Bringing Members Together for the March Area Meetings

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In lieu of a March General Membership Meeting at the Columbia Center, members hosted multiple smaller roundtables in their homes around the area to dive into the topic of diversity and inclusion.

Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives, now called Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI&B) have been undergoing many changes this year with the help of Tristan Vaught, Inclusive Excellence Facilitator at Tristan N. Vaught Consulting, LLC and the Co-founder/President of Transform Cincy. They have been hired by the League as a consultant to help us refine our goals around DEI&B. Tristan’s advocacy and education work focuses on intersecting identities and how they impact individual’s lived experiences. Tristan was our guest speaker at the February GMM and served as an active resource to our in-home facilitators during the March area meetings.

The agenda was not posted, so members arrived at their in-home locations not knowing what was in store for the evening. To start the meeting, members answered ice breaker trivia questions about microaggressions, followed by completing “The Heterosexual Questionnaire,” (Rochlin, 1977). The goal of the questionnaire was to illustrate how harmful some of the questions that are asked to those in the LGBTQ+ community can be. Members discussed with their small group how the questions made them feel and how the LGBTQ+ community faces these microaggressions daily. Samantha Evans, who was instrumental in organizing these meetings, said, “we are still having the same DEI&B conversations and we will continue to have them for as long as it takes.” The meetings wrapped up with a powerful TED talk by Kimberlé Crenshaw titled, “The Urgency of Intersectionality.” She uses the term “intersectionality” to describe the intersection of race and gender bias.

A few of our in-home hosts shared about their experiences:

“March in-home GMM meetings are my favorite meetings of the year. These meetings allow members to get to get to know each other on a deeper level and this fosters meaningful conversations about key DEI&B topics that make us stronger as both individual women and as a League.”
– Sam Zehnder, VP of Communications

“The opportunity to host roundtable conversations allowed JLC members to have more candid conversations in a safe space, where we can build trust, learn, grow and deepen our relationships. Our facilitator, Courtney Sutherland, did a remarkable job guiding the flow of the conversation, practicing pause and using her poise to stretch us into uncomfortable topics, and allowing people to feel heard. I believe we all left the table feeling more aware of ourselves, the needs of our peers and how we can contribute to making the Junior League a more inclusive organization.”
– René Robers, Operation Liaison

“Our meeting was really good even though it was small. Maybe it was good BECAUSE it was small. We could’ve talked even longer and we were all emotional and vulnerable. We’re eager to see where the League takes this after the small groups are complete.”
– Sadie Bonifas, VP of Fund Development

These conversations will definitely be something to remember for weeks and months to come, and as Tristan will continue to work with the League, talking with leaders and members, to build a report on what the Junior League of Cincinnati could do to improve from within and in the community as a whole. Our goal is to become more inclusive for League members, those interested in joining as New Members, and the community we support.