Our network comes together to listen, learn, apply, and innovate how we advance racial equity through the everyday decisions and responsibilities we hold as stewards of public institutions. As Brookings recently recognized, the work of racial equity practitioners in our network has been the “foundational work” that has influenced the “intensified” efforts to remake how government decisions are made following the 2020 mobilizations for racial justice, the largest in our nation’s history.
We will continue our foundational work — the building of a bigger we –so that you, our community of racial equity practitioners working in government, who are transforming the institutions you work in so that everyone can live dignified, healthy, and joyful lives.
This work does not and cannot happen in isolation. We have reorganized our staff and program infrastructure to support our foundational work: co-creating interconnectedness, community, and innovation. To that end, we are happy to announce GARE’s two new programmatic teams, the Network Strategies team and the Transformative Strategies team.
Both teams are member-driven and will only thrive with your active engagement and participation. The Network Strategies team is led by Deputy Director of Network Strategies, Marsha Guthrie, and the Transformative Strategies team is led by Deputy Director of Transformative Strategies, Raintry Salk, PhD.
Growing and transforming our shared infrastructure enables us to accelerate how we uplift, celebrate, and learn from each other’s work. We invite you to read more to learn how our new teams will continue to support your work, the work of our dynamic, laudable, and committed network.
Investing in Network Strategies
“In the wake of a global pandemic and the largest multiracial uprising for racial justice in our history, the exponential success of the racial equity movement in government has bred both incredible opportunities and vicious backlash,” offers Cathy Albisa, Vice President of Institutional and Sectoral Change at Race Forward. Albisa will continue to serve as Interim Deputy Director of Network Strategies through the end of October and has played an instrumental role in the GARE program re-design process. She continues, “We have a huge movement to continue to build, and no one can do it alone – we need everyone.”
To that end, the GARE Network Strategies team weaves together our foundational work – the work of building a bigger we. The team’s core purpose is to broadly cultivate critical connections and peer-to-peer listening, learning, application, and exchange. This team oversees most of GARE’s network engagement activities, including in-person and online events, as well as the GARE Network Portal, our online community for racial equity practitioners in GARE member jurisdictions.
The inaugural Network Strategies team will be overseen by the Deputy Director of Network Strategies, Marsha Guthrie, who joined the team on October 17, 2022. Previously, Guthrie worked in local government for nearly 15 years, and served on the GARE national steering committee. Reflecting on the GARE program re-design process, and why she wanted to join the leadership of this new chapter, Guthrie says, “I want to be part of reimagining how government should be instituted to drive towards justice and liberation.” Guthrie wants to support “racial justice practitioners across the country working arduously every day to transform their institutions, cities, counties, and communities into meccas of prosperity for all, especially those who have been left behind.” She closes, “I am inspired by the words of Angela Davis, who urges us to ‘act as if it were possible to radically transform the world, and to do it all the time.’” Guthrie oversees a current team of 5, that will grow to 9 over the coming year.
The Network Strategies team hosts our flagship full network event: the GARE Conference, formerly known as the GARE Annual Membership Meeting, and will also pilot two new convening types in the coming years: a Leadership Summit, which will help build and strengthen network governance and support racial equity leaders, and regional convenings, the first of which is slated for California.
As Lenore Wyant, GARE’s Director of Network Engagement reflects, “our updated convening strategy illustrates an effort to intentionally center racial equity practitioners’ voices, experience, and leadership.” Racial equity practitioners in the GARE network can also expect to see regular online programming that highlights the hallmarks of the GARE approach and framework and creates spaces for peer-to-peer listening, learning, application, and exchange.
A collaboratively re-designed GARE Network Portal will accompany our in-person and online events strategy and will serve as ongoing infrastructure for racial equity practitioners in the GARE network to connect with one another, collaborate, as well as share and access tools and resources, including GARE’s self-paced online learning courses. Sarah Lawton, GARE’s Director of Online Community shares, “We have so much gratitude to the 40 racial equity practitioners who participated in collaborative workshopping sessions. Because of their active and thoughtful participation, the portal re-design will be driven by the ideas and aspirations of GARE network practitioners.” Two additional staff will join the Online Communities team to ensure that the GARE Network Portal is accessible and supportive to network practitioners looking for resources, sharing updates on their work, or connecting with peers.
Introducing GARE Transformative Strategies
The Transformative Strategies team listens to racial equity practitioners, scans the field for promising practices, and incubates innovation. The team does this in collaboration with racial equity practitioners and leaders within the network, and within the broader field. Raintry Salk, PhD, a racial equity practitioner who has been part of the GARE network since its founding and a key architect of the 2021 GARE program re-design process that garnered the participation of over 750+ racial equity practitioners who work in government, has served as Deputy Director of Transformative Strategies since July 2022. Dr. Salk oversees the work of the team, and reflects, “The data collected during our strategic pause showed us that we needed to create dedicated staff and programming whose primary purpose is strengthen the field of practice, bring innovative approaches to evolve the field of racial equity work in government – and to curate and co-create new and advanced racial equity tools and resources for government practitioners.”
