Race + Equity + Wellbeing Series



A catalyst for equitable change so all people can thrive.



We leverage the collective knowledge of faculty, staff, and students to advance our community’s understanding of, and ability to speak with each other about race, equity, and well-being.


We use our collective power and positionality to ensure that lived experiences at the intersection of race, equity, and wellbeing are central to any conversation about culture at USC.


We commit to leveraging our power and positionality to call for and engage in processes of assessment and change of policy and culture to advance equity and wellbeing.

About the Series

More than two thousand USC staff and faculty participated in the series that provided space to learn, connect, heal, and take action to support themselves and others. The Spring 2022 series will include community members working together to create a more inclusive and equitable USC.

Join experts from our USC community every other Tuesday starting October 18 and ending December 13, from 12-12:50pm. Expert panelists will gather to engage in topics of Race, Equity, and Wellbeing. Recording of each webinar will be available in the days following each session.

The Tuesday following each webinar, the conversation will continue with Discussion Groups, also from 12:00-12:50pm. Led by trained facilitators, these important dialogues allow participants to engage with other staff and faculty. Reactions, stories, plans for action, and honest reflection are encouraged. Webinar attendance is NOT required for the discussion groups.

This series is a collaboration between HR, Equity, and Compliance, USC Office of Campus Wellbeing and Education, USC Culture Journey, and the Office of the Vice President and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. If you have any questions, please contact tlntdev@usc.edu

Upcoming Sessions (3)

Session 3 (November 15, 2022, 12 p.m.)

Session 3: Seats at the Table: On representation and relationships

November 15, 2022, 12 p.m.

“Representation” is a foundational concept in American history, yet to this day, has been denied from so many.  Beyond numerical diversity, representation of diverse identities in dialogue ensures that important decisions are reflective of the community they will impact.

Join Dr. Quade French and an expert panel to explore representation, proximity to power, and how leaders must move beyond stating “my door is always open” and instead, reach across, invite in, and yield the floor.


Royel Johnson
Associate Professor of Education and USC Race & Equity Center Director of Student Engagement
Chris Manning
Vice President and Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer

Register here


Session 4: “But that’s not funny.”  Setting boundaries by speaking to impact over intent

November 29, 2022, 12 p.m.

Statements made in jest that are rooted in prejudice and are othering, happen all around us.  What do we do when we do not find a statement funny?  Do we ignore, cancel, confront?  How do we understand intent versus impact in those moments?  What about hierarchical power?  Who is “responsible” for saying something?

Join Dr. Quade French and an expert panel as they discuss the impact of these experiences and outline strategies they use to respond, even if your response is to disengage.


Stacy Giwa
Vice President of Culture, Ethics and Compliance and Chief Compliance Officer
Erroll Southers
Associate Senior Vice President, Safety and Risk Assurance

Register here


Session 5: “Palmam qui meruit ferat.”  I earned my palms, and I will decide where to bear them.

December 13, 2022, 12 p.m.

Now, more than ever, people are renegotiating their relationship to work.  People are more discerning where to bring their talents and expertise, and more assertive in prioritizing their needs.  More people understand that the pursuit of equity and wellbeing do not detract from productivity, but enhance it, and seek workplaces and leaders who share this view.

Join Dr. Quade French and an expert panel as they center racial equity, wellbeing, and organizational culture as three requirements for a healthy culture of work, and explore how employees are prioritizing their needs as they decide on career paths.


