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Home2023 Dismantling Inequities Sessions


DECEMBER 7-8, 2023

Breakout Session Descriptions
(subject to change)

Beyond Barriers: The Art of Communicating Across Differences
Luiza Dreasher
The way we communicate is deeply influenced by our culture. While most volunteers may be U.S. Americans, the potential for these volunteers to encounter culturally diverse clients is increasing exponentially. They need to be able to understand differences in communication styles so they can work more effectively with a culturally diverse clientele. In multicultural settings many dynamics can make communication challenging. For example, volunteers or those they serve may not comprehend instructions or they may find difficulty describing services to prospective clients. A foreign-born client may not ask important questions about a needed service for fear of not being able to understand the answer. Or they may hesitate to speak up in a meeting worrying that their thick accent may not be understood. 

Through engaging content, real-life case studies, and expert insights, participants will learn to navigate cultural nuances and diverse perspectives which will equip them with the tools to not only communicate effectively but to forge authentic connections that leave a lasting impact. This session will give participants the opportunity to elevate their communication prowess and give them the confidence to thrive in any cross-cultural interaction. 

Beyond the Box: Dismantling the Stigma Around Court-Ordered Service and Formerly Incarcerated Volunteers
Bex Takacs-Britz  and Chris Boden 

Each year, millions of Americans interact with our criminal justice system. The vast majority of these individuals will be compelled to complete community service hours as a part of their sentence- often in exchange for reducing fines or avoiding incarceration. While originally well-intentioned, court-ordered service programs often place undue burdens on folks who live at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities. For those convicted of crimes and recently released from incarceration, their first foothold back into the community is often our organizations. We are their first chance for a fresh start. A second chance. A strong reference. A professional network. And yet, the opportunities for volunteers with criminal records are quite limited- generally relegated to long hours of manual labor. And unfortunately the sheer amount of mandatory hours often create financial hardship for returning community members. In this session we will discuss the history of community service & diversion programs, the staggering economic value that these individuals provide to the third sector, concerns around exploitation of this compelled labor, and ways we can provide more meaningful community service to reduce recidivism rates. Because if you are not providing your volunteers, who are with you due to court-ordered community service, an experience that is meaningful and engaging, and one where they are gaining experience and valuable transferable skills, you are doing nothing more than creating future clients for other direct service organizations in your communities.

Creating a Trauma-Informed Organization
Terri Allred
A trauma-informed workplace offers a culture of safety and compassion, mindfully avoiding re-traumatization. Our understanding of trauma is expanded beyond an acute individual experience of trauma to include toxic stress, chronic traumatization, and collective trauma. With this new understanding, leaders and their teams can more effectively build a resilient workforce by acknowledging and effectively intervening in stress and trauma. In this interactive workshop will learn a shared vocabulary of trauma-informed language, practice research-based strategies to prevent vicarious trauma, employ skills for individual coping and resilience, apply principles of a trauma-informed workplace in your organization.

DEI Training for Transformative Change
Michael Nguyen

This dynamic DEI training program draws inspiration from the influential book "Humble Inquiry" by Edgar H. Schein, offering participants a transformative learning experience focused on fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion within organizations and communities. By embracing the principles of humble inquiry, participants will develop the skills and mindset needed to navigate sensitive conversations, challenge assumptions, and build authentic connections across diverse backgrounds.

By the end of the program, participants will be equipped with practical skills, actionable strategies, and a renewed sense of commitment to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion within their organizations and communities.

Disability and Flexibility in Volunteerism: Accommodating a Range of Abilities in Meaningful Service
Janene Reideman and Jay Haapala

An inclusive volunteer program must recognize many qualities in its members, including a spectrum of abilities and disabilities. Employment law and accessibility standards are clearer for employees and clients, but they may not apply to unpaid staff. Nevertheless, the standards can be useful when designing inclusive policies and practices, and flexibility can help your organization enjoy the benefits of engaging a greater diversity of people as volunteers

From Listening to Action: Insights from BIPOC Volunteer Engagement Leaders

Lisa Joyslin and Niila Hebert
MAVA recently conducted listening sessions and interviews with Volunteer Engagement Leaders who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) to learn more about their experiences in the field and their ideas for advancing equity in volunteerism.

Join us for an interactive session where we’ll explore the overarching themes of this research, along with what it means for better supporting BIPOC volunteers and colleagues as we work together toward a more equitable volunteer landscape.

Is your program equipped to include Latinx Volunteers? 
Monica Jasso 

Based on recent census data, the Latinx population continues to grow. Is your volunteer force representative of your Latinx community? Do you notice a gap in representation? Are you looking for ways to engage and welcome Latinx volunteers into your organization’s volunteer program? Is your organization equipped for the inclusion of more Latinx volunteers? Would you like to learn more about how volunteerism and the Latinx community intersect for your organization? The Latinx community is large and diverse. We will begin with a foundational understanding of Latinx, language, and the latest census results. Following, we will discuss ways to assess the current state of your volunteer program in terms of the Latinx communities you serve. Together, we will review ways you can strategize for the future state you want to see in your volunteer force. Lastly, we will end with tips and best practices to attract, engage, recognize, and support your Latinx volunteers.

Life Jacket Leadership: I don't need a savior 

Paulette Bonneur

Drowning in a sea of overwhelm? Not sure where to start with all the content you are learning and how to apply it? Feeling like inclusive volunteer practices are too far to grasp? Got you covered! This highly engaging and interactive session will teach participants what a Life Jacket leader is, the importance of implementing self-care before diving in to help others navigate steep water as a volunteer professional and how to thrive towards maximum impact.

