Speakers & Sessions

Canton Diversity Conference


Session #1: Diversity & Inclusion’s influence on the Economic Development of Our Community
Mayor William J. Healy, II & Robert Torres, Director of Development, City of Canton


Session Objectives:

  • Explain influence of diversity & inclusion on the growth and development of our community
  • Illustrate the impact of HR professionals
  • Describe specific examples by the City of Canton  


Mayor HealyMayor William Healy was elected to his first term as Mayor of the City of Canton in November 2007. Before becoming Mayor, he was elected in 2004 and 2006 to represent the 52nd District of the Ohio House of Representatives, which includes all of Canton and parts of Stark County. Mayor Healy is a 1981 graduate of Canton McKinley Senior High School. He earned his associate’s degree from Kent State University at Stark, a bachelor’s degree in business from Rowan University in New Jersey and his MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business in New York City. Mayor Healy lives with his wife and son in the City of Canton.





Robert TorresRobert Torres was appointed by Mayor Healy in February 2008 to be Canton's Director of Development. Prior to joining the Healy administration, Torres was a development specialist for Mayor Carleton “Carty” Finkbeiner of Toledo, where he was responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in new and sustained economic development projects. Torres specializes in the coordination of new business development projects using loans and grants from public and private funding sources. Torres graduated from Bowling Green State University with his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and public administration after serving in the United States Marine Corps. from 1986 to 1988 and again during the Desert Storm conflict from 1989 to 1990. He is a member of the President's Leadership Academy Advisory Committee at BGSU, and is the founding chair of Adelante, Inc. - a Latino resource center serving the greater Toledo area.


Session #2: Diversity & Inclusion 101 – Let’s Start with the Basics
Traci Dunn, Director of Global Inclusion and Talent Acquisition, The Timken Company
40 minutes


Session Objectives

  • Define and explain the dimensions of Diversity & Inclusion
  • How does D&I impact the profitability of a business
  • How does D&I influence the productivity of employees


Traci DunnTraci Dunn is the Director, Global Inclusion & Talent Acquisition. She is responsible for the strategy and implementation of Diversity, Global Inclusion, Talent Acquisition and Workforce Compliance processes for Timken, a global manufacturer of innovative friction management and power transmission products and services. Dunn has more than 15 years of Human Resources experience with twelve of those years specializing as a Diversity and Inclusion Practitioner. Dunn received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of North Texas.


Session #3: Generational Values - Dimensions of Diversity in Workforce
Deborah Easton, Communications Skills Consultant, The Corporate University, Kent State University at Stark
30 minutes


Session Objectives

  • Explain values of various generations
  • Describe how they influence decision-making, relationships etc.
  • Examine skills needed to bring generations together

Deborah Easton

As a communication skills consultant for 29 years, Deborah Easton provides audiences with practical advice for utilizing effective communication skills. Her techniques for one-to-one interactions and group communications provide positive results. She has conducted training for organizations such as First Energy, Hyland Software and Summa Health System. Easton has been instrumental in numerous special projects, including developing performance evaluation systems and facilitating cultural change. She earned a master’s degree in speech communication and taught communication courses in Kent State University’s Department of Communication Studies and Graduate School of Management.


Session #4: Retaining Talent in Stark County
Aimee Belden, Director, ystark!
15 minutes


Session Objectives

  • Explain the value of ystark! for businesses with professionals under the age of 40
  • Describe the successes of ystark!
  • Share goals of ystark! and the value of it for leadership development


Aimee BeldenAs the director of ystark!, the county’s young professionals initiative, Aimee Belden is responsible for building awareness of the program in the community, executing numerous events for young professionals, working with area colleges/universities to mentor students and promote the benefits of remaining in Canton, and establishing relationships with human resources professionals to attract and retain young professionals within their organizations. Previously, Belden was marketing manager for Moen, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of plumbing supplies, based in North Olmsted, Ohio. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder, with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration.


Session #5: The Value of Diversity & Inclusion on Leadership
Rev. Mark Simone, Associate Minister, Federated Church
40 minutes


Session Objectives

  • Discuss Diversity Leadership Beyond the Quota: a discussion for managers looking to include diversity in the work place in meaningful ways
  • Vignettes to illustrate successful integration of the special talents and contributions of present in the workforce.
  • Shift to approach that offers specific principles to HR managers in terms of understanding the psychological and sociological barriers and blessings of a diverse work force.  


Rev. Mark SimoneRev. Mark Simone is the Associate Minister for Children and Youth Ministries at the Federated Church in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. A lifelong interest in human relationships led him to develop numerous workshops on the issues, challenges, obstacles and solutions for encouraging and embracing diversity. He has spoken to church, civic, and business groups on many aspects of diversity. He has also been a mediator for diversity solutions with organizations struggling for solutions when racial hardships arise. Mark holds a Masters of Divinity in Pastoral Counseling and Psychology from Ashland Theological Seminary. He is a member of Pi Gamma Mu, the International Honor Society in Social Sciences.


PANEL DISCUSSION: Practical Application of Diversity & Inclusion


Panel Objectives

  • Provide clear examples of how the panel organizations achieved success with diversity & inclusion initiatives.
  • Distinguish what areas of business was the impacted mostly. How are they compared to competition? How does CEO and executives contribute to success? 
  • Interpret why Human Resources is important to the process?

What were challenges? Success? How long did it take to see results and why?
Describe how diversity affects Business-to-Business interactions. How does diversity affect Business to Consumer interactions?



