An open letter from YWA’s first VP of Diversity, Equity and Beloning (DEB), Bijal Patel, on the organizations’ commitment to diversity:
As I stepped into the role of the first Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Belonging (DEB) for the Young Women’s Alliance (YWA) in June 2021, I felt a great deal of responsibility and the sense of opportunity. It was clear to me that our President, Lauren Kaufman, and the Board were willing to be challenged and, at times, be uncomfortable, in order to reflect on our gaps as an organization and to work towards achieving our DEB commitments. YWA has served as a place to facilitate networking opportunities and support Austin’s next generation of women leaders for over 28 years, and I now had the opportunity to elevate and expand that impact from a diversity and inclusion lens.
Over the last several months, I’m grateful for the partnership with Heristic’s consultant team to develop our DEB vision and three-year strategic plan. We’ve spent hours thinking about the intentionality of our word choices, ensuring we build in aspirational goals for the organization, and also thought through how to measure success through key performance indicators (KPIs). It was important for us to align our DEB strategic plan to the organization’s pillars of lead, educate, network and serve. Each Vice President and Committee aligns their work to YWA’s pillars, so this was critical to ensure our DEB commitments would ultimately be integrated across the bones of our organization.
The Young Women’s Alliance Diversity, Equity and Belonging Statement:
Our vision is to unlock every members’ potential through community
YWA is committed to achieving its mission with authenticity. We are determined to stay on the forefront of education surrounding diversity, equity, and belonging.
- We embrace diversity of identity and experience.
- We create spaces where members can confidently bring their whole selves.
- We strive to dismantle inequities within our systems.
Through connection, education, leadership, and service, we uplift women and non-binary folks as a force for good in the Austin community and beyond.
Looking forward to the next several months in this role, my personal goal is to help all of our leaders and members realize that each of us is a changemaker in the work of diversity, inclusivity and fostering a sense of belonging within YWA. We each play a critical role within the organization and in the broader Austin community, and I cannot wait to see our three-year strategy come to life.