In late 2019, Compass Mark formed an internal staff team to guide the organization’s work around diversity, equity and inclusion. The team had several areas of focus: to plan opportunities for staff education on diversity-related topics; to evaluate areas of potential growth for Compass Mark’s programs, policies, staff and board recruitment, and other areas; and to expand partnerships to increase awareness and access to prevention programs for diverse populations in the community.
Executive Director Eric Kennel talked about why this initiative is so important both from delivering prevention services and from an organizational perspective. “Our vision is to ‘guide and empower ALL people toward healthy, fulfilling lives free from addiction,’ so how do we ensure we are inviting diverse perspectives to the table in program planning? How do we provide equitable access to services? How do we assure that our team represents the communities we serve? These are just a few of the questions this team began to address,” he said.
In addition, during the events of summer 2020, the diversity team gave input into the drafting of a statement on racial equity.
Compass Mark strives to be:
1. Inclusive through creating welcoming, judgment-free environments that engage our individual differences as strengths.
2. Resilient by valuing the inherent potential that exists in every person and community, recognizing that the past does not determine our future.
3. Purposeful by asking thoughtful questions, embracing the courage to change, and pursuing innovation grounded in research and best practice.
One specific example shows how the organization’s efforts are already taking shape. Each year Compass Mark provides a mini-grant opportunity to Lancaster County coalitions for prevention initiatives in the community. This year, priority was given to applications focused on diversity, equity,and inclusion, and/ or COVID response. Two of the award winners – the LGBTQ+ Coalition and SafeHouse Lancaster – presented projects that were uniquely focused on equity and inclusion issues in the community.
To continue to advance the initiative around diversity, equity and inclusion, in January 2021, Compass Mark engaged with Dr. Amber Sessoms from Natural Inclinations. Dr. Sessoms is providing the staff with monthly reflection guides, encouraging team members to dig into the issues of racism, power, privilege, and other important topics.