Orion Family Services’ DEI Workshop Well-Received During CHHSM Annual Gathering

Orion’s Stacy Parke, Kim Heimann, and Niquanna Barnett.

Orion Family Services, based in Madison, Wis., played an active role during this year’s Annual Gathering, held in Louisville, Ky., in March. Two Orion staffers — Niquanna Barnett, community integrated services supervisor and in-home therapist, and Executive Director and CEO Stacey Parke — presented a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) workshop on everything the Orion Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, Accountability Board (IDEAB) has done concerning advancing DEI issues.

The presentation was well received and all of the efforts of Orion’s IDEAB committee were applauded and highlighted.

“It was gratifying to hear feedback from participants that information we shared about our process was beneficial to them in their learning, and that there were several things they were going to take back to their organizations,” said Parke. “A leader from one small agency shared that they left the workshop feeling more confident about their ability to begin conversations with their staff about building an agency culture that supported DEI work. And, they felt more comfortable in navigating some of the difficult conversations that often happen when doing this work.”

Parke added that one area of particular interest involved implicit bias, based on a survey implemented during the workshop. There was “lots of good sharing by participants about what they discovered about their hidden biases,” said Parke.

During the conference, the recent graduates of the Nollau Leadership Institute were consecrated as diakonal ministers. This year’s group — which met over the course of two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic — included Orion’s Kim Heimann, community services program assistant. Heimann joins Orion staff members Stacey Parke, Samantha Benson, Fern Kanitz, Jennifer Hawley, and Niquanna Barnett, all of whom have completed the Nollau Leadership Institute and been consecrated as diakonal ministers.

“I am very proud of Kim and the entire cohort for not letting Covid-19 derail them,” Parke said. “As a matter of fact, it seems to have solidified relationships and enriched their experience. Kim was hesitant to participate, but shared with me that it has been one of the best experiences she has had professionally. Today, she leads differently because of Nollau!”

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