Diversity & Inclusion Statement: We are an association made up of people from every walk of life, working side by side to strengthen communities. Together we strive to ensure that everyone, regardless of age, race, gender, gender identity, gender expression, income, faith, sexual orientation, or cultural background, has the opportunity to live life to its fullest and is celebrated as a valued part of our community.
DEI Team Statement of Commitment
New members to the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo are asked to make a Statement of Commitment as outlined below and can also be downloaded as a pdf here.
The Y is a diverse organization of people joined together by a shared commitment to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive. Our cause-driven YMCA staff and volunteers intentionally and continuously strive to promote a safe and inclusive organizational culture that values diversity and strengthens inclusion. We seek to ensure that all segments of society have access to the Y and feel welcome and fully engaged as participants, members, staff, and volunteers. The Y is a force for building bridges among all people to advance our cause of strengthening community.
Our purpose at the Y is helping people achieve their full potential, while our niche is building healthy families across generations. As we see it, a community where every person can reach full potential is one in which identities such as race and ethnicity are not predictors of an individual’s ability to live a high-quality, self-determined life.
To transform our organization and community by dismantling bias, and to be more accountable to people who are historically underrepresented, we have created a DEI team. This work is being done in partnership with various community partners.
The DEI team provides essential leadership in designing the process of becoming an inclusive and anti-racist organization and ensures accountability toward this goal. The team is charged with:
- Researching Y policies, practices, and behaviors
- Identifying and revealing the ways bias is inherent within and perpetuated by the structure of our Association
- Committing to our responsibility to address and dismantle barriers that oppress marginalized populations within our community and strive to develop policies, practices, and behaviors that are inclusive and eliminate bias
- Recognizing that all community members with marginalized identities deserve affirmation, respect, and equity
- Fostering the internal growth and transformation of our organization by securing the training, skills, and technology needed to empower staff, board, and volunteers to dismantle bias inside our Association
- Harnessing the opportunity for leadership inherent in our position in the community to work to dismantle bias beyond our own walls
YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo envisions itself as an institution that will consider anti-bias in all of our decision-making and actions and has made the commitment to long-term anti-bias work through the formation of the DEI Team. DEI Team Mandate By the authority of the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo Board of Directors, the team will provide leadership, direction, and coordination to the work of dismantling racist systems by investigating and recommending revision to external and internal policies and procedures, addressing internal commitment and supporting and engaging staff and the community in building an antiracist identity and culture.
With this mandate from the board, the DEI team will focus on structural and programmatic transformation, inclusive of but not limited to the delivery of services to the public, such as membership policies, programming, and employment practices.
This focus is imperative to ensure we meet the needs of and are accountable to our diverse community.
ABOUT THE TEAM: Members of the DEI team possess a combination of skills, qualities, cultural backgrounds, and experiences that ensure the team is successfully contributing to this process. Members dedicate themselves to continuing progress in anti-bias work within the Association for at least a three-year period with the possibility of continued participation.
Current committee members:
- Erik Anderson
- Logan Brown
- Dr. Cheryl Dickson
- Karen Gallagher
- Andrea Heidtman
- Stephon Hemphill
- Chris Letcher
- Peter Militzer
- Dave Morgan
- Jennifer Shea
- Suzie Nagel-Bennett
- Jonathan Yarbrough
This journey is a long one and demands that team members clearly communicate objectives and maintain trust and confidence among all members. Qualities looked for in DEI team members include:
Diversity - The DEI team will be comprised of approximately 9 to 15 members of diverse identities, cultures, races, genders, religions, ages, and life experiences. Committee membership is comprised of YMCA staff, Board members, and volunteers.
Team Oriented - Team members should have the ability to exercise empathy and build strong trust, collaboration, and communication among diverse identities and membership.
Strategic - Ability to create, analyze, and evaluate strategies to determine the most effective methods for combating bias within the Association.
Understanding and Application of an Anti-Bias Analysis - Understanding of the concept of institutional bias, ability to identify it within YMCA functions, and offer productive feedback/strategies to advance organizational development.
Self-Reflection - Ability to address one’s own personal prejudices, biases, and participation in perpetuating bias.
Project Management - Possess skills to help move anti-bias planning forward, implementation steps, time management, and communication.
Listening - Ability to listen actively, creatively, and reflectively. In order to work together and promote a sense of trust and camaraderie, this ability is necessary so that members can share personal experiences and feel heard and supported.
Commitment - Willingness to dedicate significant time to the cause through an intensive training process.
DEI Volunteer Application
We are always looking for new staff or volunteers interested in serving on the YMCA DEI Committee.
The Y is a diverse organization of people joined together by a shared commitment to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive. Our cause-driven YMCA is led by staff and volunteers who intentionally and continuously strive to promote an inclusive organizational culture that values diversity and strengthens inclusion. We seek to ensure that all segments of society have access to the Y and feel welcome and fully engaged as participants, members, staff, and volunteers. The Y is a force for building bridges among all people to advance our cause of strengthening community.
The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee will assist the institution in developing a comprehensive strategic diversity plan focusing on the following categories:
- Diversity Training for Employees
- Human Resources - Hiring/Retention of Diverse Staff
Committee Member Expectations/Commitment:
- Expectations and committee guidelines are outlined in the DEI Team Commitment document.
- Meetings will be held once per month and will last approximately one hour.
- Subcommittees may develop based on the planned outcomes.
If you are interested in participating please submit a request to Peter Militzer. Include in your submission the following information;
(Please use a maximum of 250 words per question.)
- Email address
- Phone number
- Why do you want to be a part of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee?
- What role do you feel the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee should have on our YMCA?
- How do you see yourself contributing to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture for the YMCA?
- What experience do you have working with issues of equity and inclusion? What strengths, skills, or knowledge will you bring to the Committee?