Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Difficult conversations can be uncomfortable, but they are necessary. We were grateful to have a Speaker Series in October with Amariliz Sanchez of PennWest Clarion – Venango and Jeff Polley with Together We Can, on the topic of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) and how we can do better to have these conversations and bridge gaps in our community.

Jeff and Amariliz shared important information and led discussions around racism and how it still permeates our society. They talked about the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone to learn to identify racism, then practice having tough conversations and addressing it. A lot of the evening was spent in a conversation in which attendees shared many eye-opening experiences they’ve had in response to these prompts:

• Share the first time you remember realizing race.
• Share a moment when you had to come out of your comfort zone to get to know someone of a different background, ethnicity or race.
• What are your thoughts on both past and current protests? What is your definition of a “peaceful protest?”
• What is one action you can take to help bridge a racial divide?

This short presentation and discussion was impactful but could have lasted much longer.

There is a lot more work to be done and conversations to be had. If you are interested in getting involved with DEI in our area, contact Jeff at

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) November 2022 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

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