Your Quarterly DEI news & updates

Q4 2023

Happy Fall Fellow IREM Members!

It’s hard to believe this year is nearly over as we prepare for the upcoming holiday festivities. The fall season is truly one of my favorites. The descension of the leaves from the trees reminds me that new beginnings and opportunities for growth are on the horizon.

Speaking of growth, the IREM Maryland DEI committee has been continuously expanding and innovating to make a difference and our efforts have been recognized across the globe. I have been named as a finalist for the IREM DEI Excellence Award and am truly humbled and honored. This acknowledgment is not just for me, but for ALL of you who support this important initiative by serving on the committee, reading our newsletters, attending our events, and remaining culturally curious.

I also would like to share that Dani Bressler of Toepfer Construction Company, a committee member, will be stepping up as co-chair. We are super excited about this as the committee continues to usher new ideas to share and seek knowledge. We are thrilled to invite you to attend our first lunch and learn about Misgendering: What It Is and Why It Matters. This virtual session will occur at noon on November 15th. Please save the date – a Zoom link will be provided.

As always, thanks again for your support and we hope you enjoy this new season and cycle. We look forward to learning and growing with you as we strive to be beacons of change.

Sharón Turner – DEI Committee Chair – Leading with passion and purpose to make impactful changes.

October is Diversity Awareness Month!

After the Second World War, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly at the Palais de Chaillot, in Paris. The Declaration represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. It is essentially an acknowledgment that we should remember and understand the value of each human being, regardless of their nationality, color, race, sex, gender, country of origin, language, or otherwise.

Global diversity itself refers to the range of differences that describe the composition of a group of two or more people, in a cross-cultural and multi-national context. Many organizations and people believe that positively viewing and appreciating global diversity will allow us to adopt more inclusive practices around the world.

As the world becomes more and more connected and globalized, it’s important to remember that a ‘global monoculture’, or a homogenization of cultures, kills off traditional cultures and unique traits of people. Embracing cultural diversity – in all aspects of life – is the answer to avoiding a global monoculture. The best part is with all the technology we have today connecting with people on the other side of the world or learning about another culture is easy.

Celebrated in October, Global Diversity Awareness Month is a reminder of the positive impact a diverse culture of people can have on society. Learn more about Global Diversity Awareness at

Contributed by Sherraine Rawlins, Conifer Realty

Dutch American Heritage Day

Dutch American Heritage Day, celebrated annually on November 16th, is an occasion that pays tribute to the contributions of Dutch immigrants to the United States.

The Dutch have a long and storied history in the United States, dating back to the early 17th century when the Dutch East India Company established the colony of New Netherland, which encompassed parts of present-day New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut. Dutch settlers, often seeking religious freedom and economic opportunities, brought with them their traditions, language, and expertise in farming and trade.

Dutch American Heritage Day celebrates this enduring legacy by honoring Dutch contributions to various facets of American life including art, architecture, and food. One of the most iconic symbols of Dutch influence in America is New York City's original name, New Amsterdam. Moreover, the Dutch tradition of celebrating Sinterklaas was believed to be one of the foundations for the beloved American holiday figure, Santa Claus.

There were several prominent Dutch Americans including Presidents Martin Van Burren, Warren Harding, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. Two founding fathers of the United States, John Jay, and Egbert Benson were also of Dutch descent. 

Dutch American Heritage Day serves as a reminder of the diverse mosaic that is American heritage. It encourages us to appreciate the enduring influence of Dutch immigrants and their role in shaping the nation's history and culture.

To learn more visit or

Contributed by Rochelle Jackson, Foulger-Pratt

International Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day, observed annually on December 10th, serves as a poignant reminder of the fundamental rights and freedoms inherent to all individuals, regardless of their race, gender, nationality, or any other distinction. This day commemorates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, a watershed moment in history that enshrined the principles of equality, dignity, and justice for all.

