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Growth Through Knowledge and Understanding series to look at biases, hate crimes, and marginalized people

The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and the Westmoreland Diversity Coalition announce the 2022 Growth Through Knowledge and Understanding speaker series. This year, the speakers will explore the lived experiences of people who have traditionally been the targets of biases and hate crimes, which forces them to become marginalized in our society. In addition to the topics of race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion, the series will also share the experiences of people who have been victims of crime, people with physical and mental disabilities, and people who have been incarcerated.

The series will be offered virtually and is free. Participants must register to receive the Zoom log-in information. Each session will begin at 7 p.m. with an anticipated length of 45 minutes to 60 minutes.

“When developing this series it was important to us to focus on the lived experiences of people who traditionally have been the targets of biases and hate crimes thus becoming marginalized in society,” said Al Thiel, director of the Student Center and Student Involvement at Pitt-Greensburg and a member of the Westmoreland Diversity Coalition board of trustees. “It was also important that we were finding outside experts to talk about these experiences so that victims were not being forced to relive their trauma.”

The series will open with a conversation about Judaism that will feature Andrew Goretsky, EdD, representing ADL (Anti-Defamation League) Cleveland. This office serves Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia and fights antisemitism and all forms of discrimination through education, advocacy, and investigation.

ADL Cleveland describes itself as “a leading anti-hate organization that was established in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of antisemitism and bigotry. Its mission is to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate and is a global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education and fighting hate online.”

Prior to joining ADL, Goretsky served 23 years in leadership roles in higher education that focused on diversity and inclusion, multiculturalism, and Native American special interests. He holds a doctorate of education in Higher Education Administration from The George Washington University and a master’s of arts degree in Student Personnel Administration from New York University.

“We want attendees to be able to attend and participate in the sessions as learners, not as observers of what has happened to someone in their community or as a show of support to a victim,” said Carlotta Paige, founder and co-chair of the Westmoreland Diversity Coalition. “There have been too many times in which those who have been the target of biases and hate crimes also then must be their strongest (and maybe only) advocate. It is the responsibility of a society to be educated about and advocate for those who have been marginalized in the past.”

The Fall 2022 Speaker Schedule:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 14 – Judaism, presented by Andrew Goretsky, of ADL Cleveland
  • Wednesday, Sept. 28 – Hispanic Populations presented by Monica Ruiz, executive director of Casa San Jose
  • Wednesday, Oct. 12 – The Impact of Gender-Based Violence on Women, presented by Kristin Malone-Boadair, of the Blackburn Center
  • Wednesday, Oct. 19 – Hate What I’ve Done. Support What I Can Become, presented by Tim Holler, PhD, associate professor of Criminal Justice at Pitt-Greensburg and director of the Community Arts and Reintegration Project.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 9 – Physical & Mental Disabilities (planning still in process)

For additional information, contact Paige at or Thiel at

About the Westmoreland Diversity Coalition:

The Westmoreland Diversity Coalition (Coalition) is a young community–based nonprofit membership organization that is poised to bring people together to promote diversity from all walks of life, generate greater understanding and acceptance, and help create through advocacy and education an atmosphere in Westmoreland County where all people feel welcome. The Coalition is working to build a cohesive foundation and network of residents and organizations in Westmoreland County to raise public awareness and work collectively to effect broad-based social change.

The Coalition replaces the Central Westmoreland Unity Coalition which existed for over 20 years. This Coalition is a county-wide umbrella organization that embraces and promotes difference and inclusion.  It is committed to making Westmoreland County more inviting and diverse through county-wide programs and events, community conversations, educational material, etc., and seeks to partner with Westmoreland County government and other public and private entities to launch initiatives designed to help Westmoreland County grow and prosper. 

 At the core of this Coalition is the belief that the complicated, interrelated but subtle social issues that have existed in Westmoreland County for many years can only be addressed through long range consistent effort and sustained commitment.  The Coalition’s strategic plan is to build its foundation as it evolves and gains the respect and confidence of the community while at the same time acknowledges and recognizes the need to develop the awareness and adaptability to new challenges, opportunities, and lessons, as they emerge.

About the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg:

Founded in 1963, the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg is a publicly assisted, four-year, liberal arts college in southwestern Pennsylvania. Pitt-Greensburg offers 31 baccalaureate degree programs, including new majors in data analytics, nursing, and healthcare management, as well as 30 minors and four certificate programs. With nearly 1,400 students, more than 10,000 alumni, and faculty and staff numbering 270, Pitt-Greensburg provides a vibrant, diverse community that is a dynamic model of a 21st-century liberal arts education. As part of the University of Pittsburgh system, Pitt-Greensburg offers the resources of a world-renowned university combined with the individualized and immersive experiences of a small liberal arts college. Creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit permeate the campus and extend into its many collaborative projects with the Westmoreland County community. Nestled in Pennsylvania’s beautiful Laurel Highlands, the campus is surrounded by the region’s outdoor recreation venues and rich history. It is a five-minute drive from uptown Greensburg and less than an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh.

Publication Date

Friday, September 9, 2022 - 17:30