Patrick Cates
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs at Marshall
Helena Curtis
Executive Director, Talent, Learning & Organizational Development

Register here



Discussion Sessions

Alternating Tuesdays from 12:00-12:50pm

Led by skilled facilitators, theConnectionsDiscussion Sessions allow participants to engage in a safe, confidential space with other staff and faculty to:

  • Come together in solidarity around participants’ lived experiences at the intersections of race, equity, and wellbeing
  • Actively connect the content of the panel discussions with their own experiences and sense of culture at USC
  • Work together to turn ideas into action in their departments and communities
  • Explore available resources at USC to support an anti-racist community

Importantly, the discussion groups are not

  • Recorded in any way
  • A place where BIPOC and other marginalized folks are expected to relive trauma for the educational benefit of others
  • A substitute for therapy or counseling
  • A formal investigatory body
  • Webinar attendance is NOT required for the discussion groups

Register here


Meet the Series Moderator

Quade FrenchQuade French, Ph.D.
USC Campus Wellbeing and Education
Dr. Quade French is a licensed clinical psychologist in the USC Provost’s Office of Campus Wellbeing and Education. His work and research focus on intersections between culture and individual wellbeing, as well as on interpersonal relationships in diverse groups and large systems.

He currently serves as a consultant to staff, faculty, students, and administrators, working collaboratively to identify and address systemic, and interpersonal dynamics that impact individual and group wellbeing, and affect experiences of inclusion and belonging at USC. Dr. French is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Rossier School of Education where he teaches on topics of counseling theory, practice, and ethics.

Meet the Facilitators

Shanéa Thomas, Ed.D, LICSW

Dr. Shanéa Thomas, LICSW, LCSW-C (he/she/Dr.) is a bold lecturer and seasoned scholar-practitioner with more than 15 years of professional social work experience in the Washington D.C. metro area. For the past ten years, Dr. Thomas has dedicated her time as a Senior Lecturer for the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work’s Virtual Academic Center. In the past, Dr. Thomas has also committed time as a Youth Psychotherapist supporting local LGBTQIA+ youth and those affected by HIV/AIDS through various organizations. Whether through trainings, workshops, or supervision, Dr. Thomas is humbled to be using her gifts to serve the community.

LaVonna Lewis, Ph.D., MPH


Dr. LaVonna Lewis is a Teaching Professor and Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. Dr. Lewis’ areas of research consistently focus on cultural competency and the health status and health care needs of underrepresented groups. She is currently involved in addressing racial disparities cardiovascular disease and diabetes through the Community Health Councils, Inc., African American Building a Legacy of Health Project.

Anita Dashiell-Sparks


Anita Dashiell-Sparks is the Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and Associate Professor of Theatre Practice in Acting. She has directed numerous productions at USC, as well as directed Letters from Zora at the Tony Award-winning Crossroads Theatre and two critically acclaimed engagements at the Pasadena Playhouse, among others. Dashiell-Sparks serves as the artistic director of EDI at the Stella Adler Center of the Arts; and, at USC, is the founder and director of Building Bridges: Communication, Expression, Empowerment Theatre Arts Program, which teaches self-presentation and self-expression to at-risk youth.

Darline Robles, Ph.D.

Dr. Darline Robles, the former superintendent of Los Angeles County Office of Education, is a Professor of Clinical Education here at the USC Rossier School of Education. In addition to guiding the School Leadership Academy, Dr. Robles teaches in the school’s doctoral program. In her role as Faculty Director, Dr. Robles leads the program development effort in conjunction with faculty, external organizations, and experts. She is also an expert in the areas of urban education, program development and school leadership.

Jonathan Wang, Ed.D.


Dr. Jonathan Wang serves as the Center Director for USC Asian Pacific American Student Services (APASS). In 2012, Jonathan joined the USC Division of Student Affairs as the Assistant Director for APASS and since 2016 serves as the Center Director. Jonathan has served in leadership positions within USC, NASPA, conducted various research projects, published articles focused on marginalized student populations and international higher education, and has continued to present at both regional and national conferences. Jonathan now teaches for Rossier’s M.Ed. PASA program.

Janice Littlejohn, MA


Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn is a career journalist whose work focuses on women’s issues, race, culture, and advocacy. She has been a columnist for the Associated Press, and currently contributes to Ms. Magazine, Shondaland Digital Media among other media outlets. She is co-author of Swirling: How to Date, Mate, and Relate Mixing Race, Culture, and Creed (Atria | Simon & Schuster), and is currently writing a series of self-authored works. She currently also serves as the Associate Director for the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities at USC.

