Archive for the ‘Upcoming Events’ Category.

One Book, One Firm Presents “Halfrican,” by Nardos Osterhart

As part of its One Book, One Firm program, Warner NardosPoster_LyonSt_2Norcross is excited to host a presentation of Halfrican, by Nardos Osterhart. Nardos is nurse at Spectrum’s Blodgett Hospital.  Halfrican is a one-person show about the immigrant experience, culture shock, and fitting in.  Nardos and her family came to the United States from Ethiopia when she was just 5 years old.  Her family settled in Oklahoma City.  Ever since, she has been juggling two worlds.

Nardos explains Halfrican as follows: “I think in some ways, Halfrican is a bit of an explanation to people. To Ethiopians that I don’t necessarily connect with because I don’t have all of my culture intact. And also an explanation to Americans of why I am the way I am. And it’s a little bit of permission to myself, because I’ve had to make changes and deviate from a cultural path and expectation that was sent in front for me.”

Halfrican is part memoir and part stand-up comedy act. (In 2013, Nardos won a competition to be named “The Funniest Person in Grand Rapids.”)  It promises to be a thought-provoking and entertaining presentation.

Dr. Anna-Lisa Cox To Discuss Her Book “A Stronger Kinship” at Warner Norcross & Judd

Dr. Anna-Lisa CoxHistorian Dr. Anna-Lisa Grace Cox will be our guest at a luncheon on Friday, April 24 to discuss her book A Stronger Kinship. StongerKinshipIn the years following the Civil War, the nation struggled to redefine the relationship between European Americans and African Americans. After the Civil War, legislatures in Southern states passed “Black Codes” aimed at limiting the rights of African Americans. The era spawned the birth of Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan. The repression of former slaves, however, was not limited to the south. Northern states also had adopted laws limiting the civil rights of African Americans prior to the Civil War. Many of those laws remained on the books following the war. In 1867, for example, voters in Michigan turned down a proposed state constitution that would have allowed African Americans to vote. It was not until 1883 that Michigan repealed its ban on interracial marriages.

There was one community in Michigan, however, in which African Americans and white Americans lived together in a culture of respect and equality. The story of Covert, Michigan, as told by Dr. Cox in A Stronger Kinship, is a tale of how a small Midwestern town looked beyond race to create an inclusive community. African Americans attended the same schools and churches as whites. They belonged to the same social clubs, such as the Grange. African American farmers and business people thrived and became prominent employers of white workers in the community. They married whites. African Americans were elected by white voters to key positions such as the Highway Commissioner and Justice of the Peace.

How could this happen? What made this possible? These are some of the questions Dr. Cox will address when she speaks to our firm on Friday, April 24. Dr. Cox is a Non Resident Fellow at Harvard’s Hutchins Center where she is at work on a research project with Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., on African American pioneers to the antebellum frontier. She also holds the position of Research Associate at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, where her research is underpinning a permanent exhibit.

Announcing the 2013 One Book, One Firm Selection and Reading List

Each year in our One Book, One Firm program, we select a book relating to diversity and inclusion and encourage everyone in the firm to read and discuss it.  This year’s One Book, One Firm selection is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain.  Cain is a graduate of the Harvard Law School who began her career working for a Wall Street law firm. 

In Quiet, she recounts the history of the rise of the “Extrovert Ideal” in the 20th Century and argues that this ideal undervalues the leadership potential of introverts, who make up a third to half the population.  Cain relies upon recent research and neuroscience studies to explain the differences between extroverts and introverts.  She profiles many successful leaders who are introverts and offers guidance on how to negotiate relationships between extroverts and introvert. 

 Quiet was named the #1 Business Book in 2012 by Fast Company Magazine and was voted the Best Nonfiction Book of 2012 by

Quiet explores a different aspect of diversity from our usual focus on race or gender.  It will provide an opportunity to explore how an inclusive organization can enable people with different temperaments and personal strengths to excel together.  Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Here’s a short quiz to help you find out:


In addition to the One Book, One Firm selection, we have a suggested reading list of fiction and non-fiction books addressing diversity and inclusion.  Copies of these books will be available to check out through the firm libraries. If you can’t find a copy in your office, contact M.L. Calvin and she will see that a copy of any book off the reading list makes its way to you through interoffice mail.

