I would like to share an important update regarding SEEA’s work on diversity, inclusion, and integration. For the past two years, Pamela Fann, director of SEEA’s membership program, has been developing a plan to implement our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Pam took on this task based on her assessment of SEEA’s needs and her passion for helping people to learn and realize the benefits of a more equitable work culture.
As the national outcry for racial justice continues, SEEA’s focus on diversity, inclusion, and integration is more important than ever. To ensure our momentum with this work continues, I am pleased to share that Pam’s role is formally changing to director of membership and diversity integration. In this role, she will continue to lead SEEA’s membership program and develop and implement initiatives to further behaviors, attitudes, and policies that support diversity, inclusion, and integration within the organization. We believe that creating an organizational culture where all people feel welcomed and valued will better equip us to realize significant, systemic change in the energy industry.
I am pleased to share a personal message from Pam about her journey and the work ahead at SEEA.
Over the past two years, SEEA has been on a path to honor our commitment to incorporating diversity, inclusion, and integration (DII) in our organization and the energy industry overall. During this time, I obtained my certification as a Cultural Diversity Professional and Trainer (CDP, CDT), developed SEEA’s cultural competency framework, helped craft our diversity and inclusion statement and president’s message, and created tools and training to promote dialogue and advance DII among our board, staff, and stakeholders.
As I reflect on the work we have accomplished, as well as our plans for the future, I want to share my personal story and why I am committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in individuals and institutions.
I grew up in the small midwestern town of Owasso, Oklahoma. My family was the first Black family to integrate the small town. As the only Black person in the classroom and social settings for many years, I experienced direct and frequent racism, but I could not have imagined the abhorrent event that happened next. In 1988, I suffered one of the most painful and definable moments of my life. Members of a white supremacist group burned our home and spray painted the words “N***** Get Out” on the rock wall entryway. While I had experienced the cruelty of disparaging words and racial slurs, I had never encountered the visceral hate that took away our family home, memories, and led to many more obstacles for my family to overcome. That profound awakening began a journey of reckoning with a history of racism and hatred that I had not previously understood.
I gained two gifts from that injustice: the fulfillment of volunteer service, due to the generosity from first responders and The American Red Cross, and my passion for understanding and promoting diversity work. The latter came from the compassion, empathy, and support that we received from many white people in our community and the knowledge that the actions of a certain group of people do not represent the entire race.
I use the insight from this experience daily in both my personal life and career to support diversity initiatives and encourage others on their own journey.
Taking the Next Step
SEEA’s regional focus on energy efficiency topics in the Southeast requires an understanding of the underlying issues and policies that have perpetuated inequities in our communities. While our organization has been tackling the matters of diversity, inclusion, and integration for the last couple of years, the recent racial injustices across the U.S. has amplified the need to address these issues within our organizations, our industry, and the communities we serve.
I am pleased to be leading these efforts for SEEA and look forward to ongoing work within the organization and with our partners and stakeholders to create a more compassionate, knowledgeable, and anti-racist community.
Reach out to me if you have questions or want to talk about how to get started in addressing diversity, inclusion, and integration in your organization.
Learn more about SEEA’s journey to advance diversity, inclusion, and integration.
Last year, SEEA began a new tradition to honor our planet – SEEArth Day. We use this day to encourage more eco-friendly habits through some friendly competition and to share resources and ideas. Emme and Maggie organized the event, split the staff into teams, and created a sustainability scavenger hunt for the week leading up to Earth Day. In 2019, scavenger hunt activities included taking public transit, starting a compost, watching an Earth-themed film, enjoying the outdoors, and many more. On Earth Day, we celebrated in the office with trash trivia, recyclable sorting challenge, upcycled craft projects, and handed out individual and team prizes. At the end of the day, it was decided – a new SEEA tradition was born.
This year, since the coronavirus is keeping us at home, we were unable to celebrate in person. But a global pandemic didn’t stop us from honoring our planet. The scavenger hunt was expanded two weeks, and included even more sustainable activities, all designed to do at home and with families. On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, we virtually awarded prizes, shared our experiences, and set eco-friendly goals for the future.
Some of the things we learned:
While Mandy really doesn’t like hang-drying clothes, her husband, Sean, loves it. Mandy and her son Paul had fun learning to make salt scrub and home cleaning solutions.
After learning that most wrapping paper isn’t recyclable, Ashley found a recyclable, and affordable wrapping paper alternative.
Randall has made his own personal care and cleaning products for years, avoiding harmful chemicals while reducing waste and supply chain emissions.
Maddy’s parents have always made their own cleaning supplies, because they are cost-effective as well as sustainable.
Pam and Maggie pointed out how hard it is to unplug appliances and turn off lights while we are currently staying at home and dependent on these resources.
Sarah and her little ones got creative with Earth-inspired artwork and craft projects with upcycled materials.
Cyrus noted that in order to leave a better world for future generations, we must make personal changes and as well as work towards global, systemic solutions.
Linda shared that she has learned a lot through these activities SEEArth Day and is inspired to start a compost for her garden.
New dad Will, thought about how he wants his son, Teddy, to grow up with a connection to nature and set a goal to learn how to identify local flora and fauna.
Wesley talked about shopping locally to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the production and transport of products while also supporting workers in your city or region.
While enjoying the scavenger hunt and getting outdoors with her son, Wyatt, Anne also collected pieces of trash that otherwise may have harmed local wildlife.
Many of us already practice eco-friendly habits, like eating plant-based meals, taking short showers, gardening, or buying sustainable products, but are finding new ways to adapt these activities to a new normal and challenge ourselves to do more. While we couldn’t spend the day together this year, we are grateful for our community which continues to support us through these difficult times and remains united in making the world a better place for everyone on it.