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HR Leadership and Gray Area Thinking

  • September 21, 2021
  • 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
  • Virtual via Zoom

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All humans habitually categorize and group others who are “different” from “us,” which often lends to black and white thinking, as in “good” versus “bad” or “native” versus “immigrant” and a host of other isolating labels.

With this presentation, Ellen (Ellie) Krug offers a toolset—Gray Area Thinking™—for interacting with diverse humans in a mindful and compassionate way.

Attendees will appreciate and value how it’s necessary to consciously work to “Think Gray!”™ Gray Area Thinking™ is a simple three-part toolset for interacting with diverse humans:

  1. Awareness of another human’s vulnerability or suffering;
  2. Risk-taking to alleviate or lesson that vulnerability or suffering; and
  3. Compassion and kindness for both self and others.

At the age of fifty-two, Ellen (Ellie) Krug (pronounced “Kroog”) transitioned from male to female while living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Although not at all easy, transitioning genders gave Ellie the opportunity for a “do-over” in life, which has included working to make the world fairer and more inclusive for all humans, particularly those considered “Other.”

With over 100 civil trials to her credit, Ellie was the first Iowa lawyer to ever transition genders and one of the few attorneys nationally to try jury cases in separate genders. She later relocated to the Twin Cities where she served as the founding executive director of a legal nonprofit that was conferred an American Bar Association award for innovatively increasing legal access.

The author of Getting to Ellen: A Memoir about Love, Honesty and Gender Change (2013), Ellie has presented on diversity and inclusion to governmental entities, court systems, Fortune 100 companies, law firms, nonprofits, and colleges/universities on 800+ occasions. A hopeless idealist, Ellie has presented her human inclusivity training, “Gray Area Thinking® across North America.

In 2016, Advocate Magazine named Ellie one of “25 Legal Advocates Fighting for Trans Rights.” She is a monthly columnist for Lavender Magazine and Minnesota Womens Press, and pens a widely-circulated monthly e-newsletter, The Ripple, that reaches 9000 readers. Ellie views herself as an “Inclusionist” and founded an inclusion-oriented consulting and training company, Human Inspiration Works, LLC, in 2016.

In 2019, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal conferred its 2019 Business of Pride Career Achievement Award to Ellie and her company, Human Inspiration Works, LLC. In that same year, OutFront Minnesota, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, conferred Ellie its 2019 Legacy Award.

Ellie is also a weekly radio and podcast host; her show, Ellie 2.0 Radio,” on AM950 in the Twin Cities, with nearly 200 episodes, highlights idealism and how each of us can play a role in fostering positive change in the world.

2021/22 Event Schedule
4:30 - 5:00 p.m.   Networking
5:00 - 6:00 p.m.   Program

Cancellation Policy
We understand that sometimes you are not able to attend an event that you have paid for. All attendees have been factored into our costs and therefore, we are not able to offer refunds, but would be happy to move your registration to the next event for you. Please contact our office for additional details.

Photography/Video Policy
The Human Resources Executive Forum (HREF) reserves the right to use any photograph or video taken at any event sponsored by HREF, without the expressed written permission of those in the photograph or video.

The September Program is proudly sponsored by:


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