Meet our Racial Equity Committee
In 2022, we conducted an internal racial equity audit to pinpoint and prioritize the ways we could operationalize racial equity into our everyday. We had already started the work of tracking each of our dollars by race: from our grantmaking to our operations to our endowment, but there was more to be done and more to improve. For example, what metrics exist beyond tracking our spending? How do we build a stronger culture, internally and externally, where all identities and perspectives are honored and welcomed? How does our staff continue to learn about racial equity? We came out of the process with more questions than answers, but we also came out with a clear conviction to do the report.
We got to work and created a Racial Equity Committee made up of staff from different departments with their own unique experiences, backgrounds, talents, and perspectives. Together our Racial Equity Committee is reflecting on the recommendations in the racial equity audit report, creating a prioritized set of tasks to implement across the Foundation, and galvanizing the full staff to engage in feedback, learning and designing racial equity initiatives together.
“The role of the RE Committee is to ensure the diversity of voices, perspectives, and energy that is the strength of The Skillman Foundation is at the center. The RE Committee allows all staff members an opportunity to engage through a rolling commitment to that creates the space for adaptations and adjustments to be made, based on the current context of the staff, and what is needed to move the organization forward towards a more inclusive environment for all staff members.”-Terry Whitfield, Policy & Systems Partnership Manager, 23-24 RE Committee Member
The Racial Equity Committee also holds a commitment to work together in an intentional way:
- Centering relationship building
- Fostering a space where it is safe for each member to show up as fully as they would like
- Building honest understanding of each other’s perspectives
- Committing to a process of emergent learning that prioritizes holistic approaches over timelines
- Taking the time to achieve collective visioning and working through tensions necessary to get there
“This committee is comprised of a group of leaders, and I am proud to be part of it. We are all very different but have come together for a common goal. Our meetings consist of rotating facilitators to honor our leadership and differences. We work together to foster a group culture where we assume the best intent but address harm when it happens, every voice is welcomed and valued in the space, and we support each other to lean into discomfort.”-Lauren Hawkins, Controller, 23-24 RE Committee Member
In their inaugural steps as a committee, the group embarked on a journey of self-discovery, sharing the tapestries of their identities, the contours of their life experiences, and their reflections of self. To introduce you to our Racial Equity Committee, we invite you view these personal collages made by 2023 – 2024 Racial Equity Committee members Alexa Borromeo, Tara Cooper, Lauren Hawkins, Ashlee Schmidt, Simonne Searles and Terry Whitfield:
“As a society we have been taught to unconsciously operate within systems that were historically designed to oppress. If we want a brighter future, we must prioritize racial equity and center the most marginalized around us. I felt the Racial Equity Committee gave me the opportunity to help transform the conversations about equity and social justice here at Skillman from an ideal into an operating framework.”-Tara Cooper, Grants Management Assistant, 23-24 RE Committee Member
Do the report. In 2023 the Racial Equity Committee is focused on building understanding, making quick and palpable impact across the Foundation through transforming the internal policies that affect staff on a day-to-day basis, and facilitating exercises and experiences for staff to build an internal culture that centers racial equity and diversity. With this foundational work, the Racial Equity Committee is setting its sights in 2024 to take a deeper look at the practices within each department and develop new metrics for the Foundation to measure our racial equity movement.