2020 GlobalMindED Conference
June 6-8
Sheraton Denver Downtown
GlobalMindED is a 501(c)(3) innovation network that closes the equity gap through education, entrepreneurship, employment and economic mobility to create a capable, diverse talent pipeline.
On this anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, we are proud to share the insights below from Dr. Karen McNeil-Miller, winner of the 2019 GlobalMindED Inclusive Leader Award in the Foundation and Funders category. As a First Gen student who went on to earn her PhD and play important key leadership roles at some of the nation's most high-impact organizations from the Center for Creative Leadership to The Colorado Health Foundation.

Karen's ability to build powerful, inclusive bridges among all people, to forgive the sins of the past and to hope for and create a future that fulfills Martin Luther King's dream for an inclusive America where all can succeed, achieve economic self-sufficiency and thrive despite the odds.
How did your youth and early adult years influence how you approach equity?

Growing up in a rural working class family in North Carolina, both of my parents worked in the cotton mills. Eventually, the mill closed and my father retired. My mother became a teachers' assistant in the South after desegregation. In retrospect, a couple things in my upbringing really stand out as core to who I am today.

First, I learned to grow up with an open mind in the midst of Jim Crow, which my parents shielded me from. And, I was a grade school student during desegregation, which was transitional and didn't just happen overnight. The experience of attending school at the helm of and after desegregation helped me learn about the commonalities we all have as humans, no matter our skin color. I eventually had to navigate two worlds - Black and White - and that gave me critical exposure to the stark differences between them. It also helped me navigate between and within them later in life.

As a fourth grader and during the transitional year before desegregation really took hold, my parents chose to send me to the White school that I was assigned to attend a year later. It was so scary. During that time, Black students could go the "White schools," as I did, but there were no White kids that went to the Black schools. Those of us who transitioned to White schools were afraid. At first, kids were mean to me. Then, they figured out I was smart and good at sports. Suddenly, they wanted to look at my notes, copy my tests and have me on their sports teams. Over time, the things I shared in common with my White classmates outnumbered any of our differences. To this day, several of those classmates are dear lifelong friends. And, after desegregation, I never had another Black teacher in middle school, high school or throughout nine years of college.

As I grew older, I learned to navigate both worlds. My Black friends would say, "you talk White." My White friends would say I was "acting Black." I learned more about how so much of our society and culture was and still is driven by White privilege and traditions. Fortunately, I had White allies and teachers who saw something in me. One of these teachers encouraged me to join the yearbook staff and I became the first Black editor. That was an important milestone for my growth, and a first time I was "the first" anything at something.

I started college at a community college and worked part-time as a bank teller. Later, I transferred to UNC Greensboro, where I really learned what to do in situations where others knew the ground rules, but I didn't. It took time and persistence. Later, I earned my master's degree and then a doctorate of education from Vanderbilt in Tennessee.
During this time in my life, I didn't have the language to say I was "first generation" or the first or only person in my family to receive a college education or to be hired for X job. I learned that after being in those environments. Looking back, it was so valuable that I could navigate both the Black and the White worlds. It made me nimble. But I still had to be persistent in navigating the systems and rules that were created and maintained by people who looked different than I do.

In the early part of my career, I worked for a company who offered to pay for my PhD if I agreed to work there while I earned the degree... and then some -- a year for each year it took me to finish. I decided I to work full time and get my PhD in three years. The University said it couldn't be done, but I did it.

I realize now that I never viewed each challenge I faced in receiving my education and moving up the ladder professionally as definitive obstacles. To me, they were just things I had to deal with. I understand more now about the barriers I was crossing and it influenced how I want to help others overcome inequity barriers.

How did your parents deal with your success?

I am so lucky to have had two parents who loved me. They were raised in a time when you got a job and you stayed in that job your whole career. There was very little concept of career upward mobility. When I left my first and second jobs for better opportunities, they couldn't understand that. They said: "Why are you leaving a good job?" It was a very foreign concept to them.

Eventually, I moved out of North Carolina to Colorado Springs for a promotion at the Center for Creative Leadership. I was so afraid to move and they were afraid for me. At first, I was going to rent my house in North Carolina as a fall back, but in the end I decided to face my fears and sell it. My parents learned to trust my instincts, though they were far from the choices they knew how to make in the world they grew up in.

