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University of Phoenix welcomes over 5,000 participants from 17 countries at its third annual Inclusive Leadership Summit and Career Fair

By Michele Mitchum

Virtual event focused on the pivotal role of transparency in fostering diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB)

University of Phoenix welcomed 5,145 participants from 17 countries to its third annual Inclusive Leadership Summit and Career Fair, held June 11-14. Titled “Transparency as the Catalyst for Belonging,” this year’s event featured thought leaders and changemakers who provided valuable insights and practical strategies for nurturing a culture of trust and openness. Summit learners had the opportunity to earn two digital badges, “Inclusive Leader: Transparency in Practice,” and “Fostering Authentic Connections through Vulnerability,” which they could share on LinkedIn, other social profiles or job boards. 

“University of Phoenix has long recognized the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in both our learning and workplace environments,” stated Provost and Chief Academic Officer John Woods, Ph.D. “This year, we seized the opportunity at the summit to leverage transparency as a powerful catalyst for cultural transformation, creating environments where every voice is heard, valued, and respected. These efforts reflect our ongoing commitment to transparency, and we are proud to continue championing DEIB initiatives all year round.”

“By engaging with experts and thought leaders at the Inclusive Leadership Summit, our participants gained not only knowledge but practical tools to enact meaningful change within their organizations,” shared Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion for University of Phoenix, Saray Lopez, MBA. “The discussions and workshops emphasized the real-world impact of transparency in promoting inclusivity and belonging. We are inspired by the commitment shown by our community to drive these principles forward and are excited to see the positive transformations that will result.”

The event began with remarks and a discussion by opening keynote speakers Dr. Nika White, CDE®, IOM, and Jennifer Brown, who explored transparency in the workplace and how organizations embracing transparency can harness the strengths and experiences of their employees. The free, virtual event brought together leaders, scholars, and professionals across multiple industries to explore strategies to facilitate transparency in support of DEIB efforts.

"As an attendee of the Inclusive Leadership Summit, I was deeply impressed by the quality and breadth of the sessions,” states University of Phoenix doctoral candidate and Program Co-Chair for Student Organizations Student & Alumni Leadership Council Stephanie Morgan-Harris. “From valuable insights on AI to guidance on creating psychologically safe workspaces, every presentation was enriching. The summit provided a space where I felt truly seen and heard, particularly during discussions on belonging and mental health in higher education. The authenticity and expertise of speakers was inspiring, empowering me to lead with vulnerability and strength.”

The second day of sessions focused on “Leading with Empathy: Race, Accessibility, Ageism, and LGBTQ+ Inclusion Strategies.” Attendees gained insights into fostering inclusivity in diverse environments and learned how empathy-driven leadership can drive positive organizational change. Topics covered practical methods for defining professional boundaries while promoting transparency and vulnerability to support a sense of belonging.

The final day of the Inclusive Leadership Summit explored the intersection of AI, DEIB, and leadership transparency. The discussions focused on proactive strategies to bridge gaps within communities, ensuring equal access to digital technologies, and leveraging AI for positive societal impact. Sessions emphasized innovation and collaboration to build connections and redefine success in personal branding by emphasizing authenticity.

Tamroen Brewer, a University of Phoenix student enrolled in the Criminal Justice Administration program who attended the summit and career fair, says it was a transformative experience for her. “From bonding over relatable experiences with keynote speakers to gaining insight on how to develop the leader in ourselves, the Inclusive Leadership Summit changed the trajectory of my being,” she states. “The way faculty, staff, and alumni took time to pour into us really shows the way they believe in our ability to be a success. The innovative strategies I learned to increase awareness, encourage growth, and address inequities have truly inspired me and expanded my ability to reach new heights.”  

Complementing the focus on transparency, this year’s event also featured the second annual Workforce Diversity Leaders Seminar. This seminar served as a platform for advancing and empowering leaders of employee resource groups (ERGs) or business resource groups (BRGs), their sponsors, and emerging leaders in workforce diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Participants engaged in facilitated discussions on workplace transparency and developed skills essential for becoming effective, inclusive leaders.

Senior Change Management Consultant and Professor Tretha Harris expressed her gratitude for the speakers and sessions that keep her coming back to the Inclusive Leadership Summit year after year. “You all continue to add value in my professional life, and I wanted to acknowledge your brilliance and your greatness,” she shares.  “The summit was so awesome. This is my third year attending and each time I am stretched to do better, learn more, and take action.  Thank you so very much for all you do for University of Phoenix and the broader community.”

Recordings from the Inclusive Leadership Summit sessions will be posted on the summit webpage.

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