University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus
06 February 2021


One Day of Powerful Talks
6 February 2021

On February 6, 2021, members of the Division of Student Affairs and Student Success of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus will be hosting the second Diversity and Inclusion Conference. The Office of Multicultural Affairs is leading the charge on this pertinent event. The theme for this conference is “Becoming”. The purpose of this conference is to enhance the learning, understanding, and development of concepts surrounding diversity, inclusion, and social justice for the USF system and surrounding Florida colleges and universities. Our goal is to educate and motivate approximately 200 higher education future and current leaders in the surrounding counties of diversity and inclusion to take back to their respective institutions. Our society is ever changing and growing more and more diverse. The workshops provided will focus on social experiences of individuals and/or social groups and their resiliency in how they've navigated through various environments.


9:05 AM - Opening Remarks & Welcome

9:15 AM - Keynote Address 1- Karla B. Rutten

10:10 AM - BLOCK 1 Sessions​

  • The Health of BIPOC Non-Traditional Students: Multiple Roles, Multiple Crises - (Victoria Beltran)

  • Myth of a Rising Tide: The Story of the USF Black Leadership Network - (Walter Jennings, Ashley Butler)

  • How Can I Not? - A Virtual Improv and Brainstorming Workshop - (Celine Krzan)


11:05 AM - BLOCK 2 Sessions

  • Say What?!: How Words Impact the Workplace - (Brandon J. Colbert)

  • Activism for Schools and Beyond - (Andrew Adams)

  • The Language of Belonging: Equipping Emerging Professionals with the Skills to Shape Who They Are - (Angelica Aranda and Baylie Gerlinger)

  • PANEL - Voices of Anti-Racism Research Projects at USF  - (Susan Ariew, David Ponton, Antoinette Jackson, Kelly Cowart, Brenda Walker)


12:00 PM - LUNCH

1:05 PM - Keynote Address 2 - Dr. Byron Green

1:55 PM - BLOCK 3 Sessions

  • Muslims under the rainbow: Five aspects of reconciling Islamic faith with queer identity -(Sabeehah Ravat)

  • Un-Becoming a History of Racism: Exploring Definitive Moments of Whiteness - (Richard Meinke)

  • I Don't Work Jobs, I Am A Job: Creating Your Personal Brand Using Your Story and Unique Experiences - (Jared Bolton)

  • Marginalization, Deviance, Student Veterans, and Higher Education - (Wayne Taylor)


2:50 PM - BLOCK 4 Sessions

  • Supporting FTIC through Graduate Programs: Tips for Advising First Gen Grad Students - (Nyasha Bailey)

  • Still Learning - (Susie Xiong)

  • Watch What You’re Watching: How Media Molds Perception - (Wendy Yu)

  • More issues than vogue: Navigating intersectionality in the professional world - (Antonia Robinson, Ebony Okafor, Tia Barnes)


3:45 PM - Closing Remarks & Special Thanks


3:50 PM - Networking Opportunity 




Karla Benson Rutten

Karla Benson Rutten is the founder and CEO of Benson Rutten Innovations, a coaching, consulting and training firm focused on diversity, equity and inclusion strategic leadership development.  Her life and work are rooted in creating inclusive spaces and opportunities for people to truly love who they are, live in their truth, and create the lives they want to lead. 


As a facilitator, trainer, and consultant, Karla works proactively and collaboratively with people, organizations, and communities to ensure their working and living environments are inclusive, equitable, safe and welcoming for all people. Karla has 19 years of experience in higher education, social justice and sexual violence prevention program development; DEI organizational development; facilitation and training; building community partnerships; and creating strong, diverse, and equitable communities. 


Karla is also the Vice President of Community Engagement at Girl Scouts River Valleys Council in St. Paul, where she is creating new and innovative pathways to Girl Scouting for girls of color in Minnesota. 



Dr. Byron Green

Dr. Byron Green is a 3x PWI graduate as well as a collegiate athlete. His experience with both of these structures led to his own journey of becoming the man he is today. As an athlete and university representative during a a time we began to watch black bodies die on camera he began to explore what it meant to be black in a world that pushed respectability as a means of safety.


Consistently fitting the description pushed him to explore diversity and multicultural competence incorporation into course work from a faculty stand point as well as student affairs professionals. This research combined with research on leadership attainment led Byron away from teaching in the classroom to being a more active participant in the student experience, working in student success. Currently Byron works tirelessly to live out loud as a proud Black Pansexual terminal degree holder fighting for equity and equality across the board for every student at USF. 




