Chamber of Commerce of Greater Montgomery County Forms Inclusion Council

Image via the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce.
Inclusion Council members including Dr. Francis Jeyaraj (r).

The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Montgomery County is taking action to make a difference through the formation of its first inclusion council. Its tagline — Diversity Doesn’t Divide Us, It Brings Us Together — encapsulates its important mission.

The council comprises business community members with diverse backgrounds of race, ethnicity, gender, and ability.

Its first meeting was held recently to discuss strategies to promote an inclusive chamber in which all business owners feel valued and supported.

A Chamber Reflective of Society

“We understand the work is ongoing and it is a process, but our goal is to have a chamber that reflects our society,” said Vernessa Hopkins, council co-chair.

The council will be working closely with Donna Richemond, Chief of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of the Montgomery County Commissioners office. In collaboration with her, it will explore outreach opportunities to connect with and understand the needs of Montco’s diverse business communities.


The work has already started with the chamber’s second Cultural Celebration, held Feb. 23.

It combined a celebration of multiculturalism with a business networking opportunity.

To the delight of attendees, it capped off with a tasting session with an international flair. Chamber members prepared traditional dishes that reflected their own heritages. Backgrounds represented included those of:

The day’s agenda also included a presentation, “Celebrating Our Cultural Difference While Focusing on the Importance of Being Able to Work Together.” Speakers were:

  • George Whitehair, Executive Director of the Boston Legacy Foundation in Lansdale and Publicity Chair of the International Spring Festival
  • Shane Wheeler, CEO, Volunteer Medical Corp., Lansdale

What’s Next

Next up for the Inclusion Council is the Apr. 15 International Spring Festival (ISF).

It’s the 33rd edition of the popular event at North Penn High School.

Inclusion council member (also one of its founders) Dr. Francis Jeyaraj has contributed invaluable input on this event. He and the entire inclusion council will be championing the 2023 edition and its educational value with even greater fervor.

A 2023 initiative between the Inclusion Council and the ISF is the creation of a “unity poster” of congratulations to Gov. Josh Shapiro, former Abington resident and Montgomery County Commissioner.

The 20-foot document will be unfurled at the ISF; attendees can sign it with well wishes to the new governor in their native languages as a demonstration of community diversity.

Once the ISF concludes, it will be delivered to Harrisburg.


The International Spring Festival highlights not only the foods of other nations but also arts such as dance.

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