Whenever I would get a promotion or new opportunity, they would say: "Congratulations! Now, get over yourself!!" Their humility has had a big impact on my world view and the way I solicit and take in feedback from others at all levels.

What allows others to truly be successful in overcoming huge economic challenges?

People who experience episodic or persistent low income, poverty, homelessness, abuse and addiction can find a way out with the choice of their outlook. They figure out how to make a way out of no way. This is a very valuable life skill that helps in all realms of personal life and business. You can only persist if you believe in yourself and believe that it's going to get better. You have to believe this deep in your soul. As you go through life, I believe that challenges and road blocks are always passengers with you. But you also need some additional passengers: optimism, perseverance, persistence and resilience.

How did you develop your equity vision for Colorado Health Foundation?

We originally had a vision to make Colorado the "Healthiest State in the Nation." But if you really consider that goal and achieve it, we would still leave 25% of the population behind. And, included in the 25% may well be many Coloradans with the least opportunities, income, power and privilege. That wasn't solving for inequity, so we re-centered our mission, identity and strategy on achieving health equity for Coloradans living on low income and who have the least power and privilege. We also committed to ensuring all we do is community-informed, because you can't do equity work in a bubble of philanthropy. Our staff have gone through their own journeys in understanding what this vision really means and how it can be achieved. And I was also fortunate to have the support of a very progressive and equity-minded Board. They supported and promoted this vision and who we are today from the outset. The diversity of world view, people, cultures and backgrounds is needed at all levels, from the Board to the newest hire. None of the progress we've made at Colorado Health Foundation could have happened without the leadership of a values-and equity-based Board and staff at all levels.

How are you living out your equity commitment at Colorado Health Foundation?

A vision isn't worth anything unless people are committed and working toward it. We've helped our staff learn and explore history and how inequity takes shape, and everyone is on their own journey in understanding the complexities behind inequity.

Even with a committed staff and the support of the Board, it is hard to sustain consistent behavior that leads to lasting change. Healing and transformation has to start from the inside. We have to be willing to examine our own unconscious biases and how embedded that is into our human design. We have to be willing to discuss the undiscussable and explore the "why" behind the world we've created. And, once people see how biases and the "isms' of our world contribute to how society, systems and people perpetuate inequity, they can't not see it. It is clear and then it can be addressed.

We have a responsibility as a philanthropy committed to equity to give back and make a difference in the lives of those who are oppressed and struggle every day. The Coloradans we serve are huge assets to their families and communities. Their stories and experiences are not known, and they should be. We have to help ensure their voices are heard, that their stories become known. We have to invite and give them a place at the table so they can advocate and articulate their own needs, hopes, dreams and goals.

We work and learn with and from communities across the state. We listen at all levels. We know that the folks who live and work in these communities are the experts, not us, about their needs and dreams to be healthy. It takes a different openness and authenticity on our part to bring forth the kernels of understanding that provide the fertile ground for change and major improvement. This approach to listening is absolutely imperative to our work.

Our ability and responsibility to support people on their journey toward health is key in creating a more equitable, thriving and hopeful society. Our work isn't done until all families can say that their children have what they need to live healthy and prosperous lives. I've been able to accomplish things I never dreamed of as a child. Now, I want to h elp children dream and live their lives to become the dreams that guide them.

We are grateful for people like Karen and other inclusive leaders in our GlobalMindED community who are doing the work to make
Martin Luther King's dream reality.

If you would like to nominate a student from your institution for the 
2020 GlobalMindED First Gen Student Leadership Program so that they can meet role models and mentors while networking for internships and jobs with companies who are dedicated to creating a capable, diverse talent pipeline , please encourage them to apply HERE
If you are an educator, you can attend  by yourself, a team or with your First Gen student delegates. If you come with more than 5 people from your institution, you are eligible for the discount.
GlobalMindED and the SDG Impact Fund are delighted to announce GlobalMindED's Donor Advised Fund for your year-end giving and planning your 2020 investment goals. 2020 is the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations and and the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Women's Declaration and Action Platform. Many from around the world are thinking of 2020 as the gateway to our most vital decade for delivering equity, the Sustainable Development Goals, and a world where all can thrive. Our key time for these outcomes is 2020-2030.

