Our Journey Continues

Ellen Collins
Ellen Collins
Associate Director
MS Alliance

In the spring of 2020, after witnessing several polarizing racial and social injustice events, we were prompted to take a hard look at who we are as an organization and why we exist. At our inception, we adopted a set of core values that underpinned our work. Those values include accountability to the public and our members, respect for diversity and the worth and dignity of individuals, and a commitment to inclusiveness and social justice. In doing this self-examination, The Alliance made a commitment that we would hold ourselves accountable to these core values and demonstrate these values with the appropriate actions.

For the past 18 months, we have been on a very intentional journey of reflection and discovery to identify effective ways to enhance, both internally and externally, our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Working with a nationally recognized expert in DEI, we outlined a pathway to assess and gather data needed to inform our planning and future course of action. We examined our internal policies and procedures, listened, and gathered feedback from board members, member organizations, and other external stakeholders.

As a staff, we participated in our own “journey” of shared learning on DEI and racial equity issues, which was neither easy nor comfortable. From this work, we have learned that we all seek moments to connect to share our personal stories and knowledge. At the same time, there is a desire for further understanding to dismantle barriers to justice together.

We know that this deliberate approach to expanding our knowledge on diversity, equity, and inclusion, which now incorporates an understanding of accessibility and belonging, will help us become more representative of our members and the issues facing our communities. Over the coming months, we will share with you our plan of action as we identify ways to embed a DEIAB lens across our organization and initiatives. Our next step will be creating a DEIAB Team Charter, which will establish the goals and outcomes we seek to obtain through our work and formally incorporate our intentions for future work. We will also share opportunities for you to join us in a continuous exchange of ideas for learning and growth. But most importantly, we ask that you continue to hold us accountable to our promise to walk the talk, even when it gets hard or upsetting. It is there in our discomfort where we find the greatest change.

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