Empowered Conference

1:30-5:00 p.m. (EST)  |  Wednesday, July 28, 2021

All times are approximate.


1:30 p.m. (EST)  |  Welcome

Allison Zisko
Editor-in-Chief, HFN and Executive Editor, Home Furnishings, Home Accents Today

1:35 p.m. (EST)  |  Keynote Speaker

KeyAnna Schmiedl
Global Head of Culture & Inclusion  |  Wayfair

KeyAnna Schmiedl will kick-off our program with a thought-provoking discussion about how to train senior leaders as advocates for a culture of learning and inclusivity. Her insights will also include the need to move from “careful” to “thoughtful” conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.

Keynote sponsored by:

2:15 p.m. (EST)  |  Exclusive Research Report Results

We will offer some key findings from our exclusive research report on how home furnishings retailers and manufacturers are addressing the issues of diversity and inclusion in their own workplace. This will be followed by a short break.

2:20-5:00 p.m. (EST)  |  Moderated Panel Discussions

Panel 1: Creating a more diverse home furnishings workforce

How do you recruit, hire and support a more diverse workforce? How do you approach that if you are a small or family-owned business? How do you ensure that your sourcing and supplier partners match your company’s values? After taking steps to recruit and hire more diverse employees, then what? How do you make sure everyone’s needs are being met?

Featuring panelists:

  • Sandra Beckett, chief HR officer, City Furniture
  • Cheryl Kern, VP diversity, equity and inclusion, Herman Miller
  • Dr. Ron Milon, chief diversity officer, FIT

Moderator: Sheila Long O’ Mara, executive editor, Furniture Today

Panel 2: Empowering your workforce as well as your customers

How do you support activism in the workplace?  If you are an employer, how can you encourage and support the members of your workforce who feel passionately about advocating for a particular cause? What do you stand for as a company and how are you conveying that to your customers?

Featuring panelists:

  • Jeffrey Kruskall, Consultant
  • Alison Philips, Chief of Design and Co-Founder, Powered by People
  • Angelo Surmelis, Angelo Home
  • Veracelle Vega, Chief People Officer, Resident

Moderator: Alex Herring, senior editor, Gifts & Decorative Accessories

Panel 3: A more inclusive role for women in home furnishings

How is the industry faring in giving women more leadership roles and a seat at the table? How strong is your mentoring network? What is being done to support the return of women to the workforce after the fall-out of the pandemic?

Featuring panelists:

  • Laura Aldrich, executive vice president, licensing, Scott Brothers Global
  • Lorri Kelley, president, WithIt
  • Laurie Tokarz, president, Restonic

Moderator: Andrea Lillo, managing editor, Designers Today

Wrap-up and Q&A with Rosa Nuñez
Director of diversity, equity and inclusion, Foley Hoag Law Firm

After reflecting on the afternoon’s discussions, thought leader Rosa Nuñez and Executive Editor Allison Zisko will discuss actionable steps home furnishings businesses can take to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace.