Seeing the Forest and the Trees: The Hickman Diversity and Inclusion Lecture

Dr. Ignacio Garcia, the Lemuel Hardison Redd Jr. Professor of Western and Latino History, will present the first annual Hickman Diversity Lecture titled “A Vision to be Whole: Unlearning Ephraim and Re-engaging 2 Nephi 26:33” on Thursday, February 20, 2020 at 11 AM in 250 KMBL.

The title of Garcia’s lecture focuses on how the doctrine of Ephraim has limited our view as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He will discuss how in the past the Church’s notion of the members of the tribe of Ephraim being a “chosen people” and how those of other genealogical heritages have been perceived to be less obedient and worthy. Garcia states that although the Church has rejected this view for many years, it has still appeared in manuals as recently as four years ago. He says while members of the Church reject this thinking “whole-heartedly,” we don’t often realize that it has “seeped into everything we do.” He says this kind of sub-conscious bias is like how “we may reject our parents, but eventually we start turning into them because it is how we were raised.” 

Garcia will talk about how we can move past our mistaken thinking about the genealogical concept of Ephraim by realizing “it’s contrary to what Nephi was preaching in 2 Nephi 26:33, which is the “Body of Christ includes everyone, bond or free, male or female,” regardless of our differences.

When asked to share more details about the lecture, Garcia says that he hopes to “look at differences and diversity as part of creating a whole for all of us as Latter-Day Saints, Americans, and human beings.” To do this, Dr. Garcia says we need to see that all things are integrated, but often our view of them is too narrow. He compares how we view diversity to how we often view a forest. He says that if we look at a forest but don’t see “the animals, the bushes, and the soil, we’re not really seeing a forest, but just trees.” He says this limited view impacts how we each deal with the issue of diversity, and it keeps us from integrating each person’s experience into our view of God’s kingdom.

During the lecture Garcia says he will “share some personal stories that point out how we often don’t know how to deal with people of color and people who are different.” He goes on to say, “Not only do we not know how to deal with them, we don’t know how to integrate their experiences, wants, and needs into our experience to make it about all of us.”

Garcia will also share some ideas of how we can each improve our vision when it comes to diversity and difference. First, he says that instead of asking people of color about their experiences, “we need to engage in conversations” to avoid asymmetric relationships. He goes on to talk about how we need to examine our relationship with the doctrine of Ephraim, and realize that although we may reject it, its ideas may still cloud our view when interacting with people of color. Finally, Garcia says that “We need to stretch ourselves to break down the forest into all its valuable parts and ask ‘How can we create God’s forest and who belongs in it?’” and also “look around ourselves and ask ‘Am I really creating a forest?’” in our church, academic, professional, and personal circles. Garcia says it is only once we have asked ourselves these questions that we can see the parts of our personal forests that are missing so we can see more than just the trees.        

The Hickman Diversity Lecture is given annually by a faculty member who has been awarded the Hickman Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion award based on their research, teaching, and citizenship in the area of diversity and inclusion. Dr. Ignacio Garcia is the winner of the first award given this year.  

Political Science Alum Worked to Change National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Number

Ryan Leavitt, partner at Barker Leavitt, a Government Affairs and Political Consulting Law Firm

BYU College of Family, Home and Social Sciences alumnus, Ryan Leavitt, served as the lead staffer for the bill requiring The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to designate a new suicide prevention lifeline number. “Suicide across the nation has become an epidemic especially with young people” says Leavitt.

Utah has the fifth highest suicide rate in the nation and suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. according to The Centers for Disease Control.

Leavitt worked under the direction of Senator Orrin Hatch and Congressman Chris Stewart who authored the bill requiring the FCC to change the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline from 1-800-273-TALK to 988 in the next eighteen months.

“Right now if someone experiencing a mental health emergency needs assistance, the lifeline number they call to get help is really long. People who are having a hard time are not going to know where to get help” says Leavitt.  

Leavitt worked to create legislation which was signed by President Donald Trump called the Hotline Improvement Act of 2018. This act required a study by the FCC to determine the best three-digit code for the lifeline. The code 988 was determined to be the most effective. The FCC voted unanimously in December of 2019 to approve the proposal. This proposal will require carriers to implement 988 for a suicide prevention and mental health crisis lifeline.

