Author Archives for Kelly Bates

July 5, 2022

MICRO-BLOG: All Hands on Deck – A Call to Action for Philanthropy

A message to funders and their staff: 

There’s never been a more important time to claim your full power in philanthropy. We need you – your authentic and most daring selves during these times. This is the moment to relinquish power and exercise deep trust in the field. This is the moment to recognize the important role we need you to play as a catalyst for transformative and progressive social change.

Remove and redefine the boundaries of what a funder or program officer should be.  

Resist rolling out long applications and grant reports again. The field is working and we can’t be overtaxed as we fight the many battles that have been placed upon us. We need you working alongside us, not reading proposals and reports. 

Avoid reverting back to prioritizing program grants. We need unrestricted general operating funds to apply what we are learning each day to what must be done.

Fund movement organizing and capacity building organizations so that we can work together to unlock profound social change during this period. 

Make strategy with us, not for us. Together we must be emergent and adaptable to our challenges and opportunities. Change is not always linear. Like COVID-19, further attacks on social and racial justice will be unpredictable and hate and greed will produce new variants.

Please…come now out of your homes and offices to toil alongside us. You are not apart from us. You are us. And we need you. 

We need all hands on deck. Come as you are, but come, and please do all that you can to make justice easier for us. 

P.S. I share these words as someone who has spent twenty years in philanthropy – leading a charitable foundation, working with foundations, and advising donors. Discard the constraint of what you think philanthropy is and was.  Philanthropy, a Greek word, means love of humanity. That’s your job now – to love humanity – and it’s urgent.

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June 16, 2022

MICRO-BLOG: Black Joy & Freedom

A personal blog about the power of the Juneteenth holiday to foster Black joy and freedom.

I woke up to a text from my community health center that it was closed for Juneteenth, something I wouldn’t have thought possible just a few years ago. This started my week of JOY and FREEDOM! I cleared my eyes from sleep and imagined my Black ancestors on the plantation celebrating their freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation reached most corners of the country. 

Black people still experience deep racism and racialized trauma and yet we are living dreams our ancestors could never have envisioned. Running organizations and businesses, taking our rightful place in elected office, saving lives during COVID as doctors and nurses, and seeing our children off to college and on to planes to places in the world our ancestors were forbidden to see. 

This week alone, I walked freely in the streets, sat in the front of a bus, ate at an integrated restaurant, and hugged my husband and child who will never be sold away from me to a white person in the middle of a town square.  

Celebrating at the Embrace Ideas Festival in Boston: Kelly Bates, IISC President, and Sheena Collier, Founder & CEO of Boston While Black

This week I participated in the Embrace Ideas Festival sponsored by KingBoston, a program of The Boston Foundation, one of our racial equity change clients. On a panel of Black leaders of arts organizations, one leader shared that while white people must do the work of anti-racism, what’s really needed is for BIPOC leaders to embrace and experience joy and fun. 

I co-sign this belief so where will you find me this weekend of Juneteenth? I will be wearing traditional African clothing, line dancing with my Black friends, eating scrumptious soul food, kissing my child, and praying for greater forces of justice to prevail in our future.

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June 1, 2022

MICRO-BLOG: Pull On your Cape and Prepare the Social Justice Emergency Kit

Ok, you know the way the movie starts about the state of this country. 

Opening scene. Racism is deeply embedded in communities and every institution, our world is at war, reproductive rights are crumbling, COVID has weakened our health, our economic system is collapsing, and climate change is wreaking havoc on the planet. Among these and other crises, Black people, Indigenous people, and Latinx and Asian & Pacific Islander communities are the first and last to be impacted. They are trying to stay alive, protect their children, and hold onto their bodies, lands, and dignity.  

Cliparts #45080

Scene 2. You get out your cape. A really nice fitting, fabulous, super hero, version of a cape that ties around your neck while you stand effortlessly on top of a mountain. You’re a hero for this moment. You’re living in this mess so you might as well join with others to make the movie end better than the first draft of the screenplay.

Scene 3. Imagine the faces of people who are in your sphere of influence. Who are they?  Go down the mountain and get them! Build power through collaboration. Join organizations and networks and train up your skills together.

