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Diversity Means Business—and more.

Connect Diversity is an intimate event that focuses on multicultural and LGBTQ business in the meetings, sports and events industry. The three-day event features training workshops, education opportunities, inspiring keynote messages from Stacey Abrams and Ritu Bhasin, as well as prescheduled appointments between meeting planners and organizations seeking to provide destinations and services. The appointment-only trade show is the business marketplace, where RFPs are placed, dates are secured and relationships are developed for future business.







Enhance your skills, interact with industry leaders and drive more business—whether you’re a planner or supplier focused on multicultural and LGBTQ business.



2019 Agenda

Subject to Change

Monday, March 18
3-6 p.m.Registration
4:30-5:45 p.m.Orientation and Opening Session
6-8 p.m.Opening Reception
Buses begin staging at 5:30 p.m. and transportation will be available throughout the evening.
Tuesday, March 19
8:30-9:45 a.m.Breakfast and Panel
10-11 a.m.Marketplace Appointments
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Keynote: Ritu Bhasin
12:45-1:45 p.m.Networking Lunch
2-3 p.m.Marketplace Appointments
AfternoonExperience Birmingham—See Some Activity and Transportation Options
Wednesday, March 20
9-10 a.m.Grab-and-Go Breakfast and CSR Activity
10-10:45 a.m.Round Robin Education 1
11-11:45 a.m.Round Robin Education 2
Noon-1 p.m.Networking Lunch
1-2 p.m.Keynote: Stacey Abrams
2-2:45 p.m.Stacey Abrams Photo Op
3-5 p.m.Marketplace Appointments
5-6:30 p.m.Closing Cocktails




2019 Keynotes

Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams is an author, serial entrepreneur, nonprofit CEO and political leader. After serving for 11 years in the Georgia House of Representatives, seven as Minority Leader, Abrams became the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia in 2018, when she won more votes than any other Democrat in the state’s history.

Abrams was the first black woman to become the gubernatorial nominee for a major party in the United States. Over the course of her career, Abrams has founded multiple organizations devoted to voting rights, training and hiring young people of color, and tackling social issues at both the state and national levels.

She is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the 2012 recipient of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award, and a current member of the Board of Directors for the Center for American Progress. Abrams has also written eight romantic suspense novels under the pen name Salena Montgomery, as well as "Minority Leader," a guidebook on making real societal change.

Abrams received degrees from Spelman College, the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas and Yale Law School. She and her five siblings grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi, and were raised in Georgia.

Ritu Bhasin

Ritu Bhasin is an energetic speaker who champions authentic leadership as the antidote to exclusionary work cultures. She specializes in describing how to build more engaged, inclusive and productive teams and environments.

As president of leadership and inclusion firm bhasin consulting inc., she coaches C-Suite leaders, executives and diverse professionals on leveraging their differences for success. And as a global speaker, she challenges others to take ownership of their role in addressing racism and discrimination—and is a passionate champion of authentic leadership as a path to empowerment and success.

Bhasin has continued this work with a newly released book, "The Authenticity Principle." It includes insights from Bhasin’s work as a yoga and mindfulness instructor—a practice she credits as being a key pillar of building personal and professional joy.

Bhasin has received numerous awards for her commitment to social change, including the IndoCanadian Chamber of Commerce Female Professional of the Year Award, the City of Toronto William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations and Western University’s Young Alumni Award.

Before founding bhasin consulting inc., Bhasin was a practicing lawyer, and the director of legal talent at a preeminent Canadian law firm. She earned an MBA from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and an LL.B. (With Distinction) from the University of Western Ontario, and she has served as an instructor in the executive program at the Rotman School of Management.

2019 Opening Reception

Kick off Connect Diversity 2019 in style at the opening reception hosted by Birmingham. Nestled in the historic Five Points South entertainment district, The Woolworth offers a unique way to spend an evening. Challenge your friends to a variety of "braggin' rights" recreations like foosball, tabletop shuffleboard, ping pong, bumper pool, darts, and duckpin bowling.


Enjoy refreshments from a Mediterranean inspired, Southern-rooted menu that's perfect for filling up on shareables with friends. And when you get thirsty, the twenty-four varieties of beer and six wines on tap and a full, hand-crafted cocktail menu, mean there's something to please all!


And of course, reception host Birmingham has a few surprises up its sleeve to make this an evening to remember.

2019 Education

Subject to Change

Monday, March 18
4:30-5:45 p.m. | Opening Session

Presented by Mimi Brown

These days, a goldfish has a longer attention span than a human. Most attendees are distracted by the latest gadget. The key is to captivate your audience, increase interaction and make content more experiential. Explore how to freshen up your meetings and breathe life into the agenda while leaving a lasting impression that will foster positive word of mouth and inspire your audiences to return each year.

Tuesday, March 19
8:30-9:45 a.m. | Breakfast and Panel

Moderated by DJ Doran

Join us for a panel about the State of Diversity and Inclusion in Tourism. You will hear 15 minute presentations by each panelist followed by Q&A.

• Marlinda Henry—The National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners
• David Jeffreys—LGBTQ Meeting Professionals
• Eduardo Arabu—National Hispanic Corporate Council

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. | Keynote Presentation

Presented by Ritu Bhasin

Ritu Bhasin, LL.B. MBA, is an internationally recognized expert in diversity and leadership development, the president of leading diversity and inclusion-focused consulting firm bhasin consulting inc., and the author of "The Authenticity Principle: Resist Conformity, Embrace Differences, and Transform How You Live, Work, and Lead." Inspired by her own journey to overcome racist childhood bullying, Bhasin now teaches globally on how to live, work, and lead in an empowered and inclusive way.

Wednesday, March 20
10-10:45 a.m. | Round Robin Education 1

Presented by Tom Pasha

Find out how hotels evaluate your business, drive revenue, and turn a profit. Learn to negotiate smart and get hotels to compete for your group!

> Download Presentation (929KB PDF) | > Download Sample RFP (78KB DOC)

Presented by Mimi Brown

As a business travel expert, you work with many types of people. Some can be wonderful to work with, making your job that much more enjoyable. On the flip side, there are demanding ones...the ones who make you cringe when their name displays on the caller ID, as you prep to listen to their odd requests or extreme deadlines. Discover the secrets on how to deal with demanding people and maintain your sanity.

Presented by Tess Vismale

Visual marketing has become a key component in all marketing and social media platforms. Utilizing good visuals and short, shareable videos will make your marketing more powerful and more memorable. Join us to get the top tips and tools to create cool content without being a graphic designer or videographer. Self-drive the platforms featured and use them right here in this session.

11-11:45 a.m. | Round Robin Education 2

Presented by Dawnna St. Louis

The ability to influence the sale, the client, and the event team can quite literally transform your numbers. Considering that many decisions are based on someone's gut and then justified in logic, pressing the right buttons will sway decisions your direction. With the 7 Secret Triggers to Yes you will become a button pressing master!

Presented by Tom Pasha

Once you negotiate the deal, hotels design contracts for their own benefit. Learn how to avoid traps, maximize your ROI and minimize exposure.

> Download Presentation (837KB PDF)

Presented by Tess Vismale

How many days are you out of the office and yet you have still need to function as if you are still there? Here’s a session that will unveil the top 10 apps that will come in handy when you are on the road. From apps that help with productivity to travel, these apps will make you sigh with relief.

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