Discuss ‘What Is Unity?’ at next Unity Dinner

The Vanderbilt Project on Unity & American Democracy will host its next Unity Dinner, “What Is Unity?,” on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 5:30–7 p.m. This discussion, led by Stacy Clifford Simplican, Vanderbilt principal senior lecturer of gender and sexuality studies, will examine what unity is, who unity is for and whether it’s worth striving for. 

Dinner will be provided, and the event is limited to 25 participants. Registration is free and required for attendance. Register here to secure your spot. 

The Unity Dinner series intends to unite students, staff, faculty and community members from varying backgrounds, areas of expertise and worldviews. The Project aims to foster an environment where attendees learn from one another and can share their knowledge, experiences and opinions without fear of judgement—resulting in transformative communication. Dinners are centered around a topic of discussion and feature Vanderbilt faculty members who are experts on the selected topic. 

Simplican (she/her) will be the featured faculty member at the dinner on Sept. 27. She published a piece on the Unity Project website titled “Will Vanderbilt’s New Unity Lab Hire Me Even if I Dislike Unity?” She is the author of The Capacity Contract: Intellectual Disability and the Question of Citizenship (2015). She earned her doctorate in political science from Vanderbilt University. 

Simplican will co-facilitate the discussion with the following Unity Project staff members: 

Shevonne Nelson Dillingham (they/she) has more than 20 years of experience helping public and private organizations reach their diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Nelson Dillingham is the director for intercultural engagement within the Vanderbilt Project on Unity & American Democracy. They have a wealth of experience in higher education and have focused most recently on helping students, faculty and staff to learn about socially constructed difference and systems of oppression and to envision places and spaces that better reflect equality. 

Gray Sasser was appointed as the first executive director of the Vanderbilt Project on Unity & American Democracy in December 2020. He joined Vanderbilt from Frost Brown Todd LLC, where he was co-chair of the Blockchain and Digital Currency team and regularly advised clients on regulatory issues about cryptocurrency and U.S. securities law. A veteran of many political campaigns, Sasser began his professional career as a staff writer at The Tennessean. He received his J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School.