EDI Updates

November 2021

Update from the Language Subcommittee

We, the members of New 42’s EDI Language Subcommittee, are pleased to share a long-overdue update on the organization’s EDI work. In December 2020, New 42 reported on our ongoing anti-racism work, which included our definitions of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and our nine areas of focus. That update also introduced the New 42 EDI subcommittees, who steer our anti-racism work, and who are the subject of today’s update.

Who is on the EDI subcommittees?

Each EDI subcommittee has members that represent different professional areas and perspectives across New 42; Teaching Artists, executive team members and staff at all levels serve on each subcommittee. Everyone, from every department within the organization, is offered the opportunity to participate and lead on the committee of their choice. Currently, the six EDI subcommittees have 45 members—34 of New 42’s 73 full-time staff members and 12 of the 50 New Victory Teaching Artists are serving on the subcommittees. Put another way, 47% of full-time staff and 24% of Teaching Artists have a hand in steering our organization’s EDI work.

Why did we organize ourselves this way?

In the months leading up to the creation of the subcommittees, personal experiences of staff shone a spotlight on how some of the ways that we work do not live up to our values. It was clear that individuals across the institution deserved a seat at the table and that a change in approach was needed.

Like many institutions, New 42 is organized into distinct departments, each engaged in a specific aspect of the business. But the need for increased equity, diversity and inclusion at New 42 is not just confined to the boundaries of each department—this work must happen everywhere at once, from backstage to the classroom to the office of the President. The subcommittee structure is intended to cut across departments and encourage dialogue among staff members who might not normally collaborate with one another. The hope is that progress by cross-pollination of ideas and experiences, and forward momentum by widespread participation, will result.

Our goal is to continue to make New 42’s EDI subcommittees collaborative, non-hierarchical and change-oriented communities that strive to center BIPOC and other traditionally-marginalized voices, and promote equitable change throughout the institution.

We promised another update in early 2021. Why the delay?

Put frankly, we underestimated how long it would take to get the subcommittees up and rolling. Our approach to anti-racism and EDI work, which continues to expand the deeper we dive into it, is a collaborative effort to gather and represent multiple voices and perspectives. To counter a top-down approach where a decision is made by a small number of people and then enacted by the whole, we took time and care to establish working relationships, and define objectives and action plans within each group. That process is ongoing. We continue to learn what works and what doesn’t work, and grow as new collaborative teams.

How is the EDI subcommittee approach working? And what are we working on?

For us, the Language Subcommittee, it has been slow and steady, with a fair amount of confusion, bursts of progress and some bumps along the way. Some notable ongoing collaborations in our group include a Development assistant and a Digital Services director working with Human Resources to update New 42’s Equal Opportunity Employment statement to increase transparency and inclusion on all New 42 job postings; and an Operations executive and a Development manager studying “asset-based” language techniques.

Each subcommittees’ experiences have been different. We asked the subcommittees to share what they have been working on over the past ten months, and how the approach has been working. Here’s what they had to say, in their own words:

Accessibility Subcommittee

The Accessibility Subcommittee is focused on dismantling barriers to entry and systems of gatekeeping at New 42. We are working with the Human Resources Department to ensure the organization reaches a diverse pool of job candidates and are planning to focus next on creating a more inclusive, intentional space of belonging for Black, Indigenous, People of Color, people with disabilities and other underrepresented communities at New 42, the New Victory and New 42 Studios.

Culture Subcommittee

The Culture Subcommittee is working on re-imagining how the New 42 culture can be more equitable and inclusive and has been assessing our current practices around affinity spaces. We are feeling great after finally getting new executive leadership on our subcommittee and look forward to moving our focus beyond affinity groups.

Learning Subcommittee

The Learning Subcommittee is creating a digital hub for staff members to share and request professional development and training opportunities, and will advocate for, propose, and support EDI-focused training sessions for all staff members.

Partnership Subcommittee

The Partnership Subcommittee has hired and collaborated with our EDI consultants from The Glasgow Group. Since February, we have hosted three All Staff racial equity sessions, two Teaching Artist Ensemble trainings, and one training with the Anti-Racism Task Force of the Board of Directors, with additional sessions to be scheduled soon. To date, the subcommittees have been effective in forming new and deeper relationships between staff members who might not otherwise have the opportunity to collaborate. Moving forward, we hope for improved communication between subcommittees, and transparent executive action toward material change in organizational policies and procedures.

