A VISTA Perspective: Shining the Light on Diversity – Blog post By Shantell Smith
When I became an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) my goal was to learn leadership skills and connect with the nonprofit world of Greenville, SC. I had the opportunity to do both at The Shine the Light nonprofit forum on Accelerating Organizational Effectiveness with an Increasingly Diverse Team.
Sharing a space with people who are leaders in your field is a different experience then discussing diversity at a level you are familiar with. I was granted insight into the challenges of promoting diversity from the perspective of those who are tasked to integrate it in to their organizations, but also feel strongly about the benefit it serves to creating powerful and innovative teams.
The opportunity to directly participate in the discussion during the Innovation Labs was empowering and informative. Topics of generational inclusivity, developing a narrative for others to gain greater appreciation of perspective, and understanding why diversity is critical in the recruitment and retainment of valued workforce assets, were new topics for me and have transformed the way I view diversity in the workplace. It’s not just a numbers game of race and gender, but rather an effective tool for suitability and growth.
The Shine the Light event was not just informative, but a fun and upbeat affair where I was able to interact with people in some of the same leadership positions that I hope to occupy someday. I am grateful to Debbie Nelson and her DNA team for granting me the opportunity to learn and grow while I continue to journey through my year of VISTA service.
Shantell Smith is a United States Air Force veteran and graduate of Anderson University with a Bachelors of Arts in Human Services. Born in Denver, CO she has lived in Greenville for 4 years and is currently serving as the AmeriCorps VISTA for the Greenville County Human Relations Commission.