 “The idea is to have a simple three-digit number like you have for 911 that everyone knows. The challenge is people don’t know the suicide lifeline number and they call 911 instead and then we are directing resources inefficiently.”

After almost ten years of public service Leavitt says, “The suicide lifeline bill is the piece of legislation I am personally most proud of.”

Leavitt, is currently a partner at a Government Affairs and Political Consulting Law Firm in D.C. and he attributes his career success to his educational opportunities starting with his undergraduate education at Brigham Young University. Leavitt earned a degree in Political Science in 2011. He built strong relationships with his professors and admits “I have BYU professors that I still keep in close contact with now, years later”.  Leavitt took full advantage of internship opportunities throughout his undergraduate career, participating in the Washington Seminar and interning with the Utah State Legislature.

Within one week of his graduation, Leavitt accepted a job with Senator Mike Lee and moved to D.C. After graduating from law school at George Mason in 2014, he was hired by Senator Hatch as an attorney on the Senate Judiciary Committee Staff.

Serving as a legislative staffer, Leavitt was assigned to advise Senator Hatch on Telecommunications. Utah Senator David Thatcher and Congressman Steve Eliason had begun advocating in the Utah State Legislative Sessions to designate a three-digit number as the suicide prevention hotline number in Utah. The Utah senators then solicited the help of Senator Hatch and Congressman Stewart to expand their proposal nationally.

Leavitt describes the bill as a “great hope” for those struggling with mental health.

To get help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There is also a crisis text line. 988 is not currently active and will be implemented in the next eighteen months.

Celebrating Diversity in January

January is the era of new beginnings and refining our visions for the rest of the year. We invite everyone to strive for more opportunities where we can learn about one another and how we can continue to celebrate diversity in all its forms. In doing so, we will gain meaningful experiences for our own personal growth.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • January is National Mentoring Month
  • January 15 The Greening of International Literary Studies: Many Voices, Similar Songs – This presentation will offer a brief global tour of international varieties of ecocriticism ranging from Brazil to China and from France to India. 12:00-1:00 PM, 238 HRCB
  • January 18 is World Religion Day
  • January 20 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Community Outreach Day: Join us for BYU’s biggest day of service – as we honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy through service. Light breakfast, musical performance, and inspirational speaker will be at the event. 8:15 AM – 12:00 PM, Wilkinson Student Center
  • January 22, Martin Luther King, Jr. Walk of Life: Our celebration will begin with a candlelight walk from the Marriott Center Tunnel to our Wilkinson Student Center Ballroom. Our walk will be led by BYU’s ROTC and accompanied with melodic songs by our Gospel Choir. Once we arrive at the Ballroom, we will be addressed by our keynote speaker TBD. 7:00-8:30 PM, Marriott Center Tunnel
  • January 24,  OFF THE MAP: Kuné – Canada’s global orchestra, Kuné, explores and celebrates Canada’s cultural diversity and pluralism. The thirteen virtuoso musicians hail from all corners of the globe and play instruments as diverse as they are. 7:30 PM Pardoe Theatre (Tickets Required: eventtickets.byu.edu/)
  • January 25 is the Lunar New Year
  • January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day
  • January 27, FHE: Chinese New Year – Come celebrate Chinese New Year and learn about why and how it is celebrated. 7, 7:30, 8 PM Education in Zion Gallery – JFSB
  • January 30Panel Discussion: Black-Latino Alliance – 4:30 PM B192 JFSB  

Dr. Kenneth Dodge Shares His System of Care to Help All Children Succeed at the 16th Annual Marjorie Pay Hinckley Lecture

Dr. Kenneth Dodge, Sanford School of Public Policy and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University

Dr. Kenneth Dodge will deliver his lecture, “Building A System of Care to Help All Children Succeed” on Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 7:30 PM in the Wilkinson Center Garden Court at Brigham Young University. Dodge will discuss how our youngest children, aged 0-4, are not faring well in this nation. Dodge will describe research that shows that although communities have an array of programs for families with young children, they do not have the impact needed to prepare children for kindergarten. His findings indicate the problem is the lack of a systematic way for communities to reach all families. Dodge will propose a new Family Connects System of Care that reaches out to every family giving birth in a community. This program provides short-term home visits from local nurses to assess needs of individual families and connect them with community resources. During his lecture, Dodge will describe three examples of how the Family Connects System of Care program has impacted communities and will describe how Family Connects is being disseminated across the country.

