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Jess Pettitt Social Justice and Diversity Educator and Activist
"I am the Organizational and Employee Development Manager for the Department of Surgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and have known Jess for at least 20 years. I had the pleasure of working with her at the University of Arizona and, most recently, she was able to work virtually with members of my own academic medicine community in the middle of the pandemic to engage with her book, “Good. Enough. Now.” I believe she would be a perfect candidate for your conference, especially on a topic such as raising awareness of, and ensuring equitable access for, patients regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Jess is a dynamic speaker and engages her audience while simultaneously challenging them in a way that makes whatever her topic is, accessible. She can connect with a variety of audience members regardless of their role and is effective whether addressing physicians, university faculty, staff, or students. I wholeheartedly endorse her as an educational speaker. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me at your convenience."
I am an experienced nurse educator and have for the last two years been a Clinical Assistant Professor at the State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University College of Nursing. I am also a fifth-year nursing PhD student at the SUNY University at Buffalo. My research is on the knowledge, beliefs, and experiences of pre-licensure undergraduate nursing faculty with teaching lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) content in their curricula. I first met Jess as a participant in a dynamic workshop on examining biases and communicating across difference that she led for student life staff, librarians, educators, and nurse recruiters in 2016. This experience left a deep impression on me as an educator and now as a researcher. She engaged the room in a challenging way, and challenged the room in an engaging way, and participants ended the workshop energized rather than (as could so easily happen with a less expert speaker) disengaged or defensive. It was the first time I had seen an educator use transformative learning theory to disrupt participants' comfortable or deeply held beliefs in a way that was inviting and encouraging and genuinely fostered a shift in framework. She is also wicked funny, and her humor contributes to the inviting and encouraging energy of her work. As a nurse educator, I immediately saw the benefit of this kind of workshop and teaching for my learners, whose biases and beliefs have real consequences for patient care. In addition to Jess' expertise in winning over a diverse group and getting them to buy in to her objectives-- to understand that doing a well-informed something is better than doing nothing, and that everyone has something to learn and that that is GOOD-- I was struck by her generosity; namely, I asked if I could use and adapt her workshop exercise for use with my nurses and she said yes! We have since co-presented on the use of that particular workshop exercise ("Just Rescue") at a national nursing professional development conference, and it has been adopted by a leading Nurse Residency Program consortium curriculum. Jess is my go-to recommendation for any healthcare organization that is seeking an outside consultant or speaker regarding diversity/equity/inclusion/belonging/justice and continues to inspire me to do better-- or at least to do as well as I can with what I have, which is where we all have to start.
“I am currently the Associate Director for DEI for the ONeal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB and previously the Chief Experience Officer at UAB and the national President of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. In these roles I have experienced Jessica Pettitt on numerous occasions with events and programs and I consider her one of the “go to” speakers and motivational leaders on the subject of diversity, equity and inclusion in a number of ways. Her intellect, lived experience, humor and disarming approachability leads individuals to honestly think differently and explore their own biases. I consider her as effective as any individual I have met in this space and know that she if more than a “speaker”…she changes minds and attitudes and does it in a way that lasts. I look forward to my next opportunity to work with her in my organization.”