Berkeley Lab

IDEA Speaker Series

The IDEA Speaker Series is a collaboration between the IDEA Office and our 9 employee resource groups (ERGs), and our purpose is to bring a diverse array of speakers to Berkeley Lab who have deep expertise in issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, often specifically in the workplace and in STEM, and particularly to bring in speakers who work at the intersections of opportunities and challenges that many of our ERG communities face.

Transgender Resilience: Understanding Today’s Challenges In Transgender Lives

Join the IDEA Office and Berkeley Lab’s Lambda Alliance ERG for a talk with transgender journalist Erin Reed and Montana State Representative Zooey Zephyr on Transgender Resilience: Understanding Today’s Challenges In Transgender Lives.

In this talk, Erin and Zooey will delve into the rich tapestry of transgender existence. Topics they will explore include the historical context of transgender people, pivotal moments in transgender rights, and current cultural dynamics impacting the trans community. They will navigate contemporary issues and the latest news, including the challenges and triumphs of transgender people. Concluding with a forward-looking perspective, the talk will offer ways for audience members to support and advocate for the trans people in their lives.

Date: Tuesday, January 30, 2024
Time: 12 noon – 1 pm PST

Watch the recording (accessible to Berkeley Lab employees only)


Bios: Headshot of Erin Reed

Erin Reed (she/her) is a transgender journalist based in Washington, D.C..She tracks LGBTQ+ legislation around the United States for her subscription newsletter, Her work has been cited by the AP, Reuters, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and many more major media outlets. You can follow her on twitter and tiktok @ErinInTheMorn.

Zooey Zephyr: In 2022, Zooey Zephyr was elected to serve as the state Representative for Montana’s 100th House District out of Missoula, and is the first trans woman to hold public office in Montana. Throughout her time in office, Representative Zephyr has been a fierce advocate for affordable housing, healthcare, and human rights throughout Montana.

Prior to the legislature, Zooey worked at the University Zooey Zephyr head shotof Montana, where she oversaw the administration of the university’s curriculum approval process. She also worked as an activist, helping people file discrimination claims, drafting human rights policies, and working as a de-escalator at protests to ensure protester safety.

In 2023, Representative Zephyr made national news when she said that legislators who voted yes on a gender-affirming care ban would have “blood on their hands.” After her speech, Republican leadership refused to allow her to speak on any bills, effectively removing her ability to represent her constituents in debate on the House floor. When Montanans protested that decision, chanting “let her speak,” Representative Zephyr raised her microphone in support of the protestors and was subsequently banned from the House floor by the state’s Republican supermajority. Representative Zephyr then continued working from the public area outside the House chambers. Following the legislative session, she has traveled the country and world helping local communities plan for–and participate in–the fight for human rights.

A Conversation with Author Tommy Orange

Join the IDEA Office and the Latin American And Native American (LANA) for a conversation with the acclaimed author, Tommy Orange. Having burst into the literary scene as a debut novelist with his book There There, Tommy brings a fresh perspective and an authentic voice to the forefront.

There There is awondrous and shattering award-winning novel that follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize.” – Penguin Random House

“Powerful. . . . There There has so much jangling energy and brings so much news from a distinct corner of American life that it’s a revelation.” —The New York Times

“With a literary authority rare in a debut novel, it places Native American voices front and center before readers’ eyes.” —NPR/Fresh Air

“An astonishing literary debut.” —Margaret Atwood

Date: Wednesday, December 6, 2023 (add it to your calendar)
Time: 12 noon – 1:00 pm PST
Join us on Zoom

Tommy Orange is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel There There, a multi-generational, relentlessly paced story about a side of America few of us have ever seen: the lives of urban Native Americans. There There was one of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year, and won the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and the Pen/Hemingway Award. There There was also longlisted for the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Orange graduated from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and was a 2014 MacDowell Fellow and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow.

His next book, Wandering Stars, comes out in February, 2024.

He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Oakland, California. His father, Victor Orange, was a civil engineer in Berkeley Lab’s Facilities Department and one of the founding co-chairs of the Latin American And Native American (LANA) ERG.

Order Tommy’s book There There from Pegasus Books in Berkeley

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with Dr. Richard Pimentel – November 6, 2023

Dr. Richard Pimentel broadens our view to value diversity in individuals of all abilities.  As a 100% disabled combat service-connected Vietnam veteran who served with the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army, Dr. Pimentel will share his story that inspires all.

