Equity & Inclusion Update: Meet Our Steering Committee

Learn about the efforts to make The Mountaineers a more equitable and inclusive organization, and meet the volunteers leading this important and uncomfortable work.
Kristina Ciari Tursi Kristina Ciari Tursi
Membership & Communications Director
February 20, 2019

At The Mountaineers, we believe a diverse and inclusive outdoors inspires unity, respect, and passion for the places we love. We aspire to offer outdoor opportunities for ALL, and have assembled a board-chartered Equity & Inclusion (E&I) Steering Committee to direct our strategy and financial investments to become a place where, a century from now, future generations will recognize themselves in The Mountaineers.

In September, we issued a call for volunteers to help us look critically at the challenges and opportunities within The Mountaineers. More than fifty people responded, and in early November we held a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Working Group Listening Session. If you haven't yet done so, please review our recap outlining the feedback provided.

Throughout December and January the existing members of the steering committee, led by our Board's Vice President Vik Sahney, gathered information from community members interested in joining the committee. When making selections, the committee looked at the existing team members and sought to fill gaps in representation as it related to the identities of race/ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical and mental disability, veteran status, branch affiliation, family situation, length of involvement with The Mountaineers, and professional experience working in DEI. We recognize that there is no way for all identities to be represented, and we sought to be as fair and equitable in the selection process as possible.

AS A RESULT OF THE SELECTION PROCESS, THE FOLLOWING INDIVIDUALS WERE SELECTED FOR THE E&I STEERING COMMITTEE:

  • Vik Sahney (VP of the Board, and Committee Chair)
  • Gabe Aeschliman
  • Rena Chinn
  • SuJ’n Chon
  • Alejandro Echeverria
  • Lisa Katzman
  • Natalia Martinez-Paz
  • Glenn Nelson
  • Victoria Ochido
  • Sam Ortiz
  • Alicia Pierce
  • John Porter
  • Jacky Sabin
  • Kristina Tursi (Membership & Communications Director)
  • Tom Vogl (CEO)

We held our first committee meeting on February 4, 2019 where the majority of the time was spent with introductions and discussing committee goals. We will meet again in late February, then monthly on an ongoing basis. Our intention is to hold listening sessions throughout this process for you to provide feedback, and we commit to offering regular communications about our DEI work to increase transparency, reduce barriers to participation, and grow trust among our many sub-groups in The Mountaineers community. Read more about the specific charges of the committee here.

As we embark on this work, we have been cautioned that our approach will need to be broad, multi-level, and org-wide with a focus on long-term, systematic, and cultural changes (while also making immediate, short-terms improvements). We are not here to simply check a box and pat ourselves on the back, and acknowledge that we have an uncomfortable road ahead.

We are committed to owning the past failures and current realities of The Mountaineers with humility and honesty. We commit to ask questions as opportunities to learn, not to defend our actions, and to assume best intentions from each member of our community. We appreciate your engagement in this process, and want to acknowledge and thank our community and the members of the committee for their work to benefit The Mountaineers community.

GET INVOLVED

In addition to the E&I Steering Committee, we have assembled a DEI working group which will receive regular updates and engagement opportunities around specific priorities identified by the E&I Steering Committee. We are committed to providing regular updates through our blog as well, but if you're interested in more frequent updates, please email kristinac@mountaineers.org to get on the distribution list.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION

We've published a number of pieces over the years on the topic of creating a welcoming and inclusive environment. We encourage you to peruse these blogs, and dive into the additional resources identified within each article.


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