It’s been a little more than a year now, since several of our Chapters called on IAP2 USA to purposefully put ourselves on a journey about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. I’m so glad they called and I’m so glad our Board heard that call exactly as it was said. The chapters that called described DEI as “a journey” and “a path” and they were right. Our Chapters are our internal partners. As our chapters grow, so does our national organization—in numbers, in knowledge and in how good we can be at what we do.
From those calls last spring, more good has happened. First, our DEI journey allowed us to bring insights to International about barriers to entry to the Trainer Development Program. We shared our chapters’ input at the International Board’s face-to-face meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. Now, those barriers have been removed. Not only that, but International launched its own DEI Audit; the first of a kind for the organization. The Audit Report is under consideration now by the International Board. Our USA Board is actively engaged in sharing our experience with International to be their internal partner just like our chapters are to us nationally.
Being on this DEI journey has also included external partners to help us make this a learning journey and to apply that learning. First, we set up a DEI Task Force, that soon become a standing committee. Then, we began partnering with multi-cultural museums. In Charlotte, we held a special meeting with the Museum of the New South. In that meeting, we created a space for conversation to help local stakeholders including the museum, police, city staff, and community debrief the experience of a past officer involved shooting and to find options for how they proceed now to build an increasingly resilient community. Then, we met another museum outside of Chicago, and learned about its efforts to provide more of the story of its community as it was experiencing an increase in local hate crimes. Then, we introduced these museums to each other.
This spring, the IAP2 USA held is first Board training; it was on DEI. Our trainer was our external partner, the Gemini Group out of Colorado. At that DEI training, we were introduced to a method to make DEI a strategic thought process through a series of questions that we can ask about all decisions we make as an organization. Summarized, those questions are: what are the underlying assumptions to this topic, who does this burden, how can we involve them, and what strategies could we develop to reduce or eliminate disparities. We are actively identifying ways to embed that process into all that we decide about how IAP2 USA operates.
This brings us right up to yesterday, a Zoom meeting with the International Board. There, myself and Heather Imboden and our Strategic Development Manager, Erin, shared this DEI strategic thought process, and asked the board to adopt it or another like it after their own training occurs, and to think of DEI as an ongoing expression of our core values. They agreed: it’s time to put an equity lens in the center of our discussions and decisions. It’s time to be on this pathway together from chapter to region to International. It’s time for our Core Values to be expressed through a thought process that adds dimension, empathy and understanding of the complexities we face every day. International will share this approach with all its regions: Canada, Indonesia, Italy, South Africa, Australasia, Latin America and back to the USA.
The heroes is this story are our partners - inside the organization and outside of it. They are people who picked up the phone to say they had a request of us. They are the people who bring us knowledge and safe spaces, such as the museums and our trainers. They are our volunteer Board, our chapters, our individual members and our professional staff across the world.
Now, we’re on a journey together and its only helped up do more good, more of the time for more people. That’s the doubly good part that partnerships are all about.