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DSHS ALTSA hosts online forums to keep the conversation going

By DSHS Communicatioins

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), a topic that often makes people feel a bit uncomfortable due to its nature of highlighting societal inequities, pressing participants to challenge perceptions and listen to understand. But along with the discomfort, EDI provides a safe place and opportunity for people to speak and be heard.

In the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, EDI staff at the Aging and Long-Term Support Administration (ALTSA) recognized the necessity of providing employees with a space to speak and listen to one another. Hosting a series of online forums ALTSA staff were able to effectively engage in conversations and listen to their peers.

“The purpose of the forums was to allow staff to connect with one another during this difficult and emotional time,” said Tavares Terry, ALTSA’s EDI Administrator. “It is imperative that people feel that they are supported by their organization. The hope was to listen to understand and then take what was learned and apply it to how the ALTSA operates.”

“I found these forums deeply moving, inspiring and educational and came away with a greater connection and hope, which only helps build resilience,” said Amy Besel, ALTSA’s Organizational Development Administrator. “Resilience is how we will not just survive all of this, but thrive moving ahead.”

At this time, ALTSA is hosting a second round of sessions for those who were unable to participate or did attend but opted to not speak. There are also discussions being had about an EDI roundtable, book clubs and other ways to keep the conversations going forward.

“I want to thank everyone who participated in the sessions (even if they just listened), “said Terry. “As we move forward in dialogues about race, power, privilege and other EDI topics, please know that your voice and your stories are an important part of the learning that takes place. The EDI team is working hard to provide more opportunities to keep the conversation going. Until then I hope everyone is practicing good self-care in these times of adjustment.”

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