In June 2018, Omaha Community Foundation began partnership with the Center for Equity and Inclusion (CEI) to guide a journey for further understanding and implementation of race equity in our work. While the Foundation sees it as a fundamental human right and sign of a healthy community for there to be equal opportunity for all, we understand that there is room for growth in our collective knowledge base. Through this ongoing partnership, we have discovered areas within our own company culture that were subject to realignment to be reflective of an inclusive and non-dominant culture that celebrates the strength and connectedness found in diversity.
Our journey began with a two-day workshop where leadership from CEI made in-depth presentations about white supremacy, unconscious bias, and racial injustice in addition to guiding large and small group discussions. During our time together staff members were able to share personal experiences of race and how they may surface a day-to-day basis. At the conclusion of the retreat our team left with new understandings of intersectionality and race—not only within the community, but among fellow staff as well.
In the months to follow, OCF staff invested more than 30 hours with CEI to:
- Create a safe space where racialized experiences can be shared
- Adopt and utilize inclusive language provided by CEI
- Read articles and books about race equity
- Understand more about dominant culture and how it shows up in the workplace or community
- Identify staff members to serve on the Equity Team
After a year together with CEI guiding our learning, an Equity Team was created comprised of six OCF staff members who volunteered their time and talents to continue the work of CEI. While CEI is no longer leading workshops with the entire staff, we knew we wanted to continue to implement and hold ourselves accountable to an inclusive workplace.
The Equity Team currently meets on a monthly basis to review internal policies and procedures (going on to apply an Equity Lens and Charter), brainstorm ways to center race equity in our work with the community (guided by our Equity Statement), plan events for the entire staff, and share knowledge.
Equity Team Members:
- Emily Nguyen
- Juan Padilla
- Katrina Adams
- Matt Darling
- Devin Owens
- Russell Johnston
A recent event hosted by the Equity Team was viewing the Brene Brown Netflix special, The Call to Courage, as a staff. While the general theme of the film focused on overcoming fear and the power of vulnerability, Brown touched on how acceptance can lead to deeper understanding of who we are. Therefore creating inclusive spaces for all to show up authentically. The event, hosted during business hours, was followed by breakout discussions and a group share of takeaways from the film.
The Equity Team plans to host all staff events on a quarterly basis.
In addition to event opportunities, the Equity Team will also be sharing resources and web articles to continue the learning process around race equity and inclusion. Here’s what our team is currently reading:
In order to remain transparent with the community, a member of the Equity Team will share updates on where the Foundation is at on our equity journey via the Foundation blog. This journey hasn’t been easy and has revealed many difficult truths, yet together our staff, board members, and community at large can make Omaha a place where all can thrive.