Insights (Blog) - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

Getting to Know Our Conference Speakers –
Dr. Cindy Kelley

We are so excited to have an amazing line-up of prominent leaders and trailblazers speaking at our 2018 Annual Conference Diversity + Flexibility = Embracing Change on Thursday, September 27.  We’ll be introducing these dynamic and engaging speakers throughout the summer and sharing their diversity and flexibility insights here on our blog. We’ve asked our speakers to answer a few questions about themselves, their approach to their career, and their lives. This week’s “Getting To Know Our Conference Speakers” post highlights Dr. Cindy Kelley, Vice President of Medical Education at Summa Health.

Diversity & Flexibility AllianceWhat was the most meaningful piece of leadership advice you received?

Dr. Cindy Kelley: The most meaningful piece of leadership advice I received was…Be vulnerable.  I had to learn this from my own experience, the power of vulnerability.  And when I started reading more leadership books, I learned that the successful leaders are the ones who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable.  As leaders, we need to understand how important it is to:
a. Recognize that we don’t know it all,
b. Be open, truly open, to all ideas and perspectives, and
c. Be able to admit when we’ve made a mistake.  If more leaders could be vulnerable and role model this kind of openness, we’d see growth and change happen so much faster.

DFA: How do you recharge?
CK: I recharge at home.  I live in northeast Ohio so my recharging rituals vary depending on the weather!  In the winter, I’m most content on my couch with a fire in the fireplace and a book in my hands.  In the summer, trade the couch for an outdoor lounge chair, and the fireplace for our pool.  Keep the book in my hand!  I also love a morning walk with my dog; even better when one of my kids joins me. And yoga.  Ah, yoga!
DFA: What do you know now that you wish you knew then?

CK: I know this but I’m still trying to do it!  And that is, fight the urge to always be in the next place doing the next thing.  My daughters are the best ones at reminding me how important it is to be fully engaged in what I am doing right now.  My 8 year old even gently puts her hands on either side of my head, turns it so I’m looking directly at her and says, “Mom, you need to look at me,” when she knows I’m only half-listening to her.  Kids know.

DFA: What can we be doing to create more inclusive organizations?

CK: I think creating more inclusive organizations begins with a few basic things. First, we need to listen.  Listen to each other, to people that don’t look like us/talk like us/dress like us.  We need to listen for and find the places where we overlap:  our values, needs, wants. Those are the same no matter what other differences we might have.  Next, when we are ready to talk, we need to change the words we use.  We need to use kinder words, and words that are free from bias and judgement.  That’s hard.  Not because we want to use hurtful language, but because we’ve learned this language over time from powerful influences all around us.  But we can change the dialogue and I believe that is where real change begins.  Lastly, we need to show up.  To meetings, town halls, events.  If you are lucky enough to be in a leadership role, you have the obligation to use your time, your most valuable asset, to make the world a better place.


Join us for our Annual Conference on September 27th as Dr. Kelley accepts the Flex Success Award with Dentons Partner Lori Mihalich-Levin and shares how together they have been able to create a successful relationship that supports flexibility and advances inclusive cultures.

Action Step –
Providing the Right Support Before Parental Leave

The Alliance’s Action Steps are designed to assist organizations with implementing practical strategies and policies related to diversity and flexibility.  Members can access full versions of all of the Alliance’s Action Steps in the Member Resource Center.

In order to retain top talent, companies and firms need to support parents before, during, and after parental leave. While more organizations are utilizing on-ramping programs and providing support to parents returning from leave, organizations also need to remember to focus on smoothly transitioning parents to parental leave to promote team productivity, enhance client satisfaction, and reduce turnover.

To help with this process, companies and firms need to communicate available resources and policies, create a systematic procedure for the transition of work, and provide support through existing and targeted programs. By focusing on these key tasks – Communicate, Systematize, and Support – organizations can accomplish a smooth and seamless transition for parents to parental leave. While this action step focuses on easing employees’ transitions to parental leave, organizations can apply these best practices for any family or medical leave.

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Spotlight on Flex – Michelle Humes

The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

For June 2018, we are pleased to share insights from Michelle Humes, Partner, Shutts & Bowen (Orlando, FL). 

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success through your schedule?

Michelle Humes: Since I can remember (I think I was about seven years old), I always wanted to be a lawyer – my grandfather and uncle are both lawyers. But while in college, I started to have some doubts and wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue school for another three years. I was also worried about being able to balance working as an attorney and eventually having a family. So after college, I took a year off, and through a series of events, ended up working as an assistant at a law firm. I had wanted to be a lawyer, and here I was working at a law firm. I felt like it was fate’s way of telling me to go to law school. Since I was already working in the legal field, I decided to keep working while going to school. I started at Shutts & Bowen as the assistant to the Practice Group Leader (PGL) of the Construction Litigation Group in July 2006. In August 2006, I started in the evening law student program at Barry University; I continued to work full time and went to school at night for three years. In 2009, the firm created a summer associate position for me in the Orlando office. That fall I switched to the full-time program, graduated, and took the bar in July 2010. I started working at the firm in August that same year

At the time the economy was terrible, and the Orlando office didn’t have any summer associates or new hires. But right away, because of my history with the firm, and with the support of the Construction Litigation Group’s PGL, Shutts demonstrated its commitment to me and my career by hiring me as a contract associate. After a full year, they were able to switch me to a traditional associate position. I worked in the Construction Litigation Group for three years and then transitioned to the Real Estate Group at the end of 2013.

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