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WGU Academic Engagement Webinars Understanding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The experiences of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other African Americans who were victims of police brutality have pushed us to have conversations about race in America.  These conversations are an uncomfortable and intimidating experience. You may be thinking, “What if I say the wrong thing? How do I ask questions without feeling uninformed or offending others?”

To cut through some of the anxiety that can accompany these conversations, WGU Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Jason Thompson is hosting a four-part series of online seminars about race and diversity in the workplace. These seminars are free and open to everyone who would like to participate.


Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, WGU

Jason R. Thompson is a thought leader in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, having spent the past 25 years building DE&I programs in sports, healthcare, technology, and education organizations. 

His programs have won several awards at the local and international level. Most recently, the D&I Scorecard Jason developed received the top honor in the 2016 International Innovations in Diversity Awards program from Profiles in Diversity Journal, which also recognized him as a Diversity Leader in 2017 and 2018. His work has been highlighted and quoted in USA Today, The Washington Post, CNN, The New York Times, and The Guardian.

Session 1: The basics of DE&I.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are words we hear a lot these days. In this session, Jason will explain the basics of DE&I and how it impacts workplace relationships. Participants will gain a greater understanding of culture, bias, and how to be more inclusive, especially in hiring and decision making. Everyone is encouraged (but not required) to take the Implicit Association Test (IAT) through Project Implicit

Session 1 recording

Session 2: Defining the language of diversity.

Words and phrases such as anti-racism, social justice, white privilege, and ally are becoming more common in everyday conversations. What exactly do these terms mean? During this session, Jason will provide general definitions for these phrases in the context of current events. 

Session 2 recording

Session 3: Let’s talk about race.

Conversations about race, especially in the workplace, can be a source of tension. But it doesn’t have to be that way. This session will address the reasons why talking about race is uncomfortable and how to approach it and grow from the experience. Jason will also discuss how to respond to tough situations or topics and what to do when you say the “wrong” thing.   

Session 3 recording

Session 4: Answering questions about race (panel discussion).

Jason and a panel of DE&I professionals will answer questions gathered from participants during the previous three sessions. The goal of this session is to help participants understand how DE&I relates to their own situations and circumstances. You may be thinking, “Why are so many athletes protesting?” Or, “Is a sports event the right place to make statements?” Or maybe, “Do I have to choose a side?” Possibly, “Can I support the police and Black Lives Matter?” Join us as we discuss these and other important questions and engage in authentic discourse.

Session 4 recording


Renée Tirado is the principal of VegaRobles Consulting and is a seasoned diversity and inclusion professional of over 10 years. Most recently, she served as the global head of diversity and inclusion for Gucci, the first in luxury fashion. Renee’s route to her success is a unique one. Starting out as an attorney, she shifted gears to the public sector where she experienced her first opportunity to pivot into the sports industry and landed at the National Basketball Association Retired Players Association (NBRPA) as it’s chief operating officer.

Renée then cut her teeth in D&I when she joined the United States Tennis Association as the director of Diversity and Inclusion, helping to grow and expand the game amongst underrepresented groups. She then progressed to AIG, the financial institution, where she led Global Diversity for the Americas, before joining MLB in 2016. There she served as Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for Major League Baseball where she is responsible for the strategy and implementation of D&I for MLB.

Renée is a member of Coca Cola’s Hispanic Advisory Committee and the USTA National Delivery Council.

Ashland Johnson is the founder and president of the Inclusion Playbook, a sports impact consultancy that specializes in racial justice, gender equity, and LBGTQ inclusion. An attorney, equity and inclusion strategist, and former Division I athlete, Ashland has over a decade of civil rights experience working with social justice communities, advising sports leaders, and serving in leadership roles in advocacy organizations.

Renée Tirado Renée Tirado
Ashland Johnson Ashland Johnson

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