FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 11.03.20


Dear friends,

Last week, Walter Wallace, Jr. was killed by police during a mental health episode, and Philadelphia rightly erupted into grief and anger. Today, we collectively exercise the most important nonviolent tool we have for resisting and dismantling white supremacy: the vote.  Thank you all for voting, for encouraging others, and for volunteering through poll service, election protection, and other efforts to increase turnout and shut down voter suppression.

I voted early! Let’s do this.

Allison voted in 2020 election

Meanwhile, we continue our DEI work internally at Avalon. In the process, we have circulated this framework from Robert Sellers, Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Michigan. He describes successful DEI as attending a dance: “Diversity is where everyone is invited to the party. Equity means that everyone gets to contribute to the playlist. Inclusion means that everyone has the opportunity to dance.”

Also, two standout AMMC sessions tackled DEI last month. Sonja Martin Poole’s keynote, “Beyond the White Cube: Attracting More Museum Visitors with Inclusive, Equitable, and Just Marketing Strategies” and the panel, “Becoming Audience Centric: An Empathy-First Approach to Attracting New Members,” were both outstanding. An important takeaway is that marketing and fundraising to diverse audiences are only as good as the institution’s internal DEI, multi-cultural content, and donor relationships. The panel also shared some great examples of inclusive museum experiences, like free one-year memberships for new citizens, penny Saturdays, EnChroma glasses for colorblind visitors, and translated wall texts. For more on this topic, Avalon VP Dara Igersheim recommends this Slate podcast episode featuring Kimberly Drew, creator of Tumblr blog Black Contemporary Art.

If you are looking for a path into DEI and other leadership learning, be sure to check out the recently launched TNPA Essential Leadership Lab. I served on the Lab’s development team, and I am so excited about the impact of this program. The Lab is an incredible opportunity for nonprofit leaders to dive deep into strategic topics, learn with an accomplished cohort, and be even more impactful in their work. The program runs for one year in four-month cycles, covering three big topics each year. 2021’s topics are: (1) DEI Accountability, (2) Resiliency through Change, and (3) Informal Partnerships and Strategic Alliances. The first cycle begins on January 27th.

In other leadership news, this analysis of the Boston Marathon Bombing crisis response was fascinating on many levels. The five principles of effective crisis leadership – which activate what Harvard researchers call “swarm intelligence” – really resonated with me. They are: unity of purpose, a spirit of generosity, staying in your lane, checking your ego at the door, and interpersonal trust and respect. Joseph Henderson, former CDC director for emergency preparedness, summed it up well: “When everybody on your team crosses the line before you, that’s your best day.”

Finally, as a serious leader, you also deserve a serious dose of cuteness. Isn’t this adorable collaboration between the Atlanta SPCA and the Georgia Aquarium what we really need right now? Puppies in shark costumes!


Take care,