ClipartKey is a free community supported website

Final scene. You pack your social justice emergency kit. It’s a gorgeous cool suitcase that matches your cape. It’s got everything you need to make change:

  • A bowl of laughter for the tough days
  • Fulfilling relationships with people who care about you and will also support change
  • A mutual aid handbook that helps you find rest, money, food, water, and shelter as you work for justice
  • Good nights of sleep and putting your feet up on the couch
  • Movement of your body, exercise, and breath 
  • And, lots of cuddles! 

You stroll out to the road and your cape billows in the breeze as your suitcase rolls behind you. Your favorite power song comes on cue as the credits roll. It’s the kind of walk, the kind of music that comes at the end of a movie and makes you feel connected to something greater. You feel ten feet taller, you feel – and are! – more powerful and wiser. You got this!

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May 9, 2022

MICRO-BLOG: Women are Weeping. Women are in Trouble. Women need Allies.

Content Warning: Violence against women

Back in the 1960s women talked about the personal being political. They linked their personal lives and situations directly to the impacts of sexism which operates at the personal, interpersonal, institutional, and structural levels to devalue and systematically oppress women.

Sexism and its companion, male domination, are powerful forms of oppression. And if you intersect these with others like racism, classism, transphobia, or the oppression of mothers, it’s clear that a woman’s life and material well-being are in danger. 

With Roe v. Wade on the brink of being overruled, Black women who already have poor maternal health outcomes will lose their lives and low-income women will have to scrape together their last dollars to make it across state lines to get safe and legal abortions. Parenthood is difficult, even for those who choose it. Very few of us talk about or normalize the pressure of raising a child: the deep exhaustion, the financial cost, and – if you’re in a dangerous relationship with the other parent – how life threatening it can be. And this is all nearly unimaginable if the person who placed the child in you did so against your will.

Roe aside, the psychic wounds of being a woman are real, whether you are a cis woman1 or a trans woman. Women’s lives are threatened by domestic and sexual violence including in our own homes. Many work for less pay than men and toil away in unsympathetic workplaces that don’t provide paid family leave, child care, or flexibility around school drop-off and pick-up schedules. Women are cut down to size by cis-men2 who they think they know more, know better, and know what we need. We have watched every woman who has run for public office belittled, objectified, dehumanized, and even fetishized. We can’t elect a woman as president even though the stakes are high for women without representation as we are witnessing now. 

Women are in mourning. Whether they support a woman’s right to choose or not, they know deep down that their lives are not as valued as cis-men. They can feel it in their homes like a fog surrounding them and as they enter into workplaces and places of power. Women need powerful allies in this moment – people of all backgrounds, even from various political parties, to rise up and challenge the status quo. There are women’s marches, elections, and policy decisions that we can participate in and influence. Otherwise, we risk a major roll back of rights for women – from reproductive freedom to same-sex marriage and equal pay for equal work.

These times aren’t easy but they won’t get any easier if women minimize their struggles and allies stay quiet. We can fight many oppressions at the same time and because they are inextricably connected, if we win in one place, it’s a win for the others. 

1 Cis-woman. Definition: https://www.thoughtco.com/definition-of-ciswoman-721261

2 Cis-man. Definition: https://gscc.msu.edu/education/glossary.html

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February 15, 2022

#emerge&envision


Our radical imagination is a tool for decolonization, for reclaiming our right to shape our lived reality.
adrienne maree brown, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good

We have sheltered in #lockdown.

We took to the streets to #resistracism and #resistfacism.

We have #masked, #vaccinated, and #boostered.

Even when others wouldn’t to save our lives.

What would it take for us to #emerge&envision?

To free ourselves from the mass social psychosis of COVID fear, loss, and restraint? 

Yes, we’ve been sick. Yes, our beautiful ones have passed. And, yes we are tired. And we’re still alive and our futures are waiting for us. 

We will either be in a regular cycle of variant upswings and downswings, or COVID will become endemic. In either case, I believe the time has come for us to make a decision. To no longer just survive COVID, but to live with it like a storm we come to expect or eventually will retreat, and to emerge from it and envision futures that are equitable and resilient.

Futures, plural because people, communities, and continents may need different kinds of futures; there isn’t not just one that fits all. We deserve and can design together futures that are full of joy and wellbeing, and that reflect systems of liberation. Futures that are grounded in collaboration, love, equity, and networks. 

