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. 

What We’re Working On

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.

Working Groups: Phase 1

We have heard so much in our listening sessions already, and these specific topics have surfaced as points of focus for potential working groups:

  • Training: Pre-Camp and Year Round
  • Success Counseling and other Strategies
  • Rethinking the Child’s World
  • Our song choices and our songbooks
  • Research into the life and history of Mamie Cochran, our camps’ co-founder

The groups are formed and made up of counselors, parents, and alumni. They are currently working on delivering feedback and suggestions.

Humans of Aloha

Inspired by Humans of New York, we’ve created a public space for marginalized groups to share their experiences while at our Foundation programs. Through many different platforms and publications, we celebrate the positive impact of camp – it is less often we pause to listen and reflect on the times when we should have and could have done better. Improving our understanding is a key part of our commitment to make both immediate and lasting change and to ensure we are, each and every day, a community that welcomes and celebrates differences.

Every Friday, from July to December 2020 on social media and on our web page, we shared an anonymous story from one of our community members.  We thank these brave individuals for sharing their stories with the whole community. You can read the complete series by clicking the link below.  Have a story to share? Email Us.

Read Our Stories Here

Professional Partnerships 

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.

Aloha Community-Wide Town Hall

Recorded Sunday, July 19 at 4:00-5:30 pm EDT

Watch our town hall discussion with the Aloha Camps community and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force to hear our community’s thoughts, suggestions, and ideas.

View here

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force

established summer 2020 by the Aloha Foundation Board of Trustees

Vanessa Riegler

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 Cleveland

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.

Rebecca Sigel

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 Lawrence

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 Louviere

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 was the Foundation’s year-round social media and communications coordinator from 2018 until fall 2020, using her master’s in journalism to help community members tell their stories and have their voices heard.

Chris Sarkis

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 Cannon

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 Stolow

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.

Please contact us at dei@alohafoundation.org

Email Us

Prefer to complete an anonymous form?

Complete Form

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Consider ordering from a Black-owned bookshop.

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White Rage by Carol Anderson
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The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
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Racism Without Racists by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
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In the Wake: On Blackness and Being by Christina Sharpe
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Black on White: Black Writers On What It Means to be White edited by David Roediger
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Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum
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Excerpts used from Author’s or publisher’s sites.