June Event Recap - Advancing Equity


Over 90 community members, nonprofit leaders, and local supporters joined us on June 1st for YNPN Portland’s annual signature event, “Advancing Equity: Stories from the Field and Tools for Taking Action.” Thanks to Ecotrust for donating the event space through their Community Grants program. 


Led by a panel of local leaders who have led and researched organizational development on equity issues, attendees came away with takeaways and tools for advancing equity in their own work.

The panel for this event was moderated by Rekah Strong of United Way of the Columbia-Willamette and included:

Panelists shared information about their involvement with advancing equity in their organizations.

Carly Brown leads volunteers at OCF to review proposals, at the core of OCF’s grantmaking work. She spoke of the opportunities afforded to OCF to influence change across the state, and the evolution of how OCF has engaged its volunteers.

Ann Curry-Stevens is a principal investigator with the Coalition of Communities of Color, in addition to serving as a professor at Portland State University, and has done extensive research into the disparities facing communities of color across Portland (see links below). Ann has consulted with several organizations on using the Coalition’s Organizational Assessment Tool, and is continuing to do follow-up work with those organizations to measure the progress of organizations that have used the tool. She shared common difficulties that organizations face and solutions that work in a variety of environments. She also spoke of the importance of measuring impact to ensure programs are creating the intended outcomes. 

Drew Henrie-McWilliams leads Morrison Child and Family Services, a large social service organization that provides mental health services for young people. He spoke of the need to support staff on their journeys around equity and inclusion, and about Morrison’s journey from focusing on cultural competency (noting that "competency" is an arbitrary goal) to equity and inclusion.

Crystal Jackson oversees talent recruitment and retention at Meyer Memorial Trust, which is undertaking extensive work to make its grantmaking more equitable. She spoke of the importance of quality training for employees, refining the organization’s hiring practices, and various internal practices that can support equity work. Those practices included “EquiTea” meetings, or informal conversations related to equity occurring on a regular basis – ideally including food and beverage!

Rekah Strong contributed her knowledge as the Chief of Operations and Equity at United Way, and offered a number of recommendations for equitable hiring practices. Those included offering interview questions to candidates beforehand, developing coaching strategies for candidates who may feel uncomfortable in interviews, and providing anti-bias training to hiring managers. Both Rekah and Ann spoke of the importance of  sticking to the original qualifications established when hiring, rather than allowing a particular candidate’s background or experience to raise the bar for other candidates.

Final takeaways from the event:

  • Leadership buy-in for equity work is necessary to advance progress in a sustainable way; support can be generated from lower-level staff with a solid business case for starting equity work
  • Finding others in the community and sharing resources will ensure that your work doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and that you won’t have to create redundant materials or policies from scratch
  • Intent isn’t everything – set up systems to measure your impact to make sure your work is having the desired effects


Resources shared by speakers:



Unsettling Profiles

Top Indicators of Oregon


Organizational Development

Organizational Assessment Tool

Protocol for Culturally Responsive Organizations


The PATI exercise:

P - Are all the right people at the table to engage in dialogue?

A - Are there any assumptions that need to aired to effectively assess where the work should begin?

T - Are there short term or long term time commitments that need to be taken into consideration?

I - There needs to be agreement about intentions -vs- actual impact and it's best not to approach those separately.


Nonprofit Job Posting Sites:

Mac's List, Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington, Idealist, Partners in Diversity, Asian Reporter, Portland Observer


Thanks to those who took the evaluation survey provided after the event! If you have additional feedback or resources to share, please send those to [email protected]. Additional resources will be shared on this page, and feedback will inform our future programming.