Dr. Kemesha Gabbidon

Dr. Kemesha Gabbidon is a health equity scholar currently completing a Minority Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus in the Department of Psychology. In 2017, she earned her PhD in Public Health from Florida International University with a specialization in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Dr. Gabbidon’s research investigates the socio-cultural and psychosocial determinants of health outcomes among vulnerable and historically marginalized communities. Her scholarship applies an intersectional lens to investigating and addressing multiple stigmatizing identities and their impact on the health of the individual and the community.

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Brittney Bernardi

Brittney is a second year graduate student in the College Student Affairs program here at USF! She currently serves as the graduate assistant in the Office of Multicultural Affairs. She chose her career path due to her desire to help students navigate college life and the occasional hurdles that come with it. She strives to be an advocate for all students by continually learning and engaging in social justice education. In her spare time, Brittney enjoys watching TikTok compilations on YouTube (because she doesn’t understand how to the TikTok app works), spending time with friends, both in person and virtually, and re-watching Parks and Recreation and Bob’s Burgers.

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Victoria Bent

Victoria is entering the final year of her undergraduate journey. She’s pursuing a major in Health Administration with a minor in Leadership Studies. As the current Director of Communications for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, she maximizes her efforts to promote the values held by organization and herself. She has a passion for Diversity & Inclusion and works to create a positive and empowering space for all. After graduation, she plans on pursuing a Masters in Health Care Administration with the goal of implementing her commitment to diversity. 

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Wendy Yu

Wendy Yu grew up traveling between China and midwestern United States, and she recently received her M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in College Student Affairs from USF. Wendy currently serves as the Involvement Specialist on USF's St. Petersburg campus.


Wendy's undergraduate studies focused on literature, transnationalism, and Asian American issues. She is passionate about books, film criticism, and continuing to expand her worldview through dialoguing across difference. When she's not at work, Wendy loves to write, craft, and help people tidy with the KonMari method.


Denyse Jeter

Denyse Jeter serves as the Office Manager for Enrollment Planning & Management at The University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus. She has earned an Associate's Degree in the College of Applied Science and Technology from the University of Akron.


She is passionate about helping others and making anyone always feel included in all activities & spaces.  In her spare time, she enjoys trying new restaurants and re-watching The Office. 

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Emily Mann

Emily Mann is the student success librarian at the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library at University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology and Sociology from Guilford College and Masters in Library and Information Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her research areas of interest include Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Academic Libraries and Data and Information Literacy. She has presented at national conferences on topics such as meeting needs of undeserved populations and serving patrons with autism spectrum disorder in academic libraries. She enjoys trying new foods, learning new craft skills and spending time with her dogs. 


Victoria Beltran

Victoria M. Beltran, MPH, CHES is the Assistant Director, Prevention Services at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus Wellness Center. She received her B.A. in Psychology from New York University, her Master of Public Health degree from Emory University, is a Certified Health Education Specialist, and received a certificate of completion in Sexuality Education from the University of Michigan in 2015. Currently, she is a DrPH student at USF Tampa. She has been the advisor for P.E.E.R.S. (Promoting Education, Empowerment, Education, and Support) since 2013. Victoria is also adjunct faculty and a lead Safe Zone Trainer.


Savon Williams

Savon Williams serves as the Competitive Sports Coordinator at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg Campus. Savon received his Bachelor’s degree in finance from USF in 2018 and went on to complete his Master’s degree in Student Affairs Administration at the University of West Florida. Savon has a passion to help create equal opportunities within higher education for black and other minority students and staff. He contributes to this mission by providing minority students opportunities to work and gain professional skills within the Campus Recreation department, and exposing them to of campus work opportunities as well.


Dr. Byron Green

Dr. Byron Green is the Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus. He is a two time graduate of NC State University. HIs educational focus is on the learning acquisition of adults outside of the classroom, while his research has focused specifically on Multicultural competence in Higher education. Byron has spent his career to this point focusing his efforts in housing and creating inclusive spaces for students to learn where they live. He strives daily to ensure the values of inclusivity and lifelong learning are expressed not only on campus but the surrounding community as well.

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Jerrica Stovall

Jerrica Stovall, a Virginia Beach native, is the Associate Director of Involvement at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus and oversees various programmatic functional areas.  She has earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Merchandising from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master’s in Higher Education from Old Dominion University.  With over 8 years of experience in the field of Student Affairs she is passionate about supervising new professionals, building teams, and leading authentically.  She loves thrifting, reading, and watching Big Brother.


Warren Buchholz

Warren Buchholz has 7+ years of brand management, print & web design, and marketing tactics for various businesses, corporations, clients, and producers. He currently serves as Multimedia Marketing Coordinator for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus where he manages internal communications & produces digital content.


In his spare time he co-owns an improv comedy theater, writes, and photographs abandoned buildings around Florida.