Nonfiction Selections 

Lean In, by Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg.  Growing out of her TED Talk, that has been viewed over 2.5 million times, Sandberg’s book explores how women’s progress in achieving leadership roles in business has stalled and offers ways for women to achieve their full potential. Many at the firm have already read Lean In and found it thought provoking and inspiring.

Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, by Kevin Boyle.  In 1924, African American physician Ossian Sweet moved his family into an all-white neighborhood in Detroit.  When a crowd of hostile whites surrounded the house for a second night and started pelting the house with stones, shots from inside the house struck two people in the crowd, killing one. Dr. Sweet and his friends, who were in the house at the time, were charged with murder and tried before an all-white jury.  Sweet was represented by Clarence Darrow, who convinced the jury to acquit.  Arc of Justice received the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.

Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, by Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald. Written by the researchers who founded Project Implicit, Blindspot explains the concept of implicit bias and the science behind the Implicit Assumption Tests we have spoken about at the firm.  This book is an easy read since it is written for a popular audience rather than the scientific community.

Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family, by Condoleezza Rice.  In this autobiography of an extraordinary American, Condoleezza Rice recounts her life, from growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 50 and 60s to serving at the highest levels of the government.  Of the book, one reviewer wrote: “This memoir presents a young woman deeply attached to her devoted parents, who encouraged her at every step of her life to overcome racism, sexism, and her own personal doubts. Her roots are deep in the South, with a family that pridefully skirted racism—never using the ‘colored’ facilities or riding in the back of the bus. Her mother, Angelena, was a cultured teacher who taught her piano, while her father, John, was a Presbyterian minister and later a college administrator who, despite his Republican politics, strongly admired black radicals, developing a friendship with Stokely Carmichael.”

Once Upon a Quinciñera, by Julia Alvarez. Famed Dominican author Julia Alvarez (“In the Time of Butterflies, “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents”) uses quinceañeras, elaborate and ritualized parties thrown for young Latinas when they turn fifteen, to explore Latino culture in the United States today.  Once Upon A Quinceañera was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism.


The Barbarian Nurseries, by Héctor Tobar.  Written by Pulitizer Prize winning journalist Héctor Tobar, The Barbarian Nurseries was the a Boston Globe Best Fiction Book of 2011. The San Francisco summarizes the plot as follows: “Scott and Maureen Torres-Thompson have always relied on others to run their Orange County home. But when bad investments crater their bank account, it all comes down to Araceli: their somewhat prickly Mexican maid. One night, an argument between the couple turns physical, and a misunderstanding leaves the children in Aracelis care. Their parents unreachable, she takes them to central Los Angeles in the hopes of finding Scott’s estranged Mexican father — an earnest quest that soon becomes a colossal misadventure, with consequences that ripple through every strata of the sprawling city. The Barbarian Nurseries is a masterful tale of contemporary Los Angeles, a novel as alive as the city itself.”

The Plague of Doves, by Louise Erdrich.  Writing in the New York Times, reviewer Michiko Kakutani concluded that “[w]ith “The Plague of Doves,” she has written what is arguably her most ambitious — and in many ways, her most deeply affecting — work yet.” Publishers Weekly calls The Plague of Doves “a multigenerational tour de force of sin, redemption, murder and vengeance.” The novel tells the story of the 1911 slaughter of a farming family in Pluto, North Dakota. Publishers Weekly summarizes the plot as follows: “The family’s infant daughter is spared, and a posse forms, incorrectly blames three Indians and lynches them. One, Mooshum Milk, miraculously survives. Over the next century, descendants of both the hanged men and the lynch mob develop relationships that become deeply entangled, and their disparate stories are held together via principal narrator Evelina, Mooshum Milk’s granddaughter, who comes of age on an Indian reservation near Pluto in the 1960s and ’70s and forms two fateful adolescent crushes: one on bad-boy schoolmate Corwin Peace and one on a nun. Though Evelina doesn’t know it, both are descendants of lynch mob members. The plot splinters as Evelina enrolls in college and finds work at a mental asylum; Corwin spirals into a life of crime; and a long-lost violin (its backstory is another beautiful piece of the mosaic) takes on massive significance.”

