Needham Diversity Summit to be held Nov. 15

Staff Writer
Wicked Local

The ninth annual Needham Diversity Summit will run an all virtual program from noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 15.

This is the first year that the Diversity Summit will be held without founder and Needham Diversity Initiative President David Summergrad. In his memory, the Summit this year celebrates grassroots Needham activists who are changing how the town of Needham addresses issues of equity, access and diversity. Themed “Hate has No Home Here - Beyond the Yard Signs,” over 18 presenters will share how to become effective mobilizers in local communities.

The keynote speaker is Nikki Turpin, educator/director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Chapel Hill- Chauncy Hall in Waltham. Turpin was raised in Brooklyn to parents from Selma, Alabama. Turpin will speak on activism and how the past affects the future.

“Really, the racial, societal and civic issues today are basically the same issues a century ago.” said Turpin. “Knowing our history is the key to better understanding the implications of our actions or inactions, on both sides of the issue.”

The Summit will also welcome Marvin Henry, a 37-year-old native of Jamaica and employee of a local Needham business who was publicly detained Jan. 25 by Needham Police on the suspicion of shoplifting at CVS. Henry will speak about his experience that day, the public outcry that followed and the subsequent clearing of all charges by an independent investigator hired by the town of Needham.

Registrants will also have the opportunity to interact in over 10 virtual workshops hosted by Needham grassroots activists and students. Presenters include Anna Giraldo-Kerr and Nichole Argo, founders of The Lived Experiences Project, and Noah Mertz, founding member of Equal Justice in Needham, both started in the summer of 2020.

The Needham Diversity Summit is free to all registrants. Register at

The Needham Diversity Initiative is a grassroots organization whose mission is to explore, foster, strengthen and celebrate diversity of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, ethnic identity, socioeconomic status, ability and age. Needham Diversity Initiative organizes events throughout the year including the annual Diversity Summit, the annual Needham Martin Luther King Jr., Day Celebration in January, speakers, films and performers.

The Needham Diversity Summit 9.0 is co-sponsored by The Needham Free Library, the METCO Needham Parent Council, Equal Justice in Needham, the Needham Human Rights Committee, NHS Students Advocating For Equity, SEPAC and Progressive Needham.