Tags >> Diversity and Inclusion

In a group addressing structural racism in organizational operations and programmatic work, we are reviewing proposals for action. A person of color notes some language used in otherwise sound ideas could unintentionally reinforce the separation the proposal seeks to address. The next speaker, a white person, explains what they intended the term to mean, why it was inadequate and why they settled on it for now.

I moved into a new neighborhood. I thought I was moving into a new house. As with most changes, this one was fraught with anticipation, concern, comparisons to what I left behind and the ideal that no actual house will meet.

The second in a series of musings about what Dr. King has to say to us in this moment--Create True Community.

It's been a couple of weeks since President Obama won reelection. As the country reflects on the meaning of the election and again projects its hopes and fears onto the President, I see the presidential election and the tone of our politics so far as symbolic of organizational changes we often confront.

The first only. For organizations that bring on a first member of a new (to them) community, the dynamics are almost always challenging. The first must often be extraordinarily qualified to blunt the inevitable criticism that difference is the only reason for the hire. Whether seen as a representative of the new constituency or transcendent of the identity (e.g. post-racial), the newcomer is rarely seen or treated as an individual informed by background rather than fully defined by it or, conversely, wholly independent of it, as in just like us.

Another year has ended and the new one is hurrying along. It’s barely three weeks old and we’ve had a new Congress, the shooting in Arizona, snow across the entire country, and the iphone on Verizon. With that as an opening, there’s no telling where 2011 might go.

I recently read several books that you might find interesting:

The Lotto

Posted by: heather

Recently, I encountered a couple on a hike. The setting was a lovely canyon in the Red Rock country outside of Sedona, AZ. The sun was out but we were in the shade as the nearby mountains cast a shadow, and a chill, into the pine forest beneath the red mountain walls. They were the only people I had encountered for hours. We stopped to chat about the marvelous scenery and other trails we had discovered as visitors to the area.

 As we were appreciating our good fortune, it happened. The woman said, “If you’re born in this country, you’ve already hit the Lotto. You have food, shelter, air to breathe.” I thought, hmm, not quite.

Welcome to 2010, already in progress and already challenging in so many ways. Now, more than ever, I feel called to engage with community for peace and justice.

Segregation on a Bus

Posted by: heather

At an airport, on the way to a conference, I ran into a friend and her companion. My friend offered me a ride in her rental car. We three black women boarded the shuttle bus, put away our luggage and sat at the front of the bus. The remaining passengers filed in, stowed their luggage, and went to the back of the bus. Though there were open seats up front with us, the white passengers moved to the rear, including some who chose to stand. We black women exchanged knowing and perplexed looks, joked, and enjoyed getting to know each other on the short ride.

What happened? How did an airport shuttle bus become segregated?


Leadership teams often face issues that are unique to their role at the top of an organization.

Managing multiple purposes: Leadership team members have responsibility for the organization as a whole while also being accountable for specific program and operational portfolios. This can create tension as team members work to secure resources necessary to deliver their individual priorities even as they seek to steer the entire organization. At its most challenging,

The Power of Curiosity

Posted by: heather

When you find yourself disagreeing with or offended by someone, you know, you want to thoroughly convince them of the wrongness of their position-and the rightness of yours-try something else-curiosity. Allow yourself to wonder, really wonder, how in the world they came to that perspective. Or wonder, with all the indignation you are likely to have anyway, what they could have possibly meant by that stupid, offensive, off point remark or action. Allow yourself to say something like:

It's time to approve the plan and budget of a community based organization and the staff is frustrated that the board is micromanaging and not focused on strategy. The board is frustrated that the staff is trying to get approval for programs that cost too much and haven't been fully explained. They each walk away disappointed that they have not been more fully engaged and appreciated.

The board/staff relationship is fraught with boundary and role challenges.

My Intentions

    • I intend to share ideas about organizational processes that support the effective functioning of justice seeking organizations.
    • I will share lessons about the life of organizations and provide tools that can support organizational performance.
    • Because I'm also committed to the issues that my clients work on, I'll discuss current events, justice, and the larger implications of news stories or community events.
    • Part of that discussion will include publicizing the issues, campaigns, and thoughtful work of clients.
    • As a colleague to other OD consultants, I hope to spark conversations among those of us who do this work.