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Specialty Management Services of Ouachita Panel Track 3
 In the Sandbox 2:00 pm - 2:45 pm
You may work within a diverse organization, but do you work within an inclusive organization?
An inclusive workplace embraces diverse backgrounds and perspectives, which empowers employees to feel appreciated, welcome, and essential to the company. In an inclusive workplace, all employees have equal access to professional opportunities, such as promotions and discussions with top administrators.
Bias hinders an inclusive workplace. Did you know that unconscious bias—social stereotypes regarding specific groups of people—is significantly more common than conscious bias? These unfair beliefs, conscious or unconscious, can target one's race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, weight, and many more.
How can you make your workplace more inclusive? When you respond to employee surveys, be candid and forthcoming with your opinions regarding your company’s environment. Initiate an employee resource committee that organizes and celebrates diversity. Welcome ideas that differ from yours, and support your colleagues. When you hear inappropriate jokes born from bias, say something. Building a robust and collaborative team means creating an environment in which people can build upon each other’s strengths.
   flowers pierre 


Dr. Jonah Flowers
Associate Chair for Family Medicine at Via College of Osteopathic Medicine

Dr. Jonah Flowers is a Louisiana native from Winnfield, LA.  She is currently the Associate Chair for Family Medicine in Rural and Underserved Areas at Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) Louisiana campus.   
She earned her Bachelor of Science in Physics from Grambling State University and her Doctor of Osteopathy from Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, VA in 2008. 
After graduating from medical school, she completed a one-year osteopathic rotating internship at Montgomery Regional Hospital in Blacksburg, VA and then residency in Family Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University/Bon Secours St. Francis Family Medicine Residency in Midlothian, VA (suburb of Richmond).  She is board certified in Family Medicine and certified in American Sign Language. 
She worked as a Family Medicine physician in Norfolk, VA providing preventive care, chronic disease management, wellness physicals, etc. to all age groups and Deaf patients and she has taught 3rd year medical students while serving as  Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine for Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine. 
She has completed international mission trips to Cape Town, South Africa; Kenya, Africa; and El Salvador 
Her professional memberships include the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, American Osteopathic Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, and Louisiana Osteopathic Medical Association. 
She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and the Order of Easter Star. In her spare time, she enjoys dancing, skating, running, reading, traveling and spending time with her husband Michael Snow and dog Tiger.

Liz Pierre
Sr. Vice President of Legal and Research Dept at North LA Economic Partnership

Elizabeth “Liz” Pierre is the Senior Vice President of the Legal and Research Department at the North Louisiana Economic Partnership, an economic development organization serving 14 parishes in North Louisiana.  She also practices law with her husband, J. Rodney Pierre at Pierre and Pierre, LLC in Monroe, LA. 
Ms. Pierre received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and her Juris Doctorate degree from the Southern University Law Center.  She is also a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma and holds an Economic Development Finance Professional certification from the National Development Institute.
In January 2017 Ms. Pierre was appointed by Governor John Bel Edwards to the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.  The Board of Supervisors is the management body of the nine universities in the University of Louisiana System.  
Ms. Pierre has served on various local boards including the Area 81 Workforce Investment Board, the United Way of Northeast Louisiana and the NOVA Workforce Institute Board of Directors.  She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. where she has held various local and regional positions. 
Ms. Pierre is married to Attorney J. Rodney Pierre and they are the proud parents of three children, Devon, Deja and James Rodney, II; and two grandchildren, Milan and Jimmy.


 Communicating Across Boundaries 3:00 pm - 3:45 pm
Are you an introvert? An extrovert? Or somewhere in between? In this interactive workshop, you will take a personality test and learn exactly how you work. You will also learn how to work with—and value—others whose personalities differ from your own.
Learn how your colleagues prefer to operate and how you can adapt accordingly. Maybe one colleague prefers to work in her office with her door closed, while another prefers a standing desk in an open space. When people feel that their preferences are being honored, they are genuinely happier at work. Practicing emotional intelligence, a skill that people can learn, is another critical component to a harmonious workplace. An emotionally intelligent person understands her weaknesses and strengths. She calmly expresses her emotions, is self-motivated, empathizes with others, and possesses strong people skills. Emotional intelligence results in less gossiping and more conflict resolution.
Not surprisingly, workplace conflict happens almost every day. Women, who are socialized to be communal and nurturing, tend to avoid conflict. Conflict doesn’t have to be excruciating. Learn how to view negotiation as an opportunity to gain something instead of taking something from someone. Evaluate perceived barriers and determine if they are real or imagined. Begin each negotiation with the other person’s goals in mind, ask questions during the discussion, listen, and answer accordingly.
As a leader, learn to recognize your weaknesses and hire employees who can contribute to your gaps. Strong leaders hire strong, independent people—they aren’t intimidated by them. Effective leaders do not want complacent employees, but instead, those with different opinions that they are willing to voice. Does your workplace foster a healthy exchange of diverse ideas from different people?
 snow  geisman  childers

Sheila Snow
Vice President of Communications, Monroe-West Monroe Convention & Visitors Bureau

Sheila Snow is the Vice President of Communications at the Monroe-West Monroe Convention & Visitors Bureau, where she has worked the last 12 years helping locals and visitors discover all the great things about her hometown. She is a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Monroe with a Bachelors degree in Journalism/Public Relations and is currently pursuing her Masters in Public Administration through ULM’s Online program . Sheila was recently named a 2019 Northeast Louisiana Top 20 Under 40 Young Professional. She serves on the board of the United Way of Northeast Louisiana, Downtown West Monroe Revitalization Group, and West Monroe/West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce. She has been married to Jimmy Snow for nearly two decades, and they are the proud parents of Jackson, 14, and Anne Marie, 11. She is an 8 on the enneagram, and her fictional role models include Julia Sugarbaker and Leslie Knope.

