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Community Conversations

Inclusion NextWork presents its unique, monthly discussion group that empowers and uplifts inspirational individuals from our community.  We source speakers that touch our hearts, challenge our minds, and invigorate our collective passion towards IDEAS work.  Different from any keynote speaking event or normal panel discussion, our community conversations can be imagined as a virtual bonfire of deep thinkers with a cushion for everyone and a space for all voices to be heard. Come to listen, come to learn, come to share, come with a friend, or come in whatever way feels more comfortable for you. Our Community Conversations topics are dynamic and ever-changing so if you yourself have a topic you would like to discuss/be a speaker for or you know someone that would be a great speaker, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  These Conversations run every second Tuesday of the month so be sure to mark your calendars!

NEXT UP: A World Self-Care Fair

Stressed Woman

Day: Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Time: 8-9 pm EST/5-6pm Pacific 

Inclusion NextWork is bringing you three absolute POWERHOUSES this month in our Community Conversations series.  October, as you know, is Mental Health Awareness Month and we are bringing you a spin on it like you’ve never seen before. Mental health and self care have been top of mind of everyone during this pandemic but we are bringing together three experts who tie self care into hair care and will dive deep into why the two concepts are tangled as in both the realms of issues and solutions.  Bringing decades of expertise regarding hair care, hair history, racial identity, hair discrimination, racial discrimination, history within the diaspora, and more, our experts will take you on a journey that you’ve never experienced before. Please mark your calendars to spend your evening on October 13th with Dr. Afiya Mbilishaka, Professor D. Wendy Greene, and Barbara Ofosu-Somuah. See their bios for more details!


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Dr. Afiya Mbilishaka (She/Her)

Being in love with hair her whole life, Dr. Afiya grew up as her family’s hairstylist, graduating from lawn chairs at cookouts to eventually holding space in her college dorm room for a mini-salon. The conversations during the hair care process were her favorite part! Her trait of being a skillful active listener and creative translated smoothly to the field of psychology, earning her degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Howard University. At the age of 26, Dr. Afiya earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and was a full time therapist at Columbia University. She is now a professor and head of the Psychology Program at the University of the District of Columbia. Dr. Afiya is a natural hairstylist at N Natural Hair Studio in Silver Spring, Maryland where she loves creating art with locs, twists, and afros. 


Dr. Afiya innovated the practice and research of, "PsychoHairapy," where she uses hair as an entry point for mental health services in beauty salons and barbershops, as well as through social media. Dr. Afiya has provided engaging multi-media talks at universities throughout the country, and in the intimate setting of hair care spaces. She has now gone international, leading cultural and mental health focused trips to Cuba and to various African countries.

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Professor Doris "Wendy" Green (She/Her)

Professor Doris “Wendy” Greene is a trailblazing U.S. anti-discrimination law scholar, teacher, and advocate who has devoted her professional life’s work to advancing racial, color, and gender equity in workplaces and beyond. Professor Greene’s legal scholarship and public advocacy have generated civil rights protections for victims of discrimination throughout the United States. Notably, the definition of race Professor Greene proposed in her 2008 University of Colorado law review article, “Title VII: What’s Hair (and Other Race-based Characteristics) Got to Do with It?, is adopted in the C.R.O.W.N. Acts and endorsed by federal courts, civil rights enforcement agencies, and the American Bar Association as a practicable definition of race to be utilized in the enforcement of civil rights laws.


Teen Vogue, Now This News, and BBC World News have celebrated Professor Greene for her instrumental role in increasing public awareness around as well as securing legal redress for grooming codes discrimination—from serving as a legal advisor and expert in civil rights cases challenging natural hair discrimination, co-drafting federal and state C.R.O.W.N. Acts, testifying in support of this legislation throughout the country, delivering public lectures around the world, to publishing seminal work which has informed, to date, every legal pronouncement in the U.S.—on municipal, state, and federal levels—that natural hair discrimination is race discrimination. One of the world’s leading legal experts on this global civil rights issue and founder of the #FreetheHair movement, she is currently writing her first book, #FreeTheHair: Locking Black Hair to Civil Rights Movements, under contract with the University of California, Berkeley Press. 


Barbara Ofosu-Somuah (She/Her)

Barbara Ofosu-Somuah has worked in mission-focused organizations and has pursued projects that have connected her interests in culture, educational access and equity, race, language, inclusive leadership, and technology. Throughout her academic and professional career, as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow, in diverse roles at Cook Ross, Inc., as a Fulbright Researcher, and now at the Posse Foundation, Barbara has used her expertise in project management, research, and facilitation to advance cultural competency and inclusion.

From summer 2013 until spring 2014, Barbara conducted her Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, “The Choreography of Black Hair: A Framework for Cultural Inquiry,” which took her to Suriname, Brazil, The Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and South Africa. Conducting ethnographic and multilingual oral history interviews, she positioned Black women’s hair practices as a lens of inquiry. She studied the colonialist lineage of Eurocentric beauty standards and how these standards sustain power structures that exclude Afro-descended women to grasp Blackness’ resistance in the face of active efforts to silence and marginalize it. In 2016, Barbara received a Fulbright research fellowship to examine the complex interplay of education, citizenship, and identity for immigrant youth. Traveling across Italy, she explored how teachers develop responsive pedagogy, which is respectful of students’ cultural and linguistic assets. She presented the findings of her research from her time in Italy in Copenhagen, at an international conference on international education.  


Barbara is a Posse Scholar and graduated from Middlebury College with a degree in psychology, and sociology, and Italian. 

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