Dr. Dodge is the Pritzker Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. He is also the founding and past director of the Center for Child and Family Policy. Dodge is a leading scholar in the development and prevention of aggressive and violent behaviors. His work provides a model for understanding how some young children grow up to engage in aggression and violence and provides a framework for intervening early to prevent the costly consequences of violence for children and their communities. Dodge joined the faculty of the Sanford School of Public Policy in September 1998. He is a trained clinical and developmental psychologist, having earned his B.A. in psychology at Northwestern University in 1975 and his Ph.D. in psychology at Duke University in 1978. Prior to joining Duke, Dodge served on the faculty at Indiana University, the University of Colorado, and Vanderbilt University. Dodge has published more than 500 scientific articles and was elected into the National Academy of Medicine in 2015 and is currently serving as the President-Elect of the Society for Research in Child Development.

Dr. Dodge’s address will be the 16th Annual Marjorie Pay Hinckley Lecture, named for the late wife of Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Admission is free to all members of the public. Brigham Young University established the Marjorie Pay Hinckley Endowed Chair in Social Work and the Social Sciences in 2003 to honor Sister Hinckley’s commitment to strengthening home and family. The chair focuses on understanding and strengthening the family, the development of women, and strategies to help both parents and children in difficult circumstances. Each year, the chair invites a distinguished scholar to deliver a lecture addressing a pertinent social issue.

Neylan McBaine to Examine Women's Suffrage in Utah During the G. Homer Durham Lecture

Neylan McBaine, co-founder and CEO of Better Days 2020.

Neylan McBaine, co-founder and CEO of Better Days 2020, will present the 2020 G. Homer Durham Lecture on Thursday, February 13, 2020 at 11:00 AM in 250 Kimball Tower. She will discuss how February 14, 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of Utah women being the first Americans to vote under an equal suffrage law, fifty years before the nation adopted a constitutional amendment recognizing women’s political rights. How did this pioneering leadership happen right here in Utah? What role did the Church and LDS women specifically play in the national movement to codify women’s rights? And what does this legacy mean for us today? This presentation will explore the rich and unknown story of LDS women’s remarkable actions and ask how we can honor this heritage in our own lives. Better Days 2020 celebrates the 150th anniversary of women first voting in Utah (the first women to vote in the modern nation) and the centennial of the 19th Amendment through education, events and the arts.

 McBaine’s previous marketing experience includes in-house positions at Silicon Valley companies as well as advertising agencies. Her projects include a role in the “I’m A Mormon” campaign, and she brings her understanding of audience and brand to her current work. She has also been an important voice in Latter-day Saint and Utah women’s advocacy for nearly a decade, first as the founder of the Mormon Women Project, a non-profit dedicated to mobilizing Mormon women by telling their stories and exploring opportunities for increasing their voice within the church institution. McBaine’s book Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women’s Local Impact, which explores possibilities for increased female participation in LDS administration, has been called “a monumental piece of work,” “pivotal,” and “a remarkable resource that belongs in every Latter-day Saint home.” Her work has been anthologized in The Essential Writings of Mormon Feminism, and several other compilations.

Since co-founding Better Days 2020 over two years ago, Neylan has become a leader in speaking and writing about women’s leadership and the U.S. suffrage movement, with a specific focus on Utah and the west’s early role in that movement. She has developed a team of historians, educators and marketers that have changed the way Utahns view and understand women’s history, leading to shifts in current perceptions of ourselves and Utahns generally. Her third book, Pioneering the Vote: The Untold Story of the West’s First Suffrage Triumphs, will be published by Shadow Mountain in February 2020. Neylan is a graduate of Yale University, mother to three daughters, and lives in Salt Lake City.