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Winning the Race brings renowned speakers

Two highlight speakers for the 2015 Winning the Race conference include La June Montgomery Tabron (left), president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Sidney Hacker, senior policy officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Delta State University’s award-winning race relations conference, Winning the Race, announces two highlight speakers for this year’s event, hosted on campus March 30-31.

La June Montgomery Tabron is the president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Mich., one of the largest private foundations in the United States.

Tabron’s presentation at the conference, “Understanding Race in Place: Using Data, Local Wisdom and Humility to Close the Achievement Gap,” will discuss how the increased use of “big data” can help create interventions that are tailored to the health, education and workforce training needs that face young people of color.

Tabron will highlight some proven principles that the Kellogg Foundation follows when it comes to promoting achievement and equity for all.

“But it’s not only numbers that tell the story,” said Tabron. “For programs to succeed, we must also work with communities in respectful ways that honor local culture and build on local assets.”

As a champion for vulnerable children and for creating the conditions necessary for them to thrive, Tabron leads the Kellogg Foundation and its work to ensure the optimal development of young children from birth to age eight. Additionally, the foundation helps heal the profound racial inequities in communities and cultivate community leaders and community-led solutions that support educated kids, healthy kids and economically secure families.

Also featured at the conference will be Sidney Hacker, a senior policy officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world, which supports initiatives in education, world health and population, and community giving.

Hacker’s discussion is titled “Barbara Jordan, Bill Gates and the Importance of Common Ground.”

“I will explore what Bill and Melinda Gates’ 2015 annual letter theme of ‘Our Big Bet of the Future,’ Barbara Jordan’s exhortations that inspired me to make a career in public policy, and what I’ve learned about building successful coalitions, all have in common.”

As a policy officer at the Gates Foundation, Hacker’s main focus is building awareness of problems and commitment to the solutions among state policymakers. Her perseverance aligns with the foundation’s ongoing efforts to unlock the possibility inside every individual.

The Gates Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals around the world. From the education of students in Chicago, to the health of a young mother in Nigeria, they work as catalysts of human promise everywhere.

This year’s conference is titled “Winning the Race: Through Hearts & Minds. A Conversation on Building Connected Communities.” Conference co-chair and Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration, Dr. Myrtis Tabb, is thrilled to bring such distinguished speakers to campus.

“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have served as leaders and advocates for critical social and economic issues to promote the welfare of all people,” said Tabb. “We are fortunate that both foundations will be represented at our Winning the Race: Through Hearts and Minds Conference. 

“To host the CEO of the Kellogg Foundation is indeed an honor for Delta State University, and to learn more about the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be beneficial to all attendees of the conference. We encourage you to join us and welcome La June Montgomery Tabron and Sidney Hacker to our campus, the city and the Delta region.”

For more information on the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, visit Visit to learn more about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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