Together Again!

Jeanne Tedrow, President & CEO, North Carolina Center for Nonprofits

The North Carolina Center for Nonprofits’ November 2022 statewide conference in downtown Durham was a celebration for nonprofits across the state. For the past two years, the Center conducted our annual conference as a virtual event. This year, we met in person and the joy of being together face to face was palpable. It was like a collegial friend reunion as many of us had not seen each other since 2019. As we met in the halls, in the workshops, in the exhibit hall, and in the lunch and refreshment lines, we kept repeating, “How great to see you! We haven’t been together since pre-COVID!”

The theme of our conference was “Building on Inclusion, Achieving Equity” and the sessions throughout the conference resonated with this theme. This was fitting given the Center’s renewed vision statement.

Jada Monica Drew, our keynote speaker, shared with us some practical tools for achieving a more inclusive organization, including the Culture Wheel, a card game we can play to share cultural practices and identity stories with each other in an interactive way. Some of the sessions helped us consider ways to increase diversity in the executive search pipeline. Others focused on issues of equity in fundraising and opportunities to increase diversity and inclusion in board governance. In each session, practical information was shared to provide tools that would help us build on inclusion and work toward achieving equity.

This vision to live in an equity-centered society sets the tone for where we want to go. It helps us find a path to guide our way. To begin, we do not have to know all the answers or have all the necessary tools. What might have worked before may need to be adapted to our current reality. We will learn new skills along the way. As change management leader Rosabeth Moss Kanter says, “A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.”

The call to become something more creates an opportunity to learn and adapt to innovative ideas, new ways of doing things. The Center seeks to be intentional in our commitment to help build holistic, healthy, and equitable organizations that strengthen our communities. In doing so, we look inward to evolve our own culture, and we look outward to help organizations build their EDI toolboxes. We seek leaders among us who want to commit to become change agents and work alongside us to achieve this vision. We cannot do it alone. Together, we can answer the call to help our nonprofit sector to become something more, to center equity in our work, and to strengthen our communities.