The Greensboro Chamber of Commerce likes to keep a good thing going when it can, and, on Monday, May 1, Other Voices – a long-standing chamber program – celebrated its 30th class at a graduation celebration at the Proximity Hotel in Greensboro.

This latest class of grads included 31 people from diverse backgrounds from all sections of Greensboro.  They completed the nine-month diversity, equity, and inclusion program that’s meant to bring together people of all types of life experiences and have them engage in “frank and open dialogue to build insight and understanding of the roots of prejudice.”

According to information from the Chamber of Commerce, the completion of the  program involves a big-time commitment from participants and a whole lot of interactive engagement with others in the program.

The May 1 celebration was also an awards ceremony that honored four winners of the 2023 Change Agent Award –  an annual award given to community members and businesses that have promoted diversity, equity, and inclusion in Greensboro in a highly significant way.

This year’s honorees were Michelle Davis, the lead supervisor at Replacements Ltd.; Adrian Smith, the owner of Ice Age Management; Charles Aris, a supporter of minority youth programs; and a well known Greensboro company ­– The Fresh Market.

Davis advocates for the organization Mothers against Gun Violence and supports mothers who’ve lost children through shootings and also supports the local Crime Stoppers program.

Smith is a second-generation McDonald’s franchise owner who’s been a leader in providing “people-first” care as well as a big supporter of community organizations through giveaways, donations, and speaking engagements.

Aris created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee that “has made a real impact in the community through the Black Suit Initiative and the Bust the Bus Initiative.”

The Black Suit Initiative is a mentoring program for African American middle school and high school kids, while the Bust the Bus Initiative is an annual food drive that’s provided some big results.

The Fresh Market was honored by Other Voices for being a company committed to “creating a culture where all are welcomed and recognized.” The Fresh Market, according to Other Voices, has also promoted community advocacy and supplier diversity, and created  “an inclusive company culture while also supporting local communities.”