Session 1: Tuesday, June 16 8:50 – 10:30 a.m.

The Business Case for an inclusive workplace

presented by keynote speaker, Eric M. Ellis, M.A.

eric-ellis-headshot-1Eric Ellis is President and CEO of Integrity Development Corp., a firm that helps to build organizational cultures where Diversity, Inclusion and Respect flourish, which drives sustainable, improved business results. He is recognized as one of our nation’s leading consultants and strategists on matters related to Diversity & Inclusion. He is viewed as a thought leader who effectively collaborates with internal diversity practitioners and HR Leaders to develop and implement innovative D&I solutions. Eric serves as a member of the SHRM Inclusion & Diversity Expert Panel and a SME for the HR Inclusion Credential.

Eric is author of the book Diversity Conversations, 3rd edition. Recognized as the Minority Business of the Year in Ohio and the recipient of the NAACP President’s award, in addition to many other leadership and business awards. He has been described by the Cincinnati Enquirer as “Cincinnati’s Diversity Fixer”. His weekly radio broadcast entitled Diversity Conversations, can be heard through www.1320thevoice.com or facebook live every Saturday, 9:30 am EST @elliseric.

Panel Discussion: Real Life Experiences from Rochester business leaders


kevin-beckfordKevin Beckford joined the University of Rochester in December 2017 as Sr. Director, Staff Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. In this role Kevin will provide the strategy and direction to transform Staff Diversity and Inclusion at the University (32,000 employees).

Kevin has served in a variety of progressive operations roles in the corporate, banking and health care industries. He has held roles in Call Center Operations, IT, Technical Communications, Supply Chain and Purchasing at Kodak; Executive Operational leadership roles at Bank of America, PNC Financial, Bank of Montréal and Director of Nursing Operations (Interim) at Rochester Regional Health.

Kevin has also provided senior- and executive-level transition and change management consulting services for large, medium and small companies. Throughout these assignments Kevin has brought a focus on operational excellence, effectively managing change, and championing diversity, equity & inclusion in every aspect of the workplace.

Kevin is also active in the community, working on social justice, anti-poverty and education initiatives for the poor.

In November 2017, Kevin was elected to the Pittsford, NY Town Board and is the first African-American to serve on the Pittsford Town Board in its more than 200 year history.

Kevin received a Bachelor of Science degree from Roberts Wesleyan College in Organizational Management.

Kevin is a life-long Servant Leader and feels he is at his best when he is serving others. He is enjoying serving in his University of Rochester and Government role.

barry-thornton-150x150Barry Thornton is responsible for Operations of Excellus Health Plan. This includes Information Technology, Analytics & Data, Claims, Customer Service, Enrollment Management, National Programs (BCBSA, FEP), Quality Office, Claims Audit & Recovery, eServices/EDI, and Safety Net (State Government Programs) line of business P&L. Barry has indirect responsibility for achieving Health Plan Operational Excellence goals/targets and Chair of internal Health Plan Operations Review Committee.

Barry led the completion of a multi-year health plan Business Transformation in 2013. This transformation included consistent business processes across all regions, consolidation of all claim payment & membership systems, development of strategic & customer enhancements, achievement administrative cost savings, and overall simplification of business model.

During this time, Barry was responsible for the integration of Excellus Health Plan technology areas and the hiring of the Chief Information Officer.

Prior to that role, Barry was Vice President of Business Process Improvement in the Health Care Affairs business unit. Barry was responsible for State Government Programs (Safety Net). During his tenure, Safety Net was the fastest growing product with Excellus Health Plan and achieved a significant financial turnaround for 2005 to 2006 – 2007.

Barry joined Excellus BlueCross BlueShield in September 2005 after 8 years with UnitedHealth Group in various capacities based in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Most of Barry’s experience at UnitedHealth was in the Government Programs sector. During his tenure at UnitedHealth, Barry served as Executive Director of New York State Government Programs, Regional Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Enrollment Operations, Six Sigma team lead on national project & Vice President, Operations.

Barry sits on the board of directors for the SUNY Cortland College Foundation and Keeping Education Extraordinary in Pittsford (KEEP). Barry is a former board member of Bivona Child Advocacy Center, has been an Excellus Team Leader for the American Heart Association Heart Walk and coach for Pittsford Panther Youth Football.

