Personal email communication from the CEO to the team along with individual follow up to staff especially traumatized (email was also shared with board of directors). Portions of the email are shown below:
Between the corona virus pandemic, the groundbreaking of our new house and the pandemic of racism in this country, my head and my heart have been swirling. I struggle with how to get my arms around everything and where to begin. But I would like to try.
For now- I ask of each of you- three things:
- Be extra gentle with yourself and others. At Kathy's House I believe we live our values everyday - our default is to operate from a place of sincere care for one another. This is more important than ever. Racism is trauma. For our staff members and guests who are people of color please keep in mind that this trauma is ongoing and exhausting. It is sickening and heartbreaking and overwhelming to me as a white woman. As a person of color, I can only continue to attempt to understand what it must be like to again and again personally experience and witness the hurt, death and dehumanization that occurs because of racist behavior and systems.
- Hold me and us (Kathy's House) accountable. Please think about how to complete the following "If Patty was truly an anti-racist leader, she would be doing____". "If Kathy's House was truly an anti-racist organization it would be doing _____". I invite and need your thoughts and suggestions.
One of the things I love about Kathy's House is that people from all different geographic areas and racial and ethnic backgrounds have an opportunity to truly be with one another and connect with one another at the most humane level. And by and large, it is a wonderful experience for our guests - at a time when it is needed most. Thank you all for your part in making Kathy's House a wonderful experience possible for our guests. I think Kathy's House serves to reinforce what is good and possible in this world and that is needed now more than ever.
While at Kathy's House I have tried to build a more racially and culturally responsive organization. Part of that effort is to 1) build a team and board that is more diverse and inclusive and 2) create an environment based on true compassion and "meeting people where they are at." While these strides are encouraging, I ask your help for what else can be done.
On a personal note, as a white woman with limited understanding and bias, I have tried to commit myself to a life of increased understanding and social justice. My biggest learnings have come from living in parts of the country where I was a minority, working for agencies whose mission was equity and advancement, participating in trainings on bias and racism, and being involved in groups such Rid Racism MKE. I encourage us all - particularly those of us who are white - to continue to intentionally seek to increase our empathy and understanding. I believe that real action and change can only occur with personal transformation.
I apologize that there is so much important information packed into this email. There is a lot going on - at Kathy's House and in our world.
Thank you for listening.