Two longtime champions of workplace diversity will be honored at the 23rd annual Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity, a three-day national training conference that will be held March 22 through 24 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The forum began in 1988 as a two-hour videoconference and has grown into the region’s leading event for advancing diversity in the workplace. This year’s event will draw 1,500 participants from 25 states.

Receiving a Winds of Change Award at the forum’s Thursday, March 24, luncheon will be Chaplain John Morris, of St. Paul, a member of the Minnesota National Guard. The award recognizes significant support for workplace diversity.

Receiving a Friend of the Forum Award will be Sue Plaster, of Edina, former director of diversity for Fairview Health Services. The award recognizes her many years of support for the Multicultural Forum.

Sue Plaster

Sue Plaster

Plaster has served the Multicultural Forum on Workplace since 2002. She has worked on the planning, program and healthcare track committees and been a speaker on topics such as empowering executive diversity champions and linking diversity with succession planning. She engaged her employer, Fairview Health Services, as an organizational sponsor and participant in the forum and championed the value of the conference with both Fairview’s diversity advocates and diversity council.

Until January of 2011, Plaster was director of diversity for Fairview Health Services with responsibility for the organization’s systemwide diversity change initiative, focusing on culturally competent care, workforce diversity and a welcoming environment. Her work affected Fairview patients, employees and communities. She is now in the process of forming a consulting business focusing on diversity and intercultural communications.

Before joining Fairview, Plaster was director of leadership, mobility and succession planning at Honeywell and also held several other director level positions for the company. Plaster holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Minnesota with a focus on leadership development. Her bachelor’s degree is in English, education and speech from the College of St. Catherine.

Chaplain John Morris

Chaplain John Morris

Morris was born at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois and raised on U.S. Air Force bases around the world. He was mobilized in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and has remained on active duty. In his civilian life, Morris was ordained in the Minnesota Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1985 and served as a parish pastor in three churches.

He began his military career in 1984 as a chaplain candidate in the U.S. Army Reserves and has served as a chaplain on assignments in various locations in Minnesota and at Fort Stewart in Georgia and Fort Brag in North Carolina.

His civilian education includes a bachelor’s in education from the University of Minnesota and a master of divinity from Bethel Theological Seminary. His military education includes advanced course work in chaplaincy, civil affairs and psychological operations. He has received numerous commendations including the Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal with Three Oak Leaf Clusters.

Morris is the co-creator, along with Major General Larry Shellito, of the Minnesota Beyond the Yellow Ribbon reintegration program. The program provides assistance both to combat veterans and their families, including support for the family while the service person is deployed and financial, legal and psychological services and training to help reintegrate the service member upon return.

In 2008, Congress mandated Minnesota’s Yellow Ribbon program as the national standard for all returning Guard and Reserve soldiers and family members.

“Integration: The Path to Inclusion” is the theme of this year’s Multicultural Forum. The forum is presented by the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas in partnership with the Twin Cities chapter of the National Black MBA Association. This year, the conference is receiving support from more than 65 firms and organizations.

Richard Davis, CEO of US Bank, Joyce Dubensky, executive vice president and CEO, Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, and Andrés Tapia, president, Diversity Best Practices, will deliver keynote presentations.

The forum is designed for professionals who manage a diverse workforce, work in a diverse environment or are responsible for diversity within organizations of all sizes. It also is recommended for anyone working with a multicultural clientele.

Participants can choose to attend institutes on March 22 or workshops on March 23 and 24, or a combination of these. For more information or to register, visit http://www.stthomas.edu/mcf/ or call (651) 962-4385 or e-mail bjvoorheesbl@stthomas.edu.