Diversity and Inclusion: Open Hearts, Open Minds

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Diversity and Inclusion: Open Hearts, Open Minds

By Rich Luna | Aug 12, 2020

We are reaching out to meeting industry professionals to engage in meaningful dialogue on the topic of diversity and inclusion. Today, we hear from Pawntra Shadab, immediate past president of the MPI Orange County Chapter and vice president of events and marketing at Elite Productions International in Laguna Hills, Calif.

Learn more about MPI’s diversity and inclusion efforts, and contact me if you would like to contribute to the discussion. 

What are the challenges that organizations (including associations like MPI) face when determining a course of action related to diversity and inclusion, specifically for the Black community?

We all need to be educated in this topic. Once we have information, we are able to make positive change and action. While serving on the Diversity & Inclusion Committee we have created a resource for members to utilize. From books and movies to podcasts and certifications. We want to share best practices on how we can educate ourselves and our communities.

What are the challenges in identifying measurable goals? 

Not having the right resources at hand can make it hard to identity measurable goals. If we can challenge our curiosities and stay educated with the different ways to approach the topic, we are well on our way. There’s so much that can be done. Start small and work your way up!

In this stillness, while the noise is turned down, once-unheard voices have captured global attention.

Share with us how your chapter responded in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.

As then-president of MPI Orange County, I’m proud of the office of the president and board of directors for coming together, acknowledging what happened and showing our support. We sent out a letter to everyone in our database and social media. While this is an issue that has a profound impact on the Black community it’s also a human issue and we recognize that we all will have a role to play in finding solutions where everyone is treated with equal recognition and respect. In a moment like this, it’s important we all come together with open hearts and open minds to seek the long-term solutions necessary. 

This discussion is not new. But why is now different vs. say five years ago, or 10 years ago, when it comes to seeing equality for the Black community?

While these concepts are not new, they are being discussed in new ways and in different contexts. We have to look to new ways of communicating these messages that make sense in this day and age. 

MPI Resources for Equality and Justice: Furthering the Advancement of All Peoples

Do you feel inspired and confident that real change will come?

I’m very passionate about this topic and inspired by the thought leaders within this movement. I’ve learned so much. I do feel confident that real change will come but I know we all need to play a role. It doesn’t end after making two social media posts or attending one protest. We must consistently advocate until we see the positive change.

How important is diversity to you and what value does it bring?

We all bring something different to the table. By educating people we can help reduce the risk of discrimination and raise awareness of the value of collaborating with people of difference cultures, races, genders, ethnicities, beliefs, experiences and ideas. That’s the beauty in the collaboration of a diverse network. MPIOC also sees the importance and will be launching a D&I section in our newsletters to keep members informed and educated so they can take the necessary steps in order to elevate themselves and their organizations.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash



Rich Luna

Rich Luna is Director of Publishing for MPI and Editor-in-chief of The Meeting Professional.