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Alumni Engage in Inclusive Excellence

The Cassandra Voss Center’s six-month Program for Inclusive Excellence brings together professionals working in nonprofits, asphalt and pavement, plumbing, health care and banking to become better equipped at having difficult conversations around race and identity. And for two SNC alums, the results have been transformative.

Modeled after the cohort program utilized by SNC’s Center for Exceptional Leadership, and similarly welcoming of alumni, the Program for Inclusive Excellence centers on open dialogue between the 10 or so participants. “We have no shortage of wellmeaning people in the community who want to create great workplaces, but sometimes they don’t have the grounding to be as inclusive as necessary,” says Billy Korinko ’09, director of the CVC. “Our objective is to give people skills to hear divergent viewpoints in the most charitable way possible.”

Madeline Ames, assistant director of the CVC, says, “To be part of a program that connects you with so many others across the whole region, and different organizations, it helps break down barriers people maybe didn’t notice before.”

For St. Norbert alums, the program has both made them better communicators and built a robust professional network. Amanda Gay ’11, donor engagement and stewardship manager for the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, says, “I feel that I have grown substantially in my ability to speak about difficult topics, engage in hard conversation and learn to be open-minded to ideas that I thought otherwise were against my beliefs.”

Daniel Webster ’17, MBA ’21, human resources business partner for Walbec Group, says, “The main thing that will shape my work moving forward is having had the opportunity to establish a network of DEIB [diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging] practitioners who exist right here in northeast Wisconsin, who are action-oriented toward creating more inclusionary workplaces.”

The program hosts a series of speakers chosen to address specific concerns from organizations in the Brown County region and has participants create an impact project that they will apply to their organization. “[The project] challenges them to make something that’s actionable and doable, but also aspirational. … We want people to have deepened skills for addressing equity in the workplace and for cultivating buy-in,” says Korinko.

Korinko and Ames note that creating an inclusive and equitable workplace is an arduous task and requires constant attention, but the rewards are immense. Ames says, “If people feel they belong at work and are welcomed, valued as a whole person, they are going to be better in every facet of their lives.”

Organizations that are doing this well are comfortable addressing the elephant in the room and talking about issues in the news. We don’t check our identities when we clock-in to work. … We’re not robots,” says Korinko.

Oct. 31, 2022