Consulting Testimonials

Mark Chapin

As a director of a large government department, I was searching for resources to drive my organization’s strategic objectives; one of which is diversity and inclusion (D&I). I hired a very talented individual whose tasks included diversity and inclusion. Although this individual was open and willing to learn, he had no experience or specialized D & I knowledge.

We contracted with Lila Kelly, who was masterful in creating a program for this staff person and teaching him everything from role/responsibilities, demographic changes, D&I development models, business case, skills for identifying underlying issues, a D & I audit, strategies for creating a D & I action plan/steps, and a conflict management model with strategies for dealing with push back.

Based on Lila’s training program, I now have a D & I resource that is competent, knowledgeable and most importantly is plugged into Lila Kelly’s D & I network. He is now fully capable in driving our efforts both in the department and as a county-wide D & I resource. I would highly recommend connecting with Lila Kelly if you are seeking to develop your staff members.

Mark Chapin- Director of Resident and Real Estate Services, Hennepin County, Minneapolis, MN
Steve Sweere

Lila Kelly served as my instructor and mentor in the field of diversity and inclusion. I met with Lila for intensive one-on-one sessions where she worked to provide me with a history of diversity and inclusion, an overview of the work from the generic to the very specific, and an understanding of the challenges involved in working in this ever-evolving field of study and practice.

She challenged me to review my own cultural competency, and provided the tools to actively engage in a self-evaluation process so that I might better evaluate our departmental and organizational needs and objectives.

The training and insight Lila provided combined with her ongoing willingness to serve as a resource has given me the confidence to take my place among the Diversity and Inclusion professionals working to drive the D&I efforts of Hennepin County.

Steve Sweere- Communications/Diversity and Inclusion, Resident and Real Estate Services, Hennepin County, Minneapolis, MN
Ayanna Farrell, M.Ed

Lila performed an assessment and provided recommendations and an outline of a Strategic Action Plan for the Recruitment and Retention of Staff of Color for our districts. Her assessment interviews with staff were very helpful. Her ability to have these conversations with staff started to plant seeds, upon which equity staff could follow up. Also her assessment of “combing through” the policies and procedures was very helpful. This showed how they were perceived by management, and then the interviews showed what was actually being done.

That Lila is white/not a person of color, is objective, and understands the value of this work allowed her to have difficult conversations with staff, particularly white administrative staff. She took a very strategic approach and was both authentic and passionate in her work.

Based on Lila’s work, I was able to discussed findings and recommendations with the administration team and take action in a number of areas, including: Created a position to focus on recruiting and retaining staff of color; Started an Affinity Group for staff of color to focus on the retention of staff of color; Administrators (hiring managers) began meeting three times a year to discuss inclusive practices for interviewing and hiring; and Implemented inclusive/structured interview questions and format. The final report was comprehensive, overwhelming, and addressed many areas that need work.

Ayanna Farrell, M.Ed- Educational Equity Alliance, Independent School Districts 622 & 832, North St. Paul, MN
Mark Chapin

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office hired Lila Kelly to help create a diversity action plan. Lila interviewed staff members, reviewed current and historical documents related to diversity and created a five year diversity action plan which was adopted by the Office’s Executive Committee. Her recommendations were challenging to meet but were on the mark. The plan is still unfolding, and the Office has experienced much success in integrating diversity and inclusion in the way it does its work.

Mark Chapin- Director of Resident and Real Estate Services (former Chief Deputy in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office), Hennepin County, Minneapolis, MN
Paul Eastwold

Lila Kelly worked collaboratively with program supervisors in our school district to find well-qualified staff. She improved our staff selection process by adding greater consistency and organization. She managed to do this successfully despite varied viewpoints among the strong-minded supervisors with whom she worked. She also ensured the recruitment and selection process was as inclusive as possible.

It has been a pleasure working with her, and I greatly respect her values and ethics, especially as they pertain to fair access to meaningful employment.

Paul Eastwold- Building Administrator and Program Supervisor, Intermediate School District 287, Plymouth, MN
Amy Sward

Lila Kelly provided the District with outstanding, broad and diverse licensed and non-licensed candidates for employment in our schools. As a Supervisor of a large site, the need to constantly hire staff was simplified by the work done by Lila through recruitment as well as through the development of more unified procedures throughout our district.

Words to describe Lila would include tenacious, thorough, honest, direct, organized, articulate, open and hard-working. Lila set clear expectations for herself and others and worked diligently to meet those expectations.

It is without hesitation that I would recommend Lila for a position in any school district or business wanting to improve their practices surrounding diversity. She is both dedicated and passionate about representing organizations while creating diverse and productive environments.

