Payton HeadHeadshot

Payton Head

At the forefront of discussions about race relations on college campuses, the former University of Missouri student body president offers practical strategies for fostering acceptance and diversity.  

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A rising community leader, Payton Head details the adversities caused by race, gender and sexual orientation discrimination and proven solutions to facilitate open dialogue and embrace marginalized communities.

A queer black man, Payton has experienced firsthand the impacts of an underlying racist culture. While president of the University of Missouri's Students' Association, he spearheaded conversations about systemic racism on campus, which sparked student protests that made national headlines and led to the resignation of the University’s president.

Payton's courage and leadership led him to help organize and present at the first White House Convening for Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Ed, and to partner with the National Campus Leadership Council and the Department of Education to co-author a guide for student leaders for addressing inclusion.

Drawing from the guide, now a benchmark on campuses nationwide, Payton brings his leadership and communication strategies to schools across the country. 

In 2019, Payton received his Master’s Degree in “Public Policy in Global Conflict and International Development” from The University of Chicago. In that time he was handpicked to work with the Obama Foundation Scholars on issues related to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Payton speaks candidly about his personal experiences, including the unique balance required of leaders who represent and advocate for individuals with different backgrounds and from diverse communities. With powerful examples to illustrate the importance of developing institutional cultures that are grounded in acceptance, he empowers students and campus administrators to fight hatred with radical love for others and for themselves.

Former President of the Missouri Students Association & Activist
Keywords: Race; Black History Month; Equality; Diversity; LGBTQ

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