FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 01.18.2022

In this week’s @AvalonConsultingGroup Dispatch, learn why pronouns matter, hear the latest from USPS, and meet DC’s favorite tourist. Read it here!


Dear friends,

As you know, we are weathering more snow in the mid-Atlantic. If you’re in DC, keep an eye out for our new friend, the snowy owl. It’s a rare visit from the species, and it’s very exciting. So far, the owl has been seen flying around Capitol Hill and resting on several prominent buildings, like Union Station and the Postal Museum.

I also hope the long weekend was a chance for everyone to recommit to justice work. As I look around the Avalon community, I see many signs of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s continued legacy. It is heartening, and I am grateful. For just one great example, Michael Li, senior counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program, wrote a strong opinion for the Washington Post. In it, he condemned the damage caused to communities of color by gerrymandering and advocated for voting rights legislation.

On January 4, the USPS filed for a waiver to the Labor Department’s OSHA mandate for the COVID-19 vaccine, citing an impact on mail delivery and the supply chain. However, last week the Supreme Court granted a stay, and it appears that the OSHA mandate, which covers the Postal Service, will not hold. In the short term, we recommend caution with dates and deadline techniques in direct mail. For letters, it may be safer to use a month and year or a generic deadline like “10 days,” instead of a specific date. Your team is watching this closely.

Speaking of COVID, the macroeconomic impact of Omicron is coming into view. Fortune recently outlined four areas to watch for global impact: growth, the stock market, the labor market, and supply chains. Close to home, we continue efforts to mitigate supply chain delays. We are also aware that, with many vaccinated people testing positive, organizations may be short-staffed this quarter. Please let us know how we can support you if this is affecting your nonprofit.

You may have noticed that many Avalon team members use pronouns in their email signatures and for virtual meetings. We have encouraged this as an inclusivity action for some time. Our DEI committee recently shared the excellent website, Why Pronouns Matter, which explains the importance of this action. Here’s the key point:

Using someone’s correct personal pronouns is a way to respect them and create an inclusive environment, just as using a person’s name can be a way to respect them. Just as it can be offensive or even harassing to make up a nickname for someone and call them that nickname against their will, it can be offensive or harassing to guess at someone’s pronouns and refer to them using those pronouns if that is not how that person wants to be known. Or, worse, actively choosing to ignore the pronouns someone has stated that they go by could imply the oppressive notion that intersex, transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people do not or should not exist.

Speaking of the power of words, marketing VP Barb Perell circulated the Conscious Style Guide, which covers many inclusivity topics. I recommend it strongly, especially for writers and designers.

On a happy note, I’m pleased to report that several mood-lifting ideas emerged from inside Avalon this month:

Finally, I’ll wrap up with this silly but smart engagement campaign—a Spotify playlist from Barilla that is timed perfectly for their different pastas. It’s a great example of how brands can show personality through digital platforms. And who wouldn’t love some “Mixtape Spaghetti” (9 minutes), “Moody Day Linguine” (10 minutes), or “Boom Bap Fusilli” (11 minutes) for dinner?!

Take care,


Allison Porter headshot

Allison Porter, President
Avalon Consulting Group
202-429-6080 ext. 102