Ottawa County & City of Holland Host Diversity Forum

Earlier this year, Ottawa County solidified its commitment to diversity with the establishment of a new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) office. Now, Ottawa County is partnering with the City of Holland to host the 4th Annual Diversity Forum – Journeys to Equity in Public Service. The forum is on November 15, 2019, from 8 AM to 4 PM at the Holland Civic Center. Cost is $40 and registration is online at

The event will create an open space that allows resources and ideas to be shared through collaborative networking among public servants. Trailblazers already doing diversity work from across the state, and within government, will share why leaders of public service organizations and those operating the front lines need to care about DEI. Finally, presenters and panelists will share best practices and lessons learned while implementing equity action plans.

“The 4th Annual Ottawa County Diversity Forum will be the best yet featuring a new partnership with the City of Holland, a new venue at the Holland Civic Center and a new focus on creating a collaborative network among public sector organizations and employees throughout West Michigan,” said Al Vanderberg, Ottawa County Administrator. “My hope is that the forum will serve as forums have served throughout history–as a place of learning, discussion, engagement and as a base for future action.”

The keynote speaker, Dr. Mira Krishnan, will address the challenges and opportunities of building an Ottawa County that includes gender and sexually diverse residents. Two panel discussions will also take place, including one comprised of elected officials from the region and another composed of DEI practitioners from government agencies throughout Michigan. Workshops of a variety of topics will include:

• The Racial Equity Toolkit: A Road Map for Government, Organizations and Communities
• Leading with Racial Equity: The Ups and Downs of One City’s Journey
• Racial Wealth Gap Learning Simulation
• City of Grand Rapids Equal Business Opportunity Program
• Inclusion in Hiring: Using an Evidence-Based Selection Process
• Building Health Equity

While the event is designed for those working in government, everyone is welcome to attend.

Ottawa County has been working strategically on DEI since 2012 when it created the Ottawa County Cultural Intelligence Committee and required employee diversity training as part of its “Four Cs” initiative. It held its first Diversity Forum in 2016. At that time, there were 72 participants. Last year, more than 130 attended.