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Conference empowers Devereux’s Champions to cultivate a culture of belonging


More than 50 emerging leaders from across Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health – selected as Servant Leadership and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Champions/Champions-in-Training – recently gathered for the organization’s two-day Servant Leadership and DEIB Champions Conference.

The conference, held virtually, focused on the theme of “Belonging in Action.” HR Partners and Inclusion Relativity Senior Director Garima Gupta, MBA, SHRM-SCP, served as the conference keynote speaker, discussing ways to tactically build inclusion and belonging through behaviors and language, and how to be intentional about diversity and belonging.

“Belonging is a basic human need,” Gupta told conference participants. “So how do we continue to move organizational culture in a direction where more and more people feel they belong?” Gupta broke down the word “belonging” into three main elements: “‘Diversity’ is the number of people we see from different origins and perspectives – it is visible. ‘Equity’ is a choice, in terms of who needs what and how do we meet their needs. ‘Inclusion’ is an action. Are you bringing people in, or are you leaving them out? When you blend all of these things together, you create the outcome of belonging.”

Conference highlights

The conference also featured a presentation by James Lemoine, Ph.D., faculty director at the University of Buffalo SUNY School of Management’s Center for Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness, who shared the results of recent staff surveys that will help the organization learn how its Servant Leadership culture can become even more effective for all employees.

“We want to thank Garima Gupta, Dr. Lemoine and all of our Champions for helping to make this year’s conference an overwhelming success,” said Devereux Arizona Executive Director Yvette Jackson, LMSW, DBH, who helped organize the conference. “Our Champions had an opportunity to connect, collaborate and cultivate new ideas on how to ensure our team members, as well as the individuals and families we serve, feel welcomed and included. Devereux leadership also had an opportunity to conduct real-time planning on how to drive our efforts forward. We all bring unique experiences and qualities to the table. If we seek out opportunities to be authentically inclusive, we can create a culture where all employees can thrive.”

Champions share their takeaways …

Devereux’s Champions said they felt empowered and inspired by the conference, ready to further instill a sense of belonging and community in the workplace.

“My experience at the conference was incredible. There were discussions and opportunities to work in smaller groups, which allowed us to brainstorm ideas and strategies to take our jobs to the next level. Everyone had a voice and shared their knowledge. For someone like me who is just starting their career with Devereux, this was a life-changing experience. I learned so much.”
– Devereux California Program Manager and Servant Leadership Champion Antonela “Toni” Milito

“Having an opportunity to talk with our executive directors and share our plans, ideas and beliefs on what can help us better connect with our committees and colleagues was very productive. I was also able to gain insight into how other DEIB committees operate, and how we are all working toward our overarching goal of belonging.”
– Devereux Florida Clinical Manager and DEIB Champion Merlaine Sivels

“I learned a lot from my fellow Champions and colleagues across Devereux through the sharing of personal and professional experiences as it relates to DEIB. I appreciated everyone’s willingness to be vulnerable, open and reflective. I enjoyed listening to the panel of international employees. Their stories allowed me to reflect on my own personal experiences as an international employee.”
– Devereux Massachusetts/Rhode Island Clinician and DEIB Champion Shamni Uthayasoorian

The conference culminated with Champions developing project plans for the next year to support continued focus on cultivating a culture of belonging.

Learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health’s commitment to Servant Leadership and DEIB.


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