County event to focus on richness, wisdom of workplace diversity

Contact: Jeanne Baron

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Kalamazoo County will focus this year on the richness and wisdom that diversity brings to the workplace when it holds its annual diversity program Tuesday, April 10, in Chenery Auditorium.

Juana Bordas will present "Salsa, Soul and Spirit in a Multicultural Age" as the featured speaker for Kalamazoo County's 20th annual Respecting Differences program. Bordas, a specialist in leadership development and diversity training, will present her talk at 9:30 a.m. and again at 1:30 p.m.

Both presentations are free and open to the public and will include an on-stage American Sign Language translator.

Program for 2018

Headshot, Juana Bordas.


The 2018 Respecting Differences program will utilize practices from many cultural traditions to not only illustrate the richness and wisdom that diversity brings to the workplace, but also to motivate people to grow their leadership skills.

The presentation will draw upon ideas in Bordas' 2007 book titled "Salsa, Soul and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Nation." As the world becomes flatter and globalization creates a world village, Bordas contends, it is imperative that people have the cultural flexibility and adaptability to inspire and guide people from the whole rainbow of humanity.

Given that perspective, Bordas has developed a multicultural leadership model that offers leaders and employees new approaches to increase their interpersonal effectiveness with diverse populations. Her model incorporates values, influences and practices from African-American, Indian and Latino communities. Among the eight practices she includes in her book are "Sankofa," the ability to learn from the past; "I to We," moving from individualism to collective identity; and "Mi casa es su casa," developing a generosity of spirit.

Juana Bordas

Bordas is President of Mestiza Leadership International, a company that focuses on leadership, diversity and organizational change. She is a former Center for Creative Leadership faculty member who taught in the center's Leadership Development Program, which is the most highly utilized executive program in the world.

Her background also includes extensive work in Colorado, where she founded the Circle of Latina Leadership, founded the National Hispana Leadership Institute and then served as its president and CEO, and helped found the Mi Casa Women's Center and then served as its executive director.

In addition, Bordas has been vice president of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, a trustee of the International Leadership Association and an advisor to Harvard's Hispanic Journal on Public Policy as well as the Kellogg National Fellows Program.

Respecting Differences

The annual Respecting Differences program began in 1999 as a collaboration between the City of Kalamazoo and WMU to heighten awareness of diversity issues in the workplace.

In addition to Kalamazoo and WMU, this year's program is being sponsored by the City of Portage, Kalamazoo County, Kalamazoo College, and Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Direct questions about the 2018 program to Julie Helmer with Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services at or (269) 364-6950. Those attending the event should note that drinks are not allowed inside Chenery Auditorium.

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