Progress Subcommittee

The Progress Subcommittee is currently evaluating survey responses from other subcommittees and departments within New 42 with the goal of sharing—internally and externally—what’s been accomplished so far, what is still being worked on and where the organization is headed. We are planning to report on the organization’s collective progress in the coming months in order to increase transparency, support collaboration across the organization and identify areas that require further attention.

What’s next?

The Progress Subcommittee will release the next New 42 update, which will report on the EDI work in the subcommittees and across all departments thus far, including its progression, challenges and impact.

Meanwhile, our work continues.

Thank you for reading, and until next time,
The Language Subcommittee, in collaboration with the New 42 EDI Subcommittees

Current Language Subcommittee members:
Mia Sommese, Education Programs Manager, co-chair
Blanca Vivancos, New Victory Teaching Artist, co-chair
Jessica Baker Vodoor, Vice President, Operations
Alberto Denis, New Victory Teaching Artist
Michelle Elliott, Senior Manager, Institutional Giving
Lilaia Kairis, Director of Digital Services
Zack Ramadan, Senior Manager, Creative Content
Amanda Sellers, Assistant to the Vice President, Development

December 2020

In June of 2020, we shared a letter “Chain Starts from Within” from New 42 President & CEO Russell Granet and Board Chairman Fiona Rudin about steps in our organization’s anti-racism journey. As we did then, we acknowledge how essential it is for us to re-think and dismantle white-centered practices that have been embedded in our nonprofit for decades, and have caused harm and pain.

New 42’s core values include “Inclusive Community.” We believe that our theaters belong to all, and want everyone to feel a sense of belonging in our performance spaces, offices and rehearsal rooms. This is where we started our self-reflection, recognizing that our organization must practice anti-racism in our daily work in order to deliver on the core value of “inclusive community” while folding in the rest of our values adventurously, thoughtfully, and steadfastly leading with our hearts.

What follows is a summary of the first steps in this stage of our anti-racism journey and the internal work we’ve done so far, including our new EDI definitions, our staff learning and decision-making structure, and the areas of focus on which our organizational plan is based. As a community of practitioners and learners, our approach has been uniquely communal and our plan to move the work forward involves the participation of everyone in the organization.

EDI Definitions

At the beginning of 2020, a group of staff from across different departments of the organization drafted definitions of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for the work of New 42, which we have since adopted:

Equity: the result of combining diversity and inclusion to ensure a transparent, fair and just environment for all. When meaningful efforts are made to provide each individual with what they need to feel a sense of belonging, agency, and the potential for success, equity is more likely to be achieved.

Diversity: the extent to which an organization has people from diverse backgrounds represented throughout. It is recognition of individual differences. These differences can be along the dimensions of: race, color, ethnicity, nationality, language, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs or socioeconomic background.

Inclusion: the active, intentional, and ongoing engagement of an organization’s diverse culture through its formal systems, informal practices and accountability protocols.

EDI and Anti-Racism Subcommittees

Anti-racism is central to our community practice, and EDI work will include learnings, sharings and trainings, and accountability will be mutually defined and shared through the work of six EDI subcommittees:

Language Subcommittee: Drafts EDI Statement(s) for review and eventual adoption and publication on the company website and elsewhere. Ensures the language New 42 uses in its practices and processes reflect its EDI objectives.

Culture Subcommittee: Supports the formation of organizational affinity groups and other New 42 cultural change initiatives. Provides materials and guidance for staff interested in starting an affinity group. Drafts affinity group policy to include in employee handbook.

Partnership Subcommittee: Liaison to the Anti-Racism consultant and other EDI partners. Supports partner work inside the organization and seeks new partnerships as required.

Accessibility Subcommittee:  Evaluates the accessibility of New 42’s processes and programs to foster inclusion of diverse participants, continuing the accessibility work of the organization.

EDI Learning Subcommittee: Coordinates and creates agendas for all-staff EDI meetings to include learnings, sharings, and trainings. Meets with the Executive team and other subcommittees to discuss content and scheduling.

