Embracing Our Neighbors: A Conversation on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging
Diversity of thoughts and experience creates innovation, productivity and higher job satisfaction. Gain a better understanding of our community and how to enhance coworker/client experiences through a panel conversation with Columbus DEIB leaders.
About our panelists:
DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION (DEI) DIRECTOR, CITY OF WESTERVILLE
Jonathan Bentley is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director for the City of Westerville. He is the first the DEI Director position after it was created in 2021.
In this role, Mr. Bentley collaborates with key stakeholders to design, implement and evaluate diversity, equity and inclusion programs that align with organizational goals and ensure compliance with local, state and federal legislation. He also provides consulting, training and coaching for employees and managers on diversity issues. In addition to this, Bentley also creates strategies, reports, and performance metrics for diversity, equity and inclusion in all areas including economic development, community development, purchasing, recruitment, retention and employee education.
Prior to arriving in Westerville, Mr. Bentley served as Executive Director/Compliance Officer of the City of Youngstown Human Relations Commission. In this role, Bentley investigated complaints of discrimination in the areas of fair housing, fair employment, and education. He also created workforce programs to match individuals from underrepresented demographics with available employment opportunities and managed other employment and career training needs in Youngstown and the surrounding region. Lastly, Bentley has also conducted training with law enforcement agencies in the Youngstown, Ohio area.
LISA S. COURTICE
PRESIDENT AND CEO, UNITED WAY of CENTRAL OHIO
The United Way of Central Ohio is one of the largest United Way organizations in the country. Under Dr. Courtice's leadership, United Way is helping to build a community in which everyone has the aspirations, resources and opportunities to reach their fullest potential.
Dr. Courtice is a Ph.D. psychologist with over thirty years of experience leading nonprofit programs and services, having served for over ten years as director of agencies directly providing services to those living in poverty in Ohio. Prior to joining United Way she served thirteen years as executive vice president and leader of community research and grants management of The Columbus Foundation, the seventh largest community foundation in the country.
Lisa currently serves on the boards of Syracuse University College of Arts & Sciences, Ohio United Way and Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio. In 2018 she was appointed by Columbus City Council to serve as a commissioner on the Commission on Black Girls. Her professional leadership has included serving as chair of the Weinland Park Collaborative and serving on the Ohio Wesleyan University and Columbus School for Girls Board of Trustees. Lisa received her Bachelor of Arts from Syracuse University, her Master of Arts from West Virginia University and her Ph.D. from the University of Akron. For the past three years, Lisa has been recognized on the Columbus Business First Power 100 list.
PRESIDENT, COLUMBUS URBAN LEAGUE
A passionate advocate for social justice and racial equity, Stephanie Hightower has emerged as one of our community's most respected change agents.
She stepped in as the first female president of your Columbus Urban league (CUL) in nearly a century of existence. Now in her tenth year at CUL, Stephanie moved this 102-year-old organization to a new level of influence and effectiveness, touching almost 40,000 people a year with an array of proven economic mobility initiatives, bringing the National Urban League conference to Columbus, transforming an abandoned building into an economic hub in the heart of the King Lincoln District and much more.
Resolving never to waste a crisis, Stephanie met the economic, health and racism challenges of 2020 with courage and dogged determination. She revised delivery systems, created on-line tools, redeployed her team to work remotely and focused on recovery issues, channeling more than $5 million in new revenues to offer relief and hope to approximately 70,000 people, including 4,000 jeopardized black entrepreneurs and 9,000 families fighting homelessness. She stood tall for reforms in policing, eviction policy, health care and education and to demand that people who got sick should not go broke. And she launched a new collaboration and policy group to create a plan for resiliency that will forever change the inequities and disparities preventing the advancement of Black people.
Stephanie has always pursued excellence for herself and for others. An Olympic athlete, she set American and world records and now continues serving as a leader in World Athletics. She currently chairs the World Athletics (WA) Gender Leadership Task Force and is a member of WA Human Rights Working group. A two-term member and former Board President of Columbus City Schools, educational improvement remains her passion. She also serves on the boards of Celebrate One and the Columbus Zoo.
DENSIL R. PORTEOUS
CEO, PRIDE FUND 1 & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, STONEWALL UNION
With a keen interest in the venture and startup, Porteous has advised and worked with partners like VarsityBooks.com/The Varsity Group, Zinch acquired by Chegg, Vireo Labs, Ulyngo (acquired by Modo Labs), Acceptd, RaiseMe, Rev1 Ventures, Juggle, TicketFire, GetAccepted (acquired by The Princeton Review), and LEAP. Densil has served in executive leadership roles on several local, regional, and national boards while having had a notable career in nonprofit/higher education administration.