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Thursday, September 29 • 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Keynote Speaker: It’s Time to Deliver - DEI Strategy Leading to Action with Dr. Karen Francis

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Even as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have become trendy in recent years, many organizations are not yet taking the kinds of action required to drive change. The time for “talking the talk” is over, and employees and constituent communities are looking for organizations to begin to “walk the walk.” Dr. Karen Francis, VP, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, American Institutes for Research ® (AIR) will share strategies for putting DEI into action with measurable outcomes, with a focus on cultural and linguistic competence (CLC), an important component to DEI. This session will provide an evidenced-based, global perspective on DEI that makes a difference not only for your organization but for the children, youth, and families that your organization serves.

Dr. Karen Francis is Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Officer of AIR. In this role, she leads AIR’s overall DEI efforts through the implementation of the DEI framework and strategic pillars focused on workforce and work environment; cultural and linguistic competence; identity, brand and thematic research; and growth and sustainability to advance AIR’s mission. Additionally, Dr. Francis focuses on developing internal and external partnerships to drive AIR’s global DEI presence. She provides oversight for the DEI Office, employee resource groups, the DEI Council and the Cultural and Linguistic Competence Workgroup. She partners with senior leadership and staff across AIR to drive organizational accountability around inclusivity, equity and fairness at all levels.

Dr. Francis received her doctorate in Medical Sociology and Social Inequality from Howard University. She was a principal researcher in the former Professional Services division at AIR. Dr. Francis brings more than 25 years of experience working in diverse communities and across multiple human service systems with expertise in the areas of strategic planning, research, cultural and linguistic competence, and the utilization of data-driven approaches to her DEI role that has evolved at AIR. She continues to lead and champion AIR’s internal metrics-based growth and sustainability of DEI and AIR’s external presence of DEI in the field. Dr. Francis has authored and coauthored several publications that focus on cultural and and linguistic competence and its practical application for service delivery. She also represents AIR and serves as an expert panelist for the 2021 Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Benchmarks.

Dr. Francis is active in her community, as evidenced by her service on the Montgomery County (Maryland) Commission on Juvenile Justice. As a commissioner on the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Caribbean Affairs, she led initiatives to promote health literacy and access to health and behavioral health services. Dr. Francis currently serves on the Montgomery County Caribbean American Advisory Group, Office of Community Partnerships.

Thursday September 29, 2022 1:00pm - 2:30pm CDT
International Ballroom - Lobby Level