We Are All Changemakers
JCC Chicago is focused on creating a community where everyone feels they belong. To foster this inclusive environment, we need to recognize our differences and similarities, which help us gain a deeper understanding of one another. April marks Celebrate Diversity Month and we wanted to share how the J is focusing on being a “changemaker” to ensure everyone truly feels they belong to our community.
But what is a “changemaker”? They are people or organizations who are invested in the wellbeing of others and are willing to stand-up for them even if it is not easy or comfortable. Recently, three JCC Chicago staff members participated in JCC Association (JCCA) of North America’s JCulture Changemaker 2.0 cohort through a grant from The Safety Respect Equity Coalition. We were one of only ten JCCs nationally to participate in this cohort and were honored to have been asked to be a part of it.
Over the last six months Rena Rosen, JCC Chicago Inclusion Coordinator, Jamee Smith, Elaine Frank Apachi Day Camp Director, and Natalie Kolling, JCC Camp Chi Family Outreach & Operations Manager, learned the foundations of creating safety, respect, and equity for all. They were given the tools to help make JCC Chicago an even more inclusive and diverse space. Supported by mentors, our staff participated in psychological safety and harassment trainings with Ta’amod: Stand Up, an organization focused on transforming Jewish life by equipping institutions and individuals with the resources they need to build healthy, safe, and equitable workplaces. They also engaged in conversations covering racial and gender equality, belonging and disability rights, and they critically assessed where the J could grow in these areas.
As we focus on advancing our organizational culture, we are encouraging our staff to be “changemakers” by being active bystanders, also known as upstanders. We want to provide them with the tools to intervene if something unjust happens at work and also feel psychologically safe, meaning they know the J is a place where they can speak up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes and they will be supported.
Through our commitment to an inclusive environment, our staff will lead by example as they create programming and interact with our community. We feel we have a responsibility, especially with today’s youth and teens, for them to feel empowered to be who they are, know they belong in our community, stand up for what they believe in and advocate for themselves and others as “changemakers”.
We have started our journey along this path. Rena, Natalie and Jamee recently led a two-part training for JCC Chicago’s leadership and senior staff to share what they learned and engage them in this meaningful work. We plan for more of the J’s employees to complete this training as well in the coming months. We hope you’ll join us in becoming “changemakers”!