Orion Commitment to DEI Expressed Through Paid ‘DEI Days’

Orion staff at the Chazen Museum, L-R. Back row: Michelle Howard, Laurel Leggiere, Anna Maunu, Kim Grafenauer, Alice Caceres-Turcios, Niquanna Barnett, Kimberly King, and Fern Kanitz; Front row: Brooke Buchholz, Ashley Perez-Radke, and Lauren Kelly.

Orion Family Services in Madison, Wis., values the importance of an organizational culture that reflects diversity, equity, and inclusion in operations, across staff, and in service delivery. In a demonstration of commitment to these values, Orion provides staff with paid time to be spent engaging in activities that involve or reflect diversity, equity, and inclusion principles or practices. This time, known as a DEI Day, is available to all employees of the organization, and all are encouraged to participate.

DEI Day activities may include attendance at a cultural event, attendance at a place that provides education, or involving volunteering attached to a DEI event, activity, or individual/community need. These activities can be engaged individually or as part of a group. Within the past three months, Orion’s Inclusivity Diversity and Equity Advisory Board (IDEAB) has coordinated two DEI Day outings as a way for Orion’s staff to utilize their DEI Day hours.

The first was held Oct. 28 at the Chazen Museum of Art in downtown Madison. Staff viewed the exhibit titled “Sifting & Reckoning: UW-Madison’s History of Exclusion and Resistance” and learned about the history of oppression at UW-Madison. In attendance was a mix of administration, mental health professionals, interns, and community services staff. Attendees reflected on the exhibit eye-opening nature of the exhibit, and were able to engage in thought-provoking conversation afterward at a group lunch.

Milton House partiipants Brianna Hadley, Stacey Parke, Amanda Jones, Liz White, Alice Caceres-Turcios, Dave (tour guide), Michelle Howard and Niquanna Barnett.

The second activity was held Nov. 4 at the Milton House in Milton, Wis., site of one of Wisconsin’s Underground Railroad stops. Administration, mental health professionals, and community services staff were led through the museum by the tour guide Dave, and learned about the rich history of Milton and the underground railroad in Southern Wisconsin.

In 2023, IDEAB plans to continue coordinating DEI Day activities for staff in order to help Orion become a more thoughtful, informed part of South-Central Wisconsin.

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