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Gratitude for Centering Racial Equity

Gratitude for Centering Racial Equity

By Vignetta Charles, PhD | November 26, 2019
Chief Executive Officer, ETR

I’m grateful every year for the opportunity to share ETR’s science-based practice of expressing gratitude. In years past, our blog has highlighted gratitude for the work we do to advance our mission and realize our vision, gratitude for our partners, our colleagues, our families (including fur babies). 

This year, I’m especially thankful for living our values of centering equity. This includes the continued efforts of aligning our work with the Health Equity Framework. It also includes our internal work to center racial equity in our lives and our workplace.

Real Engagement in Continuous Improvement

As the external environment has called for more tools to develop cultural humility and address implicit biases, we have responded with products and services to help organizations, school districts, and funders with that tough work. And we have recognized that if we believe this work is valuable for other organizations, we should do it ourselves.

Like many organizations, ETR engages in ongoing feedback loops for continuous improvement—this includes an annual staff engagement survey. Concerns about dismantling how racism shows up in our own work environment emerged as a primary issue in the 2019 survey. I’m grateful for how responsive people at ETR have been to the opportunity the survey presents. Individuals of all races have engaged in discussions that can be emotional and uncomfortable, as well as practical and challenging to the status quo. We are asking ourselves how we can do better and grow as individuals and as an organization in centering racial equity.

Meaningful work towards health equity  

I am grateful to work with people who engage in critical reflection about how we show up for our work as individuals and as an organization so that we can meaningfully work towards health equity.

Aiming for a Team that Nurtures Each Whole Person

I’m grateful to lead an organization where we provide space for individual self-education (e.g., on our internal communication channels, staff have posted self-reflection tools on how White Supremacy culture manifests at work), and we support staff time for engaging in reading circles (e.g., White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo). Our Diversity and Inclusion Work Group is focused not only on expanding our recruitment strategies, but also looking at internal cultural practices that might impact retention of staff of color. These are just a few examples, and this is an ongoing journey—so there will be many more.

My gratitude is deep because we approach and celebrate this work not as an organization that has “figured it out,” but as a group of passionate, courageous people committed to doing some of the most challenging work around—centering racial equity. I’m grateful to work at an organization that is continuously learning, living our values, and stretching our boundaries of comfort.


Vignetta Charles, PhD, is Chief Executive Officer of ETR. Dr. Charles can be reached at

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