Business Reader Contributed

West Hartford Chamber Hosting ‘Colorful Conversations’

Colorful Conversations focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion across sectors.


The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, through its Minority Business Network, will hold the next in their Colorful Conversations series on Thursday, July 20 from noon to 1:30 p.m. via Zoom, Facebook Live, and WHCi. The moderated, Q&A-based forum will center around issues and concerns related to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Minority Business Network committee member Yvonne Alston will serve as moderator for the hour and a half event. Alston is the founder of Indelible Impressions Consulting, a firm which focuses on centering the employee experience, amplifying personal and professional value, and inspiring hearts and minds as they challenge systems of inequity, champion dimensions of diversity, and drive inclusive practices holistically.

Panelists for the solution-based forum are: Adrienne Billings-Smith – Equity Coordinator, Town of West Hartford; Jason Jakubowski – President & CEO, Connecticut Foodshare; and Nicole Miller, M. Ed – Founder, EquityCorps Group.

“This conversation is critical to cultural progress and helping to close gaps related to inequities, exclusion and disparities within our communities,” said Alston, who was a featured panelist for the June 2022 Colorful Conversation on inequities in employment.

Colorful Conversations is the continuation of a series of roundtable forums the committee co-facilitated in late 2020 with Charter Oak State College Foundation. The three-part Shea Lecture series focused on disparities and inequities regarding access to capital, education, food and healthcare in minority communities.

Billings-Smith, who along with being the Town of West Hartford’s equity coordinator is also an attorney and DEI consultant, will draw from her extensive experiences in the public sector.  She is the founder of Concerned Parents of Color of West Hartford, which focuses on equity in mental health, education, and policy that affects families of color and other marginalized communities. Additionally, she worked with the West Hartford Public Schools Equity Advancement office as well as other community stakeholders to promote, support and advocate for a more diverse and equitable K-12 curriculum. Through her work with CPCWH, she was selected as the first Community Leader-in-Residence for the University of Connecticut’s History Department.

Jakubowski has previously shared insights and suggested solution in past forums on food insecurity in communities of color. He will bring nonprofit perspective to this upcoming conversation.

“Connecticut is an incredibly diverse state; and given the nature of our work here at Connecticut Foodshare, we interact with so many different people from so many different backgrounds on a daily basis,” said Jakubowski. “My commitment to DEI both personally and professionally is rooted in my belief that we have an obligation not just to appreciate – but to celebrate – our differences as both a local community and a broader society.”

Miller has experience in advocating for DEI across sectors. Through EquityCorps, she has worked with businesses and organizations throughout Connecticut to identify needs of communities and identity solutions.

“We have a responsibility to leave the world better than when we entered it, this process starts by looking within,” said Miller. “So, what are you doing today to challenge the biases you hold?”

The Minority Business Network is a committee of the Chamber. It was founded in early 2020 as a means of providing visibility, networking opportunities and resources to Chamber members who are also members of underrepresented racial, ethnic, and religious populations. Their mission is to “increase visibility of minority-owned businesses, provide a discussion forum for the unique challenges faced by minority professionals, and increase diversity of Chamber membership.”

Comcast Business & Liberty Bank are sponsor of the series.

To register for the Zoom visit: https://www.whchamber.com/events/details/colorful-conversation-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-across-sectors-12609.

For more information on the West Hartford Chamber’s Minority Business Network, visit: https://www.whchamber.com/minority-business-network.

For more information on the event or to learn more about sponsorship opportunities, contact Kate Kobs – Director of Development & Programs at [email protected].

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