2022 SIETAR USA National Conference

Mind | Culture | Society

Integrating Interculturalism and Inclusion

November 3-6, 2022

Hilton Omaha
Omaha, NE

Thank You to our 2022 Conference Sponsors & Exhibitors!

2022 SIETAR USA Sponsors

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Bronze Sponsors

2022 SIETAR USA Exhibitors

Additional Sponsor

Friend of SIETAR USA 

Sandra M. Fowler


Mind, Culture, and Society 

The third time is the charm! Please plan to join SIETAR USA in Omaha November 3-6, 2022 as we gather to explore connections between Mind, Culture, and Society! How does the intersection of these three vital aspects change how we view and react to the world around us?  The schisms in today’s world—rural/urban immigrant/citizen; and the gaps caused by differences in religion, race, gender identity, and politics—challenge us daily. How can integrating intercultural and inclusion concepts and practices make a difference when working at the edges of Mind, Culture and Society? How does a deeper understanding of the intersection of these three factors enhance our capacity to bridge such schisms?  This conference will shine a light on the impact of emerging neuroscience applications, current perspectives on culture, and social parameters within the Intercultural and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion fields.

Who Should Attend
Conference Team
Keynote Speakers
Master Workshops
Silent Auction

The three educational pillars for this year's conference include:

Mind & Body

Leveraging Neuroscience, Mindfulness, Somatic Intelligence and Beyond

Scientists studying the brain have applied their findings to many areas of human interaction.

Most significantly, neuroscientists are increasing our understanding of the mind in such areas as prejudice and bias, culture, resiliency, and leadership. 

What can we learn from them that applies to our work?

How can the mind-body connection be leveraged to heal schisms and historic trauma?

How can the practice of mindfulness facilitate greater understanding and more equitable outcomes?

Can embedding intercultural and inclusion in our work produce a better result?

How can we decolonize the mind?

What current research can we apply?


What are the new and emerging conceptualizations of culture, identity, and intercultural competence and their applications? 

How does integrating intercultural and inclusion affect outcomes of training, coaching, and teaching?

Have the events of the past few years with the widespread focus on anti-racism initiatives and the increased awareness of the pervasive impact of white supremacy influenced your approach to learning and teaching about intercultural competence? 

Have you changed and adapted your focus on culture and identity in response to our current challenges?  Why or why not? 

What are ways forward that attend to both interpersonal and structural aspects of learners’ needs?


What have we learned about the issues facing today’s societies
around the world and how can they help create a more positive impact in the USA and vice versa?

What is the role or duty of the intercultural or DEI professional?

Prominent among the issues facing us as professionals is the impact of racial aggression, health pandemics, challenges to democracies, new and ongoing civil unrest, immigrant and migrant issues, and concerns regarding racial and gender identity.

How do these issues shape the work we do on the ground and how are they shaped by our work?

And finally, how do the intercultural and DEI perspectives intersect and inform each other?

Our pre-conference Master Workshop Day and all sessions will be focused in Education, Training or Research in these areas. This year’s Call for Proposals (CFP) has closed.


We've waited a LONG time for this! We hope you'll plan to join us in Omaha for a conference designed to support you with stimulating thinking, inspiring insights, expanding skills and renewing commitments—we will work together to explore important questions and seek avenues of human connection.

The SIETAR USA National Conference provides the space to:

Engage boldly in the difficult dialogues about what disconnects us.
Bring us closer to a shared understanding and empathy.


Explore together concepts, tools, best practices – and even solutions.
Bridge the gaps and move toward integrating Intercultural and Inclusion.

Who Should Attend

At a time when the world needs the wisdom and work of SIETAR USA members and friends more than ever, the national conference brings together professionals from many regions, ethnicities, occupations and industries for collaborative learning and a stimulating exchange of ideas. This conference is designed for those who teach, train, work, or conduct research in arenas where intercultural competence, bridging differences, and social justice, equity and inclusion are important.  

Whether you are new to these fields or an experienced practitioner, the SIETAR USA conference offers learning and personal connections that will enhance your capacity to meet the needs of your students, colleagues, communities, and families. 

Do you seek to share your expertise as a presenter and learn from others, or want to meet and greet colleagues and friends? Please plan to join us in Omaha.  We look forward to meeting you in the Heartland of America where the Silicon Prairie is powered by a can-do spirit that weaves us together to achieve our dreams and uplifts each for the benefit of all. SIETAR USA acknowledges and offers respect to the past, present and future Traditional Custodians  of the land where our 2022 conference will take place, the Omaha-Ponca, and other Plains Tribes: the Oto, Pawnee, Winnebago, Sac, Fox, and Lakota Sioux.

