As Strategic Leader of Equity & Quality Supports at Think Small, my goal is to support the ongoing growth and development of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment for all Think Small Leaders. In the past year, leaders had the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities that served to deepen our understanding of one another and strengthen our collective commitment to advancing equity in early childhood.   

The STIR Committee is our voluntary team of Think Small leaders dedicated to continuing and improving upon our agency’s history of Supporting a culture of Trust, Inclusion, and Respect (STIR) for all staff, clients, customers, and partners. This past year, the STIR Committee held monthly virtual gatherings called 3Cs (Come, Cultivate Conversation) to give leaders the chance to join their fellow team members in a series of conversations about identity, race, and privilege. These gatherings allowed Think Small leaders to recognize our shared humanity, find strength and healing amid everything happening in our communities, and to embrace and honor our differences. The STIR Committee will continue elevating the voices and stories of our Think Small community by offering more virtual spaces for leaders to learn about one another and the communities we serve.       

Throughout this past year, Executive, Strategic, and Program Leaders continued to develop their own critical awareness around diversity, equity, and inclusion by participating in a monthly leadership learning community.  The first half of the year was spent exploring senior leadership’s role in creating an equitable work environment. Using Awake to Woke to Work’s model of the race equity cycle, leaders broadened their understanding of the role they play in fostering equity within the organization.  

In 2021, I joined the 2021-2022 cohort of the Embracing Equity Leadership Residency. The residency is an 18-month national program that supports organizations and their leaders to own and implement anti-bias, anti-racist organizational change. During the course of the residency, leaders guide their organizations in developing and implementing equity-focused strategies. Think Small leaders at all levels were invited to provide feedback in the Spring of 2021 that has served as a springboard for the formation of strategic equity goals. In the Fall of 2021, Executive, Strategic, and Program Leaders participated in Embracing Equity’s Intentionally Racially Diverse Cohort where they explored their own racial and ethnic identities while expanding their understanding of developing anti-racist mindsets and practices. This group created action plans which we combined with the learnings from our staff survey to position our leaders to create meaningful change within Think Small.   

As we look ahead, I am excited to continue our Leadership Learning Community and expand this work to include our organization Team Leaders. The STIR Committee will continue to provide intentional space for staff leaders to engage in meaningful conversations and activities.  And as we wrap up the second half of the Embracing Equity Leadership Residency, we look forward to assessing the impact of our work in the past year, while working to accomplish the established goals. We recognize the commitment to creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment is an ongoing process, which requires commitment at all levels of leadership.     


Awake to Woke to Work

Embracing Equity

More About Think Small:

Think Small: Celebrating 50 Years, Innovating for the Future

By Candace Yates, Strategic Leader of Equity & Quality Supports