2019 Speaker Bios

Bios for our speakers and facilitators are listed below:

Dean Marvin Lynn, PhD

Keynote speaker: Conceptualizing and Building a “Beloved Community” in Oregon: Race, Multiculturalism. and Intersectionality

Professor Marvin Lynn is the dean of the College of Education (COE) at Portland State University. Dr. Lynn possesses decades of leadership and community service experience on prestigious national, state and local committees. His leadership experience in other schools of education includes his role as program coordinator at the University of Maryland and later at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Lynn also was the associate dean at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and dean of the School of Education at Indiana University South Bend.

Dr. Lynn’s national board and council leadership includes: ETS’s Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Advisory Council, the edTPA Policy Advisory Board, the Board of Directors for Partners in School Innovation, the Board of Directors for the Carnegie Project for the Education Doctorate, and the nominating committee for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE).

He has served on several other national committees, as well, including the Accreditation Council for the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. He was also the chair of the Global Diversity Committee for the AACTE; affirmative action officer for Division K, Teaching and Teacher Education; and committee co-chair for Division G, The Social Context of Education for the American Educational Research Association.

At the state level, Dr. Lynn serves on the Oregon Governor’s Educator Advancement Council and participates as a member of the Educator Equity Advisory Committee. Locally, he is a member of the Multnomah County Education Collaborative and recently joined the Oregon Community Ministry Board for Providence Hospital.

Dr. Lynn sits on the steering committee for Project Pipeline Repair: Restoring Minority Male Participation and Persistence in Educator Preparation Programs, a W.K. Kellogg funded collaboration with state higher education policy leaders and educator preparation faculty. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for Partners in School Innovation, a nonprofit that supports underserved public schools based in San Francisco.

Dean Lynn is recognized internationally for his scholarship on race, education, and the experience of Black male teachers in the United States. He has published dozens of research articles and book chapters on these topics with his most recent co-authored article appearing in the Journal of Teacher Education in 2018. Dr. Lynn is the lead editor on the Handbook of Critical Race Theory in Education, with a second edition coming out in 2020.

Dr. Lynn, a member of Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, earned a PhD in Social Sciences and Education with an emphasis on Race and Ethnic Studies from UCLA. He earned a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College of Columbia University and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from DePaul University.

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Dr. Paul Miller

Speaker: Race and racism in Oregon: The Past is Prologue

Dr. Paul T. Miller is an independent researcher and holds a doctorate in African American Studies from Temple University. He has taught courses in African American history, African history and culture and racism in America. His book, The Postwar Struggle for Civil Rights, examines the civil rights movement in San Francisco. His interests include postwar African American history, social justice and anti-racist activism. He is an expert on anti-Black racism and how it is manifested in institutions through unearned systemic white racial advantage.

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Dr.Emily Drew

Speaker: Why Equity?

Dr. Emily Drew is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Ethnic Studies at Willamette University, where she teaches courses about racism, immigration and social change.  Her research agenda revolves around understanding how race and racism get institutionalized, with the goal of helping to illuminate more effective strategies for interrupting systemic inequality.  Drew is a co-trainer of “Understanding Institutional Racism” workshops for Crossroads Anti Racism Organizing and Training.  In that context, she works as a strategic planner, helping institutions develop and implement long term commitments to anti-racist, multicultural diversity.  Drew also works with a local coalition for immigrant rights, and is in the process of publishing new research about mixed-status families living “Under One Roof” in Oregon.

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Charu Nair

Speaker: Breaking the Bias Code: Unlock, Harness and Transform the largest Hidden Barrier to Inclusion

Ms. Nair brings her three decades of insights and experience in private and public sectors to her equity work as Founder of Keys2DEI Consulting. 

Ms. Nair provided key expertise in leadership, strategy and diversity initiatives to many Fortune 500 as well as to small and medium sized companies. For close to a decade, Ms. Nair continued to share her informed perspective and curate critical curricula as Adjunct Faculty of both the MBA and Humanities departments at Marylhurst University, as well as at Portland State University and Oregon Graduate Institute. The foresight of her acclaimed courses including “Cultures of the World” and “The New Americans” discussing the very issues two decades ago in our communities that are so widely embraced today, generated a wide following that kept them in session through all the years.

Previously she was part of the first wave of tech accessibility and affordability as member of the launch team of the first laptop in India. Ms. Nair also facilitated meaningful cultural and business connections and trade for over 300 Oregon mostly small business owners with their overseas counterparts as part of launching the nascent WTC Portland. Ms. Nair has followed her liberal arts degree with two graduate degrees in two continents.

