Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DE&I)

Our Philosophy

The DEI Consulting Group was formed to address disparities that exist in many organizations. In today’s climate, there is a need for advanced knowledge of the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Our DEI experts are top-notch in the field of DEI, bringing together scientific research, academic scholarship, cutting-edge data, and paradigms, as well as the wisdom of lived experience. All our consultants represent historically marginalized groups; therefore, we approach the work from a very personal and intimate perspective. Our team has a collective mission to grow diverse organizations anchored on equity and inclusion who will boldly move beyond initiatives to full integration into the DNA of the organization’s culture.

Our Expertise

Our team has developed and executed comprehensive analyses of more than 30 national and international organizations including professional associations, educational institutions, corporations, and nonprofits, among others. The DEI team is proposing a unique blend of qualitative and quantitative research, training, and reporting for a full assessment of DEI. This involves completing a racial justice (diversity) audit, identifying strengths and weaknesses, creating a common language for organizational culture, and providing recommendations for embedding racial equity into sustainable practice and policy.

Meet Our DE&I Team

Partners

Maysa Akbar, PhD, ABPP

Dr. Maysa Akbar is a groundbreaking psychologist, best-selling author, and healer. Dr. Akbar is a thought leader and expert…

Full Bio
Dr. Maysa Akbar is a groundbreaking psychologist, best-selling author, and healer. Dr. Akbar is a thought leader and expert in racial trauma, allyship, diversity, equity, and inclusion. She is an engaging and dynamic speaker who is sought by corporations, philanthropies, nonprofit organizations, urban school districts, and social service agencies in their efforts to promote antiracism and advance racial equity. She brings insight, courage, and passion to her conversations with communities of color and white communities alike.

In her first book, Urban Trauma, A Legacy of Racism, Dr. Akbar introduces the Urban Trauma™ framework, unpacking how people of color live in a state of crisis due to oppressive societal systems, resulting in feelings of anger, rage, and hopelessness. In her second book, Beyond Ally: The Pursuit of Racial Justice, with wisdom and compassion, Dr. Akbar advances her racial justice work through the creation of the Ally Identity Model, which details the stages of allyship in dismantling systemic oppression.

Dr. Akbar is a board-certified clinical psychologist and is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Yale University, School of Medicine. She is the CEO and founder of Integrated Wellness Group, psychotherapy practice specializing in treating race-based trauma since 2008. Dr. Akbar represents the American Psychological Association at the United Nations where she informs psychology practice within the international community. Dr. Akbar lives in New Haven with her husband and two children. In her spare time, she engages in mediation and yoga practices focused on healing and liberation from race-based trauma.

Michell Tollinchi, PhD (she, her, hers)

With over 20 years experience in strategic inclusive excellence in education, Dr. Tollinchi is an independent consultant in the field…

Full Bio
With over 20 years experience in strategic inclusive excellence in education, Dr. Tollinchi is an independent consultant in the field. She recently served as the Managing Director of the Young Women’s Leadership Schools where she managed and led the Girls Education New York central team to achieve program outcomes and enhance culturally responsive practices across the network. In addition, she served as a partner to the principals supporting their schools in the areas of: Early College and Career Awareness, Leadership, STEAM, and Health and Wellness.

Prior to joining the Student Leadership Network, she served as the Assistant Vice President for Student Transitions at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Dr. Tollinchi collaborated with community partners to ensure high quality programs and services that contributed to the successful transition of students from pre-college through graduation. At RPI, she had direct oversight over the Office of the Registrar, Office of Career and Professional Development, International Student Services, Multicultural Programs, and The Arch (Experiential Learning) Program. Before heading to Troy, NY, Dr. Tollinchi spent 10 years at Barnard College where she served as the Associate Dean for Academic Enrichment and Community Initiatives at Barnard College, Columbia University, where she was primarily responsible for the oversight of access and opportunity programs for a diverse student population. Additionally, she worked in collaboration with various departments and units, Barnard faculty and the local Harlem Community to continue to provide opportunities that will enrich and complement the lives of all students with a particular emphasis on underrepresented minorities and first generation students. Prior to Barnard, she served as the Director of the Gateway Academy at the City College of New York, where she led advising initiatives and programs for students who had not declared a major. Before City College, Dr. Tollinchi spent 6 years at Fordham University where she led the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP/CSTEP), a state initiative designed to increase the diverse student pipeline to careers in STEM. During her time there, she assisted in the creation of the first CSTEP Summer Program for incoming freshmen interested in STEM and the health professions.

