More than 300 people attended the Government Alliance on Racial Equity National Membership Meeting from April 9-11 in Chicago, IL. The event, entitled “Caring for a Growing Movement” included participants representing 66 local, regional, and state government jurisdictions participating in GARE from across the United States and Canada.
Since 2015, GARE has grown to more than 75 active members, and the convening served to welcome many new faces and jurisdictions as well as long-time practitioners in the movement. Inspired plenary sessions, thematic breakout groups, from Arts& Culture to Transportation Equity, skill-building workshops, and ample networking time over the course of 3 days provided numerous opportunities to dig deeper into our respective and collective racial equity work, connect with and new colleagues, and reunite with longtime allies.
Welcoming us to the City of Chicago was a transformative performance by the youth group Global Girls captivated the plenary and reminded many of the power and voice of the next generation in the movement.
Whether members had just begun their racial equity journey or had decades of work behind them, there was palpable energy and urgency in the room generating strategies and ideas to take home to communities. With excitement of being together, members also acknowledged the critical need for concrete strategies and support for implementing Racial Equity Tools and Action Plans on the ground, and lifting up peer learning and training opportunities.
We have no doubt that the momentum from last week will carry forward in the coming months, as connections within regions and across jurisdictions continue to expand, and through programming and resources that address key priorities for GARE members. As a member-led, member-driven organization, we are only as strong as our collective vision, resources, strategies, and resolve, and the space in Chicago only served to amplify that power. From local jurisdiction to regional hub to national network, we are GARE.
Thank you to all the members who were able to join us in Chicago, to the Race Forward team for navigating a complex logistical undertaking with grace and poise, to the JW Marriott hotel workforce that made us feel so at home while spending time in their space and attended to our many needs, and to our co-chairs Melissa Gombar and Manisha Paudel for guiding us through packed schedules and animating the room with energy and laughter. As a network, we look forward to enhancing the resources and opportunities we are able to provide as a network, and are deeply grateful for the work that you do.