2000-12-04 Holland Sentinel "Racism conference Friday at Hope"

Racism conference Friday at Hope

Holland Sentinel

Rachelle Hood-Phillips, chief diversity officer of Advantica Restaurant Group, Inc., will be the keynote speaker at Friday's Leadership Conference of the Ottawa Area Summit on Racism

She will talk about how organizations benefit from valuing and properly managing cultural diversity, based on her experiences in helping transform the Denny's Restaurant organization after it faced charges of discriminatory practices in the mid-1990s. Denny's is a part of the Advantica corporation, headquartered in Spartanburg, S.C.

The conference, at Hope College, will be attended by some 150 invited community leaders in business, education, religion, government, community organizations, health care, and media.

Participants will review video clips and oral reports about concerns identified at town meetings on racism in Holland in September and Grand haven in November and will work on plans for the summit, which is at Hope College Feb 13.

Gail Harrison, executive director of the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, said, "The people at this conference will develop a vision of what a prejudice-free Ottawa area would look like and strategies leaders can use to help eliminate racism in our communities."

Prior to joining Advantica in 1995, Hood-Phillips held leadership positions in private business, including 10 years of diversity work at Burger King Corporation. She advises a number of Fortune 500 companies on how to value and manage diversity within their organizations. A native of Detroit, she holds bachelor's and master's degrees in communications from Michigan State University.

The Ottawa Area Summit on Racism, the start of a five-year process ot break down barriers faced by people of color, is sponsored by the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, in collaboration with the African-American Support Group, Latin Americans United for Progress and the Alliance for Cultural and Ethnic Harmony; the latter three groups are headquarted in Holland. The Ottawa event is based on two successful summits held in Grand Rapids in 1999 and 2000.

A liminted number of spaces remain available for the conference. To register call 846-9074.