Dr. Tollinchi is a product of the Puerto Rican community and the Bronx, New York; she is the only member of her family to attend and graduate from a four-year college. She received a BA in Psychology and Spanish from the State University of New York at Albany, a Master’s of Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and she attended Fordham University where she obtained her PhD in Social Services. Her research there was focused on college persistence among Latina undergraduate students. As a diversity, equity and inclusion practitioner, Dr. Tollinchi has dedicated her career and life to supporting minority and women students who strive to achieve their full potential, no matter what their backgrounds.

DEI Consultants

Natalie S. Plummer, Esq

Natalie S. Plummer, Esq if an attorney based out of Pennsylvania. Natalie is an expert litigator, and does extensive Diversity Work…

Full Bio
Natalie S. Plummer, Esq if an attorney based out of Pennsylvania. Natalie is an expert litigator, and does extensive Diversity Work within her workplace, and community. As the Vice Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion committee she works within her field, and in the community at large to improve inclusion, cultural competence and diversity. In addition to her law degree she is a Cornell University certified diversity leader. However, most importantly Natalie S. Plummer is a first generation lawyer from a hardworking and proud Caribbean family. Ms. Plummer understands what it means to be the first, and only in a room. She understands the critical need for diversity, and is proud to do the work to demonstrate that Diversity, Inclusion and Equity are not only necessary, it is good for business.

Dr. Jessica Smedley

Dr. Jessica M. Smedley is a Clinical Psychologist practicing in the Washington DC metro area. She specifically approaches her work in…

Full Bio
Dr. Jessica M. Smedley is a Clinical Psychologist practicing in the Washington DC metro area. She specifically approaches her work in therapy and in performing school evaluations with children through a social justice lens. Dr. Smedley has a research background in trauma and spirituality specifically within communities of color. She is currently engaged in writing projects that make clear the connection between racial trauma and relationships, specifically in the Black community. She has facilitated process groups, workshops, and trainings for students, professionals, and community members specifically about racial/generational trauma, health disparities, and consequences of ignoring race in educational/professional environments. Dr. Smedley has chaired the Diversity Committee of the Ohio Psychological Association and the Diversity Subcommittee of the American Psychological Association’s Committee of State Leaders. Dr. Smedley also is the co-chair of the Licensed Healers committee in the Association of Black Psychologists. As a former Division-1 athlete, she also takes seriously the importance of health and wellness as a means to deal with racial and generational trauma.

Dr. Talee Vang

Dr. Talee Vang is a licensed psychologist, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consultant, and keynote speaker. She works as a health psychologist…

Full Bio

Dr. Talee Vang is a licensed psychologist, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consultant, and keynote speaker. She works as a health psychologist in a safety net hospital, as well as in primary care behavioral health. Dr. Vang provides trainings to large corporations and health systems with topics ranging from the impact of implicit bias on health disparities to coping with virtual fatigue and disarming microaggressions. She has consulted and provided trainings for companies such as ECOLAB, Hennepin Healthcare Systems, and has been a guest expert on public media networks such as Minnesota Public Radio. Assessing DEI programs for gaps, developing strategies, and measuring outcomes is a skill that Dr. Vang offers corporations. Her approach is rooted in psychological concepts, specifically on behavioral/cultural change, informed by history. Dr. Vang uses evidence based approaches to interventions and solutions and aims to advance social justice in all that she does. For more information on Dr. Vang, please visit the sites below.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-talee-vang-6a996140/
https://www.facebook.com/DrTaleeVang/
https://bookwhen.com/drtaleevang#focus=ev-s48s-20201205090000

Associate DEI Consultants

Chaka N. Felder-McEntire, Ed.D.

Dr. Chaka Felder-McEntire is a motivational speaker, professional development consultant and a 20-year education administrator….

Full Bio
Dr. Chaka Felder-McEntire is a motivational speaker, professional development consultant and a 20-year education administrator with expertise in leadership, motivation, diversity/equity/inclusion, school counseling, and college & career readiness. Dr. Felder-McEntire provides training and coaching to the public and private industries who want to “repurpose for success”. Dr. McEntire is the owner of Higher Elevations Consulting that provides professional development, coaching, motivational speaking and fitness consultation. Dr. Felder-McEntire is also the founder of Higher Heights Youth Empowerment Programs, Inc. (www.higherheightsyouth.org) and the Connecticut College Access (www.connecticutgoestocollege.org), organizations that both focus to increase Equal Access and Opportunity for all minority, low-income and first generational students. To date, the organizations have helped over 10,000 graduate from high school and enroll into college.

Dr. Vanessa Hintz

Dr. Hintz is a licensed clinical psychologist who received her doctorate in clinical psychology from The Chicago School….

Full Bio

Dr. Hintz is a licensed clinical psychologist who received her doctorate in clinical psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She works with children, adolescents, and adults with a wide array of presenting issues. She has extensive training in working with individuals who have been exposed to traumatic experiences, those with co-occurring substance use issues, as well as those struggling with emotional regulation.

