Sarah poses and smiles.
Development Coordinator
NEFA

The Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (EDIA) Value in NEFA’s Strategic Plan has a group of champions: the EDIA Working Group!  

Recognition of the Journey

While our working group has been productive, this work is a journey and we are just beginning. We recognize that we have made and will make mistakes. We continue to work, learn, and grow together.

History of the Group

The history of the working group is only about two years long, but this has been an extremely busy and fruitful time, packed with activity and learning. In July 2017, NEFA held a training for all staff facilitated by artEquity. Quita Sullivan, our Program Director of Theater, brought this wonderful organization, and the wonderful people behind it, to our attention from her experience attending their facilitator training. A two-day primer on issues related to equity within the workplace and the arts specifically, the workshops served as the real jumping off point for NEFA’s journey to a more equitable workplace and a more equitable field. Through the workshop it became clear to all staff that EDIA work was essential to our values, not only as an organization, but as individuals.

In the following months, there was a resounding sense among staff that we needed a place to pursue further conversations and learnings related to equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility, leading to the formation of the EDIA Working Group. Since then, the working group has continued our community’s learning by supporting shared leadership at the staff level, including staff-led trainings on Dismantling White Supremacy Culture and continued work with artEquity. We also brought our Board of Directors into this work with a facilitated training by Equity Quotient in Summer 2018.

The Why Behind the Work

When considering issues of equity at NEFA, we let our mission be our guide. For our organization to contribute to an equitable world, we need to be:

  • Equitable internally
  • Accountable to each other as a community
  • Committed to ongoing growth and learning

Structure of the Group

The group is comprised of seven staff members at a time. Each staff member serves for approximately one year through a staggered bi-annual rotation in June and December to allow for Working Group memory to be carried from one iteration of the group to the next. The group meets monthly for around an hour and a half, and our agenda is always packed!

When considering the make-up of the group, we do our best to achieve equitable representation which reflects our full staff, and we consider:

  • Staff of Color and White Staff 
  • Nonbinary, Female, and Male staff 
  • Part-Time and Full-Time staff  
  • Organizational Hierarchy; including a place for one member of our three-member senior leadership team on the group at all times 
  • Primary roles within the organization; program administration or organizational operations  

Scope and Examples of Current Work  

The scope of current work for the group is focused on internal NEFA staff development and work related to our Board of Directors. Before we look outward to our many constituencies and the field at large, we have internal work to do that will better prepare us to bring our learning beyond ourselves and our organization. Internal work thus far can be categorized into four different buckets: Trainings, Process Redesign, Structural Updates, and Overall Evaluation of our internal work toward our EDIA values. 

Some examples of success in these areas include:  

  • Instituting an EDIA orientation for all new staff since Fall 2017 
  • Developing a relevant land acknowledgment to begin our meetings 
  • Writing, editing, and confirming staff buy in for a living document with group agreements regarding behavior in meetings 
  • Establishing affinity groups where staff who share an identity can gather 
  • Securing funding and a budget line specifically for EDIA work at NEFA 
  • Providing a space at our monthly working group meetings to evaluate current program and event planning (like our recent Creative Communities Exchange) with an EDIA lens 

Evaluation and Looking Ahead 

We are just beginning to evaluate the work we’ve done so far. We also acknowledge that we are not experts in this work and continue to seek outside consultants and collaborators in all areas of our work to widen our perspectives and begin to see the gaps in our current processes and structures.  

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