I hope to be immersed in these questions with you and other leaders. In the blog comments, will you join in?

  • What is this country and this world crying out for?
  • What is your vision for equitable and resilient futures? 
  • How can capacity builders like IISC, and leaders in general, help make your vision possible or help make your vision come into view?
  • What experiences, resources, and tools do leaders and networks need to deepen their heartset, mindset, and skillset for emergence and envisioning? 
  • What kind of experiences and transformative spaces can help us emerge from this time of pandemic, fear, and deeply exposed racism and oppression, to futures of joy, wellbeing, and systemic liberation?
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January 17, 2022

We’re Not All Right

After the start of the new year, I returned to my organization to posts about Omicron ripping through families, the death of loved ones, and calls for us to attend to our emotional well-being. In a recent Zoom staff meeting, you could feel the stale air of malaise and resignation from living through nearly two years of a global pandemic awash with political toxicity and economic anxiety. I delivered whatever at-home test kits I could to staff stuck in their homes while holding a mug of tea to quell the burning in my lungs from COVID long-haul symptoms.

Like many employers, IISC was ill prepared to meet this moment. We’re doing our best, but no one on our team was trained in the art of managing survival through abject chaos. That wasn’t part of our leadership classes or what our mothers taught us when we left home to face the big new world.

As we hit the precipice of another variant wave and potentially others in the future, the government is withholding funds and resources that can keep people out of distress and poverty.

What we’ve come to realize – and, honestly, already knew – is that we need strong, shared, and collaborative leadership, especially in our government, to dig us out of this kind of mess. Nonprofits cannot pick up the slack of a country in crisis. Our government provided desperately needed financial help in 2020 and 2021, but it was inequitably distributed and many essential needs were ignored through a lack of cooperation. However, because of this investment, poverty fell historically for every demographic group.[1]

No more stimulus? No more child tax care credit? No more Paycheck Protection Program funds? Limited access to COVID testing? A stunted supply of vaccines and boosters throughout the world? This makes no sense. And anyone teetering on the edge – health-wise, financially, and/or emotionally (and that’s 99% of us if we’re honest) –  can see that. 

2020 was rough, 2021 was tough, and 2022 will be brutal if we retreat from providing a safety net to our communities.

We’re running out of time. The policies and practices of yesterday won’t be enough to extract us from this hole. They’re not what humans need during this time and they’re not reaching us fast enough.

Drastic times call for unprecedented measures. If we want people to survive this chaos, we must be bold and pursue transformative policies. My background in politics tells me that If there ever were a time to go big or go home, it’s now.

I believe we need:

  • A guaranteed income for every person and family
  • A mental health corp to help us heal and sustain the will to live through the ups and downs of variants
  • A renewal of the stimulus, child care tax credit, and Paycheck Protection Program
  • On-demand vaccinations, boosters, and COVID testing
  • Exceptional health care for COVID-19 long-haulers
  • Respite for essential workers and health care workers to keep people from getting sick and dying
  • Creative in-person, remote, and hybrid school options
  • Unparalleled investments in climate resiliency
  • Meaningful racial justice and electoral reforms to protect our democracy and bring equity of resources to our communities
  • Employer-imposed work slow-downs so that we can attend to the health of our planet and to our own physical and mental health
  • A four-day work week (32 hours) so that more of a worker’s life is about living than working

And we need a moratorium on attacking one another – including political candidates, parties, and all public figures. Accountability is necessary; threatening each other’s character, well-being, lives, and livelihood should be off limits. We’re not all right and we need our biggest and boldest solutions to get out of this. When people are on economic and emotional tightropes, it’s not the time to cut holes in the safety net or pass blame to others. We need fierce collaboration and transformative policies to come out of these times healthy and whole for our future.


[1]Pandemic Aid Programs Spur a Record Drop-in Programs, NY Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/28/us/politics/covid-poverty-aid-programs.html

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September 2, 2021

When $2 Million Calls: With Opportunity Comes Responsibility

The image is released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0.

This summer, the Interaction Institute for Social Change received news that we will never forget. After we prodded first to see if it was a scam, we learned that we were one among what MacKenzie Scott called 286 “high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.” We were informed that we were selected to receive a major grant through a rigorous process of research and analysis by Scott and her research team.

