The annual Economic Diversity and Inclusion Summit will be Friday, Oct. 22, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the newly renovated Waterloo Convention Center. Sailu Timbo, Vice President for Diversity and Community Relations, Hy-Vee Inc., will deliver this year’s keynote address.

The summit is focused heavily on providing employers and employees methods for diversifying their workforces and creating welcoming environments.

“We have been talking about these things for a while. It’s time to step up and actually do them,” said Cary Darrah, President and CEO of Grow Cedar Valley.  “Attending this summit will definitely help attendees do just that. We have assembled a series of presentations, speakers and interactive discussions designed to help everyone forge their own way forward.”

The summit also will include introductions of community leaders who have deep interests in equity, diversity and inclusion; and a panel discussion featuring several newly formed organizations dedicated to creating opportunity within the Cedar Valley. Breakout sessions will feature Rev. Charles Daniel of Antioch Baptist Church on “Courageous Conversations,” a presentation that will help those in attendance find ways to engage in discussions about race, sexuality, accessibility, mental health and even politics. 

Other sessions include:

  • Orion Risk, doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will discuss establishing the UnityPoint Clinic LGBTQ, a Cedar Falls clinic devoted to the health needs of the region’s LGBTQ+ population.
  • Srdjan Golub, director of community education and workforce solutions at Hawkeye Community College, will present on an innovative STEM program called “Ignite” collaborators are the Waterloo Career Center and Waterloo Schools, John Deere, Iowa Laser, Hawkeye Community College (HCC), Grow Cedar Valley, Kryton Engineered Metals, Tech Works and Viking Pump. 
  • Dr. Susan Hill, head of the UNI Department of Philosophy and World Religions, will conduct a session on implicit bias, helping those in attendance better understand their own biases and how they contribute to injustice. Anyone planning to attend her session is encouraged to take at least two of the implicit bias tests at
  • Several local organizations will come together for a discussion on mental health and accessibility in the workplace, aiming to help employers better understand how they can accommodate these needs and make the workplace more inclusive. Featured will be Tom Eachus of Black Hawk-Grundy Mental Health, Vicki Mueller of Pathways, Sherri Seegers of Goodwill Industries, and Bob Lincoln of Elevate.

“We’re acutely aware of the issues being faced in today’s workplace,” said Gwenne Berry, chief diversity officer at the University of Northern Iowa. “When we put together our breakout sessions, we looked for solid speakers who could present solutions and mechanisms for approaching these issues from an equity-minded lens.” 

Cost to attend the summit is $75. The cost covers breakfast, lunch and all summit events. The summit is hosted by Grow Cedar Valley and the University of Northern Iowa. Its sponsors are GreenState Credit Union, Hy-Vee Inc., KWWL/Channel 7, Veridian Credit Union, and Community Bank & Trust.

To register for the event, please visit


Gwenne Berry, Assistant to the President/Chief Diversity Officer, University of Northern Iowa, 319-273-2567;

Cary Darrah, President and CEO, Grow Cedar Valley, 319-415-5005,