Community and business leader Will Miller, president of The Wallace Foundation in New York City and former president and CEO of Irwin Management Co. in Columbus, will be the keynote speaker at the April 10 Columbus Human Rights Commission annual dinner.
Miller said by email that his talk will focus on how a commitment to making everyone in a community feel welcome and respected is in everyone’s best interest.
The event’s theme is “The Columbus Journey to Building a Welcoming Community.”
“Unfortunately, the instinct to mistreat others unlike yourself is strong in all humans,” Miller said.
WHAT: Columbus Human Rights Commission annual dinner.
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. April 10.
WHERE: The Commons.
PROGRAM: Recognition of Owen Hungerford as the William R. Laws Human Rights Award recipient; featured speaker, Will Miller, president of The Wallace Foundation in New York City and former president and CEO of Irwin Management Co. in Columbus. Also recognized will be winners of the Benjamin M. King Essay Contest and J.I. Miller Art Contest.
THEME: “The Columbus Journey to Building a Welcoming Community.”
TICKETS: $30 a person. Tables of eight can be purchased together. Deadline is April 5.
WHERE TO BUY TICKETS: The Human Rights Commission office on the first floor of City Hall or by mailing checks to the commission at 123 Washington St., Columbus, IN 47201.
INFORMATION: 376-2532 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It is hard to imagine a day when any place can truly say there is no discrimination anymore. That’s why we will always need to talk about respecting others and help hold each other accountable to overcoming these instinctive reactions with rational thought and behavior.”
Miller encourages anyone being discriminated against to remember they don’t have to face the challenges alone.
“Seek out those who care about your difficulties and go to work with them on changing the situation — not only for yourself, but for others both like you and unlike you. Together, you can make a difference,” Miller said.
Miller said he had great role models in his late parents, J. Irwin and Xenia Miller of Columbus, who were active in social issues and human rights locally.
“They taught me that a life lived in service of others was a surer way to happiness than the pursuit of self-interest,” Miller said.
“My experiences in life, both in success and failure, have shown me how true that is.”
Miller’s current work with The Wallace Foundation involves enhancing and enriching the least advantaged children in the U.S. by working with public schools and communities. The foundation was created to honor DeWitt and Lila Acheson Wallace, founders of The Reader’s Digest Association.
“I was interested in a position in philanthropy because I was looking for a mission-driven chapter in my career,” said Miller, adding that he thought he could contribute based on what he learned from his work in Columbus with the Community Education Coalition.
Lorraine Smith, director of the Columbus Human Rights Commission, said work of the organization has evolved since its beginnings in the 1960s, but it still is the office where residents can seek information or file a discrimination complaint related to race, religion, color, gender, disability, national origin or ancestry.
The office also provides education and training to the community and its residents.
That outreach includes speaking to students, offering training sessions for businesses to help them understand the requirements of anti-discrimination laws, helping individuals file discrimination complaints, investigating complaints and partnering with other organizations to provide education about human rights issues.
“We want to facilitate change,” said Smith, who has worked at the commission’s office for 26 years, including serving as director since May 2011.