He came home from Vietnam with a traumatic brain injury, a bilateral hearing loss, and agent orange exposure twenty years before the Americans with Disabilities act was signed into law.  As a contributor to the creation and implementation of the Act, he will speak of his privilege of working with employers worldwide to help them better understand the resources, perspectives, and talents that persons with disabilities and differences bring to an organization.

Date: Monday, November 6 (add it to your calendar)
Time: 12 noon – 1:oo pm PT
Join us on Zoom

Dr. Richard K. Pimentel, Senior Partner, Milt Wright & Associates, Inc.

Richard Pimentel is one of the leading experts in North America on practical issues in Diversity and Disability Inclusion, Crises and Change in the Workplace, Disabled Veterans Employment Opportunities, and Leadership. Richard has keynoted numerous Employer conferences throughout the US and Canada. Comments from one of his corporate presentations included “Best Speaker we have ever had.”

He combines information, humor, metaphor, analogy and storytelling into an informative whole that does not just present the information, but really communicates it in a memorable fashion.

He is the key author internationally used Windmills Changing the Perception of Ability training program designed to change the attitudes and behavior of supervisors and managers who hire, supervise and promote employees. Over 1,200 trainers have been trained since the beginning of Covid.

movie poster from the Music Within film A full-length MGM motion picture of his life storyMusic Within staring Ron Livingston, Melissa George and Michael Sheen was released in theaters through out the country in the fall 2007  and has been seen recently on Amazon, Showtime, Netflix, and other streaming services.

In late spring 2018 Dr. Richard Pimentel’s Goal Cast motivational Leadership 5 minute video “How to Live Your Life Your Never Imagined” has gone viral and as of today we have had almost 60 million viewings on YouTube and Facebook.



On Working and Living As Ourselves with Meredith Talusan – June 9, 2023

In this talk, Meredith Talusan will reflect on how she engages with work while honoring her complete range of experiences as a trans Filipinx first-generation immigrant. Whether it’s through taking on organizing and leadership roles that recall third-gender indigenous traditions in the Philippines, or mediating between genders through her experience living as both male and female, Talusan will underline the importance not only of finding ways to be yourself at work, but of employing your unique background to make work better for yourself and others.

Join the IDEA Office, the Asian Pacific Islander ERG and the Lambda Alliance for a conversation with Meredith Talusan.

Date: Friday, June 9, 2023 (add it to your calendar)
Time: 1 – 2:30 pm PT

Join us on Zoom

“Talusan sails past the conventions of trans and immigrant memoirs.” —The New York Times Book Review

“A ball of light hurled into the dark undertow of migration and survival.” –Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Meredith Talusan (she/they) is an artist who works at the intersection of writing, visual art, science, and performance. Her work has spanned multiple mediums and genres, though they are best-known to the public as a book author and journalist.

She received a Creative Capital Award, MacDowell Fellowship, and Pushcart Prize nomination for fiction in 2023; her stories appear or are forthcoming in Guernica, Kenyon Review, Boston Review, Epoch,The Rumpus, Grand, Catapult, and BLR. Her debut memoir, Fairest, was a 2020 Lambda Literary Award finalist and named a best book of the year by multiple venues. She has contributed to ten other books and written articles for The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, and WIRED among many outlets. She has received journalism awards from GLAAD, The Society of Professional Journalists, and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. She is also the founding executive editor and current contributing editor at them., Condé Nast’s LGBTQ+ digital platform.

As a dancer, Meredith trained at the Merce Cunningham Studio, Trisha Brown Studio, and Movement Research from 2006 to 2009 and was on the board of the Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art, Nature, and Dance from 2013 to 2020, facilitating multiple dance workshops and performances in New York and elsewhere. They are also heavily involved in somatic practices, especially the Feldenkrais method.

As a visual artist, Meredith received an MFA in visual art from the California College of the Arts, and has exhibited in New York, Boston, and San Francisco. She has also photographed stories for VICE Magazine, BuzzFeed News, Mic, and Medium.

Meredith grew up in the Philippines before moving to the United States at fifteen, then received an honors BA in English and American Literature from Harvard College, and subsequently worked as a technical assistant for the Perceptual Science Group at MIT and transitioned there while on the job. They belong to the queer, trans, disabled, albino, Asian, and immigrant communities.

Meredith lives in Barryville, New York with her spouse and rescue mutt. She is currently at work on a short story collection and a novel.