Progress Subcommittee: Supports and tracks the work of the EDI subcommittees and works with subcommittees, Staff and Board to help define, share and report on EDI accountability, helping New 42 to progress EDI goals. Liaises on a regular basis with all committees and arranges for EDI progress reports at All Staff meetings.

EDI and Anti-Racism Areas of Focus

The work that the Board and Staff will embark on in the subcommittees comes from areas of focus that were developed through input from the entire company, including New Victory Teaching Artists and the young people in the New 42 Youth Corps program.

The areas of focus from which the subcommittee project timelines are being developed are as follows (unranked):

  • Provide Anti-Racist, Implicit Bias, Anti-Oppression, and Bystander Training for all Board and Staff.
  • Review and revise policies and guidelines on anti-racist practice and share those internally and externally with stakeholders.
  • Change staff recruitment procedures to reach more Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) candidates and focus on hiring more BIPOC staff, especially on the senior team.
  • Re-invent procurement processes and grow the number of BIPOC-led business and vendor partnerships.
  • Increase the number of BIPOC artist-led shows in the New Victory season.
  • Use images that accurately reflect our current audiences and constituents, particularly in marketing and fundraising campaigns.
  • Establish organizational salary review processes and increase transparency across the organization.
  • Increase the diversity of the Board of Directors.
  • Create protocols for staff to report concerns related to equity, diversity and inclusion without repercussions.

We are making daily progress on our goals and will release a plan update co-created by the Anti-Racism Task Force of the Board of Directors and Staff in early 2021.

This is an ongoing and iterative process. If you’d like to learn more about our efforts and plans, please contact Amber Shavers, Chief of Staff in the President’s Office, at ashavers@new42.org.

We appreciate your support of us now and always.

Russell Granet, President & CEO
Lisa Lawer Post, Chief Operating Officer
Mary Rose Lloyd, Artistic Director
Elizabeth Cashour, Vice President, Development
Lindsey Buller Maliekel, Vice President, Education & Public Engagement
Courtney J. Boddie, Vice President, Education & School Engagement
Elizabeth Hines, Vice President, Finance
Lauren Fitzgerald, Vice President, Marketing & Communications
Jessica Baker Vodoor, Vice President, Operations

June 2020

A Message from our Board Chairman and President & CEO

As you know, we postponed our annual gala scheduled for last Monday, June 1. The short statement we put out that day was a reaction to the timing of our event and not the full response the Black Lives Matter movement deserves. We are grateful for our Black team members who held us accountable for that reaction and acknowledge them as driving needed change in the organization.

The most important thing we can tell you is that we are focusing first on supporting our Black colleagues. That begins with radical listening and engaging in challenging conversations. Our next steps will address re-thinking and dismantling white-centered practices that have been embedded in nonprofit structures, including ours, for decades, and have caused harm and pain.

Our nation’s arts and culture sector would be nothing without the artistry, labor and skill of Black artists, administrators, educators and workers in all areas of our field. At New 42, our beloved staff and audiences include thousands of Black New Yorkers who create, support and celebrate the performing arts. We honor you today and every day.

We have only begun our journey to confront institutional and structural racism. As an organization devoted to making extraordinary performing arts a vital part of everyone’s lives from the earliest years onward, we specifically acknowledge our responsibility to give young Black people the opportunity to see themselves and their experiences reflected on stage and to feel a sense of true belonging in our theaters. We take this crucial responsibility very seriously. Our past efforts, though well meaning, have not been enough.

Here are some resources shared by our staff that are helping to inform the current steps in our journey. Our organization promotes growth and change, and we are grateful to our colleagues who push for accountability in order for that same change to happen from within. We offer these resources to you and hope you will also spend time with them.

We are grateful for your support of us, now and always.

Fiona Howe Rudin,
Board Chairman

Russell Granet,
President & CEO

Black Lives Matter & Anti-Racist Resources

We would like to thank and acknowledge our colleagues Courtney J. Boddie, Rachael Grace Holmes and Malichi Morris for providing many of these resources in addition to many New Victory Teaching Artists who further encouraged much needed internal reflection and conversation.

Where to Learn and Unlearn

Where to Learn as a Family

Where to Donate & Lend Your Support

Where to Contribute to Victim Memorial Funds