2024 Haslam Inclusion and Engagement Summit Focuses on Inclusive Leadership

February 23, 2024

To foster inclusivity and equity, the Office of Access and Community Connections at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Haslam College of Business hosts an annual Inclusion and Engagement Summit. The 2024 summit offered workshops, educational sessions and talks on the theme of “Defining Purpose Through Inclusive Leadership.” UT’s Division of Access and Engagement and Haslam’s corporate partner, EY, a multinational professional services provider, supported the summit.

An Invitation to Inclusive Leadership

To launch the event, Clarence Vaughn, the OACC director, thanked university and Haslam leadership, as well as EY, for their support of the summit and its inclusive leadership theme. He invited Amy Cathey, distinguished lecturer and Haslam’s associate dean for Graduate and Executive Education, to welcome the attendees. Cathey greeted those assembled and called attention to Haslam’s core values of integrity, inclusion, insight and impact. She said each of the values contribute to inclusive leadership and participants were embodying those values by being there that day. Attendees then split up to enter the breakout sessions.

Leadership Lessons

The faculty session, “Effective Ways of Merging Inclusive Practices into Course Curriculum,” centered on developing a course curriculum that highlights inclusive leadership and establishing a welcoming and belonging learning environment. In the workshop, “Identifying Your Leadership Working Styles,” staff gained insights into their individual leadership styles and how to use their unique leadership characteristics to identify ways to help their departments build effective, inclusive and productive teams.

In the first student session, “Utilizing Inclusive Leadership Practices to Exceed Desired Goals,” participants learned holistic approaches to inclusive leadership development. The second student session, “Value Proposition of Inclusive Leadership,” featured a panel discussion moderated by Neeraj Bharadwaj, Proffitt’s Professor in Marketing, Charlie and Carolyn Newcomer Faculty Research Fellow and Neel Corporate Governance Center Research Fellow. Panelists Aaron Snyder, Haslam’s executive director of strategic partnerships, Nzinga Shaw, CEO of Attack Glass Inc., Jefferson Johnson, diversity and inclusiveness campus lead for EY, and Tyler Horne, DEIB strategist for Insight Global, discussed the impact of collaborative and inclusive leadership in their corporate cultures and the importance of strengthening inclusive leader skills.

Honoring Inclusive Leaders

When participants returned from the breakout sessions at lunchtime, Lane Morris, associate dean of Undergraduate Studies and Student Affairs and John W. Fisher Professor of Innovative Learning, opened the meal with brief remarks, noting that “inclusion is important because Haslam serves its community and impacts the world.” Morris then invited Jefferson Johnson to introduce Haslam’s inaugural Inclusive Leadership Award Recipient, Amelia Hart, associate professor of practice in the Department of Accounting and Information Management. Johnson welcomed Hart, saying, “I was drawn to Amelia when I first met her because she made me feel a part of the UT community.”

In her acceptance speech, Hart thanked Haslam, the OACC and EY for the award and encouraged those in attendance to live with purpose, saying her goal was to bring a match to light a flame that inspires others.

“My role is to help learners become leaders,” Hart concluded.

Nayasha Farrior, the OACC assistant director for academic support and partnerships, then introduced keynote speaker Nzinga Shaw. Shaw spoke movingly of her Uncle Dexter, who died young. Her family told Shaw his death was from cancer, but Shaw later learned it was from AIDS. Realizing her uncle must have thought he needed to hide his sexual orientation, it struck her how alone and isolated he must have felt for most of his life. She termed his situation as feeling “only.” Shaw promised herself she would challenge norms that made people feel like her uncle: an “only,” alone and lonely.

Her career has largely been a fulfillment of that vow. For example, during her time with the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, she spearheaded the effort to make the Hawks’ Philips Arena the first sensory-inclusive venue in the Southeast Division, providing accommodations for guests with post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, dementia and other sensory needs, whose sensory conditions previously had prevented their attendance at Hawks games.

She finished her remarks by saying, “Our differences should not keep us apart — they should bring us together.”

The event concluded with Vaughn thanking those in attendance for making the 2024 Haslam Inclusion and Engagement Summit a success.

About the Haslam Office of Access and Community Connections

Haslam’s OACC strives to build a welcoming and inclusive environment for faculty, staff, students and the community. It provides academic resources and mentoring programs for students and hones their leadership and interpersonal skills while advancing diversity and inclusion initiatives. The office also works with several corporate partners who support a diverse and inclusive business community at the collegiate level and beyond. Further, by partnering with community organizations throughout the Knoxville community, OACC facilitates college attendance and retention.


Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist, rmcnutt4@utk.edu