Keynote Speaker

Jess sets the tone for the day, usually starts a conference off with a bang, as she believes a keynote should energize and inspire the audience. Whether it's an opening or closing session, the keynote establishes a connection with your attendees that continues beyond the stage, and Jess delivers on that promise EVERY time.

Be The Change You Want To Be

Often, student groups ask a speaker to come in and make the group feel good, laugh, and learn something. This keynote does two of the three, at least at first. Using an interactive and conversational style, this keynote encourages participants to play with their cell phones, raise their hands, and laugh out loud. The laughter comes from well orchestrated humor as well as a slow developing feeling of discomfort. In order to really make change, a person must realize what they are oblivious to and come to understand how this lack of consciousness guides his or her actions and assumptions. Collectively, the group begins to break down behaviors, actions, assumptions, and stereotypes that limit their organizations, friends, and most importantly themselves. Before you know, the participants are creating tangible goals and realistic action steps to do as soon as I get off the stage.

Learning Outcomes:

  • To understand the difference between Diversity and Social Justice
  • To remove excuses that stand in one's way from doing social justice work
  • To utilize three basic tools of self reflection: tracking, triggers, and listening
  • To motivate and inspire audiences to become participants in their own change

Comments from attendees:
“I’m leaving here with so much. I feel like a weight has been lifted from my spirit. I am not gay – and I think all identities would benefit from this. It was an amazing talk.”

"The keynote was wonderful. The part that was most useful was 'The only thing you can do to make change is to change your own world.'"

"Jessica uses humor and her real life examples to engage us and to relate to us."

"I learned to evaluate myself so I am better equipped to use my influence to help bring about change within my sphere."


Schedule a keynote from Jess for your next event!


Conversations That Matter:
Addressing Forbidden Topics To Get To Back To Work

Introduction, brief of the program:  In this session, we will explore multiple forbidden work place topics like racism, religion, political views, and how "real life" comes in between our responsibilities and our ability to fully “show up” to work. We also will brainstorm potential approaches and best practices to help everyone manage and respect painfully opposing views of coworkers that threaten to degrade the overall office culture while focusing on our organizational values. No “right” answers exist here, but the issue around explosive current events and diversity-related biases (positive and negative) that evoke passions on multiple levels is influencing how associations operate.

From Police Violence to Islamophobia to hate crimes to genocide - with care, respect, transparency, and authenticity - we can work together, learn from one another, and grow across our differences. Let’s move from tolerance and frustration to being heard and valued. Let's talk about it.


Value to Members:  Instead of pretending to leave our personal views, troubles, and situations in the parking lot, we bring them to work.  A large percentage of our energy is spent then managing these forbidden topics allowing each of us to under deliver and squelches innovation.  More importantly, we spend time, energy, and company resources withdrawing from our colleagues and clients instead of building powerful and authentic relationships.  Enabling an office culture of team members that can handle conversations across difference creates a more efficient foundation for retention, conflict resolution, successful teams, and bigger profits.


AV Needs:  n/a (flip chart paper is ideal but not required)


Biography:  Jessica Pettitt, M.Ed., pulls together her stand up comedy years with 15+ years of diversity trainings in a wide range of organizations to serve groups to move from abstract fears to actionable habits that lead to teams that want to work together.  With a sense of belonging and understanding, colleagues take more risks with their ideation, converse precious resources through collaboration, and maintain real connections with clients over time.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Learn a 3 part framework or model for taking responsibility of how they show up.
  • Develop skills for a significant and powerful (and free) method to change culture around difficult topics and see other’s as differently right.
  • Utilize personal patterns to recognize them in others so we can leave room for edits in our stories.
  • Personally recognize our “kryptonite” and how habitually it limits our behaviors, responses, and beliefs as well as fuels us to build momentum when we need it the most.



Let’s face it, there are people and topics that at some point are just off limits.  You just can’t do it or them right now.  Even worse, often it is a difficult topic that you have to bring up with a difficult person.  What if you could engage in these conversations with more confidence, humor, and ease?

No matter the person or topic, you are your best tool for conversations that matter.  Understanding your self and others as differently right gives you the tools to intentionally design teams, groups, and partnerships that can bring value to a single project or topic.  We are all frustrating to someone, and at times even to ourselves.  Once you know who and how you are, you can reclaim responsibility for these behavior response patterns and leave room for others to do the same.  Before you know it, you are having better conversations and fuller relationships with those around you.  I promise – it is that easy.


Social Justice: Step One – Knowing What You Don’t Know

Learning Outcomes:

  • Feel welcomed to a conversation about the unknown
  • Understand the difference between social justice and diversity
  • Review real life stories, share and reflect on own experiences
  • Learn how to listen and leave some wiggle room in difficult conversations with others


Health care access, serving students, and working within our community is incredibly important work.  To best do this work, we need to know who we are, what we bring to the table, and what we don’t know.  Join in for a lively conversation to uncover what we don’t know, and how step one is asking the right questions of ourselves and listening to others.

Want to test pilot my style or just keep in touch?

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