Celebrating a year of growth and DEI advancement
As we reflect on 2022 and look toward the new year, we want to thank YOU for trusting in our mission, your commitment to equity and inclusion, and your courage to change. Because of your support, we expanded our programs, connected with more professionals of color who are new to our region, and grew our reach. Check out this infographic for a quick look back.
We are excited for the new year and the new ways we hope to bring you innovative approaches to DEI, as well as the NW Equity Summit. We look forward to working with you to advance this work together. In the meantime, enjoy the newsletter.
In this issue:
- Change coming to Partners in Diversity.
- CEO gathering wraps up year of educational programs.
- Community groups that need diverse volunteers.
- Career opportunities to start the new year.
Mari Watanabe steps down as executive director
After eleven years of growing this organization and building its reputation as a respected leader in DEI, Mari Watanabe is retiring as executive director. Under her leadership and vision, Partners in Diversity grew from 40 members to nearly 400 and expanded program offerings for all levels of employees.
Though she can never be replaced, a search is underway for a new executive director. In this month’s Mari’s Memo (see below), Mari talks about her retirement and reflects on her time at Partners in Diversity.
Top organizational leaders build connections that enhance DEI in their workplace
More than 50 CEOs, presidents, executive directors and other top agency leaders gathered at Partners in Diversity’s CEO Forum to discuss and share DEI lessons learned. “Thunder is just the noise; lightning does the work,” said Dr. Danny Jacobs, president of OHSU, echoing the importance of taking action as leaders and not just make noise by talking about it. Following Dr. Jacobs’ speech, a panel of leaders of color shared their best practices. The panelists included Dr. Adrien Bennings, president of Portland Community College, and Román Hernández, managing partner at Troutman Pepper. Alaina Robertson, division president at Taylor Morrison, moderated the panel.
The biennial CEO Forum focuses on the specific role that top leaders must play to ensure the success of their organization’s DEI efforts. A special thanks to NW Natural for sponsoring and hosting the 2022 CEO Forum and for its ongoing support of Partners in Diversity.
Community Resource Groups provide safe space for communities of color
November saw the launch of our fourth affinity group, the Native American Community Resource Group. Seven community members met at Bison Coffeehouse, Portland’s only Native-owned coffee shop. Participants of Partners in Diversity’s Community Resource Groups make new connections and share experiences. They are free and open to anyone who identifies with the particular affinity group. You can learn more by visiting our website or contacting Nydia Peña.
Podcast: Constructing a more inclusive work environment
Over the past few years, many organizations adopted a diversity, equity and inclusion plan. In this episode of Equity Conversations: The Podcast, we chat with local DEI consultant, Alexis Braly James, about how racial interactions have changed over the years and what companies need to understand before embarking on their DEI journey. Click here to listen now.
Do you have an inclusive onboarding plan for employees of color?
First impressions last a lifetime. Onboarding is your chance to develop a healthy relationship with your employees. If you have an inclusive onboarding experience for employees of color, we want to hear from you. Please contact Tracey Lam.
For a complete list of job openings at member organizations, please visit our Career Center.
Partners in Diversity provides an online space for nonprofits, public agencies and community-based organizations to share events and engagement opportunities that are relevant to communities of color. To view other community events or to post one, visit our Community Engagement page.
Partners in Diversity intern Bethel Sishu, University of Oregon Class of 2024 (left), spoke at this year’s Portland Business Alliance’s Business Leadership Evening, while Partners in Diversity’s executive director, Mari Watanabe (right), was honored with flowers after announcing her retirement.
Please join us in welcoming the following new members who joined in November.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area
OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon
December 16 – 24: Las Posadas
December 18 – 26: Hanukkah
December 25: Christmas
December 26 – January 1: Kwanzaa
I have some personal news to share with you. It is time for me to retire as the executive director of Partners in Diversity. I love being a part of Partners in Diversity because it has allowed me to make a positive impact on our communities of color. After nearly 11 years, though, I am ready for a break and a new challenge. I plan to leave in January 2023.
Leaving will not be entirely easy. Partners in Diversity has provided me the opportunity to build an amazing community. I appreciate all of you for your support over the years and the commitment you have shown in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. I will miss seeing you at Say Hey! and Breakfast for Champions on a regular basis.
As I look back at my time here, I am proud to have helped make this organization grow from 40 member organizations to 400. When I started, the position of executive director was part-time, and I was the only staff member. Today, I have four strong women of color working alongside me who are truly dedicated to making a difference in our communities, as well as a board who have shared my vision in countless ways. Together, we increased the frequency of our education programs, added initiatives to support professionals of color, and produced two impactful research projects that continue to provide a roadmap for enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.
Partners in Diversity has been a major part of my life since I moved here in 2000. It will always have a place in my heart. As I start my next chapter, I first plan to treat myself to some rest and restoration. Then, we’ll see what’s ahead for me. Whatever that may be, I promise that you have not seen the last of me.
With warmest regards,
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