Amy Sward- Supervisor, Hosterman Education Center, Intermediate School District 287, Plymouth, MN
Assistant VP of HR

Lila served in a consultant capacity for approximately six months, during which time she served as interim HR manager, coordinated and began to centralize all recruiting efforts, and drafted a job description for a Recruiting Assistant position. She also conducted a “Brown Bag Lunch” session on interviewing techniques, worked with HR staff in defining HR roles, and provided outplacement assistance. Lila was able to bring a wealth of experience to our organization and provided a key role during that time.

Assistant VP of HR- Health Systems Integration, Bloomington, MN
John M. Cherek

On behalf of the Operations Management Team, I want to thank you for your professional guidance in our recent field manager and field worker hiring process. You obviously have excellent listening skills. After spending only a few hours with our team, you developed a set of interview questions, which enabled us to cut our hiring process time in half. The structuring of the questions provided an easy to use format as well as achieving thoroughness and accuracy.

We feel you served us well in working through this specific process; however, the real value of your consultation lies in the tools you gave to us. In the future we will be fully capable to design and structure our own set of interview questions unique to the position we are trying to fill. In our estimation that is the true test of a successful consultant.

John M. Cherek- Director, The Catholic Cemeteries, St. Paul, MN

Training, Facilitation and Education Testimonials

Dr. Linda Hopper

It was a pleasure working with you! You delivered a high quality and important presentation that was research-based. It was well received by all in attendance. My only regret is that we did not get to spend more time with each other. I hope that we get a chance to work together again!!!!

Thank you for sharing all of your hard work (research) and experience with diversity and hiring strategies. You were GREAT!!!

Participants’ Comments:
• “Truly enjoyed Cultural Competencies for Hiring in the 21st Century. Loved the videos.”
• “Lila Kelly was an excellent presenter. The information she shared was practical and “useable.” I was challenged to revise interview questions.”
• “The speaker was very knowledgeable on cultural competencies. She was interesting to listen to and generated good discussions throughout our groups.”
• “Ms. Kelly’s presentation caused me to reflect on my personal thoughts and behaviors and challenged me to think differently.”

Dr. Linda HopperAssistant Superintendent,Cleveland County Schools, NC

Thank you for your excellent presentation on Diversity in the Job Interview Process. Feedback I have received from staff in attendance has been very positive. After the session I observed several of the participants in the hallway continuing a discussion of the information obtained from your presentation! We look forward to bringing you back again for future workshops

MarciaRamsey County, Community Human Services Dept.
Conrad Derus

One of the features of your presentation which I found particularly effective was your use of videos. It was interesting to hear how the interviewees perceived their interviewers and interpreted the questions. I think you clearly demonstrated how easy it is to be misunderstood.

I would also like to compliment you on the excellent way you delivered your presentation. You come across as a knowledgeable person, with a lot of enthusiasm for your subject. I think it was obvious from the questions and discussion that everyone there found the subject fascinating.

Participants’ Comments:
• “It was interesting to hear how the interviewees perceived their interviewers and interpreted the questions.
• “Great videos; they bring diversity into the room. Very good program – helpful ideas on how I might change my interview questions and re-assess my interview style. Am I being as neutral as I think I am? I plan to be more conscious of how I start interviews.”
• “I have been to a lot of diversity trainings, but I have never been to one that has gone into this kind of depth before.”
• “Great facilitator, she let us all contribute and learn. Tackling cultural misunderstanding was helpful.”
• “Lila had a lot of knowledge and life experiences to share. She had good responses to questions posed throughout the seminar. It helped to hear others’ ideas on how they handle different situations.”
• “It helped me to identify nonverbals that I may subconsciously portray, and to stay aware of the overall site, including behaviors, actions, and words of those around me.”
• “It helped me become more aware of changes we need to make in our interview methods, questions and screening. Good group discussions. The video was great!”

Conrad DerusSouth Minneapolis Workforce Center’s Job Service Employers Council
Diversity Discussion Groups Facilitation

“Lila Kelly creates a safe and welcoming environment where professionals, who care about issues of diversity, can share, discuss and create meaningful partnerships. Lila is an expert facilitator who knows how to initiate a discussion and relate it to the opportunities professionals are facing at work.”

“This truly is one of the best discussion groups that I attend. I have always been impressed by the welcoming environment, the mix of participants, and the quality of the discussions. The questions participants bring clearly matter and the group always delivers insight. When I have come to your group with challenges I always get specific ideas, resources and leads. You facilitate the group graciously, yet challenge our thinking, leading the discussion in very interesting and meaningful directions.”

