Published on May 4, 2023 by Kameron Brown  
2022 23 Education Diversity Forum Graphics

Samford University’s Orlean Beeson School of Education, in partnership with the Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives (ODII) is delighted to host its second Diversity Forum June 6-7.

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The school of education invites community leaders, educators and those in professional fields focused on building diverse learning communities to join us for collaborative discussions, learning opportunities in diversity, equity and inclusion, and growth and learning with other P-12 and higher education professionals.

Understanding communities is an invaluable skill for educators to nurture, it is vital for educators to understand the groups in which they are pouring their skills and talents. This year’s forum will seek to expand on these skills and equip leaders to make positive impacts in the field of education.

This year’s keynote presentations will be led by Carlos Javier Torres, MS, ¡HICA! Programs Director and Tonya Perry, vice provost of Miles College.

Torres attended the University of Puerto Rico where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He then moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he completed a Master of Science in Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at Vanderbilt University. Alabama serves as foreground for his career, spanning over 20 years of service in community outreach, higher education, clinical training, public health administration, philanthropy and federal government work.  Before joining ¡HICA! as programs director, Torres worked for the Census Bureau as the Alabama Statewide Latino Partnership Specialist for the 2020 Census Decennial. In this role Torres spearheaded the work to capture the growth of our Hispanic Community from 3.9% of the Alabama’s population to 5.3%. Prior to this post, he worked as a senior program officer for the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham managing a portfolio that included food systems, green space and the built environment. Torres previously worked for 11 years at the Jefferson County Department of Health in Alabama and is a strong advocate for systems change to empower all people to make meaningful contributions to our community.

Torres will be moderating the keynote panel, Latinos is Alabama: What and Why of Connecting with our Latino Neighbors on June 6. 

Perry was the Executive Director and Principal Investigator for GEAR UP Alabama grant at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which serviced almost 10,000 students in grades 7-12 from the Alabama Black Belt. She was also the Director for the Red Mountain Writing Project. She is the Vice President for the National Council of Teachers of English, which partners with other disciplines to promote literacies across all subjects. Her co-authored book Teaching for Racial Equity; Creating Interrupters, which was released in April 2022, is a collaborative work with two teacher educators, Steve Zemelman and Katy Smith, and other brilliant teacher-writers across disciplines. Her book discusses equity in learning and the design of curriculum that engages and supports students in all fields as they use their academic knowledge to make a difference in their communities. She is the author and co-author of more than 50 articles, book chapters, and books. She is on the Board of Directors for the National Writing Project located at University of California at Berkeley and a member of the NBPTS Global DEI Committee. Perry was the first African American Teacher of the Year for the State of Alabama and National Finalist in 2000. 

Perry will be presenting What Happens When We All Care and Advocate?: Teaching for Equity in Tough Times.

In addition to our keynote speaker’s addresses, there will be multiple breakout sessions led by presenters in the field and greetings from President Beck A. Taylor, Dean Anna McEwan, Denise Gregory, associate provost and Yvette Richardson with the Alabama State Board of Education.

The event will be held on June 6 from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and June 7 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. in the Regions Community Resource Room on the 4th floor of Samford’s Cooney Hall.

Seating is limited and guests must register to attend. There is no cost to register. For questions, contact Jane Cobia.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.