Dr. Hintz works actively to achieve understanding of each person’s unique circumstances, all while ensuring one’s individual values and beliefs are respected within the therapeutic relationship. She believes the ultimate goal of therapy is to empower individuals to confront problematic circumstances in their lives, and to work collaboratively toward furthering health and wellness. 

Dr. Hintz is an active proponent of multicultural counseling and theory, and works dynamically to understand how individuals make meaning of the world within their various cultural contexts. Dr. Hintz is also a self-proclaimed “Geek Therapist,” and incorporates elements of popular culture into treatment and training, when beneficial. Dr. Hintz has been a contributing author to two different books in the Popular Culture Psychology Series, to include, Black Panther Psychology: Hidden Kingdoms and The Joker Psychology: Evil Clowns and the Women Who Love Them.

Dr. Hintz maintains a private practice at Cornerstone Counseling Services in Milwaukee, WI. In addition, she works as an Assistant Professor of Community Psychology at Alverno College. Dr. Hintz is also the owner of Vivid Insights, a consulting firm that utilizes expertise in psychology and human behavior to provide consultation focused on principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Our Approach

We believe that cultural transformation is possible. Our team focuses its consulting work on an effective set of core values:

Defining Diversity

Before focusing on analytics, it’s essential to come up with a definition of diversity. Particularly, since studies have shown that the inclusion of a diversified workforce (race, ethnicity, gender, ability, sexual orientation, religion, and age) can drive productivity and workplace satisfaction.

Dynamic Culture

Choosing the right area of culture development is essential for building a successful DEI culture. Whether you begin by assessing employee perception, climate, talent acquisition, career advancement, retention, satisfaction, well-being, or pay equity, we will help create a plan that fits your needs based on where you fall on the DEI spectrum.

Thought Partnership

We fundamentally believe in the power of shared ideas and experiences with our partners to help them navigate complex challenges associated with the integration of DEI work. As experts, we offer a breadth of information, a depth of knowledge, and a way of processing that encourages and inspires divergent thinking and action. We are committed to our partners who are curious, asking questions, and/or seeking clarity. Our team strives to create a space where we offer support and safety, ask powerful questions, promote accountability, and show up with patience as we embark on a transformative journey. As good thought partners, we act as a catalyst for clarity, confidence, and change.

Our Consulting Verticals

Diversity & Inclusion Audits

Through a series of prescribed audit activities (discovery calls, focus groups, policy, procedures reviews, etc.), we gain a better understanding and insight into the organization’s legacy practices. These activities will help us develop a robust equity road map inclusive of data review, current challenges and opportunities, recommendations for capacity building, and strategy planning.

Equity Capacity Building

Our team works closely with organizational leadership, board members, employees, and stakeholders among other constituents to build knowledge, implement the equity road map, and create a sustainable equity plan. In addition, we acknowledge and incorporate the existing organization culture uniquely and any work that may be currently underway to promote efficiency in service delivery. Capacity building and thought partnership involve various training opportunities, small-group and one-on-one coaching, and leadership development.

Justice Sustainability

All our consulting is tailored to the individual needs of each client. Our sustainability plan provides expert recommendations for culturally relevant policies and procedures, a review of inclusive language in communication practices across the organization, human resource systems related to supervision and bias reporting, recruitment and retention of diverse staff, inclusive representation of staff in leadership, workplace transparency, the creation of advisory groups when appropriate, and overall cultural transformation.

Specialty Area
Social Justice

Our social justice specialty area focuses on the psychological underpinnings that cause racially motivated toxic stress in work settings. We anchor our work in identifying the multiple iterations of oppressive and discriminatory practices supported by structural and systemic racism. Through consulting with our team, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) working community are able to better understand their racial trauma and move toward a growth mindset. In addition, those that are prepared to engage in anti-racism work will have an opportunity to learn concrete tools that will support growth and development in the allyship process:

Racial Trauma – Urban Trauma® Framework

The three key components that contribute to the development of Urban Trauma®: historical, biological, and environmental. By engaging with these components, we work closely with organizations to better understand the impact racism has on BIPOC individuals – not just in instances of explicit racism but also in the everyday encounters with unconscious and implicit biases. Our focus on racial trauma allows for BIPOC staff to have an open and safe space where they can process their trauma resulting from incidents of unwarranted acts of racism.

Allyship

We use the Allyship Identity Model to identify and work with non-BIPOC individuals that are committed to inclusion. Our approach is to create authentic conversations around White allyship and antiracism approaches. We courageously embrace dialogue on race, race relations, and intersectionality. Our team of DEI experts create brave spaces to enable dynamic and collaborative work teams. The courageous dialogues lend an invitation to all racial identities to come together with the intention of working collectively toward undoing racial divides.