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Interactive Session

Dealing with the DEI Backlash

Individuals and organizations stand to gain enormous benefits from investing in DEI. However, those investments can come with a cost. Studies have shown that being outspoken about DEI may hinder your ability to get hired or even cost you your job. Powerful government figures have banned even mentioning core concepts like critical race theory, unconscious bias training, privilege, etc. This panel will help you understand how to confront these risks.


Mary-Frances Winters

President & CEO @TheWintersGroup

Mary-Frances Winters, founder and CEO of The Winters Group, Inc., a 36-year-old global organization  development and diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting firm, truly believes that diversity and inclusion work  is her "passion and calling." Dubbed a thought leader in the field, for the past three decades she has impacted over hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals with her thought-provoking message and her approach to diversity and inclusion. Ms. Winters is a master strategist with experience in strategic planning,  change management, diversity, organization development, training and facilitation, systems thinking, and qualitative and quantitative research methods. She has extensive experience in working with senior leadership teams to drive organizational change. 

Among her many awards and distinctions, she was named a diversity pioneer by Profiles in Diversity Journal in  August 2007 and most recently received the Winds of Change award from the Forum on Workplace Inclusion in  2016. Ms. Winters was also featured in Forbes’ June 2016 publication, which honored some of the DC Metro  area’s most powerful women. In November 2019, she was named by Forbes as one of 10 trailblazers in diversity and inclusion.  

She has served as a torchbearer for the Olympics and has previously been recognized as an Athena Award winner from the Chamber of Commerce for her contributions to women and the community. 

Ms. Winters is the author of six books: Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit (September  2020), Inclusive Conversations: Fostering Equity, Empathy, and Belonging Across Differences (August 2020), We  Can’t Talk about That at Work!: How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics (2017),  Only Wet Babies Like Change: Workplace Wisdom for Baby Boomers, Inclusion Starts With “I” and CEO’s Who Get  It: Diversity Leadership from the Heart and Soul. Ms. Winters also authored a chapter in the book Diversity at  Work: The Practice of Inclusion (2013) and numerous articles. 

She is a graduate of the University of Rochester with undergraduate degrees in English and Psychology, and a  master’s degree in business administration from the William E. Simon Executive Development Program. She received an honorary doctorate from Roberts Wesleyan College.


Aubrey Blanche

The Mathpath and Designer of Equitable Orgs & Products

Aubrey Blanche is The Mathpath (Math Nerd + Empath), Director of Equitable Design & Impact at Culture Amp, and a startup investor and advisor. Through all her work, she seeks to question, reimagine, and redesign the systems and practices that surround us to ensure that all people can access equitable opportunities and build a better world. Her work is undergirded by her training in social scientific methods and grounded in the fundamental dignity and value of every person. Her professional expertise covers a broad range of equitable enterprise operations, from talent lifecycle programs and accessible product development to event design and communications & media. She is the inventor of the balanced teams approach to building proportional representation and a culture of belonging in the workplace, as well as the Balanced Teams Diversity Assessment in the Atlassian Team Playbook. She works to open source these methods for all practitioners and business leaders, and releases thought leadership and tools to create positive change at


Chanita Simms

Founder, Melanin.Tech

To her family, she's the "cool" aunt. To her Mom, she’s still the baby with these big dreams. To her friends, she’s a loving world traveler and mediocre salsa dancer. But to her community, she’s a voice that will not be silenced. Chanita, founder of Melanin.Tech, is committed to accelerating the growth of the Black tech ecosystem by helping members obtain opportunities in the industry and sustain long-term, rewarding careers. Her mission is to create lasting change in the tech industry that she knows and loves. Chanita is focused on inspiring others to stand up for what they believe in and help create opportunities for as many people as possible.

3 weeks of live software engineering content designed around your schedule.

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