Genetic Counselor Community,
I’d like to begin this message with an acknowledgement of gratitude. Thank you to everyone who took the time during the six-week open comment period to read the Exeter Group report and recommendations and provide feedback. Whether you chose to attach your name to your comments or preferred to remain anonymous, or whether you submitted feedback independently or as part of a group, we are so grateful for your voice. Thank you also to the many of you who have been ambassadors and encouraged others to participate in our community’s J.E.D.I. initiatives; I appreciate you helping to lead the way.
We received a total of 515 comments through the comment software. We have also received additional feedback from SIGs, committees, and other genetics and genetic counseling organizations. The J.E.D.I. committee is reading all of it, identifying common themes and priorities, and providing responses to those who chose to give their name. The comments are yet another rich layer of data on top of the report and recommendations, interwoven with the experiences and voices of our community.
It is now time to translate these words and data into action.
We have engaged with the Exeter Group on a second scope of work, so that they can provide training and facilitation for action planning, and guide us in communication and implementation of the plan. One of the immediate recommendations from Exeter is to form an Action Planning Task Force. The primary purpose of this short-term task force will be to develop NSGC’s J.E.D.I. Action Plan, and to define and roll out the organization-wide definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The goal is to have a draft J.E.D.I. Action Plan, complete with goals, tactics, metrics, timelines, and recommendations for data collection and reporting, to release to our community in time for the Annual Conference in September. The J.E.D.I. Action Plan will roll up under the organizational Strategic Plan, which is being developed by the Board this summer.
The Action Planning Task Force will include NSGC leaders, staff, and members who can contribute their unique perspectives to developing the J.E.D.I. Action Plan, with a special focus on including individuals from those groups who identified as most marginalized and least included in the Exeter Report. While the task force will be composed, largely, of NSGC members, two seats will be reserved for lapsed and/or non-members to ensure inclusion of these voices. The ultimate goal is to seat a diverse task force with representation from across the organization, involving voices that, historically, have not been engaged and elevated in a significant and meaningful way within NSGC activities. More details about the call for applications, as well as the task force selection process, will be coming soon.
Over the past couple of months I’ve had incredibly meaningful conversations with many of you. Some of these conversations felt heavy, as the work ahead can seem daunting at times. Some felt hopeful, as we brainstormed initiatives and ways we could collaborate. The sharing of perspectives has been insightful, productive and, at times, emotional. As we develop and roll out our Strategic Plan and J.E.D.I. Action Plan, I look forward to many more conversations, including (in person!) conversations at the AC. As we take action, let’s continue to have words, voices, perspectives and engagement. Words AND action will move us forward.