2018 Madison Region Economic Development
& Diversity Summit
Economic Siamese Twins
By Hedi Rudd
For the past five years, the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM) and
Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) have jointly hosted The
Madison Region’s Economic Development and Diversity Summit, a national
model for economic growth and inclusion. This year’s summit, held May 16th at
Monona Terrace, was no exception.
A quick scan of the overflowing room is an indicator that local and regional
industries see the importance of the connection between economics and
diversity and their presences is a good sign for our region and our
documented struggles with diversity, inclusion and equity.
ULGM President and CEO, Dr. Ruben Anthony and MadREP President, Paul
Jadin, opened the morning session and introduced Ray Allen, Secretary of
Workforce Development, who greeted the record crowd and paved the way for
an overview of our state and national economies, and what that means to the
Madison Region. This presentation was presented by John Koskinen, chief
economist, Wisconsin Dept. of Revenue and Dennis Winters, chief economist,
Wisconsin Dept. of Workforce Development.
The highlight of the morning session was Dr. Tony Byers, former director, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Starbucks. Boldly challenging the status quo and decades of
diversity and inclusion (D&I) practices, Dr. Byers is transforming D&I from the “right thing to do” to the business imperative of our time. In his game-changing
keynote, Byers shared how to create a multiplier effect of inclusion that can increase utilization of talent and resources — more than doubling the capacity of a team
to positively impact products and services, build brand image and increase profits and performance.
Guests were then let out to join in on one of several breakout sessions. Topics included Providing Opportunities to Youth of Color, The Corporate Equality Index,
Foxconn in Wisconsin, The Intersection of Multicultural Marketing and D&I in the Workplace, D&I in the Madison Region I.T Industry and Building Developers: A Path
to Economic Equality.
The luncheon featured State of the Madison Region remarks from ULGM and MadREP leadership and EDD (Economic Development & Diversity) Talks. The featured
EDD Talk speakers included Amy Lynch, an entrepreneur, stand-up comedian and triathlete; Surabhi Jahn, director of Adult Education and Workforce Development
for UNIDOS; Mary Burke; businesswoman, philanthropist and social entrepreneur; and Dr. Edward Hubbard, president and CEO of an international organization and
human performance-consulting corporation. The EDD talks were dynamic, engaging and allowed attendees to ask questions of leaders in their fields.
Following lunch, the afternoon breakout sessions began. The big draw was Mary Burke’s Women in Leadership: What Holds Women Back, and what can we do
about it? Following her EDD Talk, men and women wanted to know more and quickly filled the workshop to capacity. Burke’s workshop included a panel with other
women, known for not being held back including; Kimila Daniels, chief administrative officer, Quartz Health Solutions; Kate Field; founder & CEO, The Kombucha
Shop; Ana Hooker, senior vice president of operations at Exact Sciences; Mayra Medrano, business community service manager, MG&E, Lisa Peyton-Caire,
assistant vice-president, Summit Credit Union and founder of Black Women’s Wellness. Other workshops included: What’s your Gen IQ? Out-of-the-Box Workforce
Development Programs, and The ROI of D&I.
During the final plenary session, the First Annual Madison Region Economic Development & Diversity Awards were presented. After four years of joint summits, the
two organizations decided the fifth Summit together was the time to begin recognizing those organizations exemplifying best practices in D & I. The Madison Region
Diversity Award recognizes organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to advancing talent, opportunity and growth for all the region’s citizens. UW Health
& Exact Sciences were the two awardees.
“Among UW Health’s many notable accomplishments in their diversity and inclusion efforts is their Health Occupations and Professions Exploration Program,
known, appropriately by its acronym, HOPE,” said Jadin. “Hope has supported over 2,000 underrepresented high school and college students in exploring health
care careers in the Madison region. They are truly opening the doors of opportunity for students of color in the health care field.”
“Exact Science is a fairly young company, experiencing rapid growth and all the challenges and opportunities that come along with it,” Anthony said. “Since the
outset though, they have made a genuine corporate commitment to be a good corporate citizen, and an active proponent for diversity, inclusion, and opportunity. All
of their positions pay at least $15 per hour. When they elected to expand just off the beltline at the old Rayovac site, one of their first stops was a visit to the Urban
League to seek a partnership to fill those new job opportunities.”
Anthony summed up the intention and potential for this joint summit. During a meeting last year with Dr. Julianne Malveaux, she noted the importance of thinking of
economy and equity together and applauded the unique collaboration between a community-based workforce development organization and a regional economic
development entity. Looking at the record attendance and the breadth of speakers at this year’s summit, we are encouraged that progress is possible and that the
Urban League and MadREP are leading the way.