Melissa Hall Sommer smiling and standing in front of a brick wall
Melissa Hall Sommer

Breakout Session 1: Cultivating a Culture of Team Development and Succession

Melissa Hall Sommer

Senior Vice President at Brighton Center

It has been almost 20 years since Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Yet nonprofits still find themselves running after strategy while not investing in deliberatively cultivating their organizational culture. The result of this on the talent and “bench strength” of an organization effects their overall longevity and impact. In this session, we take a journey into team development and succession strategies that are “baked in” to the agency culture. You will be provided with tools to assess your culture, and explore how to deliberately cultivate a culture which team development and succession is evident and powerful.

Melissa Hall Sommer

Melissa Hall Sommer is currently the Senior Vice President at Brighton Center, a community-based agency providing a uniquely comprehensive range of programs and services to achieve its mission of self-sufficiency in northern Kentucky. Melissa’s career at Brighton Center began in 1989, during her tenure at the Center she has had the opportunity to lead program efforts in the areas of Workforce Development, Early Childhood Education, and Family Development. The foundation of this work has been a commitment to a family centered and a whole family approach. Melissa has worked to create a service continuum for families that builds on strengths and offers a pathway out of poverty, in order for them to reach their hopes and dreams.

Chrissy Perkins smiling
Chrissy Perkins

Breakout Session 2: Inclusion for Employees with Disabilities and Neurodiversity

Chrissy Perkins

Director of Disabilities Programming and Career Coach at JVS Careers

Organizations often view DEI as a number they need to meet to be compliant, versus truly understanding ways they can successfully support a person with a disability in the job they hire them to do. Our society continues to demonstrate a lack of understanding of what disability and neurodiversity is, and if you can’t see the disability, then it may feel “scary” to a hiring manager. So many organizations do not allow “job coaching” or other supports into their business to help people who are neurodiverse. This often leads to placement of individuals with disabilities in organizations without educating the team they will be working with so that all can be successful.

This session will help participants identify why it is so important not only to support a person with a disability, but to support the organization that hires them. A simple miscommunication or a different way one interprets things can make a difference in a person being successful in their employment. Participants will learn the importance of employer education, communication, consistency, team building, and important ways to promote inclusion in all aspects of employment. How do we support people who are neurodiverse and promote long term success, what are the barriers faced, and how can we overcome and change society’s perception of people who are neurodiverse.

Chrissy Perkins

Chrissy is Director of Disability Services and a Career Coach for JVS Careers. She has a more than 30-year work history of supporting individuals with disabilities. Chrissy brings a high level of passion and commitment to the world of disabilities and assisting individuals in reaching their full potential and becoming successful in employment. In her previous role she was the Director of Disability Services and developed, implemented, and managed multiple community programs that provided job readiness training, integrated opportunities, and on the job supports to the neurodivergent population. She has a vast network of connections with community employers and partners and is skilled in identifying learning styles, strengths, abilities, and specific needs of people to help with making good job matches.

Brice Mickey smiling, seated at a table
Brice Mickey

Breakout Session 3: Not About Us Without Us

Brice Mickey

Vice President of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at Beech Acres Parenting Center

As the brilliant Ayanna Pressley says, “Those closest to the pain, should be closest to the power.” Too often nonprofits (and other institutions) are guilty of making decisions on behalf of others without inviting them to the table. This can have a myriad of negative consequences not only for the success of the project, but for institutional trust and communities those institutions serve.

In this interactive session, participants will have the opportunity for dialogue around areas where they are the experts and areas where they should invite in others. We will also explore best practices in terms of securing buy-in (and even championship) from the communities they serve.

Brice Mickey

Brice Mickey is the Vice President of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at Beech Acres Parenting Center.​ He also consults with Cohear and Avant Consulting Group. He got his start in DEI at the University of Cincinnati where he joined and later directed their nationally renowned Racial Awareness Program (RAPP). ​After leaving UC he went on to consult with over 100 organizations across the country to help them become more equitable and just. ​He loves road trips, fine dining, and the Golden Girls.​

orange graphic with the letters AI

Breakout Session 4: AI "Speed Round"

A series of local speakers will share “quick hits” about where AI is proving useful to nonprofits. There will be plenty of time for Q&A and sharing your own ideas.

Megan (Fischer) Milstead, Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank

James McIntyre, YMCA Greater Cincinnati

Colleen McSwiggin, Cincinnati Recycling & Reuse Hub

Michele Plessinger, Gilman Partners

Aida Ramusovic-Witham, Material Partners, REDI Cincinnati

Dr. Corinn Taylor, The Empowerment Foundation.