Meet a Diversity Champion and Award Winner!
Keisa Campbell, Chief Diversity and Culture Officer, United Way Greater Toronto is recognized by the Manaktala Bhayana Spirit Award for “her remarkable leadership in bringing an equity lens and focus to United Way’s community investment, granting and evaluation processes.”
Keisa’s commitment to collaboration and passion for anti-racism work led to the development of United Way Greater Toronto’s Community Investment Equity and Reconciliation Action Plan.
Keisa is a champion for equity, a model for authenticity and integrity, a trusted partner with all stakeholders, a mentor to colleagues, and an inspiration in many ways. A guiding motto for Keisa is: “When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”
Tell us more about your work?
Over the last year, I’ve been leading an initiative at UWGT aimed at i) assessing how equity and reconciliation practices are reflected in our grant-making and funds allocation, ii) developing an implementation plan that captures how UWGT will deepen our commitment to equity and reconciliation in our grant-making and funds allocation; iii) establishing a monitoring plan to keep track of UWGT progress implementing our equity and reconciliation plan.
What motivates you to get up and do what you do every day?
What motivates me is my desire to be a good ancestor. I keep photos of my grandparents on my work from home desk to remind me of all that they and my parents did in Guyana, South America to create a pathway for me to live the charmed life that I do here in Canada.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
This one year secondment as the Senior Manager of Equity and Anti-Racism at UWGT has taught me that I want to get more into working with non-profits to advance their equity and reconciliation practices. So, my favourite part of this job has been finding my calling.
What does diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to you?
Based on research and interactions I have had with racialized people working in the non-profit sector (particularly Indigenous peoples), I’ve started using the language of justice and liberation instead of DEI. To me, justice and liberation speak to a world where being racialized, 2SLGBTQ etc. means that you have lots of access to the resources, opportunities and income to live your best life. That your social identity is no longer a barrier.
How does your organization champion diversity, equity, and inclusion in its work in the community?
UWGT working to advance on equity and reconciliation in the following ways: The board is looking at our governance policies and composition from an equity lens; Each department has established equity/reconciliation goals that they must deliver on over the next three years; a consultant has been hired to deliver mandatory Equity 101 and 201 training to all UWGT staff; we’re working with United Ways across Canada to develop an equity framework for Canadian United Ways to aspire to.
Do you have any advice for the rest of the non-profit sector on how to move the dial on anti-racism?
I recommend that non-profits review their governance, human resources, procurement, programmatic policies to identify if equity and reconciliation show up as a cross-cutting theme. Then, I’d suggest that staff at levels and the board reflect on the findings from this policy review and talk through/prioritize three ways they can deepen their operationalization of equity and reconciliation practices in their work. These three priorities can be embedded into the operational plan, implemented and reflected on quarterly to track progress. Overall, non-profits need to know the equity and reconciliation work is a long game – no shortcuts! A budget and staffing for this is ideal.