Navigating the DEI Journey: From Learner to Practitioner - Empowering Volunteer Transformation
Sandra Garcia

This immersive session offers a transformative journey from theory to practice, that equips volunteer engagement leaders with the tools to move beyond passive learning and become active DEI practitioners. During this hour, participants will engage in thought-provoking discussions, interactive scenarios, and real-world case studies. They'll explore practical strategies for fostering inclusivity within volunteer programs, learn to navigate challenging conversations, and develop skills to address systemic inequities effectively.  

Neurodiversity in Volunteerism

Sarah Philippe

This presentation is about fostering effective volunteer programs by embracing and celebrating neurodiversity within organizations. It centers on meeting volunteers where they are and allowing you, the volunteer leader, the space to give yourself grace. Throughout this session, we will delve into key aspects of neurodiversity, including defining the terms' neurodiversity' and 'neurodivergent.' We will explore strategies for creating inclusive volunteer environments, crafting comprehensive position descriptions, and implementing best practices to secure staff buy-in. Furthermore, our focus will encompass how volunteer leaders can ensure their programs are accessible and supportive for neurodivergent volunteers. We'll discuss the process of writing and promoting equitable positions and explore strategies for gaining staff and leadership support. In essence, this presentation aims to encourage organizations to embrace diverse perspectives and challenge the conventional notions of 'normal.' 

Recognizing Informal Volunteer Service 
Jackie Cuéllar 

Informal volunteerism is happening all around us and while it is more prevalent in our communities than formal volunteerism, it is often overlooked and underappreciated. In this one-hour community conversation, we will come together to set pathways to recognizing informal volunteerism alongside our formal volunteers. Both are equally important and we can play a large role in ensuring efforts to recognize both are happening where we live.

Recovery & Inclusion - Why and How to Include People in Recovery from Substance Use Disorder 

Adrienne Yoe and Jaclyn Wilmot

"The opposite of addiction is connection.” With the epidemic of addiction ravaging lives and upending communities, we should all strive to create connective, positive experiences to support those in recovery. Volunteering is a natural place for individuals in recovery to seek out connection and purpose because volunteering connects individuals from all walks of life with a greater purpose, structure, and new skills. Likewise, agencies with volunteers benefit from the talents, skills, and knowledge of volunteers in recovery and their allies. But to do so, agencies must deliberately create policies and procedures, recruitment strategies, and engagement approaches. Where should administrators of volunteers begin?  This 60-minute session includes evidence-heavy approaches to garnering buy-in from leadership. Presenters will share strategies that enable agencies to attract new stakeholders while engaging current volunteers, donors, clients, and community members in recovery. We offer strategies, tools, and perspectives on how agencies can create and maintain a recovery friendly culture. This presentation will help participants move beyond feelings of paternalism and judgment towards people experiencing SUD and in recovery and past ADA compliance as a driving force for inclusion. Instead view individuals experiencing SUD and in recovery as individuals deserving of inclusion and fair treatment. Presenters will share a variety of ways that they can become recovery allies, find other allies, and make a case to leadership on why inclusion not only matters, but makes sense.

Stress-Less & Recharge:
Beating Burnout Before It Beats You!  
Dr. Jermaine Davis 

Are you thriving or just surviving in life and work? Does life and work leave you feeling drained, depleted, and overwhelmed at times? Research shows, unmanaged stress leads to burnout and burnout destroys team and organizational morale, motivation, and momentum. Would you like to learn how to stress-less  in the midst of  constant chaos, change, uncertainty, and unpredictability?

Let award-winning college professor, leadership coach, and communication strategist, Dr. Jermaine teach you how to energize your life and career from the inside out. If you want to recharge and refresh your personal and professional batteries, then this session is for you. This presentation is based on Dr. Jermaine’s bestselling book, Get Up Off Your Butt & Do It NOW! How to Stay Motivated Even When You Don’t Feel Like It!

Taking Up Space: The Roots and Implications of Sizeism
Kaitlin Desselle
In a culture trained by centuries of sexism and racism to objectify women’s bodies, to privilege thinness, and to condemn fatness, the importance of celebrating and respecting fat bodies can be difficult for some to grasp. Social systems of sizeism and ableism deny fat bodies equal worth, access, and value. Outdated practices in the healthcare industry invalidate personal autonomy, pathologize, and endanger big bodies. Anti-fat bias in hiring and recruiting can mean missing out on talented candidates who we assume to lack individual willpower or discipline simply because of their size. In this workshop, we explore sizeism and ableism through the intersectional lens of sexism, racism, and classism. We discuss the implications of anti-fat bias in the workplace and learn to create inclusive spaces for bodies of all sizes.

Using an Equity Framework to Dismantle Inequities in Volunteerism 
Femina Ajayi-Hackworth, Heather Stein, Karen Caldwell 

Volunteer organizations are now striving to recruit volunteers who are representative of the communities the serve, yet without intentionally examining how institutional policies, processes, and programming perpetuate exclusion, the organization will not retain a diverse volunteer base. Learn how to use an Equity Framework to make inclusive decisions for your organization, and ensure there are equitable impacts on all volunteers- The results will not only improve volunteer experiences for individuals from underrepresented communities, they will lead to greater fairness, understanding, and engagement across the organization and the communities you serve.

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