Community leaders, scholars, and students gathered in the Russell J. Salvatore Dining Commons on the Niagara University campus March 5 to examine the indicators of economic growth and the ways they affect marginalized community members. Hosted by the Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko Center for Race, Equality and Mission and the College of Business Administration, the Race and Economic Equity Summit also aimed to foster dialogue about the barriers and solutions for economic security for these individuals, with a special focus on people of color.
The more than 125 people in attendance participated in two interactive panel discussions on the following issues: the impact of a racial equity lens in systematically altering the economic security of people of color within corporations and organizations; the direct actions corporations and organizations can implement to impact the development, recruitment, retention, and promotion of employees of color; and the community impact of an intentional race and economic strategic plan.
The first discussion began with a keynote address from Dr. Robert Kallen, visiting professor at DePaul University. Panelists included Ana Hernandez Kent, Ph.D., policy analyst, Center for Household Financial Stability, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Kawanza A. Humphrey, vice president and corporate responsibility officer, Upstate Region; and Valerie White, executive vice president, Empire State Development and executive director of the Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development.
Trial attorney James Bobseine of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was the keynote speaker for the second panel, which included Terry Melvin, secretary treasurer, New York State AFL-CIO, and international president, Coalition of Black Trade Unionist; Jeffrey Pirrone, project director, Niagara Falls Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative, Catholic Charities; and Ezra Scott, Niagara Falls city councilor.
“It is important that all of us--every student, every faculty member, every staff person--consider that we have a role in this conversation,” said Dr. Rolanda L. Ward, associate professor of social work and director of the Ostapenko Center. “In order for us to have a community where people can provide for themselves and their families, we have to examine what our practices, policies, and standards are. This requires everyone to do their part and ask the question: ‘Do we have a representative community, here on campus, here in our region, and in our organizations?’”