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Conference Presenters

Antonio Bolden

Antonio Bolden is a staff counselor, and Black/African-American liaison, at Cook Counseling Center. Originally from Portsmouth Virginia (Hampton Roads), Antonio is a former student athlete that received his bachelor’s degree from Bluefield State College, and his Master’s degree from Radford University. He has 5 years of experience working in community mental health, facilitating individual, group, and community-based services. His professional interests are racial trauma, diversity and inclusion, religion/spirituality, adjustment, identity, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, athletes, and stress management.

Rayquotez T. Butler

Rayquotez T. Butler is the Owner and Operator of Relentlessly Better Company, LLC. At age 24, after years of performing in the area of public speaking, Rayquotez Began the formation of his company and ultimately started speaking under the business' name. A two-time graduate of Mississippi State University, Rayquotez earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with an emphasis in Communication in 2017, followed by a Masters in Public Policy and Administration in 2019. To add to his scholastic achievements, Rayquotez had attained two Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion certifications, one from Ivy League Institution Cornell University and the other from the phenomenal University of South Florida. At the forefront of the business, Transformation over Motivation serves as the foundation of this company, with Passion being the pinnacle of every method. From grade school to college students, to everyday functioning adults, Relentlessly Better has a mission to serve by example, leading the transformation of each participant in both Life and Career. Our motto is "We don't just strive to be Great, we are Relentlessly Becoming, Relentlessly Better". Along with that, Ray has served in several HR functions for the City of Atlanta, PACCAR Engine Company, and Lockheed Martin since 2018 specializing in Recruiting and Diversity and Inclusion. He leads the way in a strategy that integrates early-career and minority students into the workforce with the hopes of boosting retention through fostering community and a sense of belonging. Rayquotez is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. currently residing in Dallas, TX.

DeLeon Gray

DeLeon Gray is CEO of Black and Belonging and an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology and Equity at North Carolina State University.  He is enthusiastic about working jointly with education stakeholders to disrupt structural aspects of schooling environments that leave historically marginalized student groups vulnerable to anxieties about belonging. His research program has been recognized by the receipt of prestigious honors including the Research on Socially and Economically Underrepresented Populations Award (RiSE-UP) from the Association for Psychological Science and a 2018 Best Article Award for his collaborative publication in Educational Psychologist entitled, "Black and Belonging at School: A Case for Interpersonal, Instructional, and Institutional Opportunity Structures." He was also featured in Black Enterprise Magazine as one of 100 men of color who are "living up to a standard of excellence and using their talents and influence in their respective industries to shift the perception of men of color to create and encourage a positive narrative." Most recently, he received the Change Agent Award of Appreciation from St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, NC for his community-engaged scholarship in predominantly Black and Latinx schools. Dr. Gray recently as a Scholar in Residence in the College of Education at Michigan State University. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) (B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies), and The Ohio State University (M.A., Quantitative Research, Evaluation, and Measurement; Ph.D., Educational Psychology).

Sylvester Johnson

Sylvester A. Johnson is Assistant Vice Provost for the Humanities and Executive Director of the “Tech for Humanity” initiative advancing human-centered approaches to technology at Virginia Tech. He is the founding director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Humanities, which is supporting human-centered research and humanistic approaches to the guidance of technology. Sylvester’s research has examined religion, race, and empire in the Atlantic world; religion and sexuality; national security practices; and the impact of intelligent machines and human enhancement on human identity and race. He is a Professor in the Department of Religion and Culture and a design-team affiliate faculty member in Virginia Tech’s socio-technical, transdisciplinary Calhoun Discovery Program. In addition to co-facilitating a national working group on religion and US empire, he co-leads a project at Virginia Tech, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to develop ethically designed, public-interest Artificial Intelligence that can benefit an innovation-driven society.

