Chicago Embraces Diversity Once Again At The Images And Perceptions Diversity Conference
Cinespace Film Studios was the scene for The 4th Annual Images and Perceptions Diversity Conference hosted in Chicago on December 2, 2016. A multi-cultural group attended the event and were inspired by speakers from around the country. This unique conference explored the culture, diversity, and contributions of Americans from the African, Hispanic, Arab, Jewish, Asian, LGBTQ and Disabilities communities, as it examined the images portrayed in society, media, film, and television, and the correlating implications on education, government, law enforcement and corporate America.
Guests were welcomed with a delicious Middle Eastern inspired breakfast provided by Ziyad Bros. and enjoyed an Italian luncheon from Frankie’s Beef Pasta & Catering. Attendees satisfied their sweet tooth with delicious butter cookies from Jacklin’s Delectable Desserts, while sipping on a variety of gourmet coffees supplied by BowTruss.
Other red carpet sponsors included Rizk Advertising, Mark Roscoe Design, Keim Furs, Zaccone Foundation, Chicago Fight Club, Well of Life, 3D Consulting and Communications, The Positive Zone, DTE Energy, Helms Briscoe, Capital J Productions. Media participants included Red Carpet Concierge, SceneChicago and The Future News, vendor table participants included Molto Bella Jewels, Creations by Odette, Sam’s Club, The Law Firm of Johnson Blumberg and Associates, NYET Jewelry and Gold Coast Exclusive Real Estate. Speakers were transported to and from the venue by Perillo dealership of Chicago in luxury Rolls Royce and Bentley vehicles under the direction of Stanley Wozniak and Cesar Marin.
Sessions were led by an esteemed array of speakers, including notable Hollywood producer/writer Mark Roberts. As an award winning screen writer and the creator of the hit television show Mike and Molly and producer of Two and A Half Men, Roberts shared valuable insight into the stereotypes and biases in the Hollywood community. Similarly, Chicago’s Emmy Award winning news anchors, Micah Materre (WGN) and Zoraida Sambolin (NBC) spoke of their challenges as minority women in the world of television journalism. Ji Suk Yi from the morning television talk show, Windy City Live (ABC), shared her personal challenges and her perspectives on diversity as Asian-American woman.
Further, Illinois’ 47th Lieutenant Governor, Evelyn Sanguinetti, addressed diversity in legislation and in the Latino community, while president of The Chicago United, Gloria Castillo, spoke on the Latino experience in corporate America. Additionally, retired general, Charles T. Tucker and Dr. Nesreen Akhtarkhavari of the World Engagement Institute (WEI) shed light on the tragic reality of human trafficking as a national epidemic.
The Honorable William Haddad drew awareness to the rising issues regarding the Arab/Muslim community in Chicago and the challenges they endure; and Chicago PD Commander, Ronald Holt and Dearborn Commander, David Robinson, they expounded on the current conditions in the black and white community including the challenges of policing diverse neighborhoods. Dr. Maxine Hankins Cain, spoke on diversity and multi-cultural education and Dr. Dahlia Wasfi, who as an academic expert on the Middle East, who outlined the development of creation of ISIS and the United States’ startling involvement in the development of the same. Jae Jin Pak, enlightened everyone on diversity, and inclusion in the disabilities community. Finally, John Quinones of ABC’s “What Would You Do,” and the First Lady of Boxing, Jackie Kallen, sent pre-recorded video messages. Their words reflected the personal challenges of what they endured as minority members. Their messages were poignant and underscored the theme of “Empowering Communities by Embracing Diversity”.
The Images and Perceptions Diversity Champion of Diversity Award recipient this year was Alex Pissios, President of Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. It was presented by Siham Awada Jaafar (Conference President/founder) and JoAnn Fakhouri (Chicago Conference Partner). The conference inspired and welcomed diversity not only through it’s speakers but also through the live music performances of recording artist, Blake Alexander; the Poetry and Hip-Hop of Zuave performed by Samuel Yates and the creative percussion skills of the street performers, The Bucket Boys.
This was the 14th anniversary of the Images and Perceptions Diversity Conference and we look forward to another outstanding event next year. Stay tuned!
Article by: JoAnn Fakhouri – Photos courtesy of: ATOC and SceneChicago