After shedding joyful tears, I was thrilled to share this news with our team. Many years ago, we aspired to attract an angel investor, but never had the capacity to pursue one rigorously. Since then, we occasionally joked about this possibility, but never really thought we would be on the receiving end of the biggest charitable donation of our careers. The $2 million gift, with no strings attached, was validation for a team whose members have been humble over the past thirty years as we worked to build collaborative capacity for social justice and racial equity.

In the midst of the excitement and overwhelm of the unexpected gift, we also recognized the responsibility that comes with our windfall. For many organizations led by Black, Indigenous, & other people of color (BIPOC) — like ours, operating on relatively small budgets — a cash infusion of this magnitude could enable us to grow our programmatic work while also focusing on often neglected internal needs. Yet, rather than rejigger our budget, we are choosing to take a long pause before doing anything with the grant. We are faced with answering an otherwise hypothetical question that we often pose to the networks and organizations we work with: ‘What would your non-profit do with $1 million?’ In our case, what would we actually do with an unrestricted $2 million grant? 

We are keenly aware of the freedom to make expansive choices and explore new possibilities now available to us. At the same time, we are also aware of: 1) the countless entities we support or are in partnership with that did not get a grant as we did, and 2) that the grant has created an implicit power and equity differential between IISC and those with whom we work. So what is the way forward?

To guide our response, we are drawing on our organizational values — to ensure that this gift benefits not just our organization but also the ecosystem within which we operate including our clients and partners. 

Social change is possible through shared power and equity, network building, and love — our lens for collaborative change which guides our internal and external work. As we consider how we will spend these grant funds, and what we want to do with them, we hope to foster a sense of power-sharing, ensure equitable outcomes, build relationships and networks, and express love in action.  

With that in mind, we are clear that decisions on how we spend the money will be led by BIPOC staff, including our affiliate consultants and trainers and our board members, with input from other IISC stakeholders. We want to ensure that historically marginalized and racially oppressed groups and communities have an equitable share in the power and control of organizational and societal resources. This is particularly important to us because BIPOC are typically not centered in big money spending decisions. Furthermore, centering BIPOC is an act of trust, with the understanding that the people involved in the decision-making will do so with the strengths, aspirations, and needs of their organizations, networks, and our communities in mind.

Transformative leadership is the kind of leadership we need in the 21st century. With this organizational value, we are considering how this potentially transformational gift to IISC is an opportunity for us to lift up organizations and networks that were not chosen for the grant. We are already using our position to leverage funds for other great organizations. We are excited that this is one way we can expand our circle of influence and promote greater equity in philanthropy.  

The change we seek in the world ultimately comes down to the decisions we make about how we expend resources in our lives from the individual to community, organizational, and societal levels. IISC envisions a healthy planet where people thrive, value their differences, and work together for peace and justice and we are committed to leveraging the gift from MacKenzie Scott towards realizing this vision. As we come out of our pause and initiate conversations on how we will utilize the grant, we invite you to stay tuned as we share what we are learning and where we land.

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May 6, 2021

Is Your Staff Crumbling in 2021? With Fraying, We Must be Braiding

If you or the people in your organization are fraying or even crumbling, ask yourself why wouldn’t you be? After over a year of a vicious virus, political disruption, and continued racist trauma, of course we are unraveling. What does fraying look like in organizations?

  • Staff needing to call in sick more often or take leave from their jobs to heal, restore, and pivot
  • Employees quitting or moving onto other opportunities, including relocating to other states as they reevaluate their priorities after a year of survival
  • Staff engaged in greater conflict with each other as the tensions they have tucked away come into fuller view
  • Individuals lacking patience as Zoom fatigue deepens to intolerable levels
  • People complaining of new physical pains, aches, and challenges arising from working in home offices that are not adequately set up to support physical well-being
  • Too many meetings and projects and not enough people to manage them, which causes stress in the workplace under the best of circumstances
  • An increase in racial microaggressions as stress burrows into workplaces
  • Lack of purposeful attention to relationships as people focus on quickly moving into reopening
  • Staff taking care of children or others unwilling to return to in person work and old office norms that don’t support flexible work options

As we navigate the space between how things used to be – the “old normal” – and the emergence of a new way of being and working with one another – the “new normal”- we are essentially emerging from a metaphorical portal. Indian novelist Arundhati Roy introduced the concept of the pandemic as a portal when COVID-19 first broke. She shared, “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.” I believe that we are emerging from the portal like a shaking and vulnerable rocket ship returning back to earth after it breaks through the sound barrier.

