October 16, 2020
GRCB works to empower youth and adults to amplify their voices, question everything, and say yuck to the status quo. As we encourage these values for our community, we too must be committed to questioning our structures, our culture, our leadership and how we are upholding our values. We must be dedicated to lifting up and listening to the voices of our community members and saying yuck to any part of our culture that stands in the way of fostering a supportive community or contributes to upholding the status quo.
Over the past year, GRCB engaged hundreds of community members to undergo an extensive strategic planning process as we recognized that we had been continuously prioritizing a “bigger, more” mentality that took away focus from strengthening our infrastructure and deepening our programming.
Five months ago, this need for stronger infrastructure was highlighted and we have been on a difficult but important journey that has helped us recognize the ways in which we are not living up to our mission and values. As many of you know, we received an allegation of sexual harassment from a former volunteer earlier this year. The alleged incident did not take place during or related to a GRCB event. However, we recognize that the conduct of GRCB community members outside of our events and programming still must be addressed when brought to our attention, especially as we aim to uphold our values. The Board and leadership of GRCB took the allegation very seriously and immediately took steps towards ensuring the ongoing safety and well-being of our volunteers and participants.
We retained a third party to conduct an investigation. The scope of the investigation was two-fold:
1) We wanted to understand whether any member of GRCB leadership was aware of the incident. The investigation confirmed that no member of GRCB leadership was aware of the incident prior to receiving the allegation.
2) Members of our community were invited to directly raise additional concerns to the third-party investigator. We expanded the investigation in this manner in hopes it would enable us to understand whether and how GRCB’s culture may create barriers for people to speak up, and to address the ways that the systems of oppression this community works to disrupt, can be, and are, present within the community itself.
We are grateful for those who came forward with concerns about the organization, and who were willing to share their experiences in order to help build an understanding of the ways that we need to do better, need to be better, and work towards ensuring GRCB will continue on as a supportive, inclusive and accessible organization.
The themes raised in the investigation included:
–Reports of microaggressions and misgendering during GRCB/LRCB sessions that were handled in a way which led to community members not feeling comfortable bringing concerns to leadership.
–The lack of organizational infrastructure, especially in the area of human resources, contributes to a lack of transparency, follow through and accountability.
–GRCB is not growing to make space for new people, voices, leaders or ideas.
–GRCB is a majority-white organization, with an all-white staff and advisory team, which does not reflect the larger community.
We take responsibility for our actions, and inactions, and hold ourselves accountable for any harm we may have caused as individuals and as leaders in this organization. We are committed to prioritizing actions and work that will address these concerns, build up our foundation and create a more supportive, inclusive community, as that is our mission.
With that, we want to inform our community of changes and steps forward that have already occurred.
As a result of all that has transpired, there have been two changes to leadership. Several members of our Board have stepped down and our Program Director has resigned from her position.
During this period, the work of this Board was invaluable. They helped the organization to navigate a very serious situation with all the care and attention that it deserved. In the end, the members who resigned voiced concerns about GRCB’s ability to make the necessary changes and to carry out the Board’s recommendations. We honor and respect their work and their decision to leave the Board.
We heard these concerns, took them to heart, and in an effort to create opportunity for new voices and leaders in the organization, our Program Director has decided to step down. She believes this move will support GRCB in continuing to change people’s lives for the better. We deeply honor her work and vast contributions as GRCB’s Co-Founder and Program Director, for helping build GRCB into what it is, and for being ready to allow the organization to grow the voices of our community in new ways.
To support the next phase of GRCB, we are continuing to work with an outside consulting group to help us strengthen our infrastructure, establish policies and procedures, examine our leadership structure, and continue to shift power within the organization.
We know that we will make mistakes on this journey. We are committed to prioritizing this work and we want to share our plans with this community to keep us accountable, receive community input and ask for your support.
We plan to hold another Community Sharing soon to further discuss our action plan and answer questions from community members.
We hope that you all will continue to hold us accountable to our mission and values.
Chris Pienta, Mayté Antelo-Ovando, Dorothy Clark
Board of Directors