Cami Geisman
Vice President of Marketing and Communications for University of Louisiana System

Cami Geisman is vice president for marketing and communication for the University of Louisiana System. Her role allows her to drive marketing and brand decisions for one of the nation’s largest systems of higher education. During her time at the System, she has been instrumental in taking a disjointed group of universities and building a cohesive brand uniting the nine-member institutions through various strategies including the introduction of a new tagline, For your Future. For our Future. She is part of the team responsible for designing the System’s adult learner initiative Compete LA that launched in 2019.
Prior to her work in higher education, Geisman spent seven years with the Louisiana Office of the Lieutenant Governor. There she thrived in her role as deputy communication director promoting all the best Louisiana has to offer through the state’s Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. There were many highlights during her tenure including several national tourism weeks, the 2012 NCAA Men’s Final Four and Super Bowl XLVII. She also honed her crisis communication skills during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
Geisman is a graduate of the Louisiana State University Manship School of Mass Communication and is pursuing a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Louisiana Monroe. She is a lifelong resident of Baton Rouge where she resides with her husband of 10 years, their two kids, and their horribly-trained golden retriever. Outside of her work, she spends her time cooking Cajun and creole cuisine, shuffling kids to sporting events, and volunteering with various organizations.

Christy Childers
Vice President of Business Development and IT Implementation at Specialty Management Services of Ouachita

Christy has a passion for bettering our regional healthcare community as she helps large and small healthcare organizations navigate the complex regulatory requirements of Information Technology. Christy's team played a vital role in one of the most significant Health IT projects undertaken by Louisiana: the implementation of an Electronic Health Record system in all Public Health Units.

She has extensive experience in project management and leading multi-disciplinary teams. Christy and her team have empowered hospitals and other healthcare providers throughout North Louisiana to obtain more than 8 million dollars of federal incentives through compliance with quality initiatives.

Christy began her professional career as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist in the Blood Bank department of a 300-bed acute care facility. It was in this very critical department that she honed her communication skills and calm demeanor. After 18 years in the department, she transitioned to the role of Marketing Director for Outreach Laboratory Services. She increased their service line to a six-figure profit margin within the first year.
After obtaining her Master of Health Informatics degree from Louisiana Tech University, she joined P&S Surgical Hospital and Specialty Management Services of Ouachita. Christy now oversees the IT/EHR management functions of SMSO as well as three Fortune 200 company-based health clinics. The success of her professional career is the direct result of her exceptional leadership and communication skills.
Christy is a 2015 graduate of Leadership Ouachita, an active member of regional and national informatics societies, her community, and the Ouachita Women's Tennis Association.


 Equality and Power Dynamics in the Workplace 4:00 pm - 4:45 pm
Many of us have experienced sexual harassment, or we know someone who has. There are blatant incidents of sexual harassment, and there are gray areas. Innuendos and inappropriate comments contribute to a hostile workplace. So, what constitutes sexual harassment? A few examples include sexual assault, comments about a person’s physical appearance, suggestive texts and emails, vulgar jokes, unwanted physical contact, requests for sexual favors, conversations about sex, and the suggestion that an employee can advance if she complies with sexual advances.
In this interactive workshop, you will learn how to protect yourself physically and how to combat sexual harassment. Document every detail surrounding your experience, including a timeline of the harassment. Learn how to tell someone you are rejecting their advances. For example, “Do not give me compliments. It makes me uncomfortable.” Depending on where you work, you will have several ways to report the incident. Check with your Human Resources Department to learn your options.
Are you worried about retaliation? Retaliation is a significant reason many women do not report sexual harassment incidents. Remember: retaliation is also illegal. If you report sexual harassment, and the occurrence does not meet the legal definition of sexual harassment, you still have a case for retaliation if you were fired or demoted for filing a report.
Most importantly, remember to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically. Sexual harassment can be traumatic. Lean on your support network, and consult with a professional. A therapist will help you process your experience so that you can heal and avoid long-term emotional consequences such as doubting your abilities even in future jobs.
 bennett  Olinger  brown

