In 2017, SVP Portland adopted our commitment to advancing racial and ethnic equity because we learned from data and dialogue that race and ethnicity play an outsized role in kindergarten readiness, with children of color suffering the most from systemic inequities. Given SVP’s focus on ensuring that all children have access to high-quality, culturally-relevant early learning experiences, we were compelled to invest our resources to advance SVP’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Melinda Gross was hired to lead this work as our Director of Equity & Engagement.
Thanks to Melinda’s accomplishments, we’ve made tremendous progress toward our commitment. That being said, you’ll note that Melinda’s title was not exclusive to equity. Though SVP benefited from Melinda’s broad range of skills in other areas of her role, it was at the expense of her desire, and our need, to focus deeply on our equity commitment.
Melinda was recently invited to join the Center for Equity and Inclusion (CEI), which focuses exclusively on delivering programming, consulting, and training for those interested in working to urgently advance equity and inclusion. CEI has been very successful, with tremendous growth in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Melinda accepted their offer with full support of the SVP staff and leadership. We are excited Melinda has found a home for her greatest passion, where she can realize her highest and best use. Amid loss, we also saw—and seized—an opportunity. If SVP wants to truly make a commitment to equity, we could do no better than partnering with CEI.
Working with Hanif Fazal, CEO of CEI, we are forming a new partnership with CEI. SVP will invest as we would with any Community Partner, providing human capital in areas of expertise that can help CEI achieve its social mission. In turn, CEI will engage with SVP as they would one of their clients, investing in our equity journey through trainings, consulting, and tools for implementation. I’d like to say it is an equal exchange, but there is something more in it for us—a continued relationship with Melinda.
In essence, we gain what we’ve always wanted, a Director of Equity, and more importantly we retain an amazing contributor to SVP’s success. Melinda’s decision to join the CEI team has opened the door for an incredible partnership. It’s rare to find a true win-win that brings such value to all parties, but here we are. We couldn’t be more excited.
SVP Executive Director