University of Phoenix and Chicago United host insightful discussion on how businesses can drive positive change


Nationwide events have brought a renewed focus on diversity and inclusivity over the last year. In the business world, this positive trend has accelerated both diversity training and proper hiring practices. However, ensuring that the momentum does not slow down is a top priority if we want meaningful and lasting change for the future.

On February 11, the University of Phoenix and Chicago United co-hosted a panel focused on this issue. Bringing together diversity, equity, and inclusion business leaders, the talk centered on why governments and businesses should turn their attention to hiring a diverse workforce and maintaining an equitable and inclusive environment.

During the panel, each guest had the opportunity to share how their business is creating a more inclusive workplace. By highlighting these current examples of positive change in the workplace, the event aimed to give employers insight into how to make an impact. Additionally, the guests provided practical steps that others can take in their businesses to encourage inclusivity and a positive workplace culture.

Moderated by Chicago United President and CEO, Tiffany Hamel, the event played host to a panel of expert guests. University of Phoenix President Peter Cohen opened the event by talking about how the university is supporting efforts to build a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable future for all. This led to insights from the following guest speakers:

  • Melissa Donaldson, Wintrust Bank

As the first chief diversity officer of Wintrust Bank, Melissa Donalson leads the way when it comes to creating an inclusive environment. By partnering with leadership, she establishes a variety of inclusion practices to help drive business success and employee engagement.

Before joining the company, she held the position of director of diversity networks and communication for Walgreens. During her time in that role, she set out employee engagement boosting strategies and pioneered the Walgreens Diversity & Inclusion Annual Report. Her accolades and long-standing career in the diversity sector mean that she is well-positioned to speak about this highly important issue affecting businesses.

  • Carlos Butler Vale, McDonald’s Corporation

Carlos Butler Vale holds the title of global director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the McDonald’s Corporation. Overseeing a cross-functional team, he is responsible for creating the company’s global diversity, equality, and inclusion strategy. Since the business has more than two million employees around the world, ensuring that there is a solid approach in this area is essential to employee engagement and satisfaction.

Before joining the McDonald’s Corporation in 2019, Vale worked for Groupon as the head of diversity recruitment and diverse stakeholder engagement. He also holds Fostering Diversity and Inclusion certification from Yale School of Management. He was previously a board member of the Illinois Diversity Council and is currently a member of Emerging Leaders Chicago.

  • Susy Francis Best, PsyD, Allstate Insurance

As the director of D&I, ERG, and leadership development at Allstate Insurance, Susy Francis Best has a wide portfolio of leadership and business development experience. With more than 15 years of experience across multiple sectors, she is a renowned clinical psychologist, consultant, and executive coach. In 2014, she founded Thrive Group International (TGI), providing seminars, consulting, coaching, and training to both groups and individuals.

In her role as a speaker and leader, Best trains more than 1,000 people each year on topics such as diversity, team building, inclusion, stress management, and leadership development.

  • Marquis Miller, City of Chicago

The chief diversity officer of the City of Chicago, Marquis Miller, is committed to helping communities better themselves. He has decades of experience in the areas of business and relationship development, as well as non-profit governance and organizational leadership. In his current role, he is responsible for the strategy, development, and implementation of the city’s policies on diversity.

The event was a partnership between the University of Phoenix and Chicago United. The latter is a group that promotes “economic opportunity for people of color by advancing multiracial leadership in corporate governance, executive level management, and business diversity” in the city. The panel took place at 11:00 a.m. MST as a webinar.

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