Call for WACD DEI Committee Members
As directed by two resolutions adopted in December 2020 (2020 Adopted Resolutions on Diversity), the Washington Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) will form a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. The purpose of the Committee is to develop recommendations by September 2021 in time for discussion at Area Association meetings.
We’re seeking volunteers to serve on this committee and inform this important work.
Why is a DEI Committee being formed, and what will it do?
We’re forming the committee to address adopted resolutions 2020-05 and 2020-06 (download here: 2020 Adopted Resolutions on Diversity).
While the actions requested in the two resolutions differ, they each call for the formation of a committee tasked with formulating recommendations by September 2021. Rather than create two identical committees, WACD will form one committee to address both resolutions and develop recommendations to bring to WACD’s member conservation districts for consideration.
Expectations of Committee members
DEI forms a suite of topics that intersect with each other. We have found that some of our members view DEI as an opportunity to serve more of their constituents and expand their book of business. Conversely, some view seeking change around DEI as an accusation that they are somehow “less good” than other districts. DEI could help to unite us or it could divide us.
Discussing DEI is difficult. Some people want to move forward with immediate change now while others want to be much more cautious. We’ve observed some friction in interactions between community members. For these challenging conversations to be productive, members must be ready to listen and respectfully converse with others of differing opinions.
We want potential volunteers to understand that we will expect respectful interactions between Committee members at all times. Talking about DEI can be difficult, especially when it touches our personal values, feels threatening, or when people label each other instead of listen. How to work together with honor and respect will be the very first topic discussed by the Committee. We expect that the Committee will develop basic ground rules for how members will participate and interact.
Who will participate, and how do I volunteer?
We want to find solutions that work well for all. With that in mind, we’d like committee members to represent CDs from different geographic regions, capacity levels, population densities (urban/rural), and demographics. Members also will represent both staff and supervisor perspectives.
For the Committee to fairly represent the wide range of perspectives we have in Washington State, we need representation from each area association. We also need to limit the size of the Committee or it could become too unwieldy to make progress. At this time, our goal is to create the Committee with these parameters:
- Two representatives from each area association.
- We are hoping for (but not requiring) one board supervisor and one district manager from each area.
- Not more than one person from a district.
- Representation from urban and rural areas.
- Inclusion of people of color and other diverse backgrounds.
- Representation from the Washington State Conservation Commission and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
To volunteer, please contact Tom Salzer (, 360-999-5151 x101) by close of business on February 19, 2021. We know it’s asking a lot of your already busy time, but we hope you’ll consider volunteering to serve as a member of this committee.
Committee members will be selected by WACD President Jeanette Dorner with advice from the WACD Executive Committee and staff.
What should volunteers expect in terms of meetings and time commitment?
The DEI Committee will meet virtually. We anticipate a time commitment of about four hours per month (two meetings per month, two hours per meeting). There could be also some additional reading or research desired outside of Committee meetings.
The Committee is scheduled to conclude in the fall of 2021 once its task of submitting recommended actions is complete.
As noted above, members collectively will help develop and agree to ground rules at the first meeting so that we can keep our time together productive and respectful. We’ll also determine more meeting logistics based on the needs of the group.
We’re committed to keeping our committee work transparent to all CDs. Another early task for the committee will be to determine our process for keeping you informed.
What is the function of the group, and how will decisions about DEI be made?
This group will function as a temporary committee or working group of WACD. It will review and build on what we know about DEI in Washington State and conservation districts. Ultimately, the Committee’s task is to develop recommendations for implementing DEI actions in conservation districts and submit them to WACD in September 2021.
Decisions about adopting policies or promoting particular actions will be made by WACD member conservation districts at the 2021 WACD annual business meeting. Before then, the Committee’s recommendations will be widely disseminated and we will seek to present them at all Area Association meetings this fall.
Questions or comments about this committee?
- Tom Salzer, WACD Executive Director (360-999-5151 x101)