This weekend the Portland Press Herald published an article featuring an open letter by former Chewonki staff sharing concerns about our facilitation of issues and conversations related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
I want you to hear about this issue directly from me so I can share a few thoughts on the subject. While I feel the newspaper article does not tell the complete story, I agree that Chewonki needs to evolve as an institution. It is for that reason we began a series of professional development trainings, engaged in community dialogue, and ultimately wrote, approved, and published our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI*) statement in November 2018.
Our DEI statement describes the scope of work and the principles needed to shape Chewonki into a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive institution. By design, this work is a process, not a project with a fixed endpoint. Our DEI statement intentionally describes a future that we have not yet reached.
In the months since we published our DEI statement, we shared this work with our community and began implementing it in programs and operations. A task force, comprised of board and staff members, has been gathering input from every department, including outside experts, to discern key priorities to inform our next projects. We have made progress in several areas, and there is much more work yet to do–work that I welcome.
I am proud of the work our staff is doing, the direction our board has provided, and the ongoing support from Chewonki alumni. I hope you will join us in this important effort and that you will be in touch if you want to share your comments or concerns with me.
* You can read our full DEI statement and a supporting document here.