Diversity & Multiculturalism
One weekend, shortly after graduating college, Greg witnessed a moment of conflict between three people of different ages, races & genders at a restaurant in his community. He wanted to help bridge such divides & believed that an effort to do so should begin with genuine conversation. A week later, he launched the Brunch Bunch Mentoring Program -- bringing people of diverse ages & backgrounds together around some initial common ground (food & beverages, sports, volunteering) in the hope that they would have a meaningful dialogue, discover other things in common & forge relationships along the way. He continued the program for 243 consecutive weeks. More than 700 people participated. Leadership Conference on Civil Rights named it one of its Promising Programs. For his efforts, he received the Jefferson Award for Public Service. Good Morning America buried a Time Capsule which chronicled the first 100 weeks of the program. Other media has included Education Week, Nation's Restaurant News, The NonProfit Times, The Washington Post & National Public Radio. To this day, he continues to host brunches & dinners in different cities. One of those dinners was highlighted on the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial website. The invitations Greg has received to speak have included many events that revolve around multiculturalism & inclusion. They include: MLK Day for a middle school in Wisconsin, Black History Month event for a middle/high school in Pennsylvania, Diversity Week for William Mitchell Law School & an internal event for Coca-Cola North America. In conjunction with the anniversary of 9/11, Metropolitan Airports Commission sponsored a luncheon where Greg spoke with the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport community about extending the impact of their service in seemingly small moments to the many diverse customers who cross their path. In some cases, he has been one of multiple presenters at an event. For instance, at a day-long event on dealing with intolerance, Greg & Nobel Peace Prize honoree Elie Wiesel were the two speakers. At Baltimore Book Festival, Greg & Essence co-Founder Edward Lewis were among the presenters. (scroll down)
The book based on Greg's story, The Silhouette Man (and the student edition, The First Thirty), include an extensive focus on diversity & inclusion (as well as a look at the influence of figures like Dr. King & Harriet Tubman on Greg's interest in these topics). The First Thirty was NSDLC Multicultural Relations Book of the Year. In addition to middle/high schools like Janus School, colleges/universities like University of North Carolina & companies like General Mills getting copies for some of their own students or staff, a variety of schools, teams, organizations & companies have ordered the books (or companion workbooks) for external use. For instance, the organization that oversees the Golden Gate Bridge ordered copies for students in the Black Student Union at an international school in California - citing the book's emphasis on "building bridges". In conjunction with the school's Alumni Association, The Unity Center at Rhode Island College implemented an edition of The First Thirty Elevator Project as part of its Diversity Week efforts. The groups that have ordered copies of the book (ie for their Shop and/or their students and/or staff) include groups with a diverse range of faiths as well -- from Saint James School to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, from Costa Catholic Academy to the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Other examples include: Latino College Fair (for 200 teacher, parent & student attendees as take-home gifts), I Have a Dream Foundation (for students), YWCA Greater Pittsburgh Center for Race & Gender Equity (for a women's book club), Toronto Blue Jays (for selected high school students in Toronto), California Milk Advisory Board (for its emerging female leaders program) & Fifth Third Bank (for a race/culture course in New York). Greg's art collection, known as My Sleepless Nights, features portraits of historic & contemporary figures like Dr. King, Ms. Tubman, Bayard Rustin, Shirley Chisolm & Simon Wiesenthal. Called a "tribute to diversity" by Art World News, the collection has gone on exhibit at events in different countries. Greg's poem, Legacy, is the basis for the Legacy Poster. The South African Holocaust & Genocide Foundation gave copies of the Legacy Poster to the winners of its art & writing contest. To read Diversity-related feedback, click here.