Order Meredith’s book Fairest from Pegasus Books in Berkeley

Photo Credit: Gregory Cramer

API and Lambda Alliance ERGs Virtual Book Club Discussion of “Fairest” by Meredith Talusan

Join the Asian Pacific Islander ERG and the Lambda Alliance for a joint book club discussion of Talusan’s story and her journey from being a “sun child” in the Philippines to a transgender, white-passing, Harvard-educated immigrant and journalist. The book is available in multiple formats at bookstores and at public libraries.

Date: Wednesday, May 31, 2023 (add it to your calendar)

Time: 3:00pm PST

Join us on Zoom

“Fairest,” said author and artist Meredith Talusan (she/they), is a memoir that “allows me to look at the entirety of my life and understand how I moved through the world in this body over the years.”


A Conversation with Angela Saini – November 9, 2022

“We all have some commitment to the idea of race…we all think about race to some extent…we value our racial heritage, our ethnic heritages, our cultural diversity…we have to be careful about when we conflate those with biological ideas about who we are.” ~ Angela Saini

Join the IDEA Office and Global ERG for a conversation with Angela Saini, award-winning science journalist, author, and broadcaster and author of Superior: The Return of Race Science. Although research has repeatedly shown that race is not a scientifically valid concept, it persists throughout the scientific community and continues to influence politics and policies around the world. We’ll talk with Angela about the history of racism in science and scientific institutions and the practices and behaviors of scientific institutions that enabled the codification of these ideas.

Date: Wednesday, November 9, 2022 (add it to your calendar)
Time: 11 am – 12 noon PT

picture of Angela SainiAngela Saini is an award-winning science journalist, author, and broadcaster. She presents radio and television programs for BBC, and her writing has appeared across the world, including in New Scientist, Prospect, The Sunday Times, Wired, and National Geographic.

Angela’s latest book, Superior: The Return of Race Science, was published to enormous critical acclaim and was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize and the Foyles Book of the Year. Her previous work, Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong, was published in 2017, winning the Physics World Book of the Year.

In 2020, Angela was named one of the world’s top 50 thinkers by Prospect Magazine, and in 2018, she was voted one of the most respected journalists in the UK. In 2015, she won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Kavli Science Journalism gold award for a BBC Radio 4 documentary about birdsong and human language. She has also received a best feature award from the Association of British Science Writers.

Angela has a Masters in Engineering from Oxford University, and a second Masters in Science and Security from the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. She is the founder of ‘Challenging Pseudoscience’, at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, an advisory board member of the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, and she sits on the Lancet Covid-19 Commission Task Force on Global Health Diplomacy. Angela has given distinguished and keynote lectures at Yale, Princeton, Oxford, among other notable institutions. In 2019, she was made an Honorary Fellow of the British Science Association.

Order Angela’s books from Pegasus Books in Berkeley

Fireside Chat with Suzanne Singer of Native Renewables – Dr. Suzanne Singer – November 1, 2022

This fireside chat-style conversation hosted by the IDEA Office was part of the Native American Heritage Month events planned by LANA.
Held in honor of Native American Heritage Month, Suzanne Singer, PhD, Co-Founder of Native Renewables, was in conversation with Aditi Chakravarty, LBNL’s Chief DEI Officer, about Suzanne’s groundbreaking work delivering sustainable energy for Navajo (Dine) and Hopi communities in Arizona.

Date: Tuesday, November 1, 2022 
Time: 12 noon – 1 pm PT

Watch the recording of this event

Suzanne Singer Headshot

About Suzanne: 

Co-Founder Suzanne Singer, PhD, is a member of the Navajo (Dine) tribe and grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona. Her mechanical engineering and energy analysis background provides the technical foundation to develop tribal energy independence. Prior to founding Native Renewables, Singer was a staff engineer and post-doc at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and an intern with Sandia National Laboratories’ Tribal Energy Program. Singer is a 2021 Echoing Green Fellow and the winner of the 2019 U.S. Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) Entrepreneurship Award. She earned a PhD and MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arizona.


Creating a Culture of Advocacy, Inclusion, and Allyship with Emily Ladau, Disability Rights Activist, Communications Consultant, and Author – October 20, 2022

This fireside chat-style conversation hosted by the IDEA Office and the All Access ERG, held in recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month will address how to advocate for yourself and your colleagues; how to be a thoughtful, informed ally to disabled people, including actionable steps for what to say and do (and what not to do); and how you can help make the workplace more inclusive and accessible for all.

