Mission Statement of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force
The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force is a collaboration of a diverse group of Aloha Foundation community members whose goal is to act as an auditing counsel for issues of inequity and discrimination throughout the Aloha Foundation. This group will serve the community by reviewing concerns, making recommendations to Aloha Foundation leaders, and at times supporting implementation of recommendations in an effort to give the most thoughtful and objective feedback possible and aid in movement towards resolution. The Task Force is a safe space for all voices to be heard and amplified.
The DEI Task Force invites Aloha Foundation community members to share their experience and insights related to diversity, equity, and inclusion at camp. Join us for an upcoming event or contact us below.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force
established summer 2020 by the Aloha Foundation Board of Trustees
Vanessa has been involved in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work through experiential and outdoor settings for the last 15 years. Her introduction to DEI was with Outward Bound and an immersive program for middle school students in Boston. Her engagement expanded to schools and communities around the US, designing curriculum and developing community based nonprofits; communities and groups in pursuit of better results and lasting change. She is a recent graduate of the Vermont Leadership Institute. Vanessa currently serves as the Aloha Foundation’s Interim Executive Director and lives in Vermont with her family.
Verna’s background is in marketing and organizational development. She has an MBA in Executive Management from the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University. Verna is a former political strategist whose clients have included Hillary Clinton, Georgia Governor Roy Barnes, and Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. Verna has over 20 years of non-profit board leadership experience currently serving on four boards, including the Aloha Foundation. She has more than ten years of experience in advancing the work of DEI at her daughters’ school in Atlanta, and is chairing the Aloha Foundation DEI Task Force.
Sigel’s background is in long-term planning and non-profit leadership. Her current professional practice as a freelance consultant leverages a background in strategic planning, business planning, analysis and intervention in systems of inequality, and racial equity frameworks, with a focus on facilitating performing art with defined social impact. Sigel’s work is further informed by a Master’s in Public Policy from UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, with a capstone on Racial Equity in Artist Compensation and Support for the San Francisco Arts Commission. Sigel was a longtime camper and counselor.
Alisha is a fashion/costume designer and activist from Dumfries, VA and currently resides in Atlanta, GA. In 2019, she earned a Master’s in Law, Justice, & Culture from Ohio University with a focus on Anti-Black Racism, Critical Race Theory, Identity Politics, African American Studies, and Political Science. While at Ohio University, Alisha served as the President of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the university’s theatre program. She joined our community in 2017 as a counselor at Aloha, and since 2018 has been a Unit Head and is now a Staff Advisory Board member. Alisha is excited to be a part of Aloha’s DEI Taskforce and is dedicated to changing Aloha for the better!
Joi comes from a long line of DEI leaders. She’s found a passion for this work through her love of the Aloha Foundation and years spent as a camper and counselor. She didn’t always get the support and community she needed, but is excited to help give all future campers and counselors the environment they need to thrive in Foundation programs. She works year-round as the Foundation’s social media and communications coordinator and hopes to use her master’s in journalism to help community members tell their stories and have their voices heard.
Chris Sarkis, a counselor at Horizons since 2017, grew up in the Upper Connecticut River Valley as the child of two Lebanese immigrants and went to Woodsville High School. This year, he graduated with a degree in music education from SUNY Potsdam. He’s passionate about inclusive education practices, diverse representation in the classroom and elsewhere, and process-focused, informal learning. Chris is looking forward to bringing his perspective and passion as an educator and Horizonite to the DEI Taskforce.
Ross’ commitment to DEI work traces back to his passion and career in outdoor education. He has always believed that nature should be accessible to all people and to use the resources available at the Foundation to carry out that mission has been his drive since beginning year-round work at Hulbert five years ago. When he’s not facilitating programs here on campus, he loves to spend time on Lake Morey. He also serves the local community on the Fairlee Fire Department and FAST Squad.
David has served on the Aloha Foundation Board of Trustees since 2015 and is the Chair of its Audit and Finance Committee. He and his family have attended family camp at Aloha every year since 2008. David teaches courses for undergraduates, MBA students, and mid-career professionals on social enterprise and nonprofit management at Boston University. David previously worked for 20 years in nonprofit management positions in the fields of education, community development, community service, and child welfare.
Share your experience or ask a question
The DEI Task Force invites Aloha Foundation community members to contribute feedback privately or anonymously. You may schedule a one-on-one or group conversation with the DEI Task Force. Participant feedback will be gathered anonymously unless individuals specify otherwise.
What We’re Working On
Working Groups: Phase 1
We are grateful to all those who have shared their experiences, insights, frustrations, and needs with the Aloha Foundation’s DEI Task Force during our sessions so far. We are listening and will continue to listen, even as we start to piece together the broader puzzle of what a DEI process looks like at the Aloha Foundation.
We have heard so much in our listening sessions already, and three specific topics have surfaced as points of focus for potential working groups at this early stage:
-Training: Pre-Camp and Year Round
-Success Counseling and other Strategies
-Rethinking the Child’s World
This survey is an opportunity for us to solicit more input on these topics, to learn who might be interested in participating in a working group, and to expand our thinking at this very early stage in the process.
These working groups are not exhaustive and are not the only ways that people will be engaged in our process: working groups are just one way we will invite people to share thoughts, expand expertise, make our process more transparent, and strengthen the Aloha Foundation.
This task force’s work and these working groups will foreground a focus on racism, racial bias, and racial inequity at the Aloha Foundation. We believe that choosing racial inequity as the first focus of our work will enable us to improve and sustain long term outcomes and experiences for all groups and identities marginalized at the Aloha Foundation.
CQ Strategies is a Vermont-based training collective committed to justice, equity, cultural proficiency, and social justice work with local and regional organizations. Since 2010, they have worked with over 150 organizations in New England and New York, and trained more than 5,000 people. CQ Strategies began their work with the Aloha Foundation in fall 2018 and has conducted trainings with camp directors, Foundation year-round staff, and some of our camp communities. In 2020, The Task Force will be looking to CQ Strategies for additional support.
Consider ordering from a Black-owned bookshop.
White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
– “White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress.”
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
– “The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status…”
How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
– “Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America–but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking…”
White Rage by Carol Anderson
– “As Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in August 2014, and media commentators across the ideological spectrum referred to the angry response of African Americans as “black rage,” historian Carol Anderson wrote a remarkable op-ed in The Washington Post…”
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
– “At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document from the iconic author of If Beale Street Could Talk and Go Tell It on the Mountain.”
Racism Without Racists by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
– “Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s acclaimed Racism without Racists documents how, beneath our contemporary conversation about race, there lies a full-blown arsenal of arguments, phrases, and stories that whites use to account for—and ultimately justify—racial inequalities.”
In the Wake: On Blackness and Being by Christina Sharpe
– “In this original and trenchant work, Christina Sharpe interrogates literary, visual, cinematic, and quotidian representations of Black life that comprise what she calls the ‘orthography of the wake.'”
Black on White: Black Writers On What It Means to be White edited by David Roediger
– “In this thought-provoking volume, David R. Roediger has brought together some of the most important black writers throughout history to explore the question: What does it really mean to be white in America?”
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum
– “Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy?”
Excerpts used from Author’s or publisher’s sites.