Sylvester is the author of The Myth of Ham in Nineteenth-Century American Christianity (Palgrave 2004), a study of race and religious hatred that won the American Academy of Religion’s Best First Book award; and African American Religions, 1500-2000 (Cambridge 2015), an award-winning interpretation of five centuries of democracy, colonialism, and freedom in the Atlantic world. Johnson has also co-edited The FBI and Religion: Faith and National Security Before and After 9/11 (University of California 2017) and Religion and US Empire (appearing from NYU Press in 2022). He is a founding co-editor of the Journal of Africana Religions. Sylvester is writing a book on human identity in an age of intelligent machines and human-machine symbiosis.

He currently leads “Future Humans, Human Futures” at Virginia Tech, a series of research symposia funded by the Henry Luce foundation that focus on technology, ethics, and religion. He is also directing the creation of a university-wide “Tech for Humanity” undergraduate minor, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to prepare future talent at the intersection of humanities, social justice, and technology.

Brandyn Jordan

Brandyn Jordan joined the Office of Admissions and Student Affairs at Washington and Lee University School of Law in March 2021. As the Assistant Director of Admissions and Student Affairs, Diversity Recruitment and Engagement, he recruits potential students, meets with visiting prospective students, and communicates and counsels prospective students as well. On the student affairs side, he supports students in all areas of student life and culture. Before joining the W&L Law, Mr. Jordan worked at the University of Florida and at Georgia State University. A native of Detroit, Michigan, he graduated from North Carolina A&T State University with a BA degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and holds a Masters in College Student Personnel Service and Administration from University of Central Arkansas. He enjoys traveling, biking, and kickball in his free time.

Wayne Scales

Prof. Wayne Scales received a BS and MS degrees in Honors Electrical Engineering and Applied Mathematics from Virginia Tech and the PhD from Cornell University in Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics with focus in Space Plasma Physics. He was an ASEE Postdoctoral Fellow in the Space Plasma Physics Branch of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Afterwards, he joined the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech and is currently the J. Byron Maupin Professor of Engineering and was founding Director of the Center for Space Science and Engineering Research (Space@VT) which is an organization of approximately 100 faculty, staff, and graduate students. Prof. Scales is affiliate Professor in the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering. He also serves as Associate Vice Provost for Research and Diversity where his responsibilities include supporting special research initiatives as well as research partnerships with HBCUs. He has received a number of awards for excellence in research, teaching, and service in the College of Engineering.

Kory Trott, JD, MPH

Kory is the Director of Virginia Tech’s Research Integrity and Consultation Program. He also serves as the university’s Research Integrity Officer (RIO). Before joining Virginia Tech, Kory was a Presidential Management Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At the CDC Kory served as the special assistant to the director of the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention. He also served as a member of CDC’s Public Health Ethics Unit. Prior to working for CDC, Kory was a staff reviewer for the University of Wisconsin Health Sciences IRB. He holds an M.P.H. from Drexel University and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Weston J. Truss

Weston J. Truss currently serves as an Assistant Director of Diversity Initiatives and Community Outreach within Career and Professional Development at Virginia Tech. His role is designed to have an even greater impact upon underrepresented and underserved communities across campus. Since taking on the role in the Fall of 2019, Weston has developed a plethora of programming initiatives and resources for faculty, staff, and students incorporating challenges underrepresented and underserved communities experience in the job search process. Plus, he participates actively on (6) institutional committees and interdepartmental committees to advocate a broadened global perspective, such as being a member of the Uplifting Black Male Conference Steering Committee and LGBTQ+ Professional Development Task Force at Virginia Tech. He provides career coaching and exploration in a multitude of avenues to ensure diverse students receive resources and tools related to the career process.

Weston J. Truss is a doctoral student within the Alliance of Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT) at Virginia Tech. He researches the intersectional social, political, and policy ramifications of contemporary and historical marginalization of African Americans within the educational context. He completed his master’s degree at Mississippi State University in the Public Policy and Public Administration program, which he focused his specific research on social equity concerns in educational access. He received his bachelor’s degree at Mississippi State University in Political Science and a minor in History.