“The Diversity Discussion Group has been a terrific resource for me. Not only have I gained knowledge and insight to key issues but I have made networking connections that have positively impacted my career.”

“The monthly Diversity Discussion Group and diversity related topic emails have been a major resource for us as we continue to evolve our Diversity in Minnesota resource. Lila is a leader in promoting diversity in the workplace and the discussion groups she facilitates are insightful and sometimes inspiring. Her monthly updates on diversity events, people and articles related to diversity and inclusion issues have helped shape the direction, programs, communications and structure of our organization.”

Diversity Discussion Groups Facilitation
Elizabeth Banks

I have experienced heated debates between Black and White people in the classroom setting, and they have shook me up. Some professors think it is a real learning experience to voice it all. But it was physically and mentally draining for me, all that hate and anger being slung around the room for a learning tool. I usually do not fully agree with either side because I do not belong fully to either group.

I came into this class with a negative attitude. But it’s mandatory, so I prepared for the hate I was going to experience. I was quite impressed. The professor was not trying to instigate an emotional class setting. She kept things focused and corrected people with proper alternative words, or provided a sensitive after-thought or rebuttal to gray areas. The learning environment was wonderful for such a stressful topic. I learned a lot from just watching her talk about such emotionally charged issues with grace and respect. I believe this class will change lives.

Elizabeth Banksstudent, Managing a Diverse Workforce college course
Nancy Vue

I learned a lot from your class. I feel that many times diversity is not presented accurately. You, however, do a wonderful job covering every aspect of diversity.

Nancy Vuestudent, Managing a Diverse Workforce college course

Online Training Testimonials

Tirzah McPherson

What I really liked about Module Two was that there was specific language that I could use with my HR staff to discuss how to ask interview questions. A lot of my supervisors don’t want to admit that they may not be prepared for an interview with a protected class candidate; they don’t want to look ignorant in front of their colleagues. Having the information be presented in an online format allows them to learn despite feeling vulnerable about their lack of knowledge. The videos of diverse candidates have been really helpful. Candidates brought up solutions to interview and onboarding situations that I never thought of before. I would recommend this to others as a quality part of professional development for supervisors and HR professionals

Tirzah McPhersonInclusion Administrator, County Government

I was expecting this training to be more “fluff” and not get into the real nuts and bolts of the topic. However, my expectations were far exceeded with this excellent program. The strength of this online training is that Lila Kelly has researched diversity and how it shows up in job interviews and impacts work performance. Since her training is based on individuals’ experiences, the examples feel real and not some made-up possibilities. There are many practical and applicable gems in this training, along with quizzes that help make it a challenge and offer a chance to review one’s learning. It is a topic that is very important for interviewers.

GwenAdministrator, University of Minnesota

I felt like the concepts/ideas were presented very well. The use of examples was nice and brought the situations out into the light. I found the questions that potential employees may have for the interviewer interesting. I liked the examples and the different ways to approach them. This course will be very beneficial to those who cannot take the time to sit in a classroom.

HeatherRecruitment Specialist, Health Care Industry, Minneapolis, MN

I thought your online training was great. I can see us utilizing this as a training tool for managers and supervisors who conduct their own interviewing. I really liked how you started with information and then moved on to provide information on how to re-phrase interview questions to be more inclusive. The critical thinking questions really helped me evaluate my own interviewing skills, the people who should be included in interviews, the interview questions, and the things my organization can do to highlight our respect for diversity. I hope that I can work with you again in the future.

PangAssociate Human Resources Representative, Federal Reserve Bank, Minneapolis, MN
Ruthie Gearhart

I wondered how closely the online training followed Lila’s book. I recognized the quotes and scenarios from the book during the training, and it was interesting to see pictures/videos off the people in the book and hear their stories in their own voices.

Ruthie GearhartTalent Acquisition Specialist for a large bank, Minneapolis, MN

Books Testimonials

Sondra Theiderman

Recruitment, interviewing, hiring – this is one place to go to learn all the fundamentals on these three important functions. And better yet, the ins and outs of diversity/inclusion are woven throughout this practical material. A variety of quotes and quizzes help make this book an excellent training guide to build cultural competencies for talent acquisition. I am pleased to see that Lila Kelly has called on her 20 years experience to create material to fill a gap in available resources on this topic. From cultural competencies to overcoming bias to interviewing skills, Ms. Kelly’s book is a valuable resource that no one involved in the recruitment, diversity, EEO/AA compliance, or HR functions can afford to pass up.