Tish Bigg, Ph.D.
Tish Biggs, Ph.D., Moderator

Tish Biggs is the Director of Community Relations for Time Warner Cable. For the past fourteen years she has been connecting people to the world through Internet, phone and cable television services. In addition to being the first webmaster for the Road Runner High Speed Data service, she has been recognized as a winner in meeting and exceeding Time Warner Cable’s business, public affairs and philanthropic goals. Biggs has a bachelor’s degree from Mount Union College, a masters from the University of Akron and a Ph.D. in instructional technology from Kent State University. 




William E. Coleman, Ph.D.William E. Coleman, Ph.D.
Dr. Coleman is a professor and co-chair for the Department of Communication; and the Assistant to the President of Diversity at the University of Mount Union. He has a Ph.D. in Rhetorical Theory and Criticism from The Ohio University; a Master of Divinity in Religion and Theology from Capital University; a Master of Arts in Communication from The Ohio State University; and a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication from The Ohio State University. Dr. Coleman has been with the University of Mount Union for 25 years. His past administration positions include Chair of the Department of Communication; Director of African-American Studies; Chair of the Department of Communication & Theater and Director of College Library.



Deborah DeanDeborah Dean
Deborah Dean is vice president of strategic accounts for Spherion Corporation. She has responsibility for sales and service excellence for a portfolio of approximately 60 of Spherion’s largest account relationships. Dean joined Spherion two years ago from Spring Group, where she served as VP global sales and strategic marketing. Having had the responsibility for the launch of that company’s vendor management solution, she has a unique understanding of supply chain logistics in the recruiting and staffing environment as well as the unique requirements for Fortune 500 employers. Dean is a graduate of Alma College in Michigan.





Dr. GrimesDr. Michael Grimes
Dr. Grimes runs a private family practice in Akron, Ohio. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Findlay and his medical degree from Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. He is a regular speaker and has made presentations to various groups throughout Northeast Ohio. Dr. Grimes received the NEOUCOM Award in 1997, the Alliance Distinguished Alumni award, the Honory Alliance Negro History Club award in 2006, was named to the list of “Akron Best Doctors” in 2009 and “Cleveland Best Doctors” in 2010. Dr. Grimes is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Ohio State Medical Association.


Robb HankinsRobb Hankins
Robb Hankins has spent the last 30 years directing city, county and state arts agencies in eight different states including Wisconsin, Connecticut, California and Oregon. He has managed annual arts campaigns, arts festivals, public art projects, arts education programs and downtown arts districts. Hankins arrived in October 2005 to become the President & CEO of ArtsinStark, the County Arts Council. The organization called ArtsinStark today was founded in 1968 to build the Cultural Center for the Arts. Today ArtsinStark gives out grants, manages the Cultural Center and runs the Annual Arts Campaign. Its operating budget of $2.6 million comes almost totally --- 99% from the private sector. In May 2009, in the middle of a recession, ArtsinStark’s annual arts campaign raised the highest amount in over 40 years --- $1.45 million.


Sara LehrkeSara Lehrke
Sara Lehrke Sara Lehrke is the senior director, human resources and chief diversity officer for The Cleveland Indians. She has been with the organization for 24 years and has held various roles. Currently, she is responsible for overseeing all aspects of employee recruitment and training for the organization, and also overseeing and chairing the Diversity Council for the Cleveland Indians. She has responsibility for the coordination, delivery and compliance of all employee benefits and compensation, and assists with the negotiation of the various labor unions represented by the employees of the organization. Lehrke is active in her church and community. She lives in North Ridgeville with her husband Dale and her two children.



Brenda StevensBrenda Stevens
Brenda D. Stevens is currently Director of Multicultural Services at Malone University where she has served students for the past 15 years. She is married to Leonard D. Stevens; they are owners of City Flooring & Design Center located on the corner of 12th St and Cleveland Ave NW. in Canton Ohio. They have two adult children, and two grandchildren. Brenda received a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from Kent State University, and a Master of Arts degree in Higher Education Administration from the University of Akron.  


Session #6: What do I do Next
Summary of conference and three brief steps on how to begin
a Diversity & Inclusion Initiative

Compass Consulting Services, LLC
Tameka L. Taylor, Ph.D. & Ruth E. Ramos
30 minutes


Session Objectives

  • Summarize conference information
  • Describe how to apply knowledge obtained during conference
  • Provide clear “next steps”


Tameka L. Taylor, Ph.D. is a partner and consultant of Compass Consulting Services, LLC, an organizational development firm which provides customized training on diversity management and inclusion, team building, conflict management, communication and leadership. She has over 19 years of experience facilitating discussions on diversity issues for both youth and adults in all sectors. She engages participants in difficult, but honest, conversations around respect and inclusion in the workplace in a non-threatening manner where participants gain awareness and skills. Taylor believes that in order for an organization to perform at their optimal level, employees must feel valued and appreciated despite the differences among them. She earned her undergraduate degree from Baldwin-Wallace College, her Masters Degrees from Bowling Green State University and her Ph.D. from Kent State University.


Ruth E. Ramos is a partner and consultant of Compass Consulting Services, LLC. She has several years working in the diversity field, both in the for-profit and non-profit sectors. In her most recent role, she worked at AmTrust Bank as the Diversity Consultant. Ruth was responsible for developing the diversity strategy and implemented diversity initiatives throughout AmTrust Bank’s footprint. In addition, she created exciting and resourceful internal diversity web pages that increased employee awareness and provided diversity educational opportunities. Lastly, she managed education and awareness workshops around diversity issues in the workplace. She earned two undergraduate degrees from Cleveland State University in psychology and Spanish, and her Masters Degrees from Cleveland State University in Organizational Psychology with a concentration in Diversity Management. Ruth is also an alum of Latinas Learning to Lead, a program sponsored by the National Hispanic Leadership Institute.