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The Diversity Committee: Creating an Impact in D.C.

March 9, 2015

When TTN Member and co-founder of TTN-DC's Diversity Committee, Isabelle Schoenfeld, attended one of her first DC chapter events she met some wonderful women and the topic was thought-provoking and insightful. But one thing Isabelle noticed was that the attendees did not reflect the rich diversity of women 50+ in the DC metro area.
So she reached out to another TTN-DC member Jean Palmer, who shared her concern.  Together, Jean and Isabelle presented their ideas to DC’s Steering Committee and later at a Chapter Planning Retreat. Having gained this support, they held their first information meeting for all Chapter members who wanted to learn more about the Diversity initiative.  This three step process not only resulted in a strong Diversity Committee, but also helped to build enthusiasm for the idea. 

TTN-DC Diversity Committee Mission:
“The Diversity Committee of the Washington DC Metro Area Chapter of The Transition Network (TTN) engages its members and women in the community in fostering cross cultural understanding and inclusion. TTN's Diversity Committee offers programs that are designed to be educational and inspirational. The committee partners with other relevant influential organizations to raise awareness and inspire or renew passions that reaffirm individual desire to address various diversity issues. The Diversity Committee's programs and partnerships ultimately support diversity in TTN's membership.”
In June, 2011 the Committee organized it’s first Diversity Program, "Women 50 years plus: Perspectives in a Changing World - Coming Together to Harness our Energy, Share our Wisdom, and Make New Connections," a moderated panel discussion with women from diverse backgrounds

Following the program, the panelists all agreed to serve as an advisory group to the Diversity Committee and were given an honorary membership to TTN. These women continue to play an active role in the Diversity Committee including being instrumental in the planning of the nine Diversity Committee programs to date. These programs ranged from Muslim Women, Latinas, LGBTQs, African American History, to diverse spiritualities. 
There are a few things that make our Diversity events so compelling.  First is the partnerships we form with the organizations representing each of the groups or topics.  As partners, these organizations co-sponsor the programs and publicize them to their members and constituencies.   
Second, every speaker is asked to speak from the perspective of her personal life journey, her struggles and successes.  It is these personal stories that inspire us and touch our hearts, helping us understand each other and ourselves a little better. 
Third, after the panel members speak, the audience participates in facilitated small group dialogues, giving everyone a chance to share their own stories. 
The combination of partnerships, personal stories and small group dialogues is a powerful educational experience, and has a positive and lasting IMPACT on all who participate. 
“When we started the TTN-DC Diversity Committee, we thought it would be about membership, says Isabelle.  “It’s become a cultural enrichment program.  The educational and inspirational value extends well beyond TTN out into the communities where our members live and work.”