Barry holds a Master of Science in Health Care Policy & Management from University at Albany and Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences from SUNY Cortland. Barry resides in Pittsford, NY and is married with two children.

ray-isaacRay Isaac is President and Co-Owner of Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning Inc., a third-generation full service Mechanical Contractor headquartered in Rochester, NY. Ray and his three brothers are partners in the business started by their grandfather, George T. Isaac in 1945, and have grown the organization to one of the premier employers in New York State.

Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning has been selected as a Rochester Top 100 Company seven times in the past 10 years, is a two-time recipient of the Better Business Bureau Torch Award, is a Rochester Business Ethics honoree, and was selected as the Residential Contractor of The Year by Contracting Business Magazine.

Ray and his father Jim are 2019 selections to the Rochester Business Hall of Fame.

Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning is the facilitator of Isaac Tec, a 4-year accredited training and education program, the only such program held by a Contractor. Through Isaac Tec, conducted at the wholly owned Isaac Technical and Education Center, Isaac is transforming the future of education in the skilled trades.

On a personal side, Ray’s charitable work has included service as President of the Small Business Council of Greater Rochester, Chairman of The Heritage Christian Services Foundation Board, Vice President of Rochester Rotary, and a member of the St. John Fisher College Deans Advisory Council, among others.

Ray was the National Chairman of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) in 2008, NATE National Chairman of the Board from 2008 – 2011 and is currently on the board of IE3.

Ray has been married to his wife Erica for 25 years and has two sons, Cameron 22 and Zachary 14.


lucas-proof-1-2Candice A. Lucas, Ed.D chairs the African American Health Coalition convened by Common Ground Health. This coalition brings together dozens of professionals from a broad cross-section of health, non-profit, and governmental organizations to address issues of health disparities, structural inequities, and systems design that negatively impact the health outcomes of Monroe County residents. Under her leadership, the coalition is preparing to release its third report highlighting the health status of the African American population throughout the Finger Lakes Region.

Dr. Lucas has a broad background in community-based programs aimed at improving the health and well-being of Monroe County residents including: promoting physical activity and nutrition as a means of chronic disease prevention; cancer prevention and early detection education to reduce the incidence of breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers; financial coaching and professional development to assist low-income workers in career advancement; health literacy and advocacy training to empower patients and community members in being strong self-advocates for their health; and diversity and inclusion training to help Rochester become an equitable society.

Among her acknowledgements, Dr. Lucas was the 2018 recipient of the St. John Fisher College Exemplary Performance in Leadership Award, the 2017 recipient of the University of Rochester’s Meliora Award and the Breast Cancer Coalition’s Advocacy Spirit Award. She has been recognized by the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper as an emerging African-American leader and “A Woman to Watch.” She received her Doctorate in Education from St. John Fisher College, a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Dr. Lucas is a certified executive coach, and she serves as a mentor and preceptor to high school and undergraduate interns, medical students and residents. She is also a graduate of the African American Leadership Development Program class of 2008 and Leadership Rochester class of 2010.

Dr. Lucas has served as executive director of a non-profit organization and in leadership roles on numerous nonprofit boards. She currently serves on the boards of the University of Rochester Medical Center and St. Ann’s Community, advisory board for the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, and as the Chair for the Monroe County Democratic Committee’s 29th Legislative District.

Dr. Lucas attends Immaculate Conception Church and serves on the Diocese of Rochester’s Black Leadership Commission. She is the proud mother of two young adults and lives in the city of Rochester.

billcarpenterimg_feb-2020A fifth generation and lifelong Rochester area resident with more than 35 years of executive and management experience, Bill Carpenter joined RGRTA in 2010 as Chief Operating Officer and was named CEO in the fall of 2011. With nearly 1,000 employees, he oversees the public transit system that serves more than 15 million customers annually for an eight county area.

Beginning in 2017, Carpenter led RGRTA through Reimagine RTS, the transit system redesign project in Monroe County. Under Carpenter’s leadership, the RTS team held more than 250 meetings and events to ensure the reimagined transit system reflects the priorities of its customers. The new transit system will go live on June 29, 2020, and will provide an improved transit experience that is more frequent, reliable and connected. It will feature frequent fixed routes, a new On Demand service, and innovative fare payment and mobile ticketing technology.

Carpenter received his Bachelor’s degree in Math-Economics from the University of Buffalo. He currently serves as: President of the New York Public Transit Association; President of The Bus Coalition; Board Member for the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and Vice-Chair of the APTA Bus and Paratransit CEO’s Committee; member and Past President of the American Bus Benchmarking Group, and; member of the Systems Integration Project which is co-chaired by Congressman Joe Morelle and Common Ground Health CEO Wade Norwood.