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University of Phoenix Office of Educational Equity leadership presents at 2024 OLC Innovate Conference

By Sharla Hooper

Jelisa Dallas, program manager, leads session on creating virtual safe space for online students to cultivate a sense of belonging

University of Phoenix is pleased to share that Office of Educational Equity Program Manager Jelisa Dallas, M.S. Ed., joins the onsite proceedings of the 2024 Online Learning Consortium Innovate Conference April 9-12, 2024, in Denver, CO, to present a session titled, “Bravely Belong: Creating a Virtual Safe Space for Students to Succeed from the Classroom to Careers.” 

“An environment of belonging is created when individuals experience deep connection, they feel their ideas, thoughts, and contributions matter, and they can show up authentically. As a result, individuals experience psychological safety — feeling free to accept challenges, speak up if they have questions, and admit mistakes – having an absence of interpersonal fears.,” states Dallas. “Our Bravely Belong student café was built to foster this in a virtual space of belonging and it’s exciting to share this framework with others who can learn how it’s possible to implement similar experiences.”

The event, themed “Elevating Pathways: Navigating the Terrain of Future Learning,” is intended to provide opportunities for innovators of all experience levels and backgrounds to share best practices, test new ideas, and collaborate on driving forward online, digital, and blended learning.

Dallas’s session invites OLC attendees to learn how to implement a virtual, co-curricular program for historically marginalized, adult learners to develop social emotional learning skills. The session discusses the cross-departmental collaborations needed to support the development and sustainability of the café, success measures and milestones to track the student experience and risk management protocols. Session attendees can gain an understanding on how to cultivate a sense of belonging for their students and alumni, empowering them in their self-advocacy from the classroom to careers.

With over twelve years of experience working in education, Jelisa has designed and implemented innovative resources and programming for student development and engagement in private, non-profit, and public institutions. As Program Manager for Student Organizations (SO) for the Office of Educational Equity, Dallas collaborates closely with departmental leadership to advance diversity and inclusion initiatives among students and actively supports the growth and development of SOs as well as being instrumental in creating standard operating procedures, communication plans, and project initiatives to streamline administrative processes for SO programs. She serves as the advisor for the inaugural Student and Alumni Leadership Council and facilitates the Bravely Belong Student Café. Dallas has co-authored several white papers on cultivating belonging in higher education and is DEI Workplace Certified through the University of South Florida Muma College of Business. Dallas currently sits on of the board of the University of Phoenix employee resource group, African American Council for Excellence. She serves on the Warren/Youngstown Urban League Young Professionals in Warren, OH, and is the DEIB Subcommittee Champion for Trauma Informed Care within the Family & Children First Council of Trumbull County.

The Office of Educational Equity leads internal and external initiatives promoting understanding and inclusive practices throughout the University, aligning with the University of Phoenix President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB). In addition to the Bravely Belong café for students, the Office hosts a monthly Educational Equity webinar series and leads the planning of the University’s annual Inclusive Leadership Summit, a public event that invites participants to develop inclusive leadership skills with a focus on tracks in leadership management, education and healthcare. The next Summit, free to the public and themed “Transparency as the catalyst for belonging,” is planned for June 11-13, 2024.

A complete schedule of the OLC Innovate conference is available here.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix innovates to help working adults enhance their careers and develop skills in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, skills-mapped curriculum for our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and a Career Services for Life® commitment help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit