Conversations About Diversity and Belonging

We've all been there, that uncomfortable moment when you must decide whether to engage in a conversation about equity and belonging or let the moment pass. Such conversations can quickly trigger defensiveness and even aggression, which is not helpful and something none of us wants. Educators possess the skills for meaningful conversations; however, talking about equity and belonging can open a minefield. Few of us have sufficient experience and knowledge to be comfortable with the topic.

Now is your chance to begin taking part in those discussions. Join MNEA for Introduction to Conversations on Diversity and Belonging, and decide if you would like to take part in the 6-part program.

Get a head start and deepen your understanding by reading any of the following books. 

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Where We Come From by Oscar Casares
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong


Training Description

Introduction to Conversations About Diversity and Belonging

Tues., Jan. 18, 2022, 6:30-9 p.m.
Register by Jan. 17.

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We will begin the discussion and give an introduction to what will be covered during the 6-session program. 


Conversations About Diversity and Belonging: Re-Centering Empathy & Equity

All sessions are Tuesdays, 6:30-9 p.m.
Dates: Feb. 8 and 22, March 8 and 29, April 12 and 26
Register by Jan. 23.

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Conversations about Diversity and Belonging: Re-Centering Empathy & Equity is a six-session facilitated and interactive virtual program that provides a foundation for initiating and engaging in relational conversations about race, otherness, equity, and belonging in various settings: home, work, and community. This program uses timely open-source materials that provide access to key racial literacy perspectives and a selection of literary works by authors of color to frame conversations about diversity and belonging.

Recentering Empathy and Equity builds a peer cohort through conversation, stories, racial literacy, critical thinking, and the practice of reflective and dialectic skills that support leading small group discussions on race and belonging. Registrants are expected to attend the full program and to commit to organizing and implementing at least one conversation in their workplace or community, applying the discussion/reflection skills they have learned and practiced.

Space is limited to 22 participants. Two applicants from the same district receive priority in acceptance. Interested Missouri NEA members must download and complete this application, and then email the completed application to by midnight, Jan. 23.  Applicants will be notified by email of their status before the program start date.


Michele Chang holds a Master of Public Health from Emory University. Since 2016, she has served as a facilitator for conversations on diversity in community settings. Chang continues to train groups to be facilitators of group discussions on diversity and has designed and co-taught high school programs on diversity and equity. Since 2019, Chang has co-facilitated programs on diversity and equity specifically designed for educators.

Margery Doss, NBCT, completed this training in 2021. Doss led diversity initiatives in her school building and served in various leadership roles with Special School District NEA. Doss recently became a certified yoga instructor.


Palma Joy Strand earned a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in 1978, a Juris Doctorate from Stanford Law School in 1984, and a Master of Law (LL.M) from Georgetown University Law Center in 2006.  Beginning in 1988, Strand taught at the University of Maryland Law School, the Georgetown University Law Center, and the Creighton School of  Law.  She is currently a Professor of Law (full tenured professor) in the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at Creighton University. Since 2017, she has also been teaching virtually. In 2004, Strand began facilitating conversations about race and belonging, both in the context of classes taught through the above universities and as stand-alone programs. She continues this work today.

Michele Chang earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Maryland, College Park in 1986, and a Master's of Public Health from Emory University in 1996. From about 2010-2013, she taught as a sub for elementary and middle school. Since 2016, she has served as a facilitator for conversations on race in community settings, continues to train groups to be facilitators for small group discussions on race, and has designed and co-taught high school programs on race and equity. Since 2019, Chang has co-facilitated programs on race and equity specifically designed for educators and administrators.