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"BELONGING IN NORTHEAST MINNESOTA", the 3rd Annual Equity Summit, is an opportunity to engage around themes related to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion and forge a more inclusive future in northeast Minnesota.

Date & Time

Wednesday, October 4th, 2023

8:00AM – 4:00PM


Who Should Attend?

All are welcome to attend!

Residents, newcomers, elected officials, educators, law enforcement, environmental advocates, community leaders, business owners, creatives, workforce & economic developers, government, health care, philanthropy, and YOU.


Iron Trail Motors Event Center

919 6th Street South, Virginia, MN 55792 


Registration Fee

$40 REGULAR registration starting September 1, 2023.

Registration closes September 20, 2023. Registration helps to cover food costs. No refunds.

We have 25 scholarships available, if you would like to make use of one of our scholarships, please email Amber Lewis directly at


7:45AM Registration Check-In


8:15AM Welcome to the Summit & Messages from Sponsors

Participants are welcomed to the summit and hear from this year’s Elevate Sponsor.

Welcome: Elissa Hansen, Northspan President & CEO

Elevate Sponsor: St. Louis County, Jim Gottschald, Director of HR & Administration


8:30AM Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) Coffee and Breakfast Snacks

Learn about Northspan’s Welcoming Community programming in northeast Minnesota and just what the terms “justice,” “equity,” “diversity,” and “inclusion” mean.


9:00AM Keynote I A Peripheral Vignette with Jonathan Thunder

Renowned local and nationally recognized artist, Johnathan Thunder, will discuss inclusion in relation to his experiences in moving to this area about 10 years ago, and help attendees consider questions related to the place art and representation make in creating a welcoming community.

His presentation will be followed by a brief Q&A before transitioning to small group facilitated discussions on the theme of Art and Belonging at the Equity Summit Lyceum!


9:45AM Equity Summit Lyceum I Where the Community Comes to Think

Part of a tradition going back 150 years in America, the Lyceum is where neighbors can pursue the most important questions of human life through philosophy, art, history, and more.

This session will launch from the keynote from Jonathan Thunder as a thought starter followed by facilitated small group conversation around the topic of Art and Belonging. Community members across the Northland will have the opportunity to share their perspectives and experiences and deeply engage with one another, ending with a toast and commission.


10:40AM Break, Visit Resource Tables, and Enjoy Refreshments

Participants will have time to take a break, grab refreshments, and visit the resource tables from sponsor organizations and presenters. 


11:00AM Local Welcoming Efforts Lightning Round

Learn more about welcoming organizations across the region in the main ballroom. This is an opportunity for local groups working on supporting belonging in northeast Minnesota to present a 3-minute introduction of their organization and key initiatives.

Presenting organizations will then host a lunch table where participants who are interested in learning more are invited to join, ask questions, and discuss over lunch.

Each table will have a limited capacity of 6-7 participants, so get your lunch seat early!

  1. The Promise is You Carl Crawford & Keith Turner
  2. Minnesota North College, AspireNorth Claire Peterlin
  3. Carlton County Restorative Justice Program Mallory Thorne & Sal Lee
  4. Cook County Higher Education (CCHE) Kelsey Kennedy
  5. Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR) Frances Wittenberg
  6. Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) Kayla Swanson
  7. Minnesota Multifaith Network (MnMN) Jen Kilps
  8. Voices for Ethnic and Multicultural Awareness (VEMA) Seraphia Gravelle & Nathaniel Coward
  9. Digital Connection Committee, Wilderness Health Zomi Bloom
  10. St. Louis County, BIPOC Leadership Team Tonia Villegas
  11. Hello Range Miriam Kero
  12. Equity Committee of the Duluth Workforce Development Board Cassy Burr
  13. Family Rise Together Brittni Abbett


11:30AM Lunch and Networking

Lunch will be set up buffet style in the room across the hall from the ballroom with tables available in the main ballroom. This is a time to network, visit the various sponsor and resource booths, and/or join a Lightning Round hosted lunch table.

Fajita bar lunch provided by Kunnari's Kitchen!


12:30PM – 3:00PM Belonging in Action Workshops

Participants will have the opportunity to engage in experiential and informative workshops focused on a variety of topics and learn tools they can utilize in creating a welcoming community or engage in initiatives related to justice, diversity, equity and inclusion.


12:30PM Workshop 1 (select 1)

ROOM A: IDI 101, An introduction to the Intercultural Development Model and Inventory (IDI)

Memegwesiikwe Diana Lawrey & Kevin Skwira Brown, Cultural Fluency Associates, LLP 

ROOM B: Let’s Make Waves to End Ageism Together

Kimberly Scanlon and Mimi Stender, Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging & Duluth Aging Support 

ROOM C: Welcome Corps, Refugee Sponsorship Program

Stephanie Koehne, Alight


1:45PM Workshop 2 (select 1)

ROOM A: IDI Advanced, Practicing Intercultural Fluency

Memegwesiikwe Diana Lawrey & Kevin Skwira-Brown, Cultural Fluency Associates, LLP

ROOM B: The Path Towards Equity for Your Business, Organization, or Community Group

Carl Crawford & Keith Turner, The Promise is You

ROOM C: Practices for Inclusive Hiring & Retention

Elissa Hansen & Ali Bilden Camps, Northspan Group, Inc. NORTHFORCE Program


3:00PM Panel Discussion: Inclusion for Families and Individuals
Challenges for families and individuals feeling welcomed to the region whether they are newcomers or have been here for years!

  • Jenna Udenberg, Above & Beyond With U
  • Wes Samuelson, LGBTQIA Community Member
  • Carl Crawford & Keith Turner, The Promise is You
  • Andrea Jang, Duluth Mom


3:45PM Closing Conversation


4:00PM We are Adjourned | Thank You for Joining Us


Covid 19 Information
In accordance with CDC guidelines, we ask that all summit attendees ensure they are not exhibiting any symptoms consistent with Covid 19. We also ask that attendees practice safety measures such as maintaining distance from others when possible, washing hands frequently, and masking in large group settings. Let's work together to stay healthy during this one-day event.

Northspan’s Welcoming Community programming is funded in part by the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, Blandin Foundation, Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation, and the Northland Foundation.

Thank You to Our Sponsors

Elevate Sponsor

Engage Sponsor

Private Small Business and Nonprofit Sponsors