Diversity and Inclusion Summit

Each spring the Presidential Commission on Race and Ethnicity’s (PCORE) Diversity and Inclusion Summit (formerly the Friendship Abloom Luncheon) brings together students, staff, faculty and members of the community to look at critical issues ethics minorities face on the NIU campus and in the community and to develop strategies to address issues of concern. This year’s program, held on April 14, 2021, focused on campus and community policing. View the 2021 Deacon Davis Award recipients and watch the ceremony recording

For more information, contact Felicia R. Bohanon, PCORE chair at 815-753-1867 or

2021 Summit Speakers

Rashawn Ray, Ph.D is a David M. Rubenstein Fellow at The Brookings Institution. He is also a professor of sociology and executive director of the Lab for Applied Social Science Research (LASSR) at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is one of the co-editors of Contexts
Magazine: Sociology for the Public.

Ray regularly testifies at the federal and state levels on racial equity, policing and criminal justice reform, health policy, wealth, and family policy. He has published over 50 books, articles, book chapters and roughly 50 op-eds. Ray has written for the Washington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, Newsweek, NBC News, The Guardian, The Hill, Huffington Post, The Conversation and Public Radio International. Ray has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBS, C-Span, PBS, NPR, HLN, and Al Jazeera. His research is cited in Associated Press, Bloomberg, Financial Times, The Root and The Chronicle.

Ray’s research addresses the mechanisms that manufacture and maintain racial and social inequality with a particular focus on policing, health disparities, and voting behavior. His work also speaks to ways that inequality may be attenuated through racial uplift activism and social policy. His academic articles have appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, Science Advances, Social Science Research, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Du Bois Review and the Annual Review of Public Health. Ray’s books include How Families Matter: Simply Complicated
Intersections of Race, Gender, and Work (with Pamela Braboy Jackson) and Race and Ethnic Relations in the 21st Century: History, Theory, Institutions, and Policy, which has been adopted over 40 times in college courses. He is on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

View Rashawn's keynote presentation

Deputy Chief Darren Mitchell has been serving the NIU community for over 21 years. He began his law enforcement career as a police officer with the Northern Illinois University Police Department in January 2000. He quickly moved up the ranks supervising different units within the department. In 2005, he became the department’s first African American promoted to the rank of lieutenant. In 2011, he was promoted to deputy chief. He will assume the role of acting chief of police beginning mid-April of this year.

Throughout his career, Deputy Chief Mitchell has supervised almost every unit within the NIU Police Department. He currently manages public safety operations which includes the dispatch center, campus events unit, security guards, physical security assessments and the residence halls access control unit. In addition, he plays a key role in the development of departmental general orders and policies, budget management, employee hiring and strategic planning.

Throughout his career, Deputy Chief Mitchell has worked collaboratively with many partners, on and off-campus, for the betterment of campus safety. Deputy Chief Mitchell is a past recipient of the Deacon Davis Diversity Award and the NIU Black Alumni Council’s Outstanding Alumni Award.

Deputy Chief Mitchell received a bachelor of arts degree in political science and a master of science degree in adult continuing education from Northern Illinois University. He is a graduate of the advanced police management institute at Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command as well as its Executive Management and Executive Decision-Making Programs. He is also a recipient of the Northwestern University Executive Leadership Award.

View the Policing on Campus and In American presentation

Chief David Byrd has been named as the City of DeKalb’s chief of police and becomes the city’s first Black police chief in its 135-year history. Chief Byrd is a 31-year veteran of the Illinois State and was appointed as the deputy director for the Division of Patrol on August 1, 2020.

Before his appointment to deputy director, Colonel Byrd held the following ranks: lieutenant colonel, serving as the assistant deputy director for the Office of the Director (OOD), major, serving as the north region commander and captain, serving as the commander of district Chicago.

Colonel Byrd held numerous supervisory positions in district Chicago, with an extensive tour of duty as the district Chicago special enforcement team commander. Colonel Byrd started his career as a member of Cadet Class 84 in August 1989 and was assigned to District 3 (Chicago) as a probationary trooper. Colonel Byrd was born and raised on the southside of Chicago, he attended Lindblom Technical High School (class of 1985). Colonel Byrd attended Grambling State University (Grambling, LA.), where he majored in criminal justice.

Colonel Byrd is also a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

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