Our First Ever DEIA Progress Report

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A Letter from President & COO, Erin Lewellen

Throughout our organization’s history we have been on a journey to deepen our understanding and commitment to DEIA work. In the past year, we’ve made significant strides toward enriching this commitment, and are now at a moment when living our values means it is time to share our learnings openly.

Our goal is to invite others in, to show people what we are learning, where we are making progress and where we are falling short. We want to invite feedback from our greater community and hopefully, through that dialogue, advance the collective journey toward championing equity.

This year we focused on two primary bodies of work: 1) Developing a set of strategic practices toward integrating our DEIA commitment across our organization and 2) Establishing the DEIA Council in order to bring more teammates into our DEIA work. As a result of these two focus areas, we instituted significant reforms to our hiring and staff recruitment practices, staff engagement metrics, social media strategy, and more.

At our core, we believe that equity, empathy, curiosity, courage, and conviction are the drivers that will make the world a more just and sustainable place, and we will continue to do the deep work that living our values entails, even and especially when it’s uncomfortable and hard. As President/COO, I know it’s critical I serve as an active participant in this work with humility and openness, squarely alongside the collective work of our team. I am grateful for my teammates on the Council — Tsering Alleyne, Doug Bozick, Rocío Bravo, Odiaka Gonzalez, Renato Guimaraes, Abby Lindsay, Emmy DeFigueiredo, Archana Rao, and Molly Lister Weissman — for driving many of these efforts. And thank you to our community for your ongoing support of our work on this long road toward dismantling systems and structures of oppression. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Sincerely,
Erin Lewellen
President & COO

A Letter from VP of People & Operations, Odiaka Gonzalez

In order for our organization to thrive, we must cultivate a workplace in which employees feel comfortable and encouraged to bring their authentic selves to work. Our progress toward this goal requires a concerted focus on DEIA efforts, which we develop through a dynamic process of implementation, reflection, learning, and growth guided by our core values: 

 

  • Conviction: we know that our DEIA work is absolutely essential to our mission and we must champion its importance across our organization in order to have greater impact with the young people we serve. 
 
  • Courage: we must lean into difficult and uncomfortable conversations with staff and our greater community, recognize and admit our shortcomings, and take responsibility for our actions and impact. 
 
  • Equity: we must own that advancing equity is embedded within every aspect of our work and do what we can to provide equitable opportunities for our participants and staff. 
 
  • Empathy: we must put the person first by taking the time to listen, understand and learn from all of our stakeholders.
 
  • Curiosity: there is so much we don’t know, it is imperative that we remain humble, ask questions, invite feedback, and take time to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re trying to go. 
 

Looking forward, these values will continue to guide us on our DEIA journey. We are honored and humbled to be able share this reflection on our efforts in the past year.

Sincerely,
Odiaka Gonzalez
VP of People & Operations

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