SALISBURY, N.C. – When members of the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Diversity and Inclusion Committee began planning for a community professional development event focusing on diversity, inclusion and equity, they never dreamed it would draw national, and even international, interest.

But as word spread about “A New Way Forward with G.U.I.D.E. (Growth, Understanding, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity), advance registrations began pouring in and the College realized the event’s reach would extend far beyond Cabarrus and Rowan counties. Along with those from across the United States, Rowan-Cabarrus hosted participants from Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Colombia, Australia, Pakistan, Jamaica and the United Kingdom. Colleges and universities comprised the majority of participants.

“We were astounded at the overwhelming response, even though we knew there was a real need for discussion of the important topics of diversity, inclusion and equity,” said Rowan-Cabarrus Chief Human Resources Officer Nekita Eubanks. “What started as an idea for a local event transformed into an international phenomenon that drew more than 1,500 registrants – a testament to the fact that there is widespread interest in listening, learning and creating lasting change. We plan to plan to make the conference an annual event and continue the conversation.”

The Zoom conference, which was streamed live on November 6, is now available online for the public to view. The daylong event featured a panel discussion and sessions with nationally known experts in higher education, K-12, communities, and the workplace.

Educator and author Dr. Newton Miller delivered the keynote address, “Why Some Seeds Don’t Grow: What Works to Ensure Student Success,” examining topics that included bias. Miller has done extensive research focusing on effective school cultures and instruction that promotes success for non-traditional and marginalized adult student populations.

“The current social and political climate calls for education, workplaces and our communities to be equipped to address historical racial inequalities and model values of inclusion and equity,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “It is my hope that this virtual conference helped increase understanding of where we have been, where we are, where we need to go and, perhaps most importantly, what we need to do to get there.”

The conference is available online to the public. To access the main event video and breakout sessions, please visit the conference Live Stream webpage.