2022 Kirkland Chamber Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Symposium: Workforce Re-Entry

July 14, 2022

Heathman Hotel, Kirkland

On July 14, 2022, the Kirkland Chamber Foundation hosted the annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Symposium. The topic for 2022 is workforce re-entry, focusing on those who have felony records.

Many individuals who have been incarcerated at some point in their lives find difficulty in coming out of prison into a world of hope for a steady career due to their record of imprisonment. Giving people second chances, with hope for a stable future, helps prevent recidivism, brings more talent into the workforce, and provides a chance at a better life for those who have already paid for mistakes in their past.

Our stellar panel of contributors featured Dr. Rowlanda Cawthon – Dean, College of Business, Northwest University (and formerly worked in corrections), Susan Leavell – Sr. Administrator, WA State Department of Corrections, Re-Entry Division, Sarah Sytsma – Director of Correctional Industries, WA State Department of Corrections, Chris Hendrickson (lived experience), Tiarra Dearbone – Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Program, and Derek Holman (lived experience). Leading the panel was moderator Mark Solomon – Seattle Police Department, Crime Prevention.

Several on the panel shared deeply personal stories about their lives and how this issue impacts their lives on a daily basis. Those working in corrections and law enforcement voiced the need to humanize those who have been incarcerated, stressing that the overwhelming majority of people who find themselves in prison are wonderful people that have simply found themselves in a bad situation.

The best way to describe the symposium is “powerful.” You really must watch the video in order to understand the complexities involved in this issue. Please see the video of the event, which is available on our YouTube channel or linked below.

Sponsors of the symposium are Google, Overlake Hospital & Medical Clinics, Port of Seattle, Puget Sound Energy, and the City of Kirkland. We deeply appreciate these companies contributing to bettering the lives of those impacted by this issue. Thank you for your support.

In order to take this symposium a step further in our impact this year, a scholarship has been created to be used at Lake WA Institute of Technology for a person with a background of incarceration. LWTech Foundation will match any monies raised dollar for dollar. We have raised $2,400 so far and would appreciate additional donations to reach our goal. All monies raised through the end of July through the foundation will be put towards this scholarship fund. Donate to the right.

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