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VANtage: February 2021

Galen Roth | Published on 2/18/2021

Greetings Members,

Every February, Black History Month presents organizations the opportunity to show their commitment to diversity and inclusion. This year more than ever, we need use this month to increase our cultural awareness around the value that everyone brings to a workplace.

As President, Gerald Ford said in 1976 when he officially recognized Black History Month, we need to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Black History Month started as Negro History Week in 1917. Author, journalist, and historian Carter G. Woodson—now appropriately recognized as the “father of black history”—lobbied vigorously for the national recognition of black stories and perspectives. Woodson also hoped that the time would come when Black History Month would be unnecessary. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go.

Ok, enough history. How can we set the standard of how to eradicate discrimination and bias—conscious and unconscious—and, in the process, encourage the inclusion of all the people who work in our organizations, staff and volunteers? Recognizing and celebrating racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds within the workplace can be effective tool to build volunteer and employee engagement in the organization.

One step is to establish a diversity and inclusion committee at your organization. This act shows that your company is dedicated to making your team environment a better place and encourages a free flow of ideas and feedback between volunteers, employees, and leadership.

Additionally, our organization has started a book club. We have bi-weekly virtual team meetings where we use 30 minutes to discuss our individually chosen book. It is our hope that everyone will take the opportunity to continue reading different authors throughout the year. Reading nonfiction or fiction books by black authors can be a meaningful way to recognize Black History Month. There are many excellent books by black authors out there, but here is my quick list of recent hits: Becoming by Michelle Obama; The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, an anthology edited by Jesmyn Ward; a fantasy trilogy, The City We Became by N.K. Jenison.

There are many ways to celebrate, and we urge you to chose at least one way to celebrate this month!

Gerlinde Higginbotham
VAN Central Ohio President


VAN Professional Development Meeting
Topic: Surveying Employees with Mark S. Nagy, Ph. D.
Time: Thursday, February 18th, 2021 09:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada) over Zoom
Description: Join us as we explore the value of surveying employees and glean insights on best practices, with Mark Nagy. For over 20 years, Mark has consulted for a diverse set of organizations, ranging from a non-profit local women’s shelter consisting of 10 employees to a federal agency that employed (at the time) more than 240,000 employees. Mark has also consulted on a variety of organizational projects, including developing and analyzing employee assessments, conducting training needs assessments, providing statistical consultation, implementing leadership development programs, and creating customized employee engagement surveys. He recently developed and validated a measure of team civility and has demonstrated the impact civility has on both employees and employers in the workplace.
Join Zoom Meeting on Thursday, February 18th at 9:00am
See your VANtage email for Zoom information


Join the VAN Board!
Become a bigger part of your favorite group! We have openings available for Vice President, Professional Development Co-Chair, and Membership Co-Chair! Contact Gerlinde Higginbotham if you have interest in learning more about these opportunities at


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