For over a year, KACEE has focused additional resources on addressing the JEDIA gaps within our organization. A very important part of doing this work has been our hiring of JEDIA consultant, Leander Lacy (Lacy Consulting, LLC), to help our JEDIA Committee develop, review, and refine our strategy for making KACEE a more just and equitable organization.
"Using applied social science and robust relationship building to better understand stakeholders, Lacy Consulting Services is committed to helping environmental organizations and sustainability-focused businesses reach their community and conservation goals using social science techniques and diversity, equity, and inclusion principles."
Terms to know:
JEDIA - Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (sometimes abbreviated as JEDI)
LGBTQIA+ - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual (sometimes abbreviated as LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTTQQIAAP)
Dominant culture - "Whereas traditional societies can be characterized by a high consistency of cultural traits and customs, modern societies are often a conglomeration of different, often competing, cultures and subcultures. In such a situation of diversity, a dominant culture is one whose values, language, and ways of behaving are imposed on a subordinate culture or cultures through economic or political power. This may be achieved through legal or political suppression of other sets of values and patterns of behavior, or by monopolizing the media of communication." Source
In the summer of 2020, the KACEE Staff and Board began taking a magnified look at the way our organization was contributing - unintentionally, albeit with impact - to the oppression of those outside of the dominant identities; namely, black and brown people, people who identify as LGBTQIA+, and people living with disabilities.
Members of Staff and Board established a JEDI Committee which began work on creating a JEDI Action Plan. While brainstorming goal areas and ways to achieve these goals came easily and abundantly, the committee soon became overwhelmed and unsure where exactly to begin, and decided to hire an expert to help us through the remainder of the planning process of creating and executing a JEDI Action Plan.
Through research and a recommendation from EcoInclusive's Parker McMullen Bushman, KACEE's Executive Director Laura Downey proposed hiring Leander Lacy. The Committee agreed that Leander seemed like a perfect fit for our organization and what we were hoping to accomplish. Leander lives in the Midwest and has worked with other environmental and conservation organizations, such as the Nature Conservancy - meaning he understands the political and social landscape in Kansas, as well as the scope and goals of the work we do as an environmental education and conservation non-profit organization.
The JEDI Committee understood that our goals and the strategies for achieving them would not survive long term without first committing ourselves to doing our own personal internal 'work', both individually and as an organization, to understand on a human level the serious and detrimental impacts that oppression has on humans (both the recipients and perpetrators of oppression) and our society as a whole. That's a much harder 'goal' to achieve than neatly laid out operational goals for becoming a more equitable organization; however, committee members were each already on a personal path of examining our own internal biases and unearned privileges. Committed to doing this internal work continually and critically, the committee endeavored to encourage and create a path forward for all members of our organization. Throughout all of our Goal Areas, this awareness is the common thread by which each operational goal is bound.
Goal Area 1: To be more equitable in the services we provide (the work we do as an organization)
Goal Area 2: To educate ourselves (Individual-Internal), educate others (Organizational Internal and External). KACEE has complete buy-in from leadership, and that buy-in is reflected in the ongoing commitment of KACEE to promote and provide EE for all.
Goal Area 3: To be more inclusive with the voices in leadership positions, which shape the work that we do.
Goal Area 4: To have JEDI work represented in our budget
As KACEE pursues this work, it is crucial that the greater KACEE community be aware of our goals and intentions, our progress, and our setbacks. We aim to be as transparent as possible throughout this process, as we know that transparency and honesty on our successes, shortcomings, and failures is the best way to gain trust and grow into the just, equitable, diverse, inclusive, and accessible organization that we know we can be.