By Nancy Howe
Strong Cancer Recovery, 501c3
When you think of “diversity and inclusion,” do you think of hiring practices, or accessibility and the Americans with Disabilities Act, or institutional barriers like red-lining? I was in that state of mind when I met with Andi Robertson, one of the three day-chairs for next week’s session. (The other chairs are Ernie Flores and Marion Kelly.) I thought I could write a better blog if I knew the day’s objectives.
You’ll remember Andi from Day 1. Andi told one of the “impact” stories, describing how her Class 30 team transformed the yard of a dilapidated house, which is where she is now fulfilling her dream of a school to serve autistic kids like her daughter Lexie. We met at the house, where the yard is now a glorious green, with a playfully painted outdoor multipurpose space, enclosed by a new and artful fence — all built by her Scottsdale Leadership team.
Andi is not “just a mom” now, nor was she “just a mom” when she entered Class 30. She might not have had a typical Scottsdale Leadership biography, but driven by her passion as a mom, Andi had already transformed the City of Scottsdale and changed Arizona law. Lexie’s Law is now a model for parents in nearly 30 states who are seeking a quality education for their kids. Andi described how her Scottsdale Leadership Class 30 team raised more than $55,000 in donations and in-kind funds for the yard’s renovation, and then pitched-in and did the hard, sweaty work themselves.
“The work our team did is life-changing for so many,” she said. “It still blows my mind. The power of a team is insane.” After the yard’s renovation, Andi’s Scottsdale Leadership teammate Nicole Cundiff described the transformation to Executive Council, who were moved to pledge to Beyond Autism an additional $30,000 to finish the interior renovation. “Even more, I can call on any member of my Class 30 team, and I know they will be there for me. It goes beyond friendship,” said Andi.
It is the power of the team, and the devotion of teammembers to each other, that motivated Andi, Ernie, and Marion to schedule “Diversity and Inclusion” day for next week. “Diversity and Inclusion” day is intended to help each of us adopt — for one day — the perspective that the way that we see the world might be incomplete or based on a misunderstanding. Next Friday in conversations with each other, we will have the freedom to imagine new, and perhaps more accurate, explanations for the reality we experience. Surely we will meet colleagues who know different things than we do, and whose expertise is a resource we can call on.
Last year, Diversity & Inclusion day was scheduled just before the last month of Class 30. “During that day, I was able to connect with so many other amazing class-members who hadn’t been on my team and who I barely knew. I wished that it had all happened earlier, and many others did too. That’s why we are having it now, on Day 3.”
So get ready to engage with, to learn from, and to be impressed by, your Class 31 colleagues. Soon we will band together in teams that have the potential to change the lives of others. But this Friday, we may surprise ourselves as we discover how our getting-to-really-know-you conversations may transform our own lives.