SIETAR USA Conference attendees come from:

✔️ Global Business and Multinational Corporations

✔️ Global Virtual Team Members, Leaders and Facilitators

✔️ Education

✔️ Health Services

✔️ Training, Coaching, and Facilitation

✔️ Intercultural & DEI Writers, Podcasters, Bloggers & Vloggers

✔️ Global Mobility and Relocation

✔️ Research

✔️ Government

✔️ Refugee and Immigrant Support Services

✔️ Domestic Diversity

✔️ Global Diversity

✔️ Cultural Transitions

✔️ Peace and Conflict Resolution

✔️ Tourism

✔️ Communication and Dialogue Professions

✔️ Community Development

✔️ And more...

Meet the Conference Team

The 2022 Conference Co-Chairs Welcome You to Mind • Culture • Society

Thorunn Bjarnadottir

Principal and Director
Dancing With Differences, LLC

Thorunn Bjarnadottir, MA, is an experienced cross-cultural trainer with over 20 years’ experience in higher education, and intercultural leadership development is her passion. She is the Director of Intercultural Education at the University of Minnesota, International Student and Scholar Services. In that capacity, she is extensively involved in efforts to make the University’s students ready to work in a more interconnected global world.

Ferial Pearson

Assistant Professor
University of Nebraska-Omaha
Secret Kindness Agent, Mama Beast & TedX Speaker

Dr. Pearson - aka Mama Beast - is a mother, activist, author, educator, speaker, poet, comedienne, cook, sourdough artist, and citizen of the world. She founded the Secret Kindness Agents Project and is an Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She has been teaching humans of all ages for 20 years in the Omaha area. As a Kenyan Indian Muslim immigrant queer disabled woman of color, she is passionate about working towards Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Kindness.  

2022 Conference Planning Team

Conference Co-Chair: Thorunn Bjarnadottir; [email protected]

Conference Co-Chair: Ferial Pearson; [email protected]


Program Co-Chair: Melissa Graetz; [email protected]

Program Co-Chair: Ricardo Nunez; [email protected]

Track Chairs - Mind

Shannon Murphy; [email protected]

Marcia Warren; [email protected]

Track Chairs - Culture

Kris Acheson-Clair; [email protected]

Dr. Rajesh Kumar; [email protected]

Track Chairs - Society

Herbie Thompson III; [email protected]

Dr. Kwesi Ewoodzie; [email protected]


Scholarship Chair: Bob Boyce; [email protected]

Sponsor / Exhibit / Advertisement Chair:
Caliopy Glaros; [email protected]

Silent Auction Chair: Monica Mumford; [email protected]

Wellness Chair: Debra Freathy [email protected]


Conference Oversight Director: Karen J. Lokkesmoe; [email protected]

Conference Oversight Assistant: Sandra M. Fowler; [email protected]

SIETAR USA President: Brett D. Parry; [email protected]

Conference Coordinator: Karen Fouts; [email protected]

2022 Keynote Speakers

Mind | Culture | Society

Opening Keynote

Friday, November 4 - 9:00 am-10:00 am

Managing the Brain’s Us/Them Divide: Creating Connections Across Differences

Presenter: Shannon Murphy
Owner & Co-Founder, [email protected]

To open the 2022 conference and our time together creating connections, Shannon Murphy will start us on that path. It's more important than ever to be mindful of this fact: when it comes to working across cultures and differences, the brain can trip us up, no matter how well intentioned we are. The good news is we can learn to recognize and repattern the brain’s base instincts. We can build meaningful connections across differences that are defined by love, care, and compassion.

Closing Keynote

Sunday, November 6 - 1:30 pm-2:30 pm

Neuroscience: Hope and Hype

Presenter: Dr. Mai Nguyen-Phuong-Mai
Associate Professor, Amsterdam University of Applied Science, 
Owner, Culture Move

In her closing keynote presentation, Dr. Mai will offer an overview of the hope and the hype that the advances of neuroscience have created for us. She will review what we have achieved so far, the potential of new discoveries and point out the challenges of such a new science as it inherits from an age-old discipline such as interculturalism. She will also share the possibilities of neuromyths when brain science is commercialized and politicized, such as in the case of neurosexism. By balancing between promises and warnings, this keynote establishes a foundation for us to move forward with curiosity while not falling into traps of popular science. 

Schedule At A Glance

November 3 - Master Workshops a.m. & p.m.; Welcome & Newcomers Session (p.m.)
November 4 - Day 1  features the Opening Keynote & a full day of sessions.

November 5 - Day 2 starts with the Annual Business Meeting (breakfast), followed by a full day of sessions. 

NOTE: Daylight Savings Time falls on November 6: don't forget to set your clock back 1 hour ("fall back") between Saturday night and Sunday morning!

November 6 - Day 3 is our final day of sessions w/ the Closing Keynote over lunch.

November 4

Click the date (above) to view/download/print a copy of the session schedule for this day.

November 5

Click the date (above) to view/download/print a copy of the session schedule for this day.

