Join us for an evening of powerful voices as our expert panel discusses what a more equitable workforce can look like in Seattle and beyond. Our dynamic speakers for the evening will be April Sims, President-Elect of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Mardia Shands, Chief DEI Officer at Swedish Health Services, and SJI board member Jiquanda Nelson, CEO of Diversity Window.

Each will share their thoughts on what employers, workers, and the workforce system will have to do to make diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace a reality. Then we will host a panel discussion including a Q&A with the audience.

It will be an inspiring night of thought-provoking ideas and important perspectives essential to the economic recovery conversation.

Thanks to our wonderful event partners, UW Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, the event will be located at the Intellectual House on UW’s Seattle Campus. Learn more about this important longhouse-style gathering space here.

As of October 12, 2022, face coverings are recommended indoors on UW Seattle Campus (in locations where they are not required). For more details read the policy here.

Tickets are only $10 and include one free drink ticket! 

Learn More About Our Speakers

President-elect, wa state Labor council, afl-cio

April Sims was recently named President-Elect of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO by its affiliated unions. She was previously elected as Secretary-Treasurer in December 2018, beginning her four-year term on Jan. 5, 2019. At that time, Sims was the first woman of color and the first black person to be elected as a WSLC executive officer.

Prior to her election, Sims had served as the WSLC’s Political and Strategic Campaign Director since November 2017. She first joined the WSLC in September 2015 as Field Mobilization Director.

Sims firmly believes in the power of working people organizing together, and has dedicated her working life to affirming that power. For her, the importance of union membership is personal; it was her mother’s union position as a psychiatric security attendant at Western State Hospital that allowed her family to move off welfare and build a sense of financial security.

CEO, Diversity Window

Jiquanda Nelson is the CEO of Diversity Window, working with organizations across many industries on building meaningful Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals. Her team is committed to connecting people with opportunities at work and in their community, while building spaces where everyone feels like they belong. Her career journey, which has earned her a 40 under 40 recognition, has included a little bit of leading teams and initiatives across 40 countries and six continents, transforming healthcare, impacting 11,000+ retail stores, and bringing joy to many areas of nutrition—all mixed with Black Girl Magic. She prides herself with being a true DEI practitioner and her team’s data-driven, action-oriented approach to creating true change for organizations.

A wife, mother, distance runner, and champion for community transformation, Jiquanda truly is inspiration personified. People can find her on LinkedIn (Jiquanda Nelson), sharing her experiences and folx she admires, and Instagram (@just_jiquanda) where she’s putting the learning from her recent Intro to Reels course to use.

Chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, Swedish health services

Mardia A. Shands is a multi-disciplinary Human Resources leader with extensive experience in workforce development, social impact, and diversity, equity, and inclusion across multiple industries including healthcare, manufacturing, supply chain, and IT. Her career has spanned from multi-national global corporations to small not-for-profits across North America and Africa.

She is an Aspen Institute Job Quality Fellow and is also a Venue Magazine 2019 Woman of Influence. She is a sought-after speaker on the topics of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Workforce Development.

Ms. Shands earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Cincinnati and a master’s degree in Labor and Employment Relations also from the University of Cincinnati. She holds the Senior Professional in Human Resources designation from the Human Resources Certification Institute and the Senior Certified Professional certificate from the Society of Human Resources Management.