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Energetic Keynotes

handprintBe The Change You Want To Be

Often, student groups ask a speaker to come in and make the group feel good, laugh, and learn something. This keynote does two of the three, at least at first. Using an interactive and conversational style, this keynote encourages participants to play with their cell phones, raise their hands, and laugh out loud. The laughter comes from well orchestrated humor as well as a slowly developing feeling of discomfort. In order to really make change, a person must realize what they are oblivious to and come to understand how this lack of consciousness guides his or her actions and assumptions. Collectively, the group begins to break down behaviors, actions, assumptions, and stereotypes that limit their organizations, friends, and most importantly, themselves. Before you know, the participants are creating tangible goals and realistic action steps to do as soon as I get off the stage.

view videoView a clip from a keynote address.

Learning Outcomes:

  • To understand the difference between Diversity and Social Justice
  • To remove excuses that stand in one's way from doing social justice work
  • To utilize three basic tools of self reflection: tracking, triggers, and listening
  • To motivate and inspire audiences to become participants in their own change

Comments from attendees:
“I’m leaving here with so much. I feel like a weight has been lifted from my spirit. I am not gay – and I think all identities would benefit from this. It was an amazing talk.”

"The keynote was wonderful. The part that was most useful was 'The only thing you can do to make change is to change your own world.'"

"Jessica uses humor and her real life examples to engage us and to relate to us."

"I learned to evaluate myself so I am better equipped to use my influence to help bring about change within my sphere."

living wellLiving Well: Sustainability for the Non Environmentalists

Blending basic principles of social justice with life changes that make an actual difference in our ecological footprint, this program clearly identifies 5 simple steps that can immediately be incorporated into our lives. Learning more about our ecological footprint vs. just our carbon footprint will have participants thinking about their purchases, intentions, aspirations, and goals in a way that doesn't drum up guilt or shame. This mind shift is about doing less with less inside of a system that is dependent on growth and more consumption. Join in for a view videoconversation about where our self worth really comes from and how we can build community without harming it.

View a clip from "Living Well"

handprintIf Not Us, Then Who? Let's Rise

WARNING: There will be no hand holding, silver spoons, or excuses permitted during this keynote.  It was President Johnson that first looked to higher education to be the “great equalizer” for civil rights.  The idea was that once everyone had access to a college education, there would be no need for a privileged class. Where this might have seemed true at one point, 50 years later, I continue to wonder when things are going to change, get better, or equal out while admissions standards tighten, tuition prices increase, and students fight to enroll in ever more limited classes.  As a sorority member and community leader, I have decided to claim my responsibility and utilize my elite membership status to dismantle oppression and leave the world a better place.  Please join me in what I have found to be a highly motivating, yet reality and social justice based action-oriented message where no excuses or limitations are needed.  In the words of James Larkin, “The great appear great because we are on our knees.  Let’s rise!” Not only do we have access to a college education which many do not, we have gained access to the elite of the elite and with this comes the individual responsibility to serve. If access to a higher education is truly about leadership, moral development, and service – then we have a lot of catching up to do. Imagine a world not of t-shirt committees or P-C police, but of service that actually means something. If not us, then who?

Learning Outcomes:

  • To understand the difference between subordinated and dominant identities
  • To remove excuses that stand in one's way of doing social justice work
  • To deconstruct stories and history to find the true power of an individual’s action connected to a network of support
  • To motivate and inspire audiences to become participants in their own change


handprintMean it: The Meaning of Everyday Actions

1 in 10 people have not experienced bullying. 1 in 10.

It is time that we talk about the range of behaviors that we engage in and experience, from unintentional micro aggressions to actual targeted hate crimes. Once we understand the difference between bias and hate, we can learn to interrupt our own actions, and inactions, as well as those of others, before a crime takes place. Even well intentioned people often have an invalidating or aggressive impact on others. When a clear understanding is established about the impact of words and actions as well as silence and inaction, we, as a society, can begin to develop an inclusive community. This conversation includes the bullied and the bullies within all of us in an effort to reconnect to our hearts and begin a healing process.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify and distinguish between positive or negative bias and a hate crime.
  • Understand elements of bystander behavior.
  • Foster a community of respect and awareness of all members.

©2007-2016 Jessica Pettitt, I am… Social Justice and Diversity Consultant and Facilitator, All rights reserved

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