Creating Inclusive Excellence In The Ozarks
With support from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, we present another program from KSMU's ongoing series, Making a Difference; Connecting Through Conversation.
Today, we hear from certified diversity professionals, Krista Mancado, program coordinator with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, and Tyree Davis, community diversity and equity director for the Community Partnership of the Ozarks.
Back in the fall of 2020, Krista and Tyree were tasked to team up and create a D.E.I (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) Training Program for CFO affiliated nonprofits, civic and community groups, and others, adapting the model from higher education institutions, including Missouri State University. The result: Inclusive excellence in the Ozarks, which will be rolled out and operational sometime this summer. Davis and Mancado's many months of collaboration creating the program was done remotely, not in person, even though CFO and CPO offices are right across the street from each other. Tyree Davis begins today's conversation.
Tyree Davis: "So when I was interviewing for this position, I interviewed with Bridget Dierks, CFO Community Foundation, Janet Dankert, CEO of CPO, as well as Francine Pratt, director of Prosper Springfield. In the interview, they pointed out utilizing the Inclusive Excellence model which Missouri State started to use, and the Inclusive Excellence model goes back to, I believe, the early 2000s from the Association of American Colleges and Universities. So that is how Krista and I started this training. Krista I don't know if you remember, but it seemed like we started from scratch. It was it was an interesting time, but I think it worked out for us. I think that our training is really well done".
Krista Moncado: "Yeah, I really like the inclusive excellence model. So my recollection is after George Floyd was murdered last year, Community Foundation of the Ozarks, Community Partnership of the Ozarks, and the United Way issued a joint statement calling out the brutality, but also realizing that here in Springfield, we have not done a good enough job of making sure that everyone feels included and like they belong here in the Ozarks".
"They issued this joint statement adopting the Inclusive Excellence model from Missouri State University. And then it was it was just a couple of weeks later that the job posting went up for this job at CFO and I applied there. But I believe the intent was to really give this program and this model to Tyree and I, for us to bring our lived experiences to the model, to bring it into full bloom for the Ozarks".
"I think we all know that the Ozarks is a special little place in all of our hearts, and we have a unique set of issues to really focus on. So, yeah, I remember, Tyree, when they were interviewing for your position. And one, I was super excited to be able to work with somebody else on it and that it wasn't like because this is not something that you want to undertake on your own. This is very much something that needs to have lots of people and lots of input. So I was very excited, but because it was in the middle of the pandemic, we still haven't met in person. We really had to go through the class, do our project together and start this pilot program strictly over zoom and texting and telephone conversations".
Tyree Davis: "Yes, that in itself has been interesting. And I think that it speaks volumes to us as individuals, to the times, because, I mean, I don't think 10 years ago, being able to complete our entire project and to roll out our pilot program probably would not have been a thing. The Zoom. But I think it speaks to the importance the CFO and CPO and the community want to do around this work. Krista, you and I see all of the positions that are starting to come to fruition and the folks that are starting to fill those positions. I think that we are in a pivotal time, not only in Springfield, but in the Ozarks. So it is exciting to see. But as you say, it is a special place that has its own set of problems. And we have a lot of work to do. And it just isn't on you and I and the rest of the diversity professionals who would feel we have to do better as a community, which I think we all want to do, because it's clear that we want to see you and I wouldn't be in these positions".
Krista Moncado: "Absolutely. And I think that also is a huge tribute to CFO and CPO for leading the charge to really embark upon this journey that we needed to do as a community for a long time".
Tyree Davis: "And not only non-profits, but faith based organizations, community groups, and anyone who wants help with diversity and inclusion."
Krista Moncado: "The Inclusive Excellence model needs to be implemented at the organizational level, the department level and in individual job responsibilities. The goal is to train all of the staff in the organization. So we have to put on these lenses of equity and look at everything within our organizations. For you, Tyree, What is the importance of our work"?
Tyree Davis: "It is important to me because I am a Black man in America. I cannot remove my blackness. In every facet of my life, I am Black. In my professional life, my personal life, There's no separation of that. So I think that sometimes we think the Civil Rights era was so long ago, and it wasn't. And I know what it is like to not see people that look like me in positions of power. And I think that this position allows us to get in and preach the importance of this work".
Krista Moncado: "I think it also helps that you and I both have lived experiences that are not what we would call the mainstream or majority kind of experiences. But also you and I have very different lived experiences between the two of us. And so trying to navigate that and power dynamics, and how we approach this work on equitable footing. So that adds another level of awkwardness, but it also adds that depth to it".
Tyree Davis: "Yes, and it makes it more diverse. You know, we all know that the more diverse things are, the better it usually comes out in all instances. So same question for you, why is this important to you"?
Krista Moncado: "There's quite a lot of reasons. So I was raised in a very conservative religion where women were not valued for their thoughts and opinions. And then to compound upon that, I identify as Queer. And that certainly was not acceptable to my family or the community I was raised in. I knew that I was going to be losing generations of systems of support. We lose so many of our young people to depression because of exclusion. I think the most harm that you can ever do to another person is to other them and to exclude them".
Tyree Davis: "So you as an individual, you know, you bring so much to the table that is way different than what I bring. So we are we are able to flush out all of those ideas. And I mean even our exclusive excellence model, you looked at things so much differently than I did. And just having that banter and disagreements and agreements, I think it made for a better fleshed out program overall".
Krista Moncado: "I think at the heart of doing inclusion and equity work is understanding that there is more than one viewpoint. And how can we make this the most equitable, the most inclusive that we know how right now? For what people need, what our community needs right at this moment and meet them where they are. For me. I hope that I'm always able to move this personal goal forward, which is to make sure that I leave this world better than I found it and more inclusive. And that people that are feeling isolated and like there's nobody else like them around, that they know and trust that we see them and we are here doing this work for them".
Tyree Davis: "In 15 years, If I am no longer in Springfield or in this position or in this field, I will be able to know that I started to help make change, which is important to me. And it's valuable and it's imperative".
Tyree Davis works with the Community Partnership of the Ozarks. Krista Mancado is with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. There DEI Training Program, Inclusive Excellence in the Ozarks will be used by nonprofits affiliated with the CFO and others and should be operational sometime this summer. For information, cfozarks.org.
For Making A Difference; Connectiiong Through Conversation, I'm Mike Smith.