Human Rights Day offers a platform to reflect upon the progress made in safeguarding human rights and to acknowledge the challenges that persist. It underscores the importance of fostering global awareness about the significance of human rights and advocating for their protection. This occasion prompts societies to evaluate their efforts in promoting inclusivity, eradicating discrimination, and ensuring that every person can exercise their rights without encumbrance.

Moreover, Human Rights Day compels us to address ongoing human rights violations, to stand in solidarity with those whose rights are being violated, and to reiterate our commitment to the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration. It encourages governments, organizations, and individuals to collaborate and devise effective strategies to advance human rights at both local and international levels.

In essence, Human Rights Day symbolizes our shared responsibility to create a world where every individual can live with freedom, dignity, and respect. By championing human rights, we pave the way for a more just and equitable global society, reaffirming our collective aspiration for a brighter future. For more information visit

Contributed by Holly Alexander, The Maven Group

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations, International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated on December 3rd to promote a better understanding and the well-being of people with mobilization and other disability issues.

Did You Know as an Industry Partner Acadia Windows & Doors L.L.C. has employed “differently abled” individuals since 2003? In partnership with The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region, individuals work in clerical, housekeeping, shipping, and manufacturing operations. Currently, 17% of our workforce is supported by The Arc NCR. 

Acadia’s partnership with The Arc NCR has made us a more inclusive company. Differently abled individuals participate in all aspects of life at Acadia. To date, Arc supported individuals have participated in the production of over 1.2 million windows and doors!

To learn more about International Day of Persons with Disabilities visit

Contributed by Kelly Murray Carey, Acadia Windows & Doors L.LC.

Did you know?

Polish American Heritage month has been celebrated in October since 1981. It highlights their rich cultural heritage, including traditions, cuisine, and historical achievements. The first Polish Americans settled in Jamestown, Virginia in 1608. Polish Americans have been contributing to the growth and development of our country ever since. Some notable Polish Americans are Marie Curie, Madeline Albright, the Warner Brothers, and many others continue to shape our country today.

To learn more visit 

The International Day for Tolerance, observed on November 16th, is an annual observance day declared by UNESCO in 1995 to generate public awareness of the dangers of intolerance. The day is observed in Bangladesh with the Peace Summit. The conference is a platform to talk and share each country’s challenges on issues like peace, tolerance, fake news, online safety, and hate.

To learn more visit International Day for Tolerance | UNESCO

Suggested Readings

”Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” by United Nations Publications

“Why the Dutch are Different: A Journey into the Hidden Heart of the Netherlands,” by Ben Coates, Ciaran Saward, et al.

“International Human Rights,” by Phillip Alston and Ryan Goodman

Contribute to the 2024 1st Quarter Newsletter

Here are some upcoming themes for our next newsletter. We welcome new contributors! If you have a topic to add, or would like to author an article, contact Kara Permisohn or Rochelle Jackson

Feature Articles (Write 150-200 words)

  • January – Louis Braille’s Birthday and Significance to the Blind
  • February – Tamy Baldwin’s Birthday: First openly LGBTQIA+ woman in Congress
  • March – Harriet Tubman’s Birthday / Abolitionist/Underground Railroad

Did You Know? (Write 50-75 words)

  • January – Makar Sankranti: Hindu Festival to the God of the Sun
  • February – Nirvana Day: Remembering the Death of Buddha
  • March – St. Patrick’s Day

DEI Newsletter Contributors

Committee Chair - Sharón Turner

Newsletter Co-Editors - Kara Permisohn & Rochelle Jackson


Holly Alexander | Kelly Murray Carey | Elisabeth Kirk

Rochelle Jackson |Sherraine Rawlins | Sharón Turner 

The IREM Maryland Chapter 16 recognizes that there is strength in diversity and is committed to cultivating and promoting an ethical culture where differences are celebrated. We are committed to ensuring that members, industry partners, staff, and guests are valued, respected, and provided access to opportunities regardless of race, age, gender identities, sexual orientation, creed, national origin and/or (dis)abilities. Discrimination and inequality are not acceptable; therefore, we encourage all members to listen and learn as we take this journey together and provide ongoing support to disassemble systemic discrimination. 
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