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Taking on the Dearth of Diversity

What 2018 Changemaker Antwone Stigall decided to do about it when he noticed that 95 percent of the people in meetings industry meetings did not look like him.

Antwone Stigall, CMP, DES
Manager, Events
Teach for America | Bay Area Region

For pushing the meetings industry toward greater diversity and inclusion 

Making Change
After attending various regional, statewide, and national meetings in our industry and outside of our industry, I realized that 95 percent of the room—attendees, staff members, leaders, board members, and even keynote speakers and entertainers—did not look like me. I couldn’t just let this continue. I joined boards and committees, and created task force groups to push the agenda of diversity and inclusion. I created a Facebook group called Black Meeting & Event Professionals to bring people together to share learning experiences, resources, jobs, and other opportunities.  We even have a black vendor list—black-owned hotels, audiovisual and production services, food and beverage, you name it—that we can utilize to book and source meetings and meeting services. 

Giving Back
I have mentored professionals at all levels on how to navigate being a person of color in this industry, including how to always protect your personal brand so that you’re well positioned for new opportunities. 

I also have coached several meeting professionals to CMP success and have been thinking about starting my own boot camp. 

I served as a two-term vice president for a local MPI chapter, as a diversity and inclusion task force chair for MPI Global, as a board member for the Association for Women in Events, and I spearheaded the convening of black meeting and event professionals through a Facebook group that now has up to 500 members. Yeah, they’re out there.

Managing Change
Change is just like the meetings and events that we plan—you have to commit to the change and make it worthwhile and memorable.

Role Models
Two women who have consistently helped me to better articulate my perspective on so many things and also understand other perspectives as well are Tiffani Wilson of Marriott International and Carol Norfleet, MBA, CMP, DMCP, of AlliedPRA (formerly Destination Nashville).

Thinking Differently
I’ve had no choice! I’ve always been the smallest kid, and even though I always sat in the front of the classroom, I always was picked last whenever the teacher would ask a question. Because all of the easy answers were usually voiced at that point, I had to come up with something creative, witty, and different. That pushed me to never be like or think like the others—it’s worked thus far.

Got an Hour to Spare?
I would normally say horseback riding, but I haven’t had that kind of time lately. So, a phone call to my godson, my godmother, or friends whom I rarely get a chance to speak with does my soul some good. It fuels me for the next big thing I have to tackle in life.




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