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An opportunity to reflect and grow around diversity

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By Marisa Geitner

As we get ready for the changes that a new season brings, we’re excited about our involvement with the Women of Color Summit 2020, coming up April 16 and 17 in Niagara Falls, New York.

I’ll be leading the event, along with Sara Taylor, a woman with an amazing ability to bring together people of all backgrounds and help them carefully examine our society’s crucial issues. We hired Sara last summer as a community liaison and training specialist, and her ability to make change happen around diversity, inclusion and equity has been profoundly meaningful, both here at Heritage Christian and throughout our community.

Why is this such an important issue to us here at Heritage Christian Services?  Because the power of each individual is the very foundation of our mission.  In addition, research shows us that the nonprofit sector is experiencing a significant leadership gap in terms of racial diversity. In fact, today’s research indicates less than 20% representation of people of color in top-level nonprofit leadership positions. With women of color representing such a large portion of our workforce, this is a gap in workforce development that we cannot ignore. We want to be very active in removing the barriers that limit advancement and diversity throughout all areas and levels of our organization.

This event is a perfect fit for us, and for you. It’s an opportunity to increase our awareness around racial and gender equity, and to more deeply understand why that’s essential. It’s a chance to sync up the inclusive experiences we’ve always been invested in with an initiative that can benefit from our focus and energy.

This summit is a natural extension of the work being done in many of our community impact programs. For example, our education and training division increases the work skills of people across the state with an emphasis on inclusion and equity at all levels. It makes sense that Heritage Christian would walk hand-in-hand with other agencies and companies in an effort to support workplaces that advance diversity, equity and inclusion.

This event – and our philosophy that supports it – isn’t only about equity among women, or among women of color. It is about creating an experience that identifies and dismantles barriers that limit the opportunity for all to thrive. Where we build allies to help bridge understanding about our differences. Where we work together to support and respect each individual’s gifts, strengths and needs.

Through this experience, we hope to learn together and dismantle barriers that limit full inclusion.

I hope to see you at the Women of Color Summit 2020 next month in Niagara Falls!