November 6

Click the date (above) to view/download/print a copy of the session schedule for this day.

Get the Whova App!

Stay current on the complete  agenda, get announcements, and communicate with fellow attendees - download the Whova app now!

Conference Agenda on Whova

Master Workshops

Thursday, November 3, 2022

How do YOU expand your repertoire? Learn about advances in research? Spend time with experts in the field?

The SIETAR USA Master Workshops offer all those opportunities and more! Join us in Omaha on November 3 for a day of the very best in continuing education for intercultural and DEI professionals. Education, leadership, healing, and training techniques are all part of the mix. The workshops listed below are confirmed as is the schedule. 

You can purchase a ticket for one (1) or two (2) Master Workshops, and will have the opportunity to make your selections as you register: 

One (1) workshop = a.m. OR p.m. / Two (2) workshops = a.m. AND p.m. 

Master Workshops Schedule at a Glance

Morning Workshops – 8:00 am-12 noon

An Applied Polyvagal Approach to Intercultural Interactions and Decreasing Polarization

Dr. Cheryl Forster

Understanding W.E.I.R.D.* Cultures: Experiential Activities for Reducing Participant and Institutional Bias

Jon DeVries and Alex Cleberg

Afternoon Workshops – 1:00 pm-5:00 pm

Impact! High Leverage Interventions for Culture Change

joe gerstandt

How to Use Theatre as a Tool for Intercultural Understanding

Kelli McLoud-Schingen and Dionne Lambert

Morning Workshops – 8:00 AM-12 Noon

An Applied Polyvagal Approach to Intercultural Interactions and Decreasing Polarization


Dr. Cheryl Forster

Studying our nervous system as an access point for change can increase our ability to be effective during challenging life circumstances.  According to Deb Dana (2020), the nervous system is key because when the brain and the nervous system do not agree, the nervous system will win every time.  One influential framework for understanding the nervous system is Polyvagal Theory by Stephen Porges.  Polyvagal Theory is often referred to as the neuroscience of safety and connection, and it is a core component of trauma work.  Neuroscience in trauma therapy has exploded in the past twenty-five years.  It has helped us understand our experiences, emotions, relationships, stories, communication, and ability to cope in more nuanced ways. Read more... 

About Dr. Forster

Dr. Cheryl Forster is a clinical psychologist and the Coordinator of Diversity and Psychology Programs at Portland State University’s (PSU) Center for Student Health and Counseling.  She also has a professional intercultural training business called Bookmark Connections; her workshops focus on integrating intercultural communication, social justice, and applied Polyvagal perspectives.  Cheryl has obtained her Intercultural Practitioner Certificate from the highly respected Intercultural Communication Institute, completed the Brain, Mind and Culture certification from the Japan Intercultural Institute, and is a CQ Certified Facilitator and IDI qualified administrator, as well as a contributing author in The SAGE Encyclopedia of Intercultural Competence (2015) and a former ACCTA Diversity Scholar.  Read more…


Understanding W.E.I.R.D.* Cultures:  Experiential Activities for Reducing Participant and Institutional Bias

Jon DeVries,
Intercultural Trainer & Consultant, Founding Member-SIETAR Minnesota

Alexander Cleberg, MA, Intercultural Trainer, University of Minnesota

*Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic

WEIRD countries have unique sets of those norms and values. In this highly experiential workshop, participants will be able to examine and reflect upon their own immediate reactions to WEIRD values. We will explore what these values are, and how they perpetuate biases in our institutions. Next, we will examine the ramifications they may have on our institutional effectiveness and outcomes. Finally, we will analyze and discuss how to effect change in our organizations to attain better outcomes. 

We will also explore how culturally specific values become universal and invisible. This invisibility can sabotage an organization’s ability to successfully interact with diverse groups within their culture and bridge across cultures. Read more...

About Jon DeVries

Jon DeVries is an intercultural trainer and consultant specializing in Intercultural Competence Development, Leadership Development, Team Building and Training Design with a background in Experiential Education and Adult Learning Theories. Jon held positions at the University of Minnesota, including Short-Term and Custom Programs Director in the International Student and Scholar Services Office. Read more...

About Alexander Cleberg, MA

Alexander Cleberg, MA, is an intercultural trainer at the University of Minnesota. By carefully listening to the needs of students, staff and faculty he has developed material grounded in the practical experiences of campus community members. He has actively developed immigrant entrepreneurs in the United States for 19 years and researched the intercultural competencies of immigrant entrepreneurs in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Read more...

Afternoon Workshops – 1:00 PM-5:00 PM


Impact! High Leverage Interventions for Culture Change

joe gerstandt,
Acclaimed Speaker, Author and Advisor 

In recent years, and in the past year especially, increasing amounts of time, attention, and resources have been directed toward organizational efforts relative to diversity, inclusion, and equity. While there are certainly exceptions, these efforts consistently disappoint with negligible impacts on both organizational demographics and organizational culture. Far too many leaders and organizations have been comfortable demonstrating activity without much real impact. Activity is not enough, and we have some obligation to help clients direct their resources toward interventions with leverage for real change. Read more...

