By Matt Campa
NEDC has been partnering with Portland-based consultant Yee Won Chong to conduct a comprehensive organizational review and identify opportunities for furthering equity and inclusion within our own organization as well as in the work we do. This review and evaluation has helped highlight numerous opportunities for us to meet our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) goals.
“For so long, white people involved in environmental conservation have tended to equate equity to humans and the environment to land, water, air, and wildlife,” said Yee Won Chong. “This disconnected view is white supremacy culture. It is either/or thinking. It is also a detachment that takes away our humanity. At an organizational level, it is an argument against equity for fear that the work distracts from the organization’s mission. NEDC’s commitment and action to equity will do the opposite. It will strengthen, not detract from its mission to protect the environment.”
Yee Won’s initial report evaluates NEDC’s organizational structure and purpose, with suggestions for bringing them into alignment with our DEI goals. Based on the report’s recommendations, NEDC has committed to revisiting our mission and strategic plan to center equity and inclusion, while developing a theory of change and working toward providing transparency within our DEI committee and the organization writ large.
NEDC will also facilitate and invite keynote speakers for virtual discussions on issues of race and justice during this academic year in order to foster an environment where students, staff, and community can engage sensitive topics in an inclusive environment.
The historical lack of diversity and inclusion in the field of environmental law has led to additional harm to traditionally underserved communities. We intend to be an active partner in ensuring this dynamic does not persist. If you are interested in learning more about or participating in NEDC’s DEI work, please contact NEDC DEI Committee Co-Chairs Matthew Campa (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Akriti Bhargava (email@example.com).