Melissa Durham, Pharm.D., MACM, APh

Melissa J. Durham is an Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacy and the Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at the University of Southern California (USC) School of Pharmacy. Dr. Durham has taught topics related to DEI such as cultural competence/humility and health equity/justice for the School of Pharmacy since 2012. She oversees and facilitates all Wellness and DEI initiatives within the school of pharmacy as well as in partnership with other health professions and external partners.

Renee Almassizadeh, MA


Renee Almassizadeh is passionate about organizational culture, relationship building, well-being, and DE&I. She is the Assistant Director for Operations and Programming at the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy. Prior to that, Renee was the senior administrator of USC’s Department of Middle East Studies and held positions at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, American Institutes for Research, RAND, and other organizations. She received an M.A. in Arab Studies from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of California at San Diego. In addition to her role at CPD, Renee is a member of the Working Group on University Culture and the Healthy Campus Advisory Committee and serves as a USC Culture Facilitator and a Race+Equity+Wellbeing Facilitator.

JaBari Brown, MA


As the Senior Associate Director of Advisement and Civic Engagement, JaBari and his team are responsible for the academic success of 1,900 undergraduate students. He is committed to serving the greater USC community which has led him to serve on the executive board of the USC Staff Assembly, as staff manager to student clubs including the Annenberg Black Student Association, the Special Olympics Club at USC, and the Trojan Transfer Organization. In 2018, JaBari was tapped to serve as the inaugural chair of the Annenberg Staff Council and as a culture facilitator for the USC Culture Journey.

REW Project Team

The REW Project is led by USC University HR Talent and Organization Development and Campus Wellbeing.


Michelle Tam
Employee Development Specialist
Quade French
Consultant, Campus Wellbeing
Ilene Rosenstein
Ilene Rosenstein
Associate Vice Provost, Campus Wellbeing
Mynor Rios
Mynor Rios
Administrative Assistant

Previous Sessions

Fall 2022

October 18, 12:00pm      Still We Stand: When pursuing racial equity and wellbeing is a way of life

November 1, 12:00pm     But Look What Great Programs We Have! Is all programming performative?


Spring 2022

March 22, 12:00pm        Why We Fight: Sustaining Our Commitment to Racial Equity by Sustaining Ourselves

April 5, 12:00pm       How To Build What We Have Not Seen: When Effort May Be More Important Than Expertise

April 19, 12:00pm      But DEI Is Not in Your Job Description: What It Takes To Get Change Going

May 3, 12:00pm     How Do You Show Up? Living a Life True to Your Values Especially When It Is Hard

May 17, 12:00pm    Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired: When To Stay and Fight for Change, and When To Move On

May 31, 12:00pm

Why We Fight: Sustaining Our Commitment to Racial Equity by Sustaining Ourselves Revisited


Spring 2021

March 2, 12:00pm         Making Sense of the Chaos of 2020 and Envisioning the Road Ahead

March 16, 12:00pm       The Importance of Cultivating Self-Awareness

March 30, 12:00pm       Was I Just Racist?

April 13, 12:00pm          Recognizing and Responding to Racism

April 27, 12:00pm          Language Matters

May 11, 12:00pm           How to Create Environments Where All Employees can be Their Full, Authentic Selves


Summer 2021

July 13, 12:00pm         Energy and Restoration: Finding Strength from Ourselves and Our Community

July 27, 12:00pm         We Are the Movement: Strengthening Our Inclusive Community


Fall 2021

September 14, 12:00pm         Moving the Needle and Seismic Shifts

September 28, 12:00pm         Psychological Safety as an Issue of Equity

October 12, 12:00pm         Moving from “Ugh!” to “Oh!”

October 26, 12:00pm         Lead from any seat

November 9, 12:00pm         Levers of Justice

November 23, 12:00pm         What is a “Trojan?” Brand Loyalty and The Community

Please see also: diversity.usc.edu/events/