Position: Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for WA State
My background includes mental health, social justice advocacy, and education. For over 20 years I’ve supported schools, non-profits, and some corporations with diversity, equity, and inclusion work that intentionally integrate all 3 of these components. While working as a clinical intervention specialist with Seneca Washington, I collaborated with educators, staff, and leaders, focusing on topics of equity and inclusion. We co-created several system-wide DEI trainings that provided highly interactive and creative sessions that explored issues of power, privilege, and systemic oppression. These trainings were designed to be both a place for dialogic process and also a space for movement and practicing for positive changes within our system. After creating and facilitating several of these trainings, the overwhelming feedback from our teams was that they wanted more! Seneca Washington invited me to support this deepened process of DEI trainings and engagement by taking on the role of diversity, equity, and inclusion director for Washington state. With the support and passion of our leaders and team members, we have continued this commitment to deepened dialogue and organizational practice related to diversity, equity and inclusion, systematizing and centering the work in way that embodies our core Seneca values.
An old psychology professor used to say to us. “What’s in the way, IS the way.” I love this quote because it speaks to my life’s work of supporting individuals and organizations related to DEI work. My experience is that those things, people, topics, etc. we usually try to avoid, are usually the ones we need to directly address, analyze, unpack, and transform.
What does your average day look like?
It’s been a busy year! An average day involves me communicating with other Seneca leaders about new and old ways of supporting our brilliant staff, envisioning and putting into fruition, systems that foster growth and help to create a more gracious space. It also involves designing and facilitating cultural humility trainings that are linked to diversity, equity, and inclusion topics/values with our schools, partners, and organization. If there’s time at the end of the day, you’ll usually find me swimming!
Why do you do this work?
This is a big question! One of the main reasons why I do this work is because I can. I have been lucky and blessed enough to have amazing mentors, teachers, family, who all have held this work at the center of their being and life practice. I understand, on a deepened level, that there were so many who sacrificed everything for my (an many others) right to exist and thrive. These ancestors, teachers, family members, elders, have all instilled in me a passion and love for teaching and integrating this diversity, equity, and inclusion work into everything I do. I also understand, at core level, the urgency that is being felt by many of the communities we serve here at Seneca and beyond. I have committed to utilizing my privilege and systemic power to ally, support, and lift up others who have been and are currently being marginalized by systemic oppression. I love my communities and I love this work and continue to be pleasantly surprised by its capacity to awaken, heal, and transform.
What hope do you have for the future of Unconditional Education?
I hope and believe that Seneca Washington will continue to create and support a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community of clinicians, leaders, counselors, educators. And that we will continue to put our organizational ideals and values into lived, embodied practice, better serving each other and our communities.