Center Convenes Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee

Members share their perspectives

By Anna Adachi-Mejia and Kathleen Reardon

The NH Center for Nonprofits launched its inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Advisory Committee in November 2022 as part of its core strategy to Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). The DEI Advisory Committee will provide ongoing input on the Center’s activities through a DEI lens.  

Committee members include: Rachael Blansett, Henry Cabrea, Marissa Carlson, Jennifer Curran, Savitri Horrigan, Tanisha Johnson, James McKim, Debra Perou, Rebecca Sanborn, Charla Stevens, and Angela Zhang.  

“We are so pleased that each of these committee members stepped forward to share their skills and expertise with the Center” said Kathleen Reardon, CEO of the NH Center for Nonprofits. “Their insights and perspectives will help shape future programs and resources that the Center provides.”   

At their first meeting, the committee shared thoughts about DEI training needs, opportunities for growth, and connecting community.  

Offer a range of DEI training topics and modalities for nonprofit staff. Suggested training topics included: entry-level DEI awareness, like a ‘DEI 101’; exploring language; best practices for enhancing cultural competency; social justice; early childhood; mental health; organizational leadership; organizational change and impact. Suggested training modalities included having training from DEI consultants and having online access to DEI resources.  

Foster support for DEI training through access to funding and infrastructure. Committee members shared that ways to support training include having access to funding, seeing clear support from executive leadership and the board, and bringing people in who have DEI expertise. Some talked about how nonprofits may be otherwise busy with worrying about supporting their constituencies and providing funding for an issue, and so therefore they need a framework to set up for success. Topics to address include helping people to understand why addressing DEI and providing DEI training is crucial for advancing nonprofit sustainability. Ideally, training opportunities would help people to be curious, be open to learning, and to be excited about future possibilities. 

Increase access to DEI consultants. Another suggestion included supporting networking opportunities for consultants with DEI expertise. And, as it is an emerging field, helping to describe the range of expertise among consultants. For example, some DEI consultants are skilled in offering training with small versus large groups; some have specific content expertise (e.g., transformative justice). Some may be an ideal match for certain organizations depending on the stage of their specific DEI training needs.  

Remember that representation matters on nonprofit boards and leadership. Increasing representation on boards is one way to help nonprofit boards to represent the communities they serve. Considerations include building awareness of power dynamics and issues of prioritizing and decision making. Identifying areas of misalignment and disconnect is another way for nonprofits to start to work through building new processes as needed.   

Create spaces for building community. Committee members talked about encouraging nonprofits to think about ways to cultivate trust, build relationships, and learn how to learn together. Possible questions to ask include, “How do we humanize the work?” and “How do we increase awareness and encourage conversations?” Nonprofits have opportunities to provide support and help regarding employment, workplace cultural issues, leading a respectful workplace, and leading in difficult times.

Some of this important feedback is already at work through various Center initiatives, such as the recently launched pilot cohort in Advancing Organizational DEI which provides a six-month pathway for organizational teams to engage in learning, dialogue, and planning to advance DEI within their nonprofits. We look forward to sharing more about how the DEI Advisory Committee is informing projects.