Showing appreciation for all the wonderful things people are doing to make their communities a better place is always a heartwarming affair. On Wednesday, October 19, over 500 people from all over the Region came together at the Urban League of Northwest Indiana's tenth annual Diversity & Inclusion Awards Luncheon to celebrate the organizations, businesses, and individuals who have truly made a difference. Many laughs, smiles, and even a few tears were shared; everyone left the event feeling inspired to do even more for their communities.
"This is a fabulous event. It really allows us to celebrate all the good work that is happening in the community around diversity, equity, and inclusion," said Sue Ellspermann, President of Ivy Tech Community College.
The event was the perfect opportunity to enjoy some delicious food, reconnect with old friends, and make new acquaintances.
"We've been cooped up for two years, so to get out and actually start networking again and getting to see people you haven't gotten to see in ages is wonderful. I love it," said Louie Gonzalez, Chancellor of Ivy Tech Lake County Campus.
The event was also the perfect way to recognize all the hardworking people in the community who have strived to make a difference in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, community, and in leadership. Awards were given out to many different organizations and businesses in the community to thank them for all the work they've done toward making the Region a more equal and inclusive place.
"It's important to continue to encourage people to fight the good fight. Oftentimes, people can get discouraged sometimes when they feel like their work is going unrecognized and unappreciated, but when they hear from their friends and hear from their colleagues and get that recognition there's no better feeling. It encourages them and pushes them to keep going," said Gonzalez.
However, not only was the Diversity Luncheon a great way to show appreciation for all the progress that has been made, it was also a way for people to realize how much more work needs to be done and encourage them to initiate change. "Every year, through this event, we rededicate ourselves to to the goals of knocking down barriers and opening doors to equality" said Dr. McCloud - President & CEO of the Urban League of NWI.
"It helps us recognize that there is still work to do, but we are making progress and we want to celebrate that progress and lift it up so that we can encourage one another to do even more," said Ellspermann.
Several people who won awards gave speeches about the work they've done and how much of a difference it's had on the community--it was the perfect way to inspire others to go out and make a difference. One of the most inspiring speeches, however, was Ellspermann's. She spent some time explaining the inequity she was seeing on campus, and how she and her team have worked together to try to eliminate equity gaps and make tuition and books more affordable for those in need.
"Our diversity and equity goals are extremely important, and those goals are not just for our students but our employees as well. We want to make sure that we look like the students we serve and make sure that we're bringing the most diverse talent to our institution. We have many programs intended to eliminate equity gaps. Ultimately, we want to make sure that we're the community college our students need us to be so they can succeed in their careers and in their lives and make a difference in their community," said Ellspermann.
Ultimately, the Region is brimming with people who strive to make the world a better place. The Urban League of Northwest Indiana Diversity Luncheon showed those people that their work does not go unnoticed and that the impact they have on their communities is immeasurable, and in doing so, encouraged countless others to do the same.
To learn more about the Urban League of Northwest Indiana services, DEI training, and its mission to promote equality and make the world a better place, visit https://www.urbanleagueofnwi.org/.