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What Matters to Me and Why

What Matters to Me and Why is a presentation and discussion series featuring Stanford Faculty and Administrators addressing life questions. The purpose of What Matters to Me and Why is to encourage reflection within the Stanford community on matters of personal values, beliefs, and motivations in order to better understand the lives and inspirations of those who shape the University. The presenter is encouraged to share how s/he has chosen to live her/his life, the core values s/he has adopted, and the personal choices s/he has made. We also encourage the presenter to choose any other topic that fits her/his definition of “what matters to me and why.”

Program History | Past WMMW Speakers

Select Wednesdays, 12 noon – 1:00 pm, CIRCLE Common Room, Old Union 3rd floor (Map)

March 7, 2018: Dereca Blackmon, Associate Dean and Director of the Diversity and First Generation Office

Dereca Blackmon is a passionate speaker, trainer and facilitator and national expert on topics of diversity, equity and inclusion. For over 25 years she has consulted with a wide variety of corporate, educational, nonprofit and community-based groups to facilitate “uncommon conversations” on issues of race, gender, class and social justice. Her experiential training models cut through “diversity fatigue” and allow participants to engage in deep, authentic and meaningful dialogues.


She currently serves as the Associate Dean and Director of the Diversity and First Generation Office at Stanford University where she has introduced groundbreaking work on authentic engagement, intergroup dialogue, and first-generation and low-income student support services. She co-teaches Intergroup Communications with cultural psychology pioneer, Prof. Hazel Markus as well as Solidarity and Racial Justice, and Advanced Facilitation Skills.


Ms. Blackmon and her team have trained over 10,000 staff, students and faculty at Stanford as well as highly popular sessions at universities, conferences and corporations nationwide. This year, they launched their Engaging Difference Framework an innovative model of inclusion practices and principles rooted in intervention research at Stanford and beyond.


Her training, activism and youth development work have been featured in two books: Black Youth Rising by Dr. Shawn Ginwright; and Learning to Liberate by Dr. Vajra Watson and cited in countless national forums including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and the New York Times.  


2017-2018 What Matters to Me and Why Schedule

Fall Quarter 2017

October 11: David Kelley, Donald W. Whittier Professor in Mechanical Engineering

November 15: M Elizabeth Magill, Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School 


Winter Quarter 2018

February 7: Steven Denning, former Chairman of the Board of Trustees

March 7: Dereca Blackmon, Associate Dean and Director of the Diversity and First Generation Office


Spring Quarter 2018

April 11Farouk Dey, Associate Vice Provost of Student Affairs and Dean of Career Education

May 9: Michele ElamWilliam Robertson Coe Professor in the Department of English, Olivier Nomellini Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, Director of the Graduate Program in Modern Thought and Literature (MTL)