Kent City Schools awarded its March Collaborative Organization of the Month to Kent State University’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’s Diversity Education and Training Lab.

The Diversity Education and Training Lab promotes dialogue and helps develop inclusion in various environments. The lab also touches on topics such as microaggressions, cultural competency and discrimination. Lisa Givan, associate director of diversity training, oversees and serves as lead facilitator within the lab.

“We provide training for student organizations, departments, divisions and external organizations, such as Stark County Job and Family Services, Interfaith Alliance, various school districts around Northeast Ohio and government leaders,” Givan says.

Dana Lawless-Andric, associate vice president for the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, started the lab three years ago. Givan, who has an extensive background in training, was brought on when the lab began to grow.

“Through our training, we really want people to recognize inclusion and how it fits into their everyday lives,” Givan says. “We want people to comprehend and accept the role of self-awareness first. A lot of times in this work, people want to look at climate issues and what’s not being done, but all of our trainings start with some type of self-reflection so people can see where they fit in. We want people to see that diversity is a journey and not a checkmark and to value difference and not just tolerate it.”

Tahira Habeeb who works in the Office of Global Education and with Project Unity, a diversity student group at Theodore Roosevelt High School, recommended the Diversity Education and Training Lab to Principal Dennis Love as a good option for diversity training and cultural competency. 

“Last year around January, the political climate began to affect our students and faculty here at Roosevelt, and we were working really hard to try and keep politics out of our school,” Love says. “I started talking to Tahira Habeeb, and Lisa Givan’s name came up and I reached out to her. After talking with her about some of the things she could do, we were excited to start with our staff. We felt like if change was really going to happen here we thought it made sense to start with our faculty and staff because they’re the ones working directly with the students.”

After conversations with Love about what the high school was experiencing, what they wanted to get out of a training and what the lab could offer, Givan decided to move forward with a faculty training at Roosevelt by facilitating the Game of Life.

The Game of Life is an interactive facilitation that gives participants the opportunity to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and understand some of the different privileges and disadvantages they may experience throughout their life.

“We were able to go in during an in-service day and facilitate a morning and afternoon session and facilitate conversation as well,” Givan says. “It was a great experience to start working with the school. We’re only a mile away so if we have the resources to forge a relationship in the community with the students and people then we should be doing that. We definitely want to keep facilitating trainings and conversations on these topics.”

“Every time we have a board meeting, we choose an organization, and choosing this was easy for me,” Love says. “I was so impressed working with Kent State and all the staff that came with Lisa to help with the training. The service provided was tremendous, and the ideas that I was able to take away really helped us shape what this relationship could look like going forward.”


POSTED: Wednesday, July 5, 2017 08:47 AM
Updated: Saturday, December 3, 2022 01:02 AM