Insights Into DEI Advocacy: A Bentley Student Reflection on ADCOLOR 2023
Jaychele Nicole Schenck ’26 was one of 10 Bentley community members — including President E. LaBrent Chrite, Professor of Marketing Isaura Beltre ’99, MSIAM ’02 and a cadre of others — who attended the 2023 ADCOLOR conference in Los Angeles, CA, thanks to support from the Bentley University Office of the President and ADCOLOR Founder and President and Bentley Trustee Tiffany R. Warren ’97. A leader in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), Warren founded ADCOLOR in 2005 to celebrate and advocate diversity in the creative industries — specifically, Warren says, “to honor professionals of color and allies who were rising up and reaching back.”
The multiday conference, presented by Disney, Google, YouTube and Spotify, is aimed at DEI professionals across industries and experience levels and offers a place for individuals and organizations to discuss DEI in the workplace, including ways they can be professional and personal leaders and mentors on today’s most pressing DEI issues. This year’s theme, “Double Down & Double Up,” urges companies to uphold their social justice and corporate social responsibility commitments and make their ambitions known and felt within and outside of their organizations.
“ADCOLOR 2023 will be a safe space for our diverse communities and allies to activate inspiration and continue to push ahead the progress that has been made,” says Warren, who Schenck considers “an amazing role model.”
Schenck is following in Warren’s footsteps on the path for DEI advocacy. A double major in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Information Design and Corporate Communication with a Public Relations concentration, she serves as a strategic programs student manager in Bentley’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion and is DEI chair of Black United Body. In 2020, she organized a large protest in Providence, Rhode Island, following George Floyd’s murder. She is also co-founder and executive director of Gen Z: We Want To Live, a national coalition of youth activists whose stated mission is to “fight for our generation against all forms of oppression and injustice.” As a freelance journalist, she created and directed a documentary on being Black in professional wrestling, titled “Wrestling with Whiteness.”
Here, Schenck shares a reflection of her conference experience.
My passion for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) runs deep. It’s rooted in my experiences as a Black woman and my desire to create a more just and equitable world. Realizing the power of collective action while organizing the largest protest in recent Rhode Island history ignited a spark within me. Inspirational figures like Kerry Washington, Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé further fueled my passion, along with the stories of my mom and sister who faced challenges due to systemic inequities.
My specific focus on inclusive public relations and marketing within the entertainment, media and pop culture space emerged from my desire to amplify the voices of people of color. The opportunity to attend the ADCOLOR conference, facilitated by Professor Isa Beltre and made possible by alumna and trustee Tiffany R. Warren, proved to be a pivotal moment.
At the time, I did not know Tiffany R. Warren, and I was moved that a Bentley alumna extended such an exciting opportunity to me. Saying “yes” to the invitation was a decision I made with conviction, a nod to destiny aligning with my aspirations.
Stepping onto the plane bound for Los Angeles felt surreal. It was like the little Black girl with big dreams was finally on her way. From sharing adventures with fellow Bentley students in Philly to soaking up the LA vibes, each moment felt like a chapter in a beautifully unfolding story.
ADCOLOR wasn’t just a conference; it was a symphony of DEI insights and inspirations. The diverse speakers, workshops and networking opportunities enriched my understanding of the field. Connecting with industry leaders like Danisha Lomax, Zuri Godfrey, Joi Brown, Dr. Marcus Collins and Charity Pourhabib provided valuable mentorship and guidance.
Sessions like “Dismantling Disinformation” and “Your DEI Superpowers” offered practical tools and frameworks for personal and professional growth. The concept of “DEI as a Human Connection Business” resonated deeply, as did the idea that we all possess unique DEI superpowers ― like giving without restriction and leading with joy. These insights became guiding principles for my evolving journey.
Tiffany R. Warren’s presence at ADCOLOR was particularly inspiring. Seeing a woman who, like me, emerged from Bentley and walked a similar path, fostered a sense of connection and possibility. Her invitation to students like me demonstrated the power of mentorship and fueled my own aspirations to become a future leader in the DEI space.
As the inaugural DE&I chair of Black United Body, I applied the lessons learned at ADCOLOR to further develop our strategic plan once back on campus. The conference provided a sense of community and belonging, something particularly valuable for a student navigating life at a predominantly white institution. Having support from the Office of the President and a Bentley trustee to pursue this opportunity opened doors and provided access to invaluable resources — something I hope will continue for future generations.
While I’m still early in my professional journey, I’m confident that I'm on the right track. The connections I made, the knowledge I gained and the inspiration I received at ADCOLOR have empowered me to make a positive impact on the world. I believe that everyone has the potential to be a mover and shaker, and I'm committed to using my voice and talents to amplify the voices of others.
For me, ADCOLOR was so much more than a conference; it was a transformative experience that has shaped my worldview and ignited my passion for DEI. As I move forward on my journey, I carry the lessons learned, the connections forged and the unwavering commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable future. I believe that by supporting diverse students and providing them with opportunities like ADCOLOR, we can unlock the potential of countless aspiring voices and create a world where DEI is not just a concept but a lived reality.