Environmental issues have always been social justice issues. From toxic dumping and exploitation to land removal and annexation, frontline communities – especially Indigenous, rural, and communities of color – have borne the brunt of environmental injustice. To redress these wrongs and find equitable long-term solutions to these problems and the problems of climate change in general, we must ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are at the heart of everything we do.
In recent years, many organizations have begun incorporating equity initiatives into their work. However, DEI often becomes reduced to a checkbox, or a one-off training. At CVNM, DEI is an expectation. The work we do connecting people across New Mexico to their political power to protect our air, land, and water is only possible because we are centering equity at the core of our organization.
At CVNM, we can work to address injustices only by simultaneously addressing the systems of oppression that our organization and we ourselves inherited. In doing so, we can confront our biases and work to amplify the voices of frontline communities. This is critical because without centering frontline communities in conservation solutions, these solutions are doomed to fail.
CVNM is constantly working toward a DEI-driven organizational model. We recently concluded a two-day DEI training with Dr. Everette Hill, founder of Social Innovations Strategies Group, for all our staff and Board members. During our time together, we continued conversations about equity and inclusion and discussed how we are moving forward with the system changes that will allow us to create a truly equitable and diverse organization. Structurally, we have already incorporated a DEI approach to our hiring process. By redacting any identifying information from the details our hiring committees initially receive, we can address our unconscious biases and choose applicants for our interview rounds based on cultural fit and capacity to learn.
In October, we will convene again for a strategic planning exercise, where we hope to build upon our equity work and expand how we show up for our allies in frontline communities. This critical work is just the beginning. DEI is a continuous process that we must integrate into our most basic functions. It is not always easy or comfortable work, but it is essential to ensuring a just, equitable, climate-safe future for all New Mexicans.
I am assuming the role of Manager of Equity and Culture from Antonio Maestas, who is departing from CVNM this Fall to pursue new professional opportunities after receiving his Masters in Clinical Social Work. I look forward to building upon the foundation of equity work that Antonio started when he joined the team in 2018. At the same time, I will bring my own experience to this role, not only as community organizer but as a first-generation Mexican American and a person who identifies as queer and non-binary. It is work to which I am deeply committed, and I am grateful that CVNM has entrusted to me this vital role. With equity at the heart of the organization, I know that CVNM will continue to be a leader in this space.
If you have any questions or suggestions about CVNM and our DEI mission please do not hesitate to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.