NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Self-described poet, activist and educator Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton will serve as the keynote speaker for Stephen F. Austin State University’s ninth annual Diversity Conference, scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 10 in the Baker Pattillo Student Center.
“Deborah is not only a poet but also a storyteller, coach and educator,” said Dr. Veronica Beavers, deputy chief diversity officer and director of SFA’s Office of Multicultural Affairs. “We’re thrilled to have her as this year’s keynote speaker and to be able to watch her put the weight of her experiences, activism, and unique perspectives into a keynote that speaks to this year’s theme of everyday inclusion.”
Internationally known for her written works, Mouton is poet laureate emeritus of Houston. Her recent poetry collection, “Newsworthy,” garnered her a Pushcart nomination, was named a finalist for the 2019 Writer’s League of Texas Book Award, and received an honorable mention for the Summerlee Book Prize. A German translation, titled "Berichtenswert," was released in summer 2021 by Elif Verlag.
Her most recent choreopoem, “PLUMSHUGA: The rise of Lauren Anderson,” debuted at Stages Houston in October and was recently mentioned in the New York Times fall preview. Her upcoming memoir, “Black Chameleon,” explores the use of modern mythology as a path to social commentary and has ties to the collaborative art exhibit "_____ as Myth," which was on display at Rice University in January.
Hosted by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the 2023 Diversity Conference theme “Inclusion as an Everyday Act: Setting Intentions for SFA’s Next Century” invites conference presenters to speak on how inclusion can be an approachable and livable act. Organizers will also incorporate discussions on the intended role of inclusion for SFA’s second century.
Presentations and workshops will take place throughout the day, and all will center on the daily actions one can take to create a more welcoming environment for diverse groups.
Check-in will open at 8:30 a.m. outside the student center’s Grand Ballroom before the opening session beigins at 9 a.m. Developmental workshops and a discussion session will take place until the noon luncheon and keynote address.
As workshops and breakout sessions are ongoing, attendees are invited to experience several come-and-go activities, including a Diversity Art Gallery, collaborative mural art piece and beading workshop, among others.
Local nonprofit organizations also will be present during the morning sessions to share information about their inclusion and equity work within the community.
“Passive programming opportunities are new to this year’s conference,” Beavers said. “We will have sensory and relaxation stations, as well as interactive art activities within our Diversity Art Gallery. Additionally, this year's format will include expanded sessions that qualify for our DEI certification program, such as safe space training and interactive sessions.”
The conference is free and open to the public. To register for the conference and learn more, visit sfasu.edu/odei/diversityconference.