Since LERN’s inception in 1974, diversity, equity, and inclusion have been central to our mission of extending lifelong learning to all. We acknowledge and celebrate the differences in race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and socioeconomic background of our staff and our members. Each person brings a unique perspective that when pulled together drives incredible innovation. This is the beauty of diversity. We are mindful that societal norms marginalize underrepresented groups. Actively developing programs and providing resources that ensure equal opportunity of success for every individual is core at LERN. We take the following actions toward ensuring a society where all people, within and outside of our organization, can thrive.
• Board Representation – Since 1980, diversity has been a key consideration for board member selection. In addition to high quality members with leadership experience, LERN seeks to ensure equity in representation of the Board of Directors. The nominating committee is charged with submitting a selection of eligible candidates from diverse backgrounds. While we recognize there have occasionally been modest balance shifts, these are temporary and represent aberrations, not a change in LERN philosophy.
• Council and Advisory Group Representation – LERN has four councils representing each of our major membership segments: Public Schools, Recreation, Universities, and Community Colleges. In addition, we facilitate three advisory groups covering areas of importance within the field: Operations, Contract Training, and Diversity. We are proud of the continuous devotion to diversity within these committees. It is critical that LERN council and advisory group members are and continue to reflect global diversity. Their contributions are invaluable as we all benefit from the creativity and knowledge that comes from diversity of thought. This diversity drives success in continuing education and lifelong learning around the world.
• Education and Training – We are dedicated to the development of new equity, diversity, and inclusion resources and training initiatives for our members and educational leaders. Under the leadership of our Director of Diversity, LERN works to create programs that show opportunity in advocating for and advancing equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace and education.
• Research and Knowledge Gathering – LERN recognizes that gaining cultural competence requires continuous learning. We do not claim to be perfect stewards of diversity, nor do we have flawless awareness into the challenges faced by many because of social injustices. However, we promise to never stop trying. We commit to listening to and gathering knowledge from individuals directly affected by discriminatory practices, and experts in the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
We strive to promote an atmosphere of inclusion and belonging within the spaces we are fortunate to lead. Each of our employees and members has LERN’s full support in showing up as their authentic selves. The sharing of each person’s knowledge, skills, and talents contributes to the success of our organization. To improve diversity, achieve equity and equality, and foster inclusion one must be intentional, consistent, and courageous. This is our commitment toward building a better tomorrow.
William A. Draves, President
Learning Resources Network (LERN)