What can we do to support ourselves and our teams to emerge from this portal?

There’s braiding to be done. Bringing people back into connection and collaboration to build toward the future. And it will be gradual.

  • We can validate the experience of others. We can help those who work for us, as well as our peers and partners, to understand that it’s normal to feel the fraying and crumbling that comes with being isolated and in survival mode for so long.
  • We can reflect and re-collaborate. This involves regrouping as a staff, reflecting on what’s happening to us and our organizations, and recommitting ourselves to operating in the spirit of human and community care and collaboration. We need to focus on building and sustaining relationships while we build better processes and strive for results that can build a better future.
  • We can give people a sense of control and hope.  Ask staff and communities, what new opportunities do they envision for themselves and organizations and networks as we emerge from this portal?
  • We can close down our offices. For a week or two, or even a month, several times this year to replenish. If everyone’s not working, everyone can attend to themselves without distraction. It’s like a mini sabbatical for all.
  • We can continue work-from-home options. For many jobs, offering flexibility through continued remote work will be critical in retaining high-performing staff and boosting morale. Twenty-nine percent of working professionals say they would quit their jobs if they couldn’t continue working remotely.[1]
  • We can center Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color in all of what we do. Whether it’s in our planning processes, implementation, organizational culture, or visioning, we can follow their innovation, ideas, and leadership to deepen our strategies and approaches. Our workplaces can benefit from the traditions of BIPOC cultures to slow down and take time to reconnect in human ways. Strategies informed by a racial equity lens will be relevant and timely to all the decisions we are making in this moment.
  • We can come together in-person as soon as people are fully vaccinated. It’s not too early to plan the reunion which will offer connection and signal a new beginning. Consider planning a ritual or exercise during the time together to leave behind the old and bring in the new.

People are exhausted, mentally and physically. Expect the crumble. It’s coming, if it hasn’t already. Plan for the crumbling and consider new ways to braid people, yourself, and your community back together.


[1] According to an online survey of 1,022 professionals by LiveCareer, an online resume and job search consulting service.

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March 2, 2021

Pandemic Anniversary Reflection: It’s time to Reimagine Before It’s Too Late

Are you feeling a bit weary and maybe even crumbling? You’re not alone. We’re almost at the one-year anniversary mark of the pandemic, a few months out from the storming of the US Capitol, and ten months out from the murder of George Floyd. If you’re working from home, you’re lonely, and if you’re a frontline or health worker, you’re exhausted. The anxiety we’ve all been experiencing is real.

What to do when we feel like this? We need to acknowledge it for sure. And we need to pause because the big reopening is coming and it may not be the cure.

Vaccinations are spreading, warmer weather is returning in parts of the world, and traffic is ramping up. States are rolling back to the “old normal.”

But that “old normal” is not what many of us want. We desire the old normal of hugs,  social time, and in-person experience. We crave the return of play and the lightness of habit and ritual. Yet, we don’t want to welcome back stressful mornings, back-to-back meetings, political rancor, and racist violence.

Before it’s too late, we need to reimagine the new normal that replaces old norms with ones like joy, rest, and connection. A new normal that creates oppression-free lives and systems.

It’s time to plan,
It’s time to gather your family and plan your new normal. What will you discard from the old, and what will you bring into the new, before the pace of life takes over?

It’s time to gather,
Gather your teams and ask, What will your organization live into? What can you do to build and maintain human-centered and anti-racist workplaces and communities?

And for all of us,
What do we need in order to heal and repair? It’s been a really tough time. How can we discover new ways to foster self and community care? 

The negatives of the old normal will clash with our individual and collective well-being unless we work now to get rid of them.

So, when the snapback of the old calls you,

Stop
See
Love
Slow down
And ask yourself,

What can I do right in this moment to bring in a new normal that centers humanity, equity, and living?

We now understand that living is loving and being loved.
It’s radical collaboration and sharing.
It’s large openings and small slivers of joy.

