FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 10.11.2022

In this week’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, Indigenous Peoples Day, personal integrity, local coffee, how to stop scrolling, and more. Read it here!

Dear friends,

Last week, I was in Wyoming with senior VP Margot O’Leary to participate in Yellowstone Forever’s 150th celebration. We met so many incredible people, heard from the NPS about projects funded by the Yellowstone Forever Society donors, did a little hiking, and, as always, were amazed by the Yellowstone wildlife we encountered (at a safe distance!) along the way. It was an extraordinary opportunity, and we were grateful to be a part of it.

The trip coincided with Indigenous Peoples Day, and I’ve been reflecting on the connection. Yellowstone was the world’s first national park and was signed into law in 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant. Its creation involved federal possession of and the displacement of Indigenous inhabitants from the land. You can learn more about this history from both Yellowstone Forever and the National Parks Conservation Association. Also check out Yellowstone Revealed, a public art initiative led by Indigenous artists and scholars.

Today, the National Park Service recognizes 27 individual Tribes  with historic and modern-day ties to Yellowstone: Assiniboine and Sioux, Blackfeet, Cheyenne River Sioux, Coeur d’Alene, Comanche, Colville Reservation, Crow, Crow Creek Sioux, Eastern Shoshone, Flandreau Santee Sioux, Gros Ventre and Assiniboine, Kiowa, Little Shell Chippewa, Lower Brule Sioux, Nez Perce, Northern Arapaho, Northern Cheyenne, Oglala Sioux, Rosebud Sioux, Salish and Kootenai, Shoshone–Bannock, Sisseton Wahpeton, Spirit Lake, Standing Rock Sioux, Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa, Umatilla Reservation, and Yankton Sioux.

The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) honored Indigenous Peoples Day with a Teach-In on Sovereignty and Treaties, an Educators’ Open House, and a Youth in Action panel on Transformative Teaching. The Youth in Action event was the latest in NMAI’s series on the impact of Native youth, which has also covered topics like Indigenizing Hip Hop, Youth Poet Warriors, and Indigenizing Pride. In addition, I recommend the museum’s resources on Unlearning Columbus Day Myths.

At the Kennedy Center, senior VP Jackie Libby visited the new permanent exhibit in the JFK Gallery, Art and Ideals: President John F. Kennedy. She loved it, especially the section that featured his personal book collection, including many from his childhood. This free exhibit also has an interactive feature where you can filter your own image in the style of 4 different JFK portraits, like this one by Elaine de Kooning in the National Portrait Gallery.

In sector news, Vu Le published an interesting piece on how the Personal Integrity Paradox can affect nonprofits. This is the phenomenon by which a person who is less capable projects more confidence and a person with integrity doubts themself. Le walks through how this can happen to boards, staff, donors, funders, and allies—and why that’s a problem. In the end, he encourages us all to be aware of the dynamic and to embrace continuous improvement: “Self-doubt can play an important role for growth and progress.”

On the health front, yesterday was World Mental Health Day. Led by the World Federation for Mental Health, the 2022 theme was “make mental health and well-being for all a global priority.” Senior director of HR Melissa Ferrell shared a list of great resources with our staff, including a collection of mood-boosting tips and support links to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Thank you, Melissa!

For day-to-day wellness, marketing VP Barb Perell shared a helpful Fast Company article on how to stop endlessly scrolling. Dandapani, a Hindu priest, former monk, and author recommends that we define our purpose, then decide how technology supports it. Focusing this way trains the mind to be less distracted, which, in turn, further clarifies goals. The point is to use devices with intention, not for distraction but as tools with purpose:

Define what it is you want. Then you can see how technology will align with you. You can make decisions as to what apps you need. What notifications you need. When and how to interact with your phone will become obvious and clear. Once you define the purpose and relationship, it’s easier to manage technology. But if I don’t have that purpose and relationship defined, then every time it chimes, I respond.

Finally, I’ve been meaning to share the good news that coffee and pastry shops are dodging the worst effects of inflation. Some analysts pin strong sales to workers resuming commutes, while others point to the consumer psychology of small indulgences. Avalon no longer commutes, but we do offer a coffee benefit: employees may expense one local cup per week. Shout out to Ceremony Coffee Roasters, the best in Annapolis!

Take care,


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