Annual business diversity conference set for March 22

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Business leaders from Altria, Boeing, Kohl's, KPMG and Target will join students, faculty and administrators from the Penn State Smeal College of Business on March 22 to discuss business initiatives in diversity at the 13th annual START Conference.

The conference, organized by Smeal students, starts at 11:15 a.m. in the Ballroom of the Nittany Lion Inn on Penn State's University Park campus. The event is free and open to all Penn State students, faculty and staff. Attendees should pre-register for the event online.

This year's keynote speaker is Ebony Harris, store team leader for Target. Following the keynote address, the winners of the START Diversity Award Competition will deliver their winning presentations. The students were chosen by the START Committee after submitting an abstract and presenting before the committee. This year's winners are:

First place: Karoline Rueckerl, first-year, DUS

Second place: John Mollica, junior, Supply Chain and Information Systems

Third place: Zolanlly Gutierrez, junior, Journalism

The agenda also features breakout sessions entitled Generational Differences in the Workplace, The Diverse Impact of Volunteerism, and Leveraging Diversity in Teams to Maximize Outcomes, among others.

In addition to addressing diversity issues, the START Conference gives students the opportunity to network with corporate representatives, explore career paths, and learn about the corporate climates of participating companies.

The first START (Striving Toward Awareness and Respect for Tomorrow) Conference was established in 1999 by a group of Smeal students who recognized the need for open dialogue with professional and corporate leaders to create a more productive and respectful work environment. Since its inception, the START Conference has grown to become an annual Smeal tradition, attracting partnerships with some of today's leading companies.

This year's event has received corporate support from Altria, Boeing, Ernst & Young, Johnson & Johnson, Kohl's Department Stores, Shell, and Target.

The complete conference agenda is available online at

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Last Updated March 15, 2012