Date: Thursday, October 20, 2022 (add it to your calendar)
Time: 12 noon – 1 pm PT
Join us on Zoom

photo of speaker Emily LadauEmily Ladau is a passionate disability rights activist, writer, storyteller, and digital communications consultant. She is the author of Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to be an Ally, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Emily’s career began at the age of 10, when she appeared on several episodes of Sesame Street to educate children about her life with a physical disability. A native of Long Island, New York, Emily graduated with a B.A. in English from Adelphi University in 2013 and now serves on their Board of Trustees. In 2017, she was named as one of Adelphi’s 10 Under 10 Young Alumni. In 2018, she was awarded the Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities. In 2022, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism honored her with their Disability Advocate of the Year Award and the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities honored her with the Frieda Zames Advocacy Award.

Emily’s writing has been published in outlets including The New York Times, CNN, Vice, and HuffPost and she has served as a source for outlets including MSNBC, PBS NewsHour, NPR, and The Washington Post. She has spoken before numerous audiences about disability, from Microsoft to Comcast/NBCUniversal, and from the U.S. Department of Education to the United Nations. And, she co-hosts The Accessible Stall Podcast, a show that dives into disability issues. Central to all of Emily’s work is harnessing the power of storytelling as a tool to engage people in learning about disability.

Order Emily’s book from Pegasus Books in Berkeley

Why Women Can’t Write Code: Challenging gender stereotypes in STEM – August 3, 2022

Date: Wednesday, August 3, 2022
Time: 11 am – 12 noon PT

Presentation Slides

Watch the recording of this event
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Related Journal Articles:
Ambivalent Sexism Revisited
Psychology of Women Quarterly, 35(3) 530-535, 2011
DOI: 10.1177/0361684311414832

Join the IDEA Office and the Early Career ERG for a conversation with Dr. Siân JM Brooke.

The programmer is a young, university-educated, white man. This is the stereotype that dominates how we see people who write code and work with computers. Women are continuously discriminated against in professional and informal technical settings, they are underrepresented, underpaid, and underestimated.  In this talk, Dr Brooke will draw on her research into programming and technical cultures to offer valuable insights into how we can work toward greater diversity in the pursuit of scientific knowledge.

Dr. Siân JM Brooke
Leverhulme Fellow in Computational Social Science

Dr Siân Brooke (she/her) is a Research Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute (University of Oxford), based at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in the Department of Methodology. With a background in political philosophy, sociology, and data science, she focuses on how technologies perpetuate gendered inequality and what interventions are effective against online discrimination. Siân’s passion for diversity in computing extends beyond her academic work, to activism, and engagement with outreach programmes focused on greater diversity in programming.

Black History Month Celebration with Candace Doby – February 24, 2022
“Courage at Work”

Date: Thursday,  February 24, 2022
Time: 12 noon

The African American Employee Resource Group (AAERG) and the IDEA Office are pleased to announce that Candace Doby, speaker, author and coach, will join us for this year’s Black History Month Celebration.

Now, more than ever, organizations need leaders to act with courage. They need leaders who are willing and able to take worthwhile risks, navigate through uncertainty, and withstand challenges in order to position their organizations for growth in a constantly shifting corporate and non-profit world. According to research, courage is an essential leadership quality. But, when emerging leaders consider potential failure or rejection in the workplace as outcomes, they can find it difficult to choose courage — opting instead for safety and limited growth. That’s because they don’t know how to evaluate risks or leverage the internal resources they already have to face them. In this presentation, speaker and courage coach Candace Doby helps audience members discover what’s stopping them from stepping outside of their comfort zone at work and how to begin dismantling those barriers so they can take more risks — risks like having hard conversations about diversity and inclusion, showing up authentically for themselves and their teams, and challenging old systems that do not serve new workplace realities.

About Candace: 

Candace Doby is an Atlanta-based speaker, author and courage coach who works with universities and organizations to help emerging leaders activate their personal courage in order to perform to their potential in school, work and life. Candace combines a decade of research on courage with her experiences leading marketing teams at Chipotle Mexican Grill, solo traveling to more than 20 countries, writing a book and starting a business. This unique combination equips her with the implementable strategies she shares with audiences to help them get out of their own way and put their mission in motion.

Candace is known for delivering those strategies with a blend of truth, love and a bit of shade to match the realness of courage, which prompts clients to refer to her in-person and virtual presence as “captivating”. Candace holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and a master’s degree in Technology and Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she also ran track.

Watch the recording of this event: BHM Celebration 2022

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