Culturally Aware, Responsive, and Engaged (CARE)

 We All Rise 2023 Virtual Conference

We All Rise

In 2021, in response to requests for an annual event like the We All Rise Biennial Conference, a virtual conference was created to allow an additional opportunity for colleagues to convene and learn from others who are involved with access, diversity, and equity work, with an emphasis on increasing student success and completion rates, as well as workforce preparation. These biennial virtual convenings cover topics such as reflections on implementation strategies and outcomes of access and diversity grant funded programs, innovations in practice, as well as extended sessions on critical and topical areas of focus. 

2023 Conference Registration

Conference Agenda

October 18, 2023

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm (central)
From Squad to Quad: Assisting Veterans during their transition from military service to higher education and the civilian workforce


  • Dr. Robert Denn, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Tennessee Board of Regents
  • Dr. George Pimentel (USAR retired), Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Tennessee Board of Regents
  • Dr. Paul Morgan, (USMC retired), Dean for Students, Jackson State Community College
  • Kristina Waymire, Director of Student Initiatives, Tennessee Board of Regents
  • Dr. Tiffany Steward, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Enrollment & Retention Services, Tennessee Board of Regents

Veterans should not have to face ANOTHER obstacle course when trying to complete academic programs and access student services on college campuses. Session attendees will gain a better understanding about: 1) military culture and the related misconceptions about veterans' experiences and expectations and how this affects campus and classroom interactions 2) the strengths and challenges Veterans bring with them to our campuses 3) mental health issues that many Veterans struggle with and how best to help them overcome and succeed in meeting their educational and employment goals 4) effective peer mentoring models that administrators may want to adopt in support of Veterans

October 19, 2023

8:30 am to 8:45 am (central)
Welcome and Introduction 


  • Dr. Sean Chism, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Organizational Effectiveness, Tennessee Board of Regents and Co-Chair of the We All Rise 2023 Virtual Event Committee
  • Josh Koller, Director of Assessment for Organizational Effectiveness, Tennessee Board of Regents and Co-Chair of the We All Rise 2023 Virtual Event Committee

Join us as we introduce the day.

9:00 am to 9:50 am (central)
Transformative Conversations


  • Miki Mitrik, ESL Coordinator and Associate Professor of Spanish, Walters State Community College
  • Dr. Paul Coker, Assistant Professor of History at Walters State Community College 
  • Ryan McMillan, Department Head and Instructor of Paralegal Studies, Walters State Community College
  • Dr. Matthew Baddorf, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Walters State Community College
  • Dr. Tera Howerton, Dean of Business and Technical Education, Walters State Community College
  • Francois Odenthal-Cruz, Student, Walters State Community College 
  • Chris Cox, Student, Walters State Community College
  • Cayden Keltgen, Student, Walters State Community College

Conversations among students, faculty, and staff that encourage diversity of thought and can transform mindsets are part of the Walters State college experience. Join us to hear from students, faculty, Perkins, and RHiTA (Recruiting Hispanics to Achieve) organizers. Conversation structures and topic examples will be shared while offering “lessons learned” to colleagues who may want to engage in similar conversations.

10:00 am to 10:50 am (central)
Best Practice for Supporting Justice-Impacted Learners 


  • Lauren Rhae, Coordinator of Special Programs for Correctional Education, Tennessee Board of Regents 

This session will discuss best practices for working in the field of higher education in prison or other spaces interacting with justice-impacted learners. Solutions for working with individuals and carceral systems to build educational programs and support will be discussed. 95% of all individuals who are incarcerated will return to their communities. It is likely that you are already working with students who have been impacted by incarceration in some way. 

11:00 am to 11:50 am (central)
'Call Me Mister'


  • Rhonda Stewart, Tennessee State University

During our discussion, we will focus on the 'Call Me Mister' program and our strategy for maintaining it. The program seeks to increase the quantity and success of male teacher candidates. Our session will include information on the program's inception, the standards it adheres to, and the reasoning behind them. We will also delve into the program's significance, implementation, and sustaining techniques.

Noon to 1:00 pm (central)
Student Panel Conversation

Moderated by

  • Dr. Brelinda Johnson, Executive Vice President for Student Success, Motlow State Community College

1:10 pm to 2:00 pm (central)
Pursuing Respect, Inclusion, and Equity


  • Stephanie Mahnke, Ph.D., Executive Director, Tennessee Pride Chamber of Commerce

This session will discuss terminology and concepts related to the LGBTQ+ communities. In addition, participants will engage with others in regard to current climates, campus policies, and best practices for intersectionality and allyship. 

2:10 pm to 3:00 pm (central)
ROME in Culinary - A Program for Neurodiverse Students


  • Dr. Kristi Strode, Director of Center for Access and Disability Services, Chattanooga State Community College

ROME (Real Opportunities for Mentoring Experiences) in Culinary program was funded through a TBR SERS grant. The program allowed students with Down syndrome and autism to take part in culinary classes while being paired with neurotypical mentors. Much was learned from this experience, and subsequently the ROME program served as the base for a Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities funded opportunity where students of the same population will be taking audited classes in expanded areas of the college. This would not have been possible without the experiences learned from the Rome in Culinary grant.

October 20, 2023

9:00 am to 10:30 am (central)
Approaching Neurodivergence in Higher Education


  • Caitlin Cochran, EdD, Senior Associate Dean of Summer and Program Development, Georgetown University
  • Jessica Edonick, EdD, Dean of Students, Illinois College

The emergence of neurodivergence in higher education has led colleges and universities to explore and examine how learning spaces are designed and fostered. However, the question remains how do we, as educators and administrators, approach our work to promote access and inclusion? This session will provide a foundational understanding of the umbrella of neurodiversity along with higher education’s responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations and inclusive learning environments. During the session, we will exchange our professional experiences and lessons learned along with recommendations from our research and practice. Participants will leave the session with a fresh perspective on this growing yet underserved population. 

10:45 am to 12:15 pm (central)
Think Benefit, Not Burden: The English Language Learners Journey


  • Dr. Jewell Winn, Executive Director and Senior International Officer, Tennessee State University 
  • Dr. Tammy Gregersen, Director of the Intensive English Center, Tennessee State University