It’s been just a few weeks since my fellow co-chairs and I shared a complete look at the sessions and speakers for the Themed Entertainment Association’s SATE Seattle 2019. Our most recent announcements included Keynote Speaker, Starbucks Senior Recruiter Neiha Arora as well as entertainment for the program, singer Alexandria Henderson, said to be the first African American woman to play Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods—on a Seattle stage in fact. This week, the stories we’ve been crafting and nurturing for this conference meet their audience.
Months ago, President of WhiteWater’s Park Attractions Division, Nathan Jones and Director of Business Development at Color Reflections Las Vegas, Shannon Martin, and I had our first conversation about what this SATE could be. By its very nature, SATE (Storytelling + Architecture + Technology = Experience) comprises so many creative ideas and fields that the possibilities are truly endless. But we had to choose a path and that path was one that each of us had tread in our personal and professional lives: recognizing differences in one another and making those differences work in symphony for the greater good. As co-chairs, we’ve walked that path together and now invite others to join us.
The need to embrace diversity—as our theme “Embracing Diversity: Experiences that Bring People Together” urges—could not be more pressing. The World Economic Forum estimates that gender equality in the U.S. will not be achieved for another 208 years.* 26 U.S. states do not expressly protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.** 70 United Nations member states still criminalize same-sex relations between consenting adults.† There are 2 million immigrants and refugees in the U.S. with college degrees from their home countries but remain unemployed or working far below their skill level.‡
These are sobering statistics, to be sure, but to dwell on them without action is unacceptable. It’s clear we need to do better. And we can. SATE brings together creators from all over the world, from all different walks of life, and from trades of every kind. Together, we create entire worlds; it follows that we can create a better one.
To embrace diversity is to embrace possibility. We hope TEA SATE Seattle 2019 clearly demonstrates this. We have new voices. We’ve changed up the program. We have the most women on stage of any previous SATE conference. And we’re ready to learn from all our speakers and everyone in the audience.
We look forward to our paths coming together in Seattle and beyond.