Division of Campus Engagement, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Courageous Conversations Event Series

Courageous Conversations Logo

Cleveland State University is proud to host “Courageous Conversations,” a virtual series designed to tackle topics on inclusiveness and diversity through honest discussions in a safe space.

We bring together leaders from CSU and various public and nonprofit agencies throughout Northeast Ohio for interactive conversations to share knowledge and brainstorm best practices to help create lasting change in the community, identify solutions to address systemic racial and gender injustice, and foster more inclusive, diverse environments guided by shared wisdom and empowerment.

We invite all students, faculty, staff and community members to join us for these courageous conversations. Registration links will be provided for each event. 


Event Information

Courageous conversations will return summer semester 2022!  check back for updates.

Previous Events

The State of Black Health and Well-being in America
Wednesday, February 9
Why is the death-rate of Black Americans from COVID-19 twice as high as their counterparts? Our panel will delve into health inequality and social determinants that effect long-term well-being, leaving whole communities vulnerable during this courageous conversation.

Katherine Myles

Katherine Myles, R.N., M.S.N. 
Interim Director and Clinical Operations Manager, CSU Health and Wellness Services

John Queener

John E. Queener, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Akron

Sherdene Simpson

Sherdene Simpson, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor, Counseling, Administration, Supervision and Adult Learning, Cleveland State University


Philip "Flapp" CockrellPhillip “Flapp” Cockrell, Ph.D.
Vice President for Campus Engagement, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Cleveland State University

Why Are Most Chief Diversity Officers Black/Brown Folks?
Wednesday, February 16
Does it take a person of color to lead effective change in diversity? Join us for a courageous conversation that digs into corporate America, roles, initiatives and what it really takes to change a workforce.

Michael DixonMichael Dixon
Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer, Susquehanna University

Leon HarisLeon A. Harris III, Ph.D.
Assistant Director of Health and Human Services, Cuyahoga County

Jennifer McCaryJennifer McCary
Chief Diversity and Belonging Officer, Bowling Green State University



Philip "Flapp" CockrellPhillip “Flapp” Cockrell, Ph.D.
Vice President for Campus Engagement, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Cleveland State University


The Untold Stories of Women in LeadHERship
Tuesday, March 1
Why aren’t there more women in leadership roles and what will it take to change the inequity? Join us for a courageous deep dive into gender bias and sexism, as our panel explores perceptions of women as leaders.

Laura BloombergLaura Bloomberg, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, Cleveland State University

Jeanell HughesJeanell N. Hughes, M.P.A.
Vice President of Administration and Chief of Staff, Cleveland State University

Julie RehmJulie Rehm, Ph.D.
Vice President of Advancement and Executive Director of the CSU Foundation, Cleveland State University
Sonali WilsonSonali B. Wilson, J.D.
General Counsel, Cleveland State University



Tachelle BanksTachelle Banks, Ph.D.
Presidential Faculty Fellow and Associate Provost for Academic Innovation, Cleveland State University


Wednesday, April 6
We live in a society that primarily views heterosexual and cisgender identities as the norm. What is the impact on the LGBTQ+ community when everyone is assumed to be straight and cisgender? What are the consequences – for better or for worse – of holding an invisible identity? Join us for a closer look at one of the most courageous conversations of all: coming out.

Nolan Andersky

Nolan Andersky
DE&I Marketing Leader, North America, Avery Dennison 

Sam Miller

Sam Miller
Student, Cleveland State University

Gio Santiago

Gio Santiago
Transgender Advocate, Military Veteran and Founder of META Center Inc.


Kara TellaishaKara Tellaisha
Coordinator, LGBTQ+ Student Services, Cleveland State University



Thursday, April 21
Millions of individuals in the United States are living with disabilities that aren’t visible to those around them. An invisible disability is a physical, mental or neurological condition that is not visible from the outside, yet can limit or challenge a person’s movements, senses or activities. The very fact that these symptoms are invisible can lead to misunderstandings, false perceptions and judgments. Join us for a conversation where we will hear about the lived experiences of multiple individuals living with invisible disabilities. 

Sydney Bauer photo

Sydney A Bauer (OTR/L)
ODS CARE Specialist and part-time instructor, Cleveland State University

Amy Washington photo

Amy Bitebet Washington
Executive Director, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, Northern Ohio Chapter 

Benjamin Zimmer photo

Benjamin Zimmer
Licensed Independent Marriage and Family Therapist and co-owner of Larchmere Center for Well-Being 



Luis Gomez photo

Luis Gomez
Social Work Intern, Office of Disability and Testing Services, Cleveland State University