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. In response, 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 mentoring program. Other media has included Education Week, The NonProfit Times, The Washington Post & National Public Radio. To this day, he continues to host brunches & dinners on occasion. One of those dinners was highlighted on the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial website. (scroll down to see next paragraph)
The invitations Greg has received to speak have included many events that revolve around multiculturalism & inclusion and/or have included very diverse audiences. They include: MLK Day for a middle school, CHHE Bystander to Upstander Youth Leadership Summit for teens, 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. He served as keynote speaker for Latino College Fair - for hundreds of middle school & high school students in Colorado. 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. He served as keynote speaker at a global conference that took place in Boston -- attended by educators and researchers from 30+ nations. 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. A school had Greg & Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams speak in alternating weeks. At Baltimore Book Festival, Greg & Essence co-Founder Edward Lewis were among the presenters. (scroll down to see next paragraph)
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. Many schools, teams, organizations, & companies have also 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 Elevator Project as part of its Diversity Week efforts. The groups that have ordered copies of the book (i.e. for their Shop &/or their students &/or staff) include groups with a diverse range of faiths as well -- from Costa Catholic Academy to the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Other examples of groups using the books &/or workbooks include: Latino College Fair (for 200 teacher, parent & student attendees as take-home gifts), I Have a Dream Foundation chapter (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) & the branch of a bank (for students in a race/culture college course in New York). Greg has done readings of The Milkshake Man (the upcoming picture book edition of his story) at events for kids between Kindergarten & 4th grade around the nation -- including an instance where Greg (who studied Spanish in school) did part of the Reading in Spanish for a bilingual class. He also has done Readings for adult learners from other countries. .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.