Look for the small invitations around you to create a new and better normal.
Jump in.
If we develop the practices of the new normal,
we have a chance to create the world we want,
not the one that will overtake us yet again if we let it.  

Read these related blog posts:
https://interactioninstitute.org/creating-the-next-100-years/
https://interactioninstitute.org/from-trauma-to-transformative-futures-four-dimensions/

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July 8, 2020

The 4 Secrets: The Hidden Factor of Nonprofit Boards & Racial Equity Change

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

I’ll tell you a secret. Most staff embarking on a journey for racial equity change in their organization don’t see board members carrying their weight. I hope to be provocative by offering a few secrets often unshared with boards about their lack of deep participation in equity change efforts. It’s time to have a real discussion about board and staff engagement when it comes to equity change so that the whole organization can collaborate to seed and root transformative change.

Secret #1: Boards still view their roles as promoting diversity in the workplace which is no longer enough to move an organization along a path toward implementing racial equity and justice

Diversity was the early way to approach change in organizations. The focus was on getting more of this or that group represented on the board and staff, but these efforts lacked a power analysis. Bringing people of color onto the board is very different than ensuring they have positions of power and real authority on the board, or accepting their challenges to unhealthy parts of the board culture or the organization’s way of operating. Boards have also proudly hired people of color or young executive directors and CEOs and then expect them to magically turn around underperforming organizations with little resources and support, or unawarely blocked them from creating truly transformational equity change. Examining issues of power in leadership is an equity and justice pursuit, not a diversity exercise. 

Secret #2: Most staff who are deeply engaged in diversity, inclusion, and racial equity efforts believe that their boards are  lagging way behind them on the path to change

Staff committed to racial equity often participate in rigorous and deep training, learning sessions, affinity spaces, and working groups to consider how to challenge the organization’s status quo which likely upholds white dominant culture,  practices of racial inequity, and over-centralization of power. They may be attempting to practice new ways of building relationships, making decisions, or handling major racial tensions on interpersonal and institutional levels. In many cases, the board has not had the benefit of these awareness and skill-building moments that could strengthen their capacity to address power dynamics on their board or between staff and board on core organizational questions around racial equity. 

Secret #3: Staff see many board members as out of touch or – even worse – contributing to oppression in their organization. 

Many boards are recruited for their potential to fundraise or simply to have famous names associated with the organization, rather than to create a balance of people who can bring many types of resources to the organization such as lived-experience and knowledge of a community. Wealthy board members who have not explored the cultural roots of wealth and classism may expect formal decorum in board meetings or social gatherings that is counter-cultural and oppressive to staff. They may believe that they are helping the organization by firing questions at the staff when in reality the way they ask those questions puts staff on the defensive, creating a culture of fear that puts creativity to death. White board members that don’t champion racial equity in a board meeting or fail to interrupt other white members from engaging in paternalizing or direct racist behaviors are seen as supporting racism for failing to act. 

Secret #4: Because staff (and especially the executive director/CEO) think board members want them to be “perfect” and share only their accomplishments, staff are reluctant to openly share their struggles and tensions around racial equity

Staff are wary to share real-time equity tensions in their workplace or programmatic struggles. Simply put, there is not enough candor between staff and boards. Board culture often rewards product over relationship; perfectionism, numbers, and plans over impact and learning from mistakes. Additionally, the executive director is evaluated by the board and the main way for board members to gauge the leader’s effectiveness is the director’s ability to paint a rosy picture of the organization in board meetings. Moreover, board members rarely raise challenging equity issues as a part of board discussions, either to reflect on their own mistakes and challenges, or those of the organization as a whole. They leave that burden to staff.

So what can be done?

  • Board and staff need to build trusting relationships where relationships are valued and challenge and mistakes are welcome for learning and growth around racial equity.
  • Board members should build trust with staff by showing their own vulnerabilities, giving the staff runway to move their ideas, and avoiding savior thinking that assumes board members have all the answers, or that one executive director who is a person of color will save the day.
  • Board members that join any board in this day and age must be willing to jump into a journey to examine how their experiences with race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and generation impact how they see the world and operate in it. They must be willing to face hard truths about their privilege and, without placing the burden on others, champion change and use their privilege (access, resources, knowledge) strategically to shift opportunities to others. 
  • Board members who come from a position of privilege in any category should embrace new ideas and ways of doing things from leaders that are very different from them or leaders that hold a more bold view of racial justice. 
  • Boards and staff should work together to ensure that board members sit on diversity/equity/inclusion or racial equity teams with staff to experience, learn, and champion the work for change. And this should involve not just one board member, but a few. 
  • Boards and staff should come together in joint training and learning sessions for the board and staff to explore issues of racial equity. These sessions should include reflection on how issues of racial equity impacts the mission of the organization as well as how it impacts the organization’s internal culture and operations. Better yet, have the organization go through a comprehensive equity change process that embeds equity in everything the organization does.