Ms. Nair has actively given back to the community with her service, including as Human Rights Commissioner for Multnomah County, as Civil Rights Commissioner for the Bureau of Labor and Industries Portland, as Board Member of the Urban League of Portland, over a decade of PTA and Enrichment leadership, and currently as Board member and Policy Committee Chair of the Lake Oswego School District’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Board.

Ms. Nair’s work is uniquely informed by her decades of local experience bridged with her wide-ranging worldwide cultural and business work. 

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Bill de la Cruz

Speaker: Equity in Schools and Education

Bill de la Cruz is an inspiring leader who has been guiding individuals and groups through the process of personal transformation as a mediator and workshop leader for 30 years. Bill has served as a School board member and Board President in Boulder, co-authored the CDE equity Toolkit for administrators and is the former Director of Equity and Inclusion for Denver Public Schools. He delivers keynotes and facilitates bias awareness and deconstruction workshops across the country with his Consulting firm De La Cruz Solutions. He developed his programs and workshops to help individuals and groups build self-awareness, enhance relationships and to help foster positive, sustainable personal growth. Bill has been on his own personal growth journey for more than 40 years which inspired him to develop specific practices designed to help create positive, lasting change.

Bill is a published author with a book titled “Finding the Origination Point, Understanding Our Biases to Create a More Peaceful World”.  

Bill’s book supports people in normalizing the bias conversation to understand the experiential and emotional origination point of a biased experience or narrative. The origination point of our biases is the point of understanding and healing. Normalizing bias conversations allows us to talk about how our own experiences play a role in the disparities of outcomes for students, staff and families in our schools using a bias lens. Bill uses the processes in Finding the Origination Point conversations to talk about disparities in academic, social emotional growth and discipline disparities in our schools. 

The Origination Point explores the connection of how individual biased experiences are transferred into organizational and systems cultures. Relational leadership is the thread that allows us to become more aware of the relational and emotional impacts of bias in building systems that are sustainable and build capacity in our schools, departments, and communities. 

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Don Johnson

Facilitator: Building Bridges: One Community’s Journey to the Museum of Tolerance

Don began his career in 1979 with the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, a fully cross-trained police and fire agency in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Don worked his way through the ranks and transitioned to the role as Police Chief on 2000 for the City of Los Altos California, a position he held for four years before transitioning back to Sunnyvale as the Chief of Public Safety in 2005.  Don left California upon retirement in 2011 and was hired as the Police Chief in the City of Lake Oswego Oregon where he served for 7 years before again retiring. That retirement too was short-lived as Don returned to the City of Lake Oswego after 6 months to begin service as the City’s Fire Chief earlier this year.  Don is a graduate of San Jose State University and of the FBI National Academy.

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Thomas Bruner

Speaker: Barriers to Equity

From CEO of a scrappy start-up in Texas, to Vice President with the nation’s largest humanitarianorganization in Washington, D.C., to volunteer at a Buddhist temple in Portland, Oregon, Thomas Bruner has been helping businesses and organizations do great work for decades.

A nationally-recognized leader, Bruner brings a wealth of experience to his work, including 25 years of executive-level leadership, a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, a diversity management certificate from Cornell University, an impressive portfolio of civic volunteer engagement, and numerous awards and recognition.

Bruner launched Bruner Strategies to help mission-focused businesses organizations do great work in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Leadership & Governance, and Financial Development. Bruner has worked with over 50 clients in Oregon, Texas, California, Minnesota and Alabama, as well as India and Venezuela. Sample clients have included Oregon Health & Science University, Oregon Health Authority, Energy Trust of Oregon, Texas Christian University, San Antonio Area Foundation, Leadership Fort Worth and the Soto Zen Buddhist Association.

Bruner has an impressive record of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion at institutions across the country. As Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion for the American Red Cross, he dramatically expanded programming nationally, including: launching employee resource groups; developing cultural agility and responsiveness training; developing equity-based models of service delivery; forging culturally-specific community partnerships; enhancing diversity of new hires and promotions; and increasing supplier diversity.

At every organization he has led, Bruner has been an equity pioneer and champion. He has successfully operationalized equity at every level, including: Boards & Governance, Workforce & HR; Programs & Services; Community Outreach & Partnerships; Marketing & Communications; and Suppliers & Vendors.

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John Lenssen

Speaker: Engaging in Ally Behavior

Ally John Lenssen is a consultant who works with organizations, schools, and universities on issues of equity, leadership, culture, communication, conflict, bias, and organizational change.  He is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Oregon, Portland State University, and Lewis and Clark College, teaching graduate courses in leadership, social justice, communication, and cultural competency. He previously served as the Team Leader for the Access and Equity Team at the Oregon Department of Education where he also served as the state coordinator for the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Program. He has served as an administrator with the Educational Opportunities Program at Oregon State University and the Office of Minority Affairs at the University of Washington.  He is an associate with Stir Fry Seminars and Consulting in California, Workplace Solutions in New York, and Education and Training Consultants in Oregon.

