Connecting Womxn of Color Conference

Connecting Womxn of Color Conference

The Connecting Womxn of Color Conference will be held on Friday, 20 October 2023 from 12:30 p.m. - 3 p.m. at the Jepson Alumni Center. This conference fosters an open dialogue in which participants can think deeply and critically about current issues. This conference seeks to cultivate an outlet on campus focused on both intellectual and personal development in which women and gender-expansive individuals of color and their allies can have meaningful dialogues around issues important to them, inviting people from local universities and the greater Richmond community to share in and contribute to this diversity, equity, and inclusivity work. The conference intentionally focuses on networking in a welcoming environment in order to connect students with people that they otherwise might not have the opportunity to meet.

The term "womxn of color" is intended to transcend and embrace shades of color and to welcome and unite those of us who identify as women and gender expansive people of Arab/Middle-Eastern, Asian/Pacific Islander, Black/African American/Caribbean/West Indies, Hispanic/Latinx, and Native/Indigenous descent. (Adapted from Women of Color Network, Inc.)

2023 Theme & Keynote

The theme for this year's Connecting Womxn of Color Conference is Lead from Where You Are. As we actively work to create and sustain communities in which everyone belongs—and feels that they belong, we can both celebrate who we are and address the challenges and inequities that we face.  It starts by leading from where you are – whoever you are and wherever you are – finding and creating ways to serve our communities, ways that are authentic to you and address the needs that you see, and building connections with each other.

Our keynote speaker is Tanya M. González, who has dedicated her 20+ year career to public service in Richmond, VA, serving Richmond’s Latine and immigrant communities. In her keynote, Leading as an In-Between, she shares her journey, purpose, insights, and ongoing motivation for serving.  Often having to navigate difficult challenges and amazing opportunities, she shares her experience as a pioneer in Richmond in the immigrant integration space, reflecting on what has occurred over the last two decades, as well as what there is still left to do.  Tanya defines her life’s purpose as simply this – to be welcoming.  Through her keynote, she shares how she has lived in to that purpose while working to dismantle and transform systems that are not often welcoming.  And she invites everyone to do simply that – be welcoming as a way of serving your community.

2023 Speakers

Headshot of Tanya Gonzalez

Keynote Speaker: Tanya M. González

Tanya M. González (she/her/ella) has devoted more than 20 years to serving the Latine community in Richmond and is currently the Executive Director of the Sacred Heart Center. In the early 2000s, she developed the Hispanic Liaison Office in the City of Richmond (later the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and now the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Engagement), and founded several cultural events like the Imagine Festival and El Juguetazo in South Richmond – both conceived to engage families and enhance community connections.  Tanya has a B.A. in Latin American studies from Brown University and an M.P.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University.  She grew up on the Texas-Mexican border and has been in-between two cultures, languages, countries, and peoples all her life.  In her free time, she teaches and works with the children of Sacred Heart Folkórico, and performs with the adults of Raíces de Mexico, two local dance groups dedicated to traditional Mexican and Latin American dance.

Headshot of Suja Sarah Matthews

Facilitator: Suja Mathew

Suja Sarah Mathew (she/her) is a driven community activist and passionate advocate, who strives to build alliances while relentlessly fighting for issues that make communities stronger. For over 15 years, Suja has had the opportunity to work within diverse and socially conscious industries. During her tenure as Director of Workforce Development at Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia, she had oversight of the daily management and operations of the workforce development programs. Additionally, as City of Richmond, Fire & Emergency Services Analyst, she had oversight of the planning and coordinating of grant development opportunities, as well as providing leadership for interdepartmental activities regarding the acquisition and administration of Federal, State and other grant funds, and coordinated projects for Federal Emergency Management Agency, Office of Emergency Medical Services and Virginia Department of Emergency Management. She has served for several years as a peer reviewer for the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP). For over ten years, she has led a national grassroots effort in spearheading health policy legislation for physicians, as well as in the state of Virginia. Suja serves on the advisory council of Practicing Physicians of America and has served on multiple Gubernatorial boards including, the Virginia School Readiness Committee, and Virginia Complete Count Commission, and was past Chair and Vice Chair of the Virginia Asian Advisory Boards. In 2018, Suja was one of the founding members of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Asian & Latino Solidarity Alliance of Central Virginia, writes on Nonprofit Financial Management, such as the impact of the nonprofit tax status between for-profit companies and nonprofit entities for Nonprofit Quarterly and Blue Avocado. She received the Facilitator award by Sorensen Political Leadership program and was chosen in 2022 as a Woman of Impact by Virginia Tech. Currently, Suja resides in Henrico County, enjoys tennis and fighting the patriarchy.

Headshot of Jessica Washington

Facilitator: Jessica Washington

Jessica Washington (she/her) is a former University of Richmond employee and an alum of the SPCS Master of Nonprofit Studies program.  She currently works as a senior diversity and inclusion manager at Morrison Foerster, a global law firm, and is earning her doctorate of education in human and organizational learning at George Washington University.  Jessica firmly believes that everyone is an expert on their own story and although we did not build this metaphorical “sandbox” of a society/world, we can each do our part to find and build community, define our own success and happiness, and lift others as we climb. Jessica’s most recent interests center on imposter syndrome/phenomenon, strategies to combat gendered racism and microaggressions, and interrupting unconscious bias in talent management processes.