Fourth Annual Innovate Raleigh Summit Brings Together Community Leaders to Discuss Diversity

Innovate Raleigh

Wake County Economic Development (WCED) had the privilege of attending and sponsoring the 2015 Innovate Raleigh Summit. It was a wonderful showcase of all the talent and innovation Raleigh has to offer and just another example of how this region is #RaleighWakeSmart.

"The 4th Annual Summit broke all previous ticket sales and attendance records of past Innovate Raleigh events; we believe this is due not only to the strong lineup of guest speakers, but to our exploration of inclusivity. There is a strong current, a mounting energy if you will, around this topic across all industries and having a composed, thoughtful conversation roused our business community to convene in larger numbers.

Another exciting new component this year was hosting more than 45 students from Digital Connectors, The Queen’s Foundation, Girl Develop It RDU, Wake Technical Community College and Shaw University on scholarship. The participants brought dynamism to the Sept. 10th event that positively impacted all attendees. Moreover, we consider it essential for our organization to interface and connect with future business and community leaders who will benefit from our programming at this pivotal time in their education process," said Jenny Hwa, executive director, Innovate Raleigh.

 The event kicked off with a video from Centerline highlighting the spaces in Raleigh where innovation is happening (video will be linked here soon)!

Mitchell Silver, former Raleigh Planning Director and current Commissioner for the New York City Parks Department, led the panel which discussed how we shape the cultural identity of Raleigh via strategic development. Each panelist gave their perspective on how we can encourage interconnectivity among different communities as the city continues to grow. Raleigh’s identity, rapid growth and revitalization of the downtown area were widely discussed during this panel. Here’s a little taste from Twitter:

  • @RaleighWake: We've grown as a community and embraced change well - enabling us to thrive. - John Kane, Kane Realty #innovateral365
  • @sarahmlanger: "Gentrification is revitalization with trade-offs"-Mitch Silver #innovateRAL365
  • @JenBakerNC: Need to include diverse housing types for different economic levels/phases of life, not just single-family ~Katherine Hogan #innovateRAL365
  • @HeidiDifference: I agree w/ #PatriceGilmore @HoltBrothersInc #Raleigh has oppty to make revitalization inclusive for all neighborhoods #InnovateRAL365
  • @HeidiDifference: @mitchell_silver raising the very real issue of #revitalization without displacement - key to inclusivity #Raleigh #InnovateRAL365
  • @CaseyOvercash3: What is Raleigh's cultural identity?  #InnovateRAL365 Rise from suburban to URBAN. Creative. Tech. @InnovateRaleigh
  • @RaleighWake: #InnovateRAL365 can be a catalyst to use the bright talent in Raleigh to address positive diverse revitalization.

 Mitch Silver Innovate Raleigh

Photo via @BasiaCoulter

After a thought-filled panel on the way, Raleigh is continuing to be shaped and defined especially when it comes to inclusivity and diversity, Nzinga Shaw came to share how she came into her role as the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer of the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena. To read more about Nzinga Shaw, visit Innovate Raleigh’s website. Shaw shared her wealth of knowledge on the best way to include a diverse group of individuals in your organization. She has been a ground breaker for many organizations by bringing the topic of diversity and inclusion to the forefront, creating strategic, cross-departmental programs that create deeper cultural awareness and sensitivity. Here are Twitter’s thoughts on the subject:

  • @GapJumpers: "#Diversity is being invited to the dance. #Inclusion is being asked to dance." #DamonDishman @WellsFargo #InnovateRAL365
  • @RaleighWake:  "Diversity is really about people and their experiences and the accumulation of those experiences." - Nzinga Shaw #InnovateRAL365
  • @CatrinaVienrich: "Diversity is about so much more than what you can see with the naked eye" -Nzinga Shaw @InnovateRaleigh #InnovateRAL365 #truth
  • @GapJumpers: "Non-traditional recruitment practices and taking a chance on people are needed to diversify your teams." @ZingShaw #InnovateRAL365
  • @AngelOakCreate: "Do your best with what you have and commit to giving back." Nzinga Shaw, @ATLHawks at @InnovateRaleigh #InnovateRAL365
  • @DavidBWatkins: Companies developing diversity and inclusion programs should include customer and community members  #InnovateRAL365 #customerexperience
  • @kimjokisch: Diversity is different thoughts Innovation change doing things differently that enhance business. It's not about a rainbow. #InnovateRAL365
  • @AP_Holmes: Cannot give enough praise to @ZingShaw's approach to diversity. Pragmatic but authentic w/ focus on individuals. #InnovateRAL365

Thanks to Nzinga Shaw, individuals had plenty to discuss going into their leadership labs. The leadership labs were designed for local leaders to share their story and lessons learned on their journey to building or working with a successful business. Leadership lab facilitators included leaders including Patrice Gilmore with Holt Brothers Construction, Damon Dishman with Wells Fargo Bank, Bonner Gaylord with Kane Realty and current City Councilor and many more. These breakout sessions gave individuals time to thoughtfully and intimately discuss the way Raleigh can embrace change while strategically thinking through the best way to include everyone in on the conversation.

Innovate Raleigh Leadership Labs

@InnovateRaleigh: .@MarketHall1914 is bustling with dynamic conversation at #InnovateRAL365 #raleigh #innovation #diversity #inclusion

"I was thrilled that we were able to bring such an interesting group of people together in one room - corporate leaders, startup founders and employees, teachers, students - to have a very open and thoughtful discussion about innovation, diversity, and the growth of our region. It's not an easy thing to talk about but our Leadership Lab facilitators and our keynote, Zing, gave us some inspiring yet incredibly practical insights to move forward, “ said Allyson Sutton, Marketing Director for Innovate Raleigh and HQ Raleigh.

The 4th Annual Innovate Raleigh Summit was a catalyst to continue the conversation on inclusivity and diversity for the remainder of the year as well as to continue conversations on development in the area. Visit Innovate Raleigh’s website to see how you can get involved. Also, to learn more about Nzinga Shaw and her keynote speech, check out Exit Event’s article “5 Starting Points for Innovate Raleigh's Focus on Diversity.”


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