A core value of KU Endowment is cultivating a people-centered environment that is welcoming to all in an atmosphere of respect and fairness. We recognize we best achieve our mission of building a greater University of Kansas by embracing diversity, equity and inclusion. We also believe it is important for us to mirror the makeup of the organizations and individuals we are partnering with — and we know we are not there yet. Accordingly, our staff, Board of Trustees, volunteers and donors are working together to create a more representative, equitable and inclusive KU Endowment.
Our staff-led Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Workgroup increases awareness of related issues by providing educational resources, hosting programming and reviewing KU Endowment policies to make sure they promote inclusivity and a sense of belonging. The DEI Workgroup organizes regular discussions on relevant topics coinciding with historical events and national observances.
The DEI Subcommittee of the KU Endowment Board of Trustees was formed this year to explore ways to increase diversity on the board. The subcommittee includes representation from all standing board committees and is creating a plan to build and sustain a more diverse governing body for our organization. Meaningful discussions, goal setting and educational sessions have been their initial focus. They invited Jyarland Daniels, an award-winning global DEI leader and KU alumna, to conduct a session at the annual board meeting in October. (You can read more about the board here.)
Daniels is the founder of Harriet Speaks, named after abolitionist and human rights activist Harriet Tubman. She shared her personal journey of a challenging upbringing and said stories are essential to the human experience. Stories allow us to see ourselves in others and connect with them. She said, “We can call people out or we can call them in. We must figure out a way to focus on belonging and building community.”
For Daniels, the key to change is to first have awareness and a learning spirit. She delivered this message with a generous smile and a contagious warmth. It was a pleasure to connect with her and learn about her approach to diversity and inclusion. KU Endowment is committed to continuing this important work and to being part of the progress to create a more just society.
Editor’s note — You can connect with Jyarland Daniels and find educational resources at harrietspeaks.com, including a downloadable reflection journal and workbook on race, diversity and inclusion.