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A Call to Leadership: Alfred State hosts Students of Color Leadership Conference


Event organizers (L to R) Dennis Dueno, Desmond Davis, and Afua Boahene at the 5th annual Students of Color Leadership Conference held at Alfred State

Alfred State students gathered for a day of training, education, and fellowship at the 5th annual Students of Color Leadership Conference. The event featured guest speakers, panels, music, and food.

Desmond Davis, assistant director of diversity, equity, and inclusion along with Dennis Dueno, director of student engagement, and Afua Boehene, EOP academic advisor, put together the event that featured various conversations to discuss success and leadership during and after college.

Davis knows the importance of events like these. “We need to engage our students in terms of what their professional aspirations are and develop that leadership component and leadership skill set. We do these things to really give opportunities for students to network, so that we can see them grow to be the leaders that we need them to be.”

Dueno added, “This conference is allowing our students to have the ability to develop as a professional before they get out there.  We want to make sure our students have the opportunity to hit the ground running.”

To start the day, students were able to attend workshops presented by Dr. Brian Saltsman, executive director of the black speakers institute, Sulaiman Aina, Jr, creative director and founder of, and Benny DeSantiago, director of the educational opportunity program at Alfred State, and Davis.

Aina, an Alfred State alum added, “I spoke to current students about the importance of leadership and the compilation of understanding yourself in relation to being a leader in today’s world.”

First year student Danielle Abihzer who works in the cultural life center enjoyed the event. “We had conversation about really hearing people, even when they have an opinion that might be in opposition with ourselves, because the way that we implement change is by understanding each other first.”

Dr. Torrance Jones, the community affair executive at the Monroe County Sherriff’s Office served as the keynote speaker. He urged students to think about what makes them come alive.

Other activities during the conference included a panel moderated by Steven Edwards, coordinator of student activities. The panel spoke on leading from the margins and featured Janel Farrell, ASC resident director, Deborah Oliveria, ASC alum and aerospace test engineer at L3 Harris, and Indaria Jones, program director for Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad.

During the luncheon, Ayana DelValle with special guest Kimora Smith performed.

The annual event is presented by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

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