The Wedding, by Dorothy West.  In her 1995 novel The Wedding, Dorothy West, the last surviving member of the Harlem Renaissance, looks inside the African American middle class. The publisher summarizes the plot as follows: “Set on bucolic Martha’s Vineyard in the 1950s, The Wedding tells the story of life in the Oval, a proud, insular community made up of the best and brightest of the East Coast’s black bourgeoisie.  Within this inner circle of ‘blue-vein society,’ we witness the prominent Coles family gather for the wedding of the loveliest daughter, Shelby, who could have chosen from ‘a whole area of eligible men of the right colors and the right professions.’ Instead, she has fallen in love with and is about to be married to Meade Wyler, a white jazz musician from New York. A shock wave breaks over the Oval as its longtime members grapple with the changing face of its community.

You Are Free, by Danzy Senna.  You Are Free is a collection of short stories that explore Black-White relations. Polly Rosenwaike, reviewing the collection in the New York Times, writes “[t]hough Senna’s stories address race, class and gender, they never devolve into simple case studies. Rather, her collection offers nuanced portraits of characters confronting anxieties and prejudices that leave them not as free as they would like to be.”

Native Speaker, by Chang-Rae Lee.  Native Speaker, Lee’s 1995 debut novel, tells the story of Henry Park, a first generation Korean American who struggles to fit into American life and the differences of culture, beliefs and heritage.  The publisher describes Native Speaker as “a story of cultural alienation. It is about fathers and sons, about the desire to connect with the world rather than stand apart from it, about loyalty and betrayal, about the alien in all of us and who we finally are.” Native Speaker was awarded the PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Novel.

African American History to Come Alive at Fifth Third Bank

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

In celebration of Black History Month, Fifth Third Bank is hosting a live museum in the lobby of its main office in Grand Rapids (111 Lyon Street NW) on Friday, February 22.  All of the actors who will portray historical African Americans are employees of Fifth Third Bank – which makes it very cool.  The actors will reenact key moments of our nation’s past to educate and remind us of the journey our nation has traveled and honor the men and women who lived the story. Fifth Third Bank will come alive with characters impersonating some of the most important and influential figures in African American history. The Live Museum is in partnership with New Hope Baptist Church; characters will be dressed in period costumes and will reveal themselves by sharing details of their lives, struggles, and accomplishments. The historic icons will be played by Fifth Third employees and will include:  

  • Harriet Tubman
  • Dr. George Washington Carver
  • Daniel Hale Williams
  • Madame CJ Walker
  • Lonnie Johnson
  • Osceola McCarty
  • The Negro Mother

The living history museum will also be presented at Woodland Mall the following day.


Join Us at Inforum’s BoardAccess™ Briefing: How Boards Work

On Wednesday, February 27, Diversity Partner Rodney Martin will moderate a discussion with Maureen Noe, President and CEO, Heart of West Michigan United Way, and Mary Tuuk, President of Fifth Third Bank, Western Michigan, who will share their personal stories and insights on corporate board effectiveness. The program is part of Inforum’s BoardAccessTM initiative. For more information, visit Inforum’s website by clicking here.

Here is an interesting infographic from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School on women at work.

Women at Work Infographic Via MBA@UNC
Via MBA@UNC: Top MBA Online & Women 2.0

WNJ Diversity Partner to Speak at 1st Annual Ofield Dukes Diversity Summit in Detroit

Warner Norcross & Judd Diversity Partner Rodney Martin will be a presenter at the 1st annual Ofield Dukes Diversity Summit organized by the Detroit Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.  The Summit will take place on Thursday, February 16 on the campus of Wayne State University.  Mr. Martin will join Randy Walker, Chief Diversity Officer at Henry Ford Health Systems, in a session discussing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.  For more information about the Summit, click here.

The summit is open to the public.  A fee is charged.  Participants must register by February 9.