Sonni Bennett
Coordinator of Spirit Groups at ULM

Sonni Bennett is a 2014 Louisiana Tech graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Health Informatics and Information Management. Before transferring to Louisiana Tech in 2009, she was member of the ULM Pom Line and served as the captain. During her time at Louisiana Tech, she was Regal Blue for 4 years and served as the co-captain in 2011 and captain in 2012 as well. Sonni has been a member of the DBK Dance and Performing Arts family for over 20 years and was a member of the Debbie Bourg Dancers competition team for over 10 years. During her years at the studio, she held the titles of Miss Showbiz in the junior and senior divisions, as well as the title of Miss Preteen DEA. Sonni is also a former scholarship recipient for West Coast Dance Explosion, Dance Educators of America, and Showbiz talent. Sonni received the studio's first-ever Leigh Ann White Memorial Scholarship. 
Currently, Sonni is the Coordinator of Spirit Groups at ULM and starting her 3rd season as the Hawkline Head Coach. In March of 2019, Sonni led the ULM Hawkline to a Division 1A Hip Hop National Championship at the American Dance/Drill Team Competition. Sonni planned and executed the first-ever ULM Spirit Group Banquet to honor members and thank them for their hard work and service throughout the year. She also served on the Bayou Pointe Grand Opening committee. Sonni also completed a 40-hour certification course alongside, Meghan Olinger, another ULM employee, to become the first-ever non-police force instructor of The Equalizer Women’s Self-defense Program. Meghan and Sonni teach this course to the female student body and faculty at ULM each semester. 



Meghan Bibaeff Olinger
Assistant Director of Event Services at ULM

Born and Raised in Lafayette Louisiana, Meghan developed an early interest in the weather, but watching (and videotaping) the effects of Hurricane Lily in 2002 left two big impressions.  First was that weather could be a vocation, not merely a fascination. Secondly, that people need to band together a help each to get through the tough times. After all we are stronger together than alone. These impressions sent Meghan to ULM in Fall 2003 to begin her college journey.  Never wanting to be the weak link, to stay strong Meghan danced with the Warbonnets (known as the Hawkline today), ran half marathons, and completed triathlons. 

Weather as a vocation has come and gone in Meghan’s life, but since graduating in Communication Studies in 2007 from the University of Louisiana Monroe, Meghan has had a career based on helping and mentorship.  Beginning at ULM in the recruitment office she strived to get the best for students, using her own college experience as an example.

From there Olinger moved on to the City of West Monroe’s Community Center, administering the S.E.E. West Monroe AmeriCorps Program, training students in everything from basic work ethic, to interviewing skills, to helping the less fortunate and working on habitat for humanity homes.  Additionally undertaking duties at the center’s after school program, working with middle school students on everything from socially appropriate behavior to math and science homework, Meghan continued to mentor.

Meghan joined the team at the American Red Cross in April 2016 where she helped recruit and train volunteers that would directly work in areas impacted by severe weather. She spent time coordinating trainings, meetings, and celebrations for the volunteers of the Red Cross. Olinger made the decision to leave the Red Cross in December 2017 to return “home.”

She returned to ULM as the Assistant Director of Event Services based at Bayou Pointe in January 2018 and is proud to be back on the bayou! Since being back at ULM, Meghan took her stay strong spirit to the next level. She became an Instructor in the Equalizer Women’s Self Defense Program, one of only two civilians in the country to be certified.  Giving back, this training is offered for free to women at ULM and portions are used in a kinesiology elective, “self-defense” that Meghan teaches.      When not dedicating her time and passion to others, her and her husband of almost 13 years enjoy their own son.  Teaching him everything a young man needs to know, including how to have an unusually high regard for Halloween.


Sophia Dixon Brown
Attorney at Family Justice Center of Ouachita Parish

Sophia Dixon Brown is originally from Union Parish.  She is the fourth of six children born to Viola Talton Dixon and the late Fred Dixon Sr.  She graduated number one in her high school class in 1983 at the now closed Linville High School.  After graduating from high school she entered the United States Army in November 1983, where she served for three years.  She has been married to retired Army Sergeant First Class Benjamin J. Brown, for 32 years. She has a Bachelors’ Of Arts Degree in Political Science from Southern University & A&M College in Baton Rouge.  She graduated from Southern University Law Center in May 1998. She returned to Louisiana after obtaining her law license in October 2002. She is the proud Mother of Jarrod (pronounced Jared) who is a graduate of ULM and is also a veteran of the United States Army, and Janae who is a graduate of Southern University and currently works for the State of Louisiana.  She is the very proud Sweet Sweet Grandmother of Soraya, Sophia, Julius and Benjamin. The majority of her legal career has been spent representing low income individuals at Legal Services of North Louisiana from 2002 to 2014, as a Public Defender from April 2016 to the present, and also as an attorney for the Family Justice Center of Ouachita since September 2017 to the present, representing individuals who are survivors of Domestic Violence.  She has participated in several community forums hoping to educate the public about their rights and the law. Mrs. Brown is always willing to share her knowledge with young people so that they can know that with God and an education they can achieve anything. She believes that the law should not just be about making money but about helping people. Mrs. Brown received the Army Good Conduct Medal, and Army Achievement medal for her time in service.  Mrs. Brown also received recognition by the Louisiana State Bar Association for her years of public service. Mrs. Brown is also a proud life member of the Southern University Alumni Federation. She is also a member of Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. where she serves as 1st Vice President.