About joe gerstandt

dr. joe gerstandt is a speaker, author and advisor bringing greater clarity, action, and impact to organizational diversity and inclusion efforts. joe has worked with Fortune 100 corporations, small non-profits, government entities, and everything in between. He speaks at numerous conferences and summits and is a featured contributor for the Workforce Diversity Network Expert Forum. His insights have been published in Diversity Best Practices, Diversity Executive, HR Executive, numerous other print and on-line journals, and he co-authored the book Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships.  Read More...


How to Use Theatre as a Tool for Intercultural Understanding

Kelli McLoud-Schingen,
President, KMS Intercultural Consulting

Dionne Lambert, Program Coordinator, The Center for Public Life at OSU-Tulsa

One of the most powerful and under-utilized tools in cross cultural understanding is Theatre.  Theatre is a form of storytelling that many feel that if they are not actors, or haven’t studied theatre, they aren’t equipped to work with theatre and drama as a tool.

Theatre is storytelling and it offers opportunities for listeners to merge the storyteller’s experience with their own – resulting in connections that can turn into trance-formational experiences. Everyone is a storyteller. We live inside stories; we communicate through stories. Read more...

About Kelli McLoud-Schingen

Kelli McLoud-Schingen is Artistic Director of World Stage Theatre Company, Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Tulsa, and President of KMS Intercultural Consulting. She is a global diversity and inclusion specialist as well as a theatrical actor and director. She specializes in storytelling, cultural competence, and healing racism.  She has been a facilitator for educational, non-profit, government and corporate institutions in the USA and internationally since 1989 deftly fusing her theatre and social justice training.  A certified professional mediator, she holds a BA degree in Communication from Aurora University and a MA in Cross-Cultural Studies from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.  Kelli also trained with the Center for the Healing of Racism in Houston, TX. Read more...

About Dionne Lambert

Dionne Lambert is Program Coordinator for the Center for Public Life at Oklahoma State University – Tulsa, where she facilitates community-focused dialogues through a trauma-informed lens and is currently leading a community-based research initiative that is focused on Black reproductive health equity in Tulsa.  She is also the Founding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant for Chrysalis Consulting. Dionne’s perspectives include what psychiatrist Bruce Perry calls post-traumatic wisdom*, inherited by her tumultuous upbringing on the south side of Chicago, IL.  She received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK, where she learned to channel her grief and pain into service via ministry in the gospel choir she concurrently sang in for 10 years before finally graduating after 13 years. Read more...

*What Happened To You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing, Dr. Bruce D. Perry & Oprah Winfrey, Flatiron Books

The 2022 SIETAR USA Scholarship Application Program is CLOSED.

Congratulations to our 2022 recipients - we look forward to seeing you in Omaha! 

Click here to read about this year's winners: 2022 Recipients

The Call for Conference Volunteers is CLOSED. 

Thanks to all who have submitted their volunteer applications! At this time, the call for volunteers is closed. However, if you'd like to submit your name to be on the waitlist should an opportunity become available, just email [email protected]. Thank you!


SIETAR USA conference participants always enjoy finding unique and useful items at the Silent Auction, so prepare now to donate and be sure to visit the Auction at the conference!

The Silent Auction proceeds provide scholarships to the conference for those interculturalists/DEI practitioners who might not otherwise be able to attend, such as students volunteers in community-based non-profit organizations. Attending the conference helps these individuals gain valuable knowledge, skills, and contacts in the field while contributing their perspectives and experiences.

You can donate items, products, or services to the auction. Popular items include:

  • New or gently used books (perhaps with an autograph)
  • Videos or training tools
  • Certificates for consultations, trainings, certification courses or workshops
  • Arts & crafts or other goods you’ve collected while globetrotting
  • Your own artwork
  • Collections of world music, scarves or jewelry
  • And special mementos or theme baskets from your hometown, region, or country are often the first items to go!

Suggested minimum item value: $20


To donate your items, please contact the Silent Auction Team ahead of time and pledge items(s) with the description, value, and donor information for proper display. All items can be shipped in advance to Omaha (between October 24-November 1) or brought with you to the conference if you are attending. You may download/print the form found at this link: 2022 Silent Auction Donation Form; email the completed form to [email protected].

PLEASE NOTE: We are unable to accept donations after 5:00 pm on Thursday, November 3, 2022.

To ask questions or to get further information please contact the Chair of the Silent Auction Team at [email protected]. We thank you, in advance, for your generosity in supporting our scholarship program!


Past Silent Auction

Photos provided by SIETAR USA Staff