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  • Writer's pictureFrances Roen

Inclusive Conversations: RE!INSTITUTE

Welcome to Inclusive Conversations! Once a month, we'll talk with our partners about the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in their organizations. For our second post, meet Re!Institute, working to collaborate with those seeking to transform the systems that serve the most vulnerable communities across the world.

What does DEI mean/look like/feel like to you? Or What does it mean for RE!NSTITUTE to have a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion?


At RE!NSTITUTE, both our big picture vision and mission and our day-to-day activities are centered around equity. RE!NSTITUTE’s mission is to transform social systems and make communities more equitable, just, and safe. Our future vision is that we live in a world in which all social systems are designed around the people they serve and are effective and equitable in their delivery of services.


Equity is one of our core values from which all of our other organizational values, organizational culture, operations, and our programs and partnerships stem. As an organization working on truly transforming systems in complex systems like housing and homelessness, criminal justice, health, and gender-based violence, it is necessary for us to understand that these systems and the institutions are inherently inequitable and understand the history of inequity and dynamics at play in each system. This understanding is integrated into our program activities, and the work we do supporting front-line teams and communities to transform systems so that they are designed around the people they serve as well as our internal culture and processes.


Describe how RE!NSTITUTE's work has been enhanced by a team of diverse people from diverse places and life experiences OR Why is it important for RE!NSTITUTE's work to be done by and in partnership with diverse people from diverse places and life experiences?


It is extremely important for RE!NSTITUTE’s work to be done by and in partnership with diverse people and individuals with diverse life experiences. By involving diverse individuals in RE!NSTITUTE’s work, we strive to ensure that the interests and needs of different communities and demographics are represented and contribute to the development of programs, initiatives, policies, and whole systems that are inclusive, relevant, and effective for diverse populations. Inclusion and representation are essential for addressing systemic inequities and creating meaningful change.


To transform systems to serve the individuals most in need, it is crucial that people with lived expertise and experience have a seat at the table to participate in transforming their systems. Individuals with lived expertise and experience are essential partners in this effort: they offer insight into how the system directly impacts the community it was designed to serve. Their participation offers teams the chance to design equitable solutions by offering those directly impacted a seat at the table and empowering them to be decision-makers.


Tell us about one or two specific things that RE!NSTITUTE has done to promote diversity, equity and/or inclusion?


Our team engages in a bi-weekly Coffee and Chat call where we engage in ongoing discussions on topics related to DEI in our work and recent events. This year, the team engaged in a more in depth discussion on white dominant culture and how it shows up in our work as well as the systems we are working in. These conversations and in depth reflections have helped us become more constructive and more effective in our multiracial work toward liberation and to dismantle our internalized racial oppression and superiority. Recent discussions allowed for for processing, retraining, and taking action to further shape RE!NSTITUTE’s culture, operations, and programming with partners.

What is the biggest myth or misconception about DEI that you'd like to bust?


One of the biggest myths or misconceptions about DEI that we’d like to bust is that we have to have all of the answers before digging into make change. Incorporating equity into systems, no matter large complex systems or smaller internal processes, is not a quick fix to make systems equitable and inclusive, it’s an ongoing commitment to learning, understanding, and a willingness to adapt to make them more equitable, just, and inclusive. With that constant commitment, DEI is not one person’s responsibility on any team, but is the responsibility of an entire team to see and advocate for how DEI is incorporated and centered in their work. Everyone has a role to play in creating an inclusive culture.


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