“It’s the biggest regional economic development and diversity conference in the state right now. And I don’t know another state that’s doing it this way,” says Dr. Ruben Anthony, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison. “I know that there has been some folks trying to imitate it, but this is the biggest and best that’s available right now that is focused on equity and economic development and how they work together.”
Organizers of the 2019 Madison Region Economic Development and Diversity Summit – Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) and the Urban League of Greater Madison – hope that the annual event will build on previous joint events in a collective commitment to advancing talent, opportunity and growth for all the region’s citizens. The Summit will be held on Friday, May 17, at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center.
The convergence of diversity and economic development is a critical component of efforts to mold this region into a model for economic inclusion, Anthony says.
“The key thing about this event is that it really is a celebration of a partnership between MadREP and the Urban League,” Anthony tells Madison365. “It’s the intersectionality of equity and economic development so this conference will be an opportunity for us to come together with the community, with corporate partners and with non-profit partners to really have some really direct dialogues about how we can help equity and diversity in these organizations.
“This is a safe space where individuals can come and feel comfortable asking questions,” he adds. “Everybody just coming and talking about how we can come and put the Madison region on top in terms of really exploring equity and economic development.”
The day-long Summit’s mission is to engage, educate, and empower attendees around issues related to economic, workforce, and community development through a variety of workshops and speakers.
Paulita David, director of multicultural strategies at McPherson and the former head of Multicultural at Google, will be the keynote speaker for the event. At McPherson Strategies, she works with today’s most prominent brands. David joined McPherson following a decade at Google, where she put “multicultural” on the map for the company.
“This is the 6th year for this event. And this is the first time that we’ve ever had a governor come and speak,” Anthony says. “We are excited to have Gov. Tony Evers coming to speak. We also will be having his secretary from DWD [Department of Workforce Development], Caleb Frostman.
“We have a bunch of national people that will be coming in including former NFL player Wade Davis,” Anthony adds. “He’s a great speaker who has been making his way around the national circuit.”
Davis is a thought leader, public speaker, and consultant on gender, race, and orientation equality. He is the NFL’s first LGBT inclusion consultant and currently consults for numerous professional sports leagues on issues at the intersection of sexism, racism and homophobia.
Anthony himself will be on a panel with the theme of “Promoting Racial Equity Through Community Development” that will be moderated by Damon Dorsey, founder of the Value Creation Group and will also feature Margaret Henningsen, co-founder of Legacy Bancorp and Wyman Winston, former executive director of Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA).
In the press release announcing the summit, the Urban League notes that “diversity spurs economic growth, while homogeneity slows it down. As workforce demographics continue to shift, we recognize that the businesses and communities that embody, embrace, and encourage diversity in all its forms will experience the most gains.”
“Equity is an asset; not a liability,” Anthony says. “If you use it the right way and you use it to bring in innovation and creativity. The young people and the diversity that we are bringing into these organizations will really set them apart. It will be a difference maker in their company versus some of these other companies because you don’t have the same ideas coming in; you have new and innovative ideas coming in and helping lead these companies to success.”
New Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway will also give remarks at the Summit and introduce the keynote speaker.
“This will probably be one of the most powerful Summits we’ve ever had. This is one that people don’t want to miss,” Anthony says. “If you’ve never been to a Summit, you won’t want to miss this one. It’s going to be a great opportunity for people to come and to hear about a whole range of topics.
“It’s really just a great opportunity to come and talk about how we can really make this stuff happen and really explore the positive dimensions of partnerships around equity and economic development,” he adds.