Lacy Watson

Lacy Watson is a resident of Bluefield, WV. He holds a BS in Biology form Concord University, a MS in Psychology from Nova Southeastern University, and is currently working on his PhD in Planning, Governance, and Globalization at Virginia Tech. Lacy has a passion for politics and inasmuch he is running for Congress in West Virginia’s 1st district. He intends to use his education to work in public in policy to create a better quality of life for all citizens and visitors in his region. As an active member of the social justice movement in Virginia and West Virginia Lacy works closely with organizations such as the West Virginia Young Democrats, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Virginia Organizing, Young Democrat Socialist (YDS), VT IPG (Institute for Policy and Governance), and Call to Action for Racial Equality: CARE Coalition.  Lacy is a member of the West Virginia United Methodist Church where he is a Lay Leader at John Stewart UMC.

Lacy is also a member of The Collective, a people-powered coalition of grassroots organizers and elected officials fighting for inclusive populism on all levels of government. This endorsement helps him empower members of his community by providing political resources and training to help them be effective advocates for policies they believe in and candidates that reflect their values. These interests center on building a network of organizations and leaders that reflect the true diversity of our communities where race, color, gender, sexual orientation, disability, identity, age, veteran status, national origin, socio-economic standing, or religion are no longer barriers to participation.

Dr. William M. White

Dr. William M. White is a native of Bluefield, West Virginia. He graduated from Bluefield State College, a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a minor in Mathematics. He earned a Doctor of Education in Leadership for Change from Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, California and; he completed a graduate certificate program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Management and Leadership in Education (MLE).  Dr. White has served as a researcher and an executive in Pharmaceuticals, Medical Devices and Biologics; a college professor and graduate dean; a facilitator and founder/CEO of The Management Development Group consulting firm, specializing in Diversity Consulting and Training for Fortune 100 companies (including Texaco, AT&T and Amgen Corporation). He was president of The Canadian Centre for Social Justice (currently; Communitas), a non-profit think tank on social justice serving Canada. He was the only American member. Dr. White is the architect of a Doctorate of Executive Leadership (DEL) accredited degree program by the HLC of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. At the core of the DEL is effectively managing a diverse workforce. He has written several books and articles on the topic. His publications include: Successful Leaders for Successful Schools: Building and Maintaining a Quality Workforce (2015); When Your Parachute is Black: The African Americans Guide to the 21st Century Workforce (2014); What Leaders Believe: Understanding Leadership Intuition and Intellect (2011); Apex Thinking: A Guide to Long Term Leadership for the Rising CEO (2008); Expanding Leadership as a Discipline, a chapter in Academic Administration: A Quest for Better Management (2009); and The Power of Diversity training video (1991), which was used for diversity training throughout the United States and Canada. His latest publication Leadership after Trump: Refocusing on Leadership Competencies is scheduled for release in the fall. Dr. White served on the West Virginia Board of Education for eight years. He left to accept an appointment to the Cabinet of Governor Jim Justice as Executive Director of The Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs. He received the Excellence in Teaching award from the University of California at Davis for excellence in teaching and outstanding service in continuing education. He has served on many boards including; member of the West Virginia School Building Authority; president of the Board of Industrial Social Work at the University of Southern California; President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Diabetes Association (larger than 45 states); member Board of Directors of Bluefield Regional Medical Center; and Board member of the National Association of Boards of Education for the United State. Dr. White has worked with the Federal government on many projects from being a Preceptor for Senior Executives across the federal government to designing  a research protocol with the Department of Education for failing schools in America. He has received numerous awards for volunteerism, diversity management, improving poverty, health care, community development and education. He was elected twice to Cambridge’s Who’s Who of Executives, Professionals and Entrepreneurs.

Finally, Dr. Whilte is a lifelong learner. He knows his Faith, persistence and moral courage learned in Bluefield, West Virginia, has been the cornerstone of his success. Dr. White co-founded The National Diversity Collaborative in 2019, responding to the increased divisiveness (racial, gender, political, sexual orientation, etc.) destroying the fabric of our democracy and our society. He believes it will take an army of trained Diversity Ambassadors to bring about the change needed to guarantee everyone the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

His son Aaron and granddaughter Aubrey Mae are the joy of his existence.