Tell us about Inclusion NextWork—what are your mission and impact goals? What was the inspiration behind launching Inclusion NextWork?
Our mission is to connect, support, and elevate the next generation of leaders in co-creating a more Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable, Accessible, and Socially just world. We use the framing of IDEAS to represent these values.
Our founding team, comprised of Hannah Mack, Minjon Tholen, and I worked for many years together at Cook Ross, a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultancy in Washington DC. During our time there consulting with clients all around the world, we noticed a gap between Millennial/Gen-Z generation's commitment to IDEAS and the lack of representation of young people in formal leadership roles in the IDEAS field. In recognition that new voices and perspectives are needed to address longstanding social challenges (like those brought into sharp focus by COVID-19 and the renewed national reckoning around racial justice), INW aims to be a community hub and catalyst for a new generation of IDEAS-fluent leaders.
What do you hope that participants take away from your programs?
A key tenet of INW's work is that IDEAS isn't just for the chief diversity officer. To truly create a more socially just world, these principles must be embedded into everything an organization or community does. And everyone is responsible for that. To that end, we are constantly building programs and partnering with others to help emerging leaders, regardless of their formal roles and responsibilities, to integrate IDEAS principles into their lives. This workshop series on Equity-Centered Design teaches participants about a powerful toolkit that anyone can use to build more equitable solutions to the challenges in their communities.
How has COVID-19 influenced Inclusion NextWork’s goals?
Since it's inception, INW has been a largely virtual organization by design. We leverage technology and virtual platforms to connect with and serve a geographically dispersed audience. COVID-19 has acutely reaffirmed the need for community and connection. In so doing, the pandemic has offered INW a renewed opportunity to bring people together virtually in a time of social distancing. If anything, Coronavirus hasn't changed our goals, but rather reinvigorated our sense of purpose and the means by which we seek to build relationships and community.
Visit https://www.inclusionnextwork.org/ to learn more, or attend one of their Weekly Plenaries, recurring discussion opportunities for anyone committed to exploring IDEAS, mobilizing, and selfcare, which are free and available to all interested in connecting with Milennial and Gen-Z leaders from across the country for an hour a week.