What else do you think could shift change so that boards can fully and genuinely support and champion racial equity efforts? We want to hear from you. Please start a conversation with us by commenting below. 

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June 11, 2020

Creating the Next 100 Years

As the world reels from racism and re-openings from COVID-19, we have a small window of time in which we can decide never again to return to the “old normal” of racism in every facet of our life, or to the exhaustion from an overproducing system. Let’s walk into the next one hundred years together in the spirit of new creation and new norms. May this poem that I wrote be a source of vision and inspiration.

Sun rays coming through trees, Pikrepo

Let not the slow creep of the old return
Like childish feet come slipping through your doorways

Look in the direction of the sun
Remember the lessons of staying in place

Wading into presence
Tending to family
Resting your breath
Facing scars
Embracing insecurities
Abandoning perfection
Slowing your heart to hear cries of “I Can’t Breathe”

For the futures of humankind
Erase the “old normal”
Walk toward the light
Grieve the long path of injustice you were in
And stand upright
To meet your new life
The new society we are creating

There can be no turning back
You can look over your shoulder and peek once in awhile
But there is no freedom behind you
Greed, exhaustion, and oppression live there

You said you wanted change in your lifetime?

Keep walking forward
Keep pausing to hear your heartbeat
To hear the people in the streets
And create the next 100 years

And you will not return
Because we will rise forward with the force of 100,000 horses galloping
Tens of thousands of drums pounding
And a Planet alive with millions dancing
Plants growing
Animals running
Seas churning
Temperatures readjusting
Life spilling over into our lineage of children

With Earth healing
Earth reclaimed

We did it.

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June 5, 2020

A Poem for the People of the Planet

Image by Sergio HT from Pixabay

Planet family,

We’re rising up
to end anti-Blackness
around the world.

George Floyd died under knee in Minneapolis
But Black bodies and minds are under destruction in all lands.

Enslavement was a world-wide global attempt
Its end presupposes that our planet undoes itself, and heals itself
through transformation of hearts, minds, and structures.

White people of this planet, can you…

love Black people with abandon and without expectation that they will dismantle this racism?

decolonize and clean your hearts of Black hatred, disgust, dismissal, and disrespect?

never take a hand, arm, leg, knee, bullet to Black bodies and souls?

speak Black names and languages, and love Black children?

destroy your unconscious value of Black people remaining small, restrained, and tethered to white supremacy?

forever replace structures and practices premised on white ways?

follow and hire Black leaders to change your world and that of your entire organization…
…or will you act to make them produce, clean up your mistakes, and sacrifice their vision for your small version of social justice?

understand that one training will not be enough…
…and that instead it’s a tidal wave shift in hearts, minds, behaviors, practices, policies, and systems over sustained time that is needed, and is completely within your capacity and control.

take accountability and ignite and invite action…
…knowing that your grief and anger are welcome, and if you’re afraid to set a path forward to emerge, you’re complicit in allowing racism to continue.

extract racism in all corners to revolutionize the planet to be free of anti-Blackness?

And as Black people can we discover and rediscover our joy, beauty, refreshment, and spirituality to heal?

At IISC, we are asking ourselves, what more or different could we be doing to support the deep, transformative change necessary for Black people to know better and beautiful lives? 

And to our world we ask, what’s enough? Could this be the tipping point that finally brings liberation for Black people and collective healing for us all? And if not, how can we be of service to prevent ongoing tragedy? Please use the comment field below to share your commitments and, in so doing, inspire yourself and inspire others.


Thank you to the Black women and men of IISC that bring change to our clients. As a Black Biracial woman and leader of IISC, you bring me joy and purpose. Thank you for working for our people every day. Be well, be safe, and be bold.

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