Hundreds Gathered at Monona Terrace to Celebrate Economic Development + Diversity

Javier Avila Speaking at ConferenceThe 2022 Madison Region Economic & Development Diversity Summit returned for an in-person summit for the first time since 2019. After a three year wait, the Madison Region Economic Partnership and the Urban League of Madison gathered professionals from the Madison Region together to discuss pressing topics at the intersection of diversity & inclusion and economic development.

Javier Avila Trouble With My NameThe 9th annual summit featured nationally renowned keynote speakers, engaging breakout sessions, and thought-provoking conversations that inspired, educated, and challenged attendees on issues of workforce, community, and economic development.

The morning was kicked off by the first keynote speaker, the award-winning novelist and poet Javier Ávila, who performed his one-man show “The Trouble with My Name.” The performance incorporated comedy, poetry, and clever storytelling highlighting the American Latino experience and the difficulties he faced when relocating from his native Puerto Rico to the unfamiliar state of Pennsylvania. The performance provides a fascinating perspective of American Latinos who struggle to dispel misconceptions about their identity and place in the world. One of the biggest difficulties he faced was having his name pronounced correctly by his peers. Dr. Ávila informed attendees that names, like our culture and our heritage, matter too much to live in ignorance.

In between speakers several breakout sessions were held by economic development leaders of the Madison Region. Topics covered included racial disparities in home ownership, addressing cultural conflict in the workplace, creating spaces for people to thrive, financial literacy in the workplace, providing equitable career-based learning, and the South Madison renaissance.

Justin Jones-Fosu Keynote Speaker Bringing PassionThe day was capped off by an energetic keynote presentation from Justin Jones-Fosu, CEO of Work. Meaningful. Justin taught attendees how to apply everyday diversity that leads to collaboration and innovation on a deeper level. We can leverage the power of listening to appreciate and apply different perspectives that create sustainable cultures of high-performance amongst employees in the workplace.

If you missed out on this highly educational and inspirational experience, we hope you’ll join us for the 10th annual Madison Region Economic Development & Diversity Summit in May of 2023!