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Modern Architecture

Breakout Session Three: Diversifying Workforce through the Inclusive Workforce Employer Designation

We have recently seen Diversity, Equity & Inclusion strategies change from that shiny new "trend" to a proven and valid solution to real business problems.  One such business strategy model is the Inclusive Workforce Employer designation.  Developed by MN CEP, the "IWE" has become a tool for sustainability and business growth in our region.


Join Hannah Smith of the Region Five Development Commission and James Whirlwind Soldier from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development as they invite a panel of community and business leaders to discuss the IWE, their organization's process for attaining the designation, and its impact on our underrepresented and underemployed neighbors.


Panelists include Rebekah Kent, Dean of Brainerd Career and Technical Programs and Customized Training at Central Lakes College; Jessica Frank, Human Resources Generalist with Astera Health; and Dr. Evelyn Campbell, Human Services Director with the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. 


After our discussion, you will have an opportunity to ask questions of our group of experts, and to learn how the Inclusive Workforce Employer designation might be an effective solution to your recruiting and retaining challenges, and a tool for organizational sustainability.

Moderators:  James Whirlwind Soldier and Hannah Smith


James Whirlwind Soldier (he/him) is the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Workforce Strategy Consultant for the Northwest.  He has always been passionate about business and the impact it has on our neighbors and our communities.  Through years of experience and mentorship, this passion has become a drive to contribute to organizational growth and sustainability. And this in turn has led James to explore unique, but valid, business solutions.  He is on the YWCA’s Racial Justice Board, and the FMWF Chamber’s Professionals of Color Committee, and has recently participated in the SBA’s Emerging Leader’s Initiative and the University of Minnesota’s Young American Leaders inaugural cohort.

A registered member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, James Whirlwind Soldier (he/him) currently lives in Moorhead with his wife and their three dogs (and occasional foster).

Hannah Smith is the first Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Fellow to join the R5DC team. With a background that mirrors her current interests, Hannah serves on multiple boards and commissions that focus on arts, social justice, environmental justice, and housing equity. As the JEDI fellow she will be working with our team to assist with existing programs; Equitable Economic Ecosystems and working with local partners such as the Community Workforce Inclusive Council. 

James Whirlwind Soldier
Hannah Smith Headshot
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