For the past year and a half, our three EDIB (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging) Working Groups have been meeting and advancing their areas of focus:

  1. Empowering Youth Changemakers
  2. Amplifying BIPOC Leadership
  3. Empowering Communities to Center Equity

We were thrilled to bring all three Working Groups together for the first time for a convening on February 15th to talk about the successes and challenges of their work. The day started with a welcome breakfast and icebreaker, kicking off with positivity as everyone talked about something they were proud of in 2022. We then moved into breakouts where group members got to discuss how EDIB has advanced in their organization or community, what worked, what could have been done differently and what other areas they’d like to tackle. Each group had a dedicated member to report out to the room.

Danny Rivera, Director of Operations of Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth, and member of the Empowering Youth Changemakers EDIB Working Group, talked about the group’s Teens Take the Lead initiative. In collaboration with Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth, Teen Think Tank, Project Write Now and Empowering Youth Changemakers members, this program is aimed at helping local teens introduce meaningful social change within their community. It is a student-run institute that fosters critical thinking, research techniques, and problem-solving skills to develop policy frameworks for real-life issues and empowers students to become changemakers. 

Tyneisha Gibbs, Co-Founder of The Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective and member of the Amplifying BIPOC Leadership Working Group, talked about one of their goals which is increasing diversity in the C-suite. The group plans on hosting workshops open to the public focusing on important topics like the myth of BIPOC pipeline and undoing racism. Group members will have strategic power hours after the workshops to discuss what they learned and how to implement actionable items moving forward. They want to help others work through these topics and come up with easier, more tangible ways to implement strategies at both the individual and organizational levels.

Orville Morales, Founder and Owner of The People's Lobbyist® and member of the Empowering Communities to Center Equity Working Group, talked about the Pragmatic Activism Cohort Pilot that took place in the fall of 2022. Through a 6-Phase Methodology, participants (nonprofit and business members from Ocean and Monmouth Counties) explored where they stand, their tree of influence, voices in the field, timing of influence, public engagement and triage of engagement. After a successful pilot, there will be a spring and fall cohort in 2023.

After the report outs, we listened to a very meaningful and moving panel discussion: Our Land, Our Stories: Excavating Subterranean Histories of the Ringwood Mines and the Ramapough Lunaape Nation. The panelists were Anita Bakshi, author of Topographies of Memories: A New Poetics of Commemoration; Wayne Mann, a Ramapough Lunaape community leader whose mission is to repair the damage done to his community through legal action and environmental advocacy; and Jack (John Kuo Wei) Tchen, historian, curator, and teacher surfacing the disappeared stories othered by systems of power and wealth.

You can read their full bios here: Our Land, Our Stories: Excavating Subterranean Histories of the Ringwood Mines and the Ramapough Lunaape Nation Panelist Bios 

The panel highlighted the intersectionality of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging work with environmentalism, and showed what pragmatic activism looks like in action. Here are some impactful videos that encompass the panel discussion.

  • Preface: Our Land, Our Story:
  • Thirty years after Ford Motor Company began dumping toxic waste in their backyard--and after one too many premature deaths--the Ramapo Mountain Indians filed a major class-action lawsuit: Mann v. Ford. This compelling documentary reveals the story of how this tiny tribe and their team of passionate lawyers took on the 'big dogs'--Ford and the Environmental Protection Agency. You can watch the Mann v. Ford documentary here:
  • The Meaning of the Seed is a documentary filmed in 2020 at the Munsee Three Sisters Medicinal Farm. The farm is an important part of the Ramapough’s efforts to work towards food sovereignty and cultural restoration. You can watch The Meaning of the Seed here:

We are so grateful for Anita Bakshi, Wayne Mann and Jack (John Kuo Wei) Tchen for taking the time to share their lived experiences and expertise with us. We will leave you with one of the key takeaways from the discussion:

We all need to work together to save the future.