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University of Phoenix hosts Educational Equity Webinar Highlighting Diversity of United States Military Servicemembers During World War II  

By Michele Mitchum

The panel discussion will focus on the military contributions of people of color, women and those with diverse religious backgrounds during the Second World War

University of Phoenix is holding the newest webinar in its Educational Equity Webinar Series, titled “Force Multiplier: Diversity in Service of our country in World War II,” on November 16, 2023, at 11:00am AZT. The event is part of a public series intended for educators, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) practitioners, higher education leaders and administrators, employers, nonprofit organizations, government affiliates, and University of Phoenix faculty, staff, students, and alumni across the globe.

"The panel discussion aims to facilitate a deeper understanding of the ways servicemembers experience aspects of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging in country’s military environments," states Tondra Richardson, MBA, director of Student Diversity & Inclusion at University of Phoenix, and a host of the series. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to hear from this diverse group of military leaders and to learn from their rich experiences and insights.” 

John Ramirez, MBA, MS/AJS-GHS, USA CSM (ret) and dean of operations for the University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies, will moderate the panel discussion featuring Colonel (Ret.) Wanda Wright and Joseph Olano. Participants can expect an informative hour that will focus on the military experiences and contributions of people of color, women and those with diverse religious backgrounds during WW II.

"The opportunity to have an open and thoughtful discussion with some of the men and women who bravely served our country is critical to understanding historical experiences of diversity and belonging in our military community,” shares Ramirez. “By sharing and examining these experiences, we allow ourselves to gain important perspectives on diversity. We are grateful to our panelists for participating in the discussion and look forward to learning from them and their experiences.”

Olano is the President of the Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter (ARAC), Tuskegee Airmen Inc. He also serves as the Public Affairs/Media Relations Officer and chairs the Public Relations Committee that is responsible for promoting the Tuskegee Airman legacy through its Speaker's Bureau, Youth Program, ARAC Newsletter, and special events.

For 30 years, Olano served the United States of America as a civilian broadcaster for the Department of Defense. He recently retired from the Defense Media Activity Agency where he was assigned to the American Forces Network-Broadcast Center in Riverside, California. In 1992, Olano received an Honorable Discharge from the Department of the Army. In 1993, he began his civilian public service with the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs, HQ-American Forces Network-Europe Frankfurt, Germany. He was a photojournalist and a contributing writer with the European Stars and Stripes, the Frankfurt Chronicle, and later, the March Field Beacon.

Colonel (Ret.) Wanda Wright began her military career at the US Air Force Academy in 1981, in 1985 her first active-duty assignment was Deputy Budget Officer, Tactical Air Command in South Carolina. In 1990, Wanda transitioned to the Arizona Air National Guard retiring in 2011 as Director of Staff for the Adjutant General in Phoenix.

From 2015 to 2023, Wright was appointed by former Governor Doug Ducey to lead the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services. She began her new position as the Director for the Office for Veteran and Military Academic Engagement at Arizona State University on 1 June 2023. In October 2023, Wright was inducted into the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame.

Ramirez has been with the University of Phoenix since November 2004, and is active with numerous groups including Council of Colleges and Military Educators, National Association of Institutions for Military Education Services, American Society for Industrial Security, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education. He also supports several national and Phoenix-based veteran charitable and non-profit organizations.

Ramirez was the recipient of the Association of Latino Professionals for America’s (ALPFA) national 2017 Veteran of the Year Award and served the Chairman of the Corporate Advisory Board for the Phoenix Chapter of ALPFA in 2016 and 2017. He currently serves as the Vice Chair (Internal Activities) for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and in 2020 he was inducted into the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame. Ramirez served in the United States Army for 27 years and retired as a Command Sergeant Major. During his military service he served worldwide and in numerous leadership positions. 

The discussion will be hosted by Tondra Richardson, MBA, director of Student Diversity & Inclusion and Saray Lopez, MBA, director, Student Diversity & Inclusion, both with the Office of Educational Equity (OEE) at University of Phoenix. The Educational Equity Webinar Series is part of a series of events with which the OEE engages aiming to foster cultural awareness, thought leadership and community alliances to promote and sustain educational equity and diversity initiatives. The OEE supports students and faculty year-round with programs like the Inclusive Leadership Summit and an internal offering for staff and faculty, The Inclusive Café.

Register for the webinar here.

Previous webinars can be accessed here.

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