In conjunction with Cameron University’s current academic festival, American Identities in the 21st Century, the Office of Student Development will host the annual “Inclusion and Leadership Summit: Connecting through Shared Experiences,” a one-day conference that aims to provide education and awareness about the importance of inclusion and diversity. The event, which takes place on Friday, March 30, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the McMahon Centennial Complex, is open to the public at no charge. Pre-registration is required and can be completed online at https://www.cameron.edu/diversitysummit.
The keynote address will be presented by Staff Sergeant (Ret.)Johnny “Joey” Jones, USMC EOD, a wounded combat veteran. Jones will speak on his life-changing experience, disability and how he turned his struggles into success, all while making it a personal mission to improve the lives of all veterans.
The conference will provide participants with the tools to be proactive stewards of social equity in their daily interactions and ever-growing workplaces. Participants will also have the opportunity to discuss benefits, challenges, and biases surrounding appreciation and understanding of diversity and while building inclusive environments.
The events of the day will include three main focus tracks. Social Equity and Justice will examine diversity, equality, social justice, equity and representation and how these varying factors intersect. Track 2, Identities and Careers, will focus on hiring practices and navigating in the growing workplace, disability empowerment and how your personal identity aligns with your career. The third track, Self-Worth, Education, and Empowerment, will examine leadership, diversity in the workplace, labels and the intersection of these factors that impact success.
Keynote speaker Johnny “Joey” Jones enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school. During his eight years of service, he worked as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (bomb) Technician, deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan on separate tours. During his last deployment to Afghanistan, Jones was responsible for disarming and destroying more than 80 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and thousands of pounds of other unknown bulk explosives. It was during that tour on August 6, 2010 when he stepped on and initiated an IED, resulting in the loss of both of his legs above the knee and severe damage to his right forearm and both wrists. He recovered at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington D.C.
After his initial recovery, Jones enrolled in Georgetown University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and where he co-founded the first veteran student organization at the school. His time at Georgetown fostered relationships and efforts that are still changing the lives of veteran students on campus today.
Determined to make the road to recovery easier for his fellow wounded veterans, Jones founded a peer visit program at Walter Reed, providing opportunities for others recovering to mentor and encourage newly-injured patients. His dedication and relentlessness led to an unprecedented year-long fellowship on Capitol Hill with the House of Representatives Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and his work resulted in the creation of an annual fellowship for a wounded Marine.
After losing his childhood best friend to PTSD-related suicide in 2012, Jones decided to make veterans’ issues a key part his professional work. Throughout his post-service career, he has carefully fostered relationships with key players in politics and the media in an effort to keep those issues at the forefront of discussion.
Jones’ easy rapport with civilians, military leaders and celebrities alike has led to a long list of speaking opportunities. His message focuses on overcoming adversity, finding a positive perspective in dire situations, leaning on those around you, and finding strength in yourself and your community. He simply believes we all need the confidence to tell ourselves it’s time to, “Get up, Get Over it, and Get Going.”
March 16, 2018