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Dr. Markisha Smith

Speaker: Microagressions: The Macro Impact

Dr. Markisha Smith is the new Director for the Bureau of Equity and Human Rights at the City of Portland.  She previously served as Director for the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the Oregon Department of Education.  Her work is specifically focused on best practice in equity, diversity, and inclusion, culturally responsive practice and closing opportunity/access/belief gaps for historically and currently marginalized groups across the state.  Markisha’s previous experience includes working as the Director of Undergraduate Teacher Education at Warner Pacific College, as an Assistant Professor at Western Oregon University and Northern Michigan University, and as a high school English teacher in Houston, Texas for nine years. She is a proud mother of two beautiful children, Cadence and Bryson.

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Christine Moses

Facilitator for the session on Schools and Community

Christine Moses is CEO and founder of Buffalo Cloud Consulting, a DEI and communications consulting firm located in Lake Oswego. She is also a member of Respond to Racism, a grassroots organization whose mission is to end racism in Lake Oswego and in Oregon, and to improve the quality of life for all. From June 2017 to September 2019, Christine was the communications director at Lake Oswego School District. Since 2014, Christine has been a trained facilitator in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. She is passionate about helping people discuss big, hairy topics that are scary in order help communities and companies heal. Christine has a B.A. in sociology from Princeton University, an M.A. in public policy from Trinity College, and is pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership for equity at the University of Oregon. She lives in Lake Oswego with her husband and a cat.

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Willie Poinsette

Facilitator for the session on Schools and Community

Willie Poinsette is the Co-Founder and President of Respond to Racism in LO, a grassroots group focused on educating people about racism and collectively working to interrupt it to make Lake Oswego and Oregon a better place for all of its residents and visitors. She is a retired school principal and Central Office Administrator from Portland Public Schools and previously worked as a teacher and principal for the Paterson Board of Education in New Jersey. She served 45 years as an educator before embarking on her new role as a community organizer. Willie has had extensive training in diversity, equity and inclusion over the years both as a learner and facilitator. In 2019, she received the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce Community Leader of the Year Award. Willie lives in Lake Oswego with her husband, Bruce.

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Glen Montgomery

Facilitator: Government and Community Moving Forward

Glenn joined Vision Action Network as its Executive Director in March 2015, capping a 30+ year career that spans the business, government, faith-based, and nonprofit sectors. From software development to sustainability to lay ministry to nonprofit management, he has curated a unique set of skills and experience that serve him well in his current role as convener and facilitator of cross-sector collaboration in Washington County. At VAN, Glenn creates space for all voices to address issues of equity, leveraging his role as an ally for under-represented communities, and building bridges with leaders who are willing to challenge the traditional infrastructure of power. Prior to VAN, Glenn was the Executive Director of Oregon Solar Energy Industry Association and a consultant focused on organizational development and leadership.

Outside of work, Glenn enjoys choral singing, outdoor recreation, and exploring the wonders of the Pacific Northwest. He is a volunteer teacher and board member of Living Yoga, a nonprofit that provides free trauma-informed movement and meditation for people who are incarcerated, in recovery, or coping with acute and chronic trauma. He is a past board member of First Unitarian Church in downtown Portland, a welcoming community where “love is the doctrine of the church, the quest for truth its sacrament, and service its prayer.”  He is also an original founder of JOIN, a nonprofit that has served the houseless in Portland since 1991. Glenn is blessed to have two grown daughters close by and nine siblings scattered across the country.

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Megan Phelan

Facilitator: Government and Community Moving Forward

Megan Phelan is the Assistant City Manager for the City of Lake Oswego. Prior to the City of Lake Oswego, she worked in human resources for the City of Wilsonville and in the private sector. Megan has an MBA from Marylhurst University and lives in West Linn with her husband and daughter.   

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Emmett Wheatfall

Speaker: Closing Remarks

Emmett Wheatfall is a recognized expert on implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. He is a former Assistant County Administrator for Clackamas County where his primary responsibilities were for equity, diversity, and inclusion. He was previously a vice-president for the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette, as well as Corporate Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Specialist for Portland General Electric.

As a human-resources professional and leader, Emmett has extensive experience in public speaking, training, and facilitation. He spent years assisting employees, workgroups, and organizations in such areas as equity, diversity and inclusion, affirmative action, and equal employment opportunity. Emmett is a highly regarded conference, seminar, and workshop speaker in Oregon and the United States.

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