An Update on our DEIA Commitment

Matthew Pieper, Open Hand's Executive Director

Since our founding, Open Hand has always been an organization that welcomes people of all walks of life and has been a place where diversity is celebrated. We know that because we are a diverse organization, we are therefore a stronger organization. However, being a diverse organization doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s not more to learn about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA). 

Last year we made a commitment to deepen our staff’s understanding of DEIA. To that end, we pursued DEIA training for the entire staff from the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (NCCHR). The series of training sessions were phenomenal and provided an opportunity to establish a baseline of understanding of the fundamentals of DEIA across the organization.  With incredibly thoughtful and knowledgeable consultants from the NCCHR, we were able to achieve a shared understanding of the definition of DEIA and the history of systemic racism. We also studied common pitfalls that organizations sometimes experience that ultimately compromise their commitments to live up to DEIA values. 

This training left us hungry to learn more. We formed a staff lead DEIA Committee to begin coordinating additional learning opportunities and facilitate more discussion on these topics. Then, with funding from Gilead Pharmaceuticals, we hired Groundwork Co-Creative, a small but powerful firm, that has helped many organizations implement DEIA strategies. Groundwork Co-Creative is currently assessing all our processes and policies from the lens of DEIA. Once that assessment has been concluded, they will make recommendations on any modifications or areas of improvement that Open Hand should consider. 

I am very proud of how our Board and staff have embraced this important work. I look forward to what recommendations will be forthcoming. Going through this process is a wise investment of time and resources: the result will produce a strategic roadmap of what Open Hand needs to continue to do to always be a place where all our clients, volunteers, staff, and community partners feel respected and celebrated for who they are. The recommendations that are produced will be folded into the organization’s 5-year strategic plan, which will be published for all our constituents to see. 

As a side note, for any organizations considering DEIA training: I encourage you to reach out to the NCCHR. As you might expect, I think very highly of their instructors and curriculum. 

– Matthew Pieper, Executive Director

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