2021 Business Communication Symposium #1

February 19, 2021    11:00 am - 1:15 pm CST

“Unconscious Bias”

In place of an in-person joint regional conference this year, the ABC Midwestern U.S. and Southeastern U.S. regions are hosting a virtual Business Communication Symposium Series. The symposium is free to ABC members, but you must register as space is limited. Please email Kathryn Rybka at krybka@illinois.edu to register with "Register-ABC Symposium" in subject line; a Zoom link will be sent to you a few days before the Symposium.


11:00 a.m. – Noon CST/Noon – 1:00 p.m. EST

Dr. Ivonne Chirino-Klevans, “Better Understanding Unconscious Bias in Higher Education”

Session Description: Instincts that enable us to make quick decisions and determinations based on what we think we know also cause us to behave in ways that unfairly affect others. Unconscious bias can stand in the way of inclusive classroom dynamics. The goal of this session is to provide participants with insights for integrating inclusive strategies in virtual and face-to-face teaching and learning environments. The session will be interactive.

Noon – 12:15 p.m. CST/1:00 – 1:15 p.m. EST

12:15 – 1:15 p.m. CST/1:15– 2:15 p.m. EST

Dr. Melissa Geil and Dr. Patricia Harms, “Creating an Inclusive Business Communication Course and Classroom”

Session Description: Building on the foundation provided by Dr. Chirino-Klevans, Drs. Geil and Harms will facilitate a session designed to help attendees put ideas into action. The presenters will share specific inclusion strategies they’ve incorporated into their own courses, and they’ll also invite attendees to share their ideas and strategies. The session will be divided into four parts: 1) establishing an inclusive environment, 2) empowering students, 3) designing inclusive activities and assignments, and 4) considering students’ needs when grading and providing feedback.


Dr. Chirino-Klevans has served in many leadership positions such as Assistant Dean of Executive Education at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and founding member of Duke Corporate Education (DukeCE). Duke CE has consistently been ranked as number one in executive education in the world. She holds a doctorate in Psychology, an MBA, and a M Sc in Psychology.

Dr. Chirino-Klevans consults extensively with global organizations on topics related to Global Leadership, Decision Making, Diversity and Inclusion. Her research interests are the integration of technology, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence (expert systems) in skill development. She is a multiple award winner for the development of virtual reality simulations focused on conflict management across cultures and cultural competence. Dr. Chirino-Klevans is a consultant for NASCAR and is an instructor in the MBA@UNC program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, USA. She has a guest faculty appointment at the International School of Management in Paris. She is a former Olympic gymnast.

Dr. Melissa Geil joined the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School faculty in 2018. Prior to that, Dr. Geil taught business communication, writing, and literature for 6 years in the UNC Chapel Hill Department of English and Comparative Literature where she was awarded the Joseph Flora award for teaching excellence. She teaches core business communication courses in the Master of Accounting Program and for the Undergraduate Business Program at UNC Kenan Flagler. Additionally, Dr. Geil teaches Professional Communication for the Graduate School.

Dr. Geil's research interests include professional communication in academia and disability studies. She is the author of the chapter on "Business Writing" for the Tar Heel Writing Guide (2017). She earned a double major BA in Economics and English from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her PhD in English from Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Patricia Harms is a clinical professor of management and corporate communication at UNC Kenan-Flagler where she teaches written and oral business communication in face-to-face, hybrid, and virtual courses. Her current research interests include visual rhetoric, slide design, and communicating with data; performance feedback; virtual teaching and learning; and business writing strategies and trends.

Dr. Harms is co-author of the forthcoming text Business Communication with Dr. Heidi Schultz (McGraw-Hill, 2023). She is the Southeastern U.S. Regional Vice President for the Association for Business Communication and serves on the review board for Business and Professional Communication Quarterly. She received her PhD in rhetoric and professional communication and her MA in business and technical communication from Iowa State University and her BSN from the University of Pennsylvania.


Symposium contacts:  Kathryn Rybka and Patricia Harms