GlobalMindED DAF and the SDG Impact Fund are a powerful combined force for good as the 2019 year comes to a close and we reflect on the gratitude and the commitments we make to the causes we care most about. The DAF offers immense power and flexibility for giving prior to the year's end as you plant seeds of generous intention for 2020 and the decade ahead.

When you contribute to GlobalMindED, you support students like Emanuel Walker whose story is below. He was in the class of 2018. Since 2015, we have served more than 300 students by connecting them to role models, mentors, internships and jobs. Your generous support will allow us to take our work 10x and reach these talented students at scale who lack the resources and support we provide. Your support also helps teachers who can't afford the conference fees, faculty at colleges which are under resourced and students who persist at those universities despite food insecurity and/or housing insecurity.

Join us to recognize the most inclusive leaders in key industries for their innovations and bold actions to promote access and equity for women, people of color, and underrepresented populations in their recruiting, development, senior management on their boards, and in their pipeline strategies from education to employment. 


As you start the New Year, are you looking for ways to re-engineer your classroom culture? Check out Designing the Future: How Engineering Builds Creative Critical Thinking in the Classroom. The associated website has lots of activities, projects, and resources you can implement immediately. Our fall workshops using the book as a roadmap for change have been highly successful. Start designing the future today - try using the customized Study Guide for a book study in your PLC. Or contact ProjectEngin or Solution Tree to learn how you can bring professional development based on Ann's book to your school, district, or conference.


Since 2006 when the flagship TGR Learning Lab opened its doors in Anaheim, CA, TGR Foundation has had a lot to celebrate, including its most recent milestone of one million students impacted by TGR EDU: Explore, alone.

Developed in partnership with Discovery Education, TGR EDU: Explore is a free digital resource library that offers interactive web experiences, lesson plans, training videos and tools for educators, students and families to explore new disciplines and gain skills for a modern and expanding workforce.

The climate crisis, rape culture, the wall-we think the patriarchy has done enough. Introducing " When Feminists Rule the World", a new podcast series from the Nobel Women's Initiative and producing partner MediaStyle. Hosted by Nicaraguan-born comedian, Martha Chaves, we're talking to badass feminist changemakers around the world about the future they are creating. It shouldn't be groundbreaking. But it is.
Entertainment For Change creates original song and dance (#SDGGROOVE) to educate young people on the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Like any meaningful social change, the original song and dance is a collaborative effort between more than 20 singers, dancers, writers and choreographers. Lauded vocalists Natalie Weiss and Antonio Cipriano lend their voices to the powerful lyrics, while each SDG is  danced by performers of all calibers.

To learn more about Entertainment for Change and #SDGGROOVE, visit our  website
Join the #NeedHerScience Campaign that is aimed at addressing journal-level gender bias. For decades, studies have demonstrated gender bias in publishing. This may occur at various stages in the process, including at the level of the 
journals. The equitable inclusion of women editors at every level is long overdue. Addressing journal gender bias starts at the top. 

AMWA is a strategic partner for the Need Her Science Campaign which is part of the Be Ethical Campaign. More information is available at www.SheLeadsHealthcare.com.

The goal: To raise awareness about gender bias in publishing and share with stakeholders, including journal editors and owners, the overall number of scientists, healthcare professionals and others who have taken the pledge. The pledge can be taken anonymously. Educators and others are encouraged to take the pledge and share information about this issue with colleagues and trainees. 

Here are 3 quick and easy things you can do to join the #NeedHerScience Campaign: 1. Disseminate the infographic Tips for Publishing in Medical Journals. 
2. Take the #NeedHerScience pledge. 
3. Encourage others to take the pledge. 

PLEDGE: "As part of determining where to submit my manuscripts, I will look at the list of editors and consider whether a journal has equitably included qualified women at every level."

The Conrad Challenge is an excellent opportunity for industry, government, research and academia to help support the youth of today and take an active role in shaping our future workforce. Students participating in the Conrad Challenge create innovative solutions to real-world challenges, while preparing for success in a global workplace. The competition encourages creativity, critical thinking and entrepreneurial collaboration among teams around the globe. Learn more and become a judge HERE
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