Sondra TheidermanPh.D., Speaker, Trainer, Author, Bias Reduction and Workplace Inclusion
Dr. Linda Hopper

Your book is great…research- based, flows well, and interesting. You have revealed what is missing in hiring quality people…the interview process and understanding barriers (known and unknown). I learned a lot from the first chapter! Thank you for all of your hard work and research over the years and your willingness to share with our district.

Dr. Linda HopperAssistant Superintendent, Cleveland County Schools, Shelby, NC
Pam Siebert

I was charged with revising our hiring practices in light of our organizational values and focus on diversity and inclusion. We have not always been successful at attracting and retaining a diverse staff, and this book helped to uncover some of the potential barriers. Specifically, I used the chapter on bias (Chapter 3) as part of a one-hour interviewer training (that is going to be mandatory for all staff conducting interviews) as a jumping off point to discuss our potential biases and how we will mitigate them.

Pam SiebertOperations Director, National Youth Leadership Council, St. Paul, MN
Marna Dahlgren

My Inclusiveness Committee went through the directory and checked out websites. Your book has valuable information for people wanting to recruit and retain diverse staff. It also has some good resources for procuring speakers for workshops. Thanks so much for writing this book! It will be so helpful to many of us.

Marna DahlgrenStaffing Coordinator, Anoka Hennepin School District, Community Education Department
Jennifer S. Evans-Hall

Great eye-openers!! Lila’s books are unique in that they provide literal examples of interview situations that impact applicants in ways supervisors may not have ever considered. In addition, the information in her books is valuable when onboarding new hiring supervisors and managers.

Jennifer S. Evans-HallPHR, Staffing Manager, HR Department
Dayna L. Wolfe, M.D.,

This book is an invaluable resource for the Medtronic A.B.L.E.D. Employee Resource Group mentoring program. The case vignettes illustrate scenarios which may serve to sensitize an inexperienced interviewer or applicant. What a great contribution to the field of human resources.

Dayna L. Wolfe, M.D., Medtronic, Inc., A.B.L.E.D. Employee Resource Group Steering Committee Co-Chair
Bill Handschin, Ph.D., L.P.

Lila Kelly’s book, Employment Interviewing: Diverse Applicants Speak Out—Barriers That Cause Employers to Lose Qualified Applicants, is an easy read and full of useful information and examples. The advice is sound and the examples illustrate important techniques in the interviewing process. Its primary focus is shifting attention from the chores of interviewer to how the messages being sent during the interview are likely to be received by the applicant and hence affect the outcome of the hiring process. For those of us with extensive training and experience in interviewing, it is an important reminder that we are all different, and that understanding those differences is important in establishing two-way communication. I highly recommend it.

Bill Handschin, Ph.D., L.P.President, Talent Management

Career Transition and Job Ready Programs Testimonials


Our program assists women in transitioning into employment. Lila has been a presenter/trainer for our program for two years. She presents Communication and Conflict Management and Interview Preparation. Lila has been mentioned in several classes as one the best presenters. They like her presentation style and how she related these topics to their lives. Some of the quotes they have stated on the evaluations are: ‘She is easy to talk to,’ ‘She understands my point of view,’ and ‘She talks in a way that we understand.’ Many of the women who access our program are on AFDC or some subsidized program. Many have less than a high school education. Therefore, it is important that our presenters are able to identify their needs and present material so that they are ‘user friendly.’ Lila is an excellent presenter and has great training skills. She is an asset to our program.

JackieCatholic Charities WERC program, St. Paul, MN

Participants’ Comments:
“Lila is an outstanding instructor that knows what she’s talking about and does a good job of guiding the students to an understanding level. She has the skills and knowledge to accomplish this and has my thanks for a job well done!”

“Instructor was very easy to listen and talk to. Never made anyone feel like they had a ‘stupid’ question. Very understanding person.”

“Your help was instrumental in my job search and negotiation period. I stayed focused on looking for an outside sales position in the territory that I wanted, without getting impatient and taking something that didn’t fit my needs and job skills. I felt that this was a well planned out and executed campaign, thanks to your guidance. Thanks again for your help.”

“Lila has the right combination of tenderness and toughness that makes her easy to talk to and also gave her credibility. She’s good at putting people back on track and focusing them.”

“Lila helped me determine my priorities in future job positions.”

“Thank you for your presentation during the Career Transition Workshop. Your professional manner and willingness to respond to questions was very appreciated. Your discussion of job interviewing, handling stress, and salary negotiating was very helpful. The resulting dialogue and role-playing reinforced existing practices and developed new ideas.”

ParticipantsCareer Transition Workshops