:30 pm

Race is a biological fiction, but a social fact. The notion of biological "race" is a relatively recent historical development that emerged in the supposed era of Enlightenment which coincided with the transatlantic slave trade. Though often considered to be immutable, racial categories are socially constructed and shift over time. The perception of "race" is not an innocent abstraction since the categories function somewhat like tickets that permit or inhibit access to political and material resources and confer social status. Finally, racial categories are defined and enforced, sometimes violently, by powerful institutions. 

Jalane Schmidt is an associate professor in the University of Virginia’s Department of Religious Studies, teaching courses that consider the effects of colonization and the slave trade upon religious practice in the Americas. An organizer with the Charlottesville chapter of Black Lives Matter, Dr. Schmidt has appeared in numerous national and international news outlets, and frequently speaks to audiences about whiteness, white supremacy, policing, and affordable housing.


Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Kaki Dimock

March 17, 5:30 pm

Building bridges with people across differences and divides, working to get to know someone in a real and meaningful way, taking social risks, holding yourself and others accountable, and growing requires willing engagement in feeling uncomfortable. This presentation will help you identify your discomfort with the concept of “white fragility” and identify ways to work through it.

Kaki Dimock was born in Charlottesville and raised in North Garden. She is Director of Human Services for the City of Charlottesville, working with people experiencing homelessness, incarceration, poverty, and substance abuse. An extroverted introvert with a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University, Kaki believes we are always better together.


Do You Have Black Friends, or Do You Just Know Black People

Allison Linney

March 24, 5:30 pm

The success of our efforts to build an inclusive community are dependent on our desire and ability to develop meaningful relationships. This presentation will cover learning how to explore privilege and bias and then transform that insight into a foundation for lasting friendships that can endure difficult moments, bring us joy, and support lasting change.

Allison Linney is the President and Founder of Allison Partners, an organizational development consulting firm serving corporate, non-profit, and public sector clients in Virginia and around the world. As a coach, trainer, facilitator, and consultant, Allison’s clients benefit from her thoughtful candor and broad experience in areas including effective communication, management and supervision, balance, and team development. Allison received her BA and MBA from the University of Virginia and has been supporting diversity, equity, inclusion, and accountability work since she first came to Charlottesville in 1991.


Leveraging White Privilege to Change a Broken Social System

Charlene Green

March 31, 5:30 pm

Is it possible to use white privilege as a way of addressing racial justice? What is the responsibility of whites to address racial justice? What is the responsibility of people of color? This session will build on what has been discussed in the previous talks to find actionable pathways to changing a broken social system.

Charlene Green is the Deputy Director of Piedmont Housing Alliance. She is known throughout Charlottesville for her inspiring dedication to educating the community on the local history of race and institutional power.


Post-Event Wrap Up - What Have We Learned? Where Do We Go From Here?

Bob Garrity

April 7, 5:30 pm

This final session offers an opportunity to discuss the presentations. After a brief introduction, participants will adjourn to moderated breakout rooms to discuss: 1) reaction to the information presented; 2) recommended action steps for The Center to take to address diversity, equity, and inclusion; and 3) recommended action steps for the greater community to take to address diversity, equity and inclusion. The entire group will then reconvene and for a facilitated discussion.

Since 1989, Bob Garrity and has provided services and training in communication, planning, problem-solving, restorative practices, diversity and cultural competence, and conflict resolution for businesses, government, schools, universities, and other organizations.