Improving diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace are top priorities for managers

Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI) is an important hiring framework for managers and business owners as they develop their workforce and workplace culture.

The concept of DEI is not new, but it has taken on an urgency for organizations looking to reflect the image and values of the customers they serve. The concept of DEI goes beyond class, race, ethnicity, and gender; understanding this helps managers set attainable objectives.

Monica Gould is the President and founder of Strategic Consulting Partners and will share what DEI is, why organizations need it, and how to see through the misconceptions. She appears on Smart Talk Tuesday, along with Susan Wallace, VP of Human Resources for Carlisle Construction Materials who will share her organization’s approach to DEI.

The end of US presence in Afghanistan met with mixed reactions

President Biden remained committed to withdrawing all US forces from Afghanistan by August 31, a date agreed upon between both the US and the Taliban.

With the deadline now past and all US forces out of country, many questions remain unanswered, including what went wrong with the drawdown and how could it have been done differently, without the chaos and uncertainty.

Some have suggested that Afghani’s feel the US abandoned them and that their forces were unable to fight without US military support. Now, in the complete absence of American influence, how will Afghani’s adapt to Taliban rule?

Mehdi Noorbaksh Ph.D., is a Professor of International Affairs and Business with Harrisburg University of Science and Technology and he joins Smart Talk Tuesday to offer a local perspective.

DCNR launches park access and management plan laying out course for next 25 years

Pennsylvania is a state rich in natural beauty and resources, including nearly 300,000 acres of state parks. Along with the state forest system, they are considered one of the largest tracts of public lands in the eastern United States.

There is state park within 25 miles of nearly every Pennsylvanian, and these areas saw a considerable increase in use during the pandemic as people sought outdoor recreation opportunities and open air.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources asked the public for input to a plan to manage the parks into the future, and they took that input and published a set of strategies for the next 25 years.

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn appears on Smart Talk Monday to share details of the Penn’s Parks for All plan.

Pennsylvania students begin first fully in-person school year since 2019

Most Pennsylvania students now are back in school. This is a milestone, as it is the first fully in-person school year since 2019.

The planning for this year has played out in the news media and in school board meetings across the state. Student and teacher safety is a high priority, as COVID-19 case numbers are rising in Pennsylvania and across the county.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended earlier this month that all students wear a mask in schools, regardless of their vaccination status. Governor Wolf did not issue a mask mandate, but instead recommended that school districts follow CDC guidance.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the planning for the new year and keeping schools open are Dr. Denise A. Johnson, MD., Acting Physician General, Pennsylvania Department of Health and Sherri Smith, Ed., Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Landmark report points directly to fossil fuels as the cause of extreme weather changes

The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report paints a frightening picture of the earth’s future unless action is taken immediately.

The cause of climate change points directly at human activity, primarily the use of fossil fuels, and the report states that only “strong and sustained” reductions in emissions can slow down the progression.

Michael Mann, Ph.D., Author/Distinguished professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State University and one of the world’s most respected climate change experts appears on Smart Talk Thursday to offer more details.

Dr. Mann’s most recent book The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet on climate change was published in January 2021.

The impact of learning loss on the horizon as schools set to reopen

Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, perhaps education has been the aspect of our lives that has been disrupted the most.

The end of the 2019-20 school year and the entire 2020-2021 year have been unlike any that schools, teachers and students have ever experienced. In most cases, educators have tried their best to conduct classes either in-person with masking and social distancing required or online or a combination of both. Even with innovation and lots of imagination, the conditions were not conducive for learning like in a normal class setting.

Some students and parents handled the unusual circumstances better than others. Parents have been given the option of holding their child back a year. Still others are concerned about what’s been described as learning loss during the past year and a half.

What should schools expect to see and how can they help children recover from the deficits?

Appearing on Smart Talk Wednesday are Dr. Bernard Harris, MD, CEO of the National Math and Science Initiative, Lyndsey Sturkey, Senior Director of Programs, Communities in Schools of PA, and Lauren Beal, Ed., D., Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 and a Pennsylvania STEM Ambassador.


The swift collapse of the Afghan government foreshadows a dark future for the country

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has been nothing short of a disaster and tragedy for the people of Afghanistan and the United States.

America’s longest war ended after 20 years when the Taliban reclaimed what it lost when the U.S. sought to drive the extremists out of power for harboring Al Queda, the terrorist group behind the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York, Washington and hijacking of a plane that crashed in Western Pennsylvania.

More than two thousand Americans lost their lives in the war and another twenty thousand were wounded. Tens of thousands of Afghans were killed and many are in danger now for helping the United States. Women and girls are especially vulnerable right now. Politicians are pointing fingers at who is to blame — but what happened?

Legislation to track state government spending introduced in state Senate

Transparency in government is what every taxpayer expects, but there are limits to what they actually get.

Recent reporting by SpotlightPA and The Caucus highlighted how difficult it is to uncover how lawmakers spend millions of taxpayer dollars, on perks and on daily business. The investigation called the Hidden Tab illustrates how burdensome and time-consuming it is to determine how lawmakers are using and spending taxpayer money.

Democratic state Senator Lindsey M. Williams of Allegheny County intends to change that by introducing legislation that would require all expenses be published online in a searchable format.

Senator Williams appears on Smart Talk Monday to detail how this bill would improve transparency within the Senate and state government.

Economic recovery hinges on women in the workforce but many struggle with childcare

One in five people who haven’t returned to work during the ongoing pandemic say it’s because they can’t find affordable, reliable childcare. Women workers have been especially impacted.

The effort to create more jobs and improve the nation’s “traditional” infrastructure is playing out in Congress, now, as Democratic lawmakers work to push through the Biden administration’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill.

Not included in that bill is childcare. Children’s advocates say that is a mistake because the “care infrastructure” is “key pillar” holding up the US economy.

Appearing on Smart Talk to make their case are Stephanie Doliveira VP Human Resources at Sheetz, Inc., and co-chair of Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission and Andrea Heberlein, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission.

Florida Governor digs in against mask mandates while the state sets infection records

The number of COVID-19 cases are breaking records in Florida. Hospitalization rates are, as well. In fact, the number of patients hospitalized this month with the Coronavirus has surpassed the numbers from a year ago when there were no vaccines available.

Governor Ron DeSantis is doubling down on his position banning mask mandates for schools, even going so far as to threaten pay cuts to those who impose mandatory masking.

Mary Ellen Klas, is the Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau chief and she appears on Smart Talk Thursday to discuss what’s happening in Florida and why it matters here.

For more on public health issues plus a deeper look at the changing tide of healthcare–check out WITF’s Transforming Health. Online at, a partnership of WITF, WellSpan Health and Capital Blue Cross.