The Real Talk Conference: Bridging Race, Identity, and Community

Plan to attend and make new connections while engaging in powerful conversations that promote understanding, increase empathy, and facilitate change in our community. Experience dynamic keynote speakers and interactive sessions led by NIU's students, faculty, and community members. Registration is now open and is free for NIU students, faculty, and staff.

Keynote and Featured Speakers Lineup:

Dr. Tia Brown McNair is the Vice President at the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), overseeing projects on equity, student success, and inclusive excellence. She leads the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers initiative and has authored influential works on racial justice in higher education.

Ainka Jackson, originally from Montgomery, Alabama, and raised in Selma, Alabama, focuses on community organizing to address racial and economic inequities. She's the founder of the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth and Reconciliation, working towards unity and bridging gaps. Her background includes roles such as being a guardian ad Litem for abused children and an advocate in the foster care system.

Dr. Caleb Stephens, a licensed master social worker and addiction counselor, brings diverse experience in areas like child welfare, addictions, education, and activism. With a background in performance studies and a keen interest in the Black narrative, safety, and empowerment, he applies the principles of intersectionality in his work.

Michelle Donahoe, Executive Director of the DeKalb County History Center, co-developed "Arts in Action" project highlighting Black and Latino history, engaging local artists for analytical discussions. With a history-related Bachelor's and a master’s in history from Loyola University, she's also been involved with institutions like Art Institute of Chicago and serves on the DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership Steering Committee.

Dr. LaVonya Bennett is a counseling psychologist with expertise in affirmative therapies for LGBTQ+ and racially marginalized individuals, specializing in issues of justice and equity. She completed her education at the University of Oklahoma and has conducted research on topics such as LGBTQ+ equity, police brutality, race-based traumatic stress, and healing spaces for women, receiving grants to improve mental health care for BIPOC LGBTQ+ individuals.

Don't miss out on this incredible opportunity to make a difference and learn together. Mark your calendar for Oct. 27!  Download a flyer and help promote the event.

Friday, October 27, 2023 at 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM

Holmes Student Center
600 Lucinda Ave, DeKalb, IL 60115

Event Type

Meetings and Conferences



Target Audience

Students, Faculty and Staff, Faculty, Supportive Professional Staff, Operating Staff


dei, diversity


Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Student Affairs
Contact Name

Ariel Owens

Contact Email or Phone

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