Innovation Communities & Strategic Content
Innovation Communities will be intimate 12–15-person working groups that happen over the course of year, with the main purpose of co-producing new tools, strategies, and approaches to advance the work of racial equity in government. These will be overseen by the Director of Innovative Practice, Cecilia Olusola Tribble, who reflects, “My primary goal is to curate experiences that are restorative, relational, and allows participants the space to re-imagine a radical alternate future.” One of GARE’s first place-based innovation communities will take place in the south.
Another innovation community will engage stakeholders to cultivate innovative, root solutions to public safety that advance racial equity. “I am particularly interested in centering the expertise of Black and Indigenous people of color who have been harmed by mass incarceration,” remarks Alex Frank, GARE’s Director of Root Solutions for Public Safety, a two-year position. In this role, Frank will convene four community-government partnerships in New Orleans, Pima County, Cook County, and Philadelphia. The jurisdictions chosen are part of the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice challenge sites. The purpose of this effort is to learn how government and community-based agencies are working to redefine public safety with investments in upstream activities that reduce police interactions, incarceration, pre-trail detention, fines, fees and other factors that contribute to racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system.
Lastly, an incoming Manager of Strategic Content will co-create content and will support the co-development of new tools, resources, and approaches from innovation communities and field scans that engage racial equity practitioners.
Measurement & Evaluation
Data is of paramount importance to racial equity practitioners working in government. Our network needs sophisticated approaches to measure our collective work and advance racial equity. In the coming years, the Transformative Strategies team will convene a consortium of experts to inform the creation of evaluation and measurement frameworks for the network.
The Transformative Strategies team is also building the capacity of network members to chart their impact and progress in their jurisdictions, as well as measure and evaluate GARE programs. Jeanetta Churchill serves as the Director of Survey Research, a one-year post dedicated to supporting the current roster of employee surveys. The Manager of Data and Insights, Chanier MacDonald, and an incoming Director of Data and Insights, round out the team.
GARE Self-paced Online Learning
GARE’s Director of Learning Strategies, Leslie Zeitler, will lead the development of GARE’s self-paced online learning system, which features foundational and strategic content and courses for the racial equity practitioners in the GARE network. The first course, Advancing Racial Equity in Government soft launched to racial equity practitioners in the GARE network in October 2022 via the GARE Network Portal. It includes video, audio, quizzes, reading and recorded presentations, as well as a personal workbook and an online peer learning community. Over the coming years, additional courses and materials will be developed and distributed with the needs of the network in mind.
Janine Christiano serves as GARE’s Director of Strategic Partnerships. While GARE has worked in collaboration with other organizations and institutions since its inception, this is the first time this area of work will be deliberately designed into a strategic objective and distinct body of work for the network. Christiano offers, “In the coming years, we’re looking forward to strengthening and developing relationships that deepen our impact across government and provide racial equity practitioners in government with the additional tools and support needed to transform government.”
A recent project-based partnership with ESRI, the global market leader in geographic (GIS) software, resulted in a new mapping tool for governments interested using community data to map social equity. Partnerships focused on building and strengthening relationships across levels of government will complement project-based partnerships that result in new tools and resources. Dalila Madison Almquist, who co-leads State of Equity, a program of the Public Health Institute shares, “We are thrilled to be in partnership with GARE to understand and meet the needs of state government leaders to advance racial equity. GARE has cultivated an unparalleled network of government racial equity practitioners. Our success will be rooted in the legacies of courageous community leaders and government activists across the 400+ GARE local and regional governments who have been doing this work for years.” As the momentum for racial equity work across levels of government continues to accelerate, Carlton Eley, the Senior Director of the Federal Initiative on Racial Equity (FIRE) remarks, “The GARE program redesign reflects the agility of a highly successful program. GARE is a seasoned trailblazer for local and regional efforts to center racial equity, and Race Forward’s Federal Initiative to Govern for Racial Equity (FIRE) is a complement that targets federal audiences.”
Doubling Down on Operationalizing Our Network’s Vision
To fully operationalize this ambitious and strategic new vision and listen to practitioner feedback, GARE operations capacity has grown from a staff of one to a team of four. Ian D. Law, GARE’s Director of Operations shares, “I’m honored to work alongside a true Operations Team: amazing people working behind the scenes to help support the day-to-day functioning of GARE.”
With a growing roster of member jurisdictions, and more racial equity practitioners joining the movement, increased operations capacity will result in updated orientation and onboarding processes for new-to-the network racial equity practitioners and member jurisdictions. GARE Membership Coordinator, Lindsay Teeples-Mitchell anticipates these will, “meaningfully and effectively orient new and returning practitioners to our network and foster a sense of welcome and connection with staff and other racial equity practitioners.”
Julie Nelson, a key founder of GARE, who currently serves as Race Forward’s Senior Vice President of Programs, reflects, “GARE’s new member-driven program, teams, and updated strategies will build resilience and power to address the unprecedented challenges and support the opportunities to scale the movement for racial equity in the coming years.”
Gordon Goodwin, GARE Senior Director, closes, “All of this has become possible because of the continued engagement and trust of the GARE network. We are grateful for the multitude of GARE leaders who engaged with us and strengthened this network to be the continued home for racial equity practitioners in government to build relationships, innovate, and organize for change.”