This year, we’re continuing to celebrate the people who make #OurResilience possible by telling the stories of our incredible clients, staff, volunteers, and supporters. As our community grows, we need to embrace and celebrate what connects us: our resilience. This month, we’re shining a spotlight on Michelle D. Morrow, Ed.D. Michelle is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Chair of the Resilience Associate Board.
Continue to read our interview with Michelle.
You’re a member of the Resilience Associate Board. What inspired or motivated you to get involved in this role?
The board started in 2019, and my first introduction to Resilience was through Erin Walton. I have known Erin since before she was Executive Director of Resilience. I started following the work that she was doing and became a supporter. Then she sent out a notice about the Associate Board, and I thought it would be another great way to get involved directly in supporting the organization. I also did a training through the Education and Training program. I did the training for higher ed professionals, Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education, which is a Title IX workshop. That was really my first introduction to the Associate Board, and the same week that I did the workshop I also participated in the interview for the Associate Board, so that was my beginning.
You’re the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Chair. Can you tell me about this role?
The formation of the DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] Advisory Council came out of the work that was done in the summer of 2020. We remember everything that was happening during that year. Erin reached out to a few of us to participate on a task force for race relations for Resilience. There was a group of us from different areas, from volunteers to staff members, and also a couple of us from the Associate Board who participated in that. We later did a survey of all constituents and a virtual town hall. As always, when you do a task force, there’s always ‘what’s next?’ to keep the momentum going. One of the things that we decided to do as the Associate Board was to create our own DEI Advisory Council because we wanted to make sure that we diversify our membership. We want to make sure that our membership is a reflection of our community, and we want to continue to work on that. We want to frame all of our work with the DEI lens. That was the birth of the DEI Advisory Council. It is a work in progress, and we’re continuing to build on that since it formed last year.
What are some of your goals or plans as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Chair, either short- or long-term?
Some of the things that we have done are to make sure that our Advisory Board is doing work that is supportive of our communities. One of the things that we are doing very intentionally is that, if we are doing any activities or supporting businesses, we want to make sure that we’re supporting businesses that are either women-led, BIPOC-led, or folks who are members of the LGBTQ+ communities. Another thing we’re doing is planning our first-ever community walk in June. We want to make sure that is an event open to all people and that we are extending our level of connections and partnerships with folks who we may not ordinarily interact with. It’s building awareness of Resilience, and it’s also about building community, too. One of the things we assisted our President of the Associate Board in doing is creating a community agreement so that when we meet we’re making sure that it’s a space that’s safe and open and that everyone is heard.
There are some other opportunities that I would like to see happen before my tenure ends at the end of June. I really would love to see us have a speaker do a workshop that’s interactive and that would be open not just to the Associate Board but to other members of Resilience, be it staff or our governing board or volunteers.
What is one memory or experience as an Associate Board member that you’re most proud of?
Being on that task force was something that I really enjoy being a part of. I also really enjoyed when we had our first big fundraiser, which was the Sip and Paint at Pinot’s Palette. That was pre-pandemic, back in 2019, and we sold out. That was a lot of fun, and we raised a lot of money. I am also very much looking forward to the memories that we’ll create with this walk, too.
What are your hopes for the future of the Resilience Associate Board, or what are you looking forward to this year?
I’m hopeful because we have new members that have been onboarded. I’m a member of other organizations outside of the Associate Board, and with any organization you want things to continue to grow. You want individuals to have the opportunity to have a voice and also to take on leadership roles. You want to build upon what you started, even if you are not part of it. You want it to still be there and for it to grow and get better. I would like to see what someone else can do in this role, so that’s another goal that I have. Also transitioning into having a new leadership for the DEI Council. That’s a goal of mine so that we can keep moving and so folks can continue to bring their ideas and to continue the work.
What’s one fun fact about you?
I love music. One of the things that I miss, being in the pandemic, is going to live performances. Whenever we get out of this, that will be one of the things that I would like to do. It feels strange not going to concerts. That was something I regularly did. I love music and I love reading. It can be hard to catch up with everything going on, but as of late, I’m back into reading. I love mysteries and science fiction. Octavia Butler is one of my favorite science fiction authors. Nnedi Okorafor is another great author. I also love TV. One of my favorite new shows is Abbott Elementary.
What do you want people to know that you haven’t been asked about?
I would love people to ask how they can be involved or inquire about what Resilience does. Because sometimes when you say ‘Resilience,’ people don’t necessarily know what that means, and so I would say, Ask what Resilience is about. Ask about its mission and what it has been doing for decades. And how you can become more involved. There are different ways you can be involved, be that with financial support or active engagement on the boards or as a medical advocate or volunteer. That would be a question that I would love for people to ask, and I would be happy to share. I think that’s one of our main roles as the Associate Board, outside of fundraising: to be ambassadors for Resilience. To get the word out and share what Resilience is about and the work that it has been doing and continues to do even during this time. To still be able to offer services in the middle of a pandemic and continue educational workshops for the community is something to be proud of. The fact that the organization is going to host this virtual conference is exciting, too.
I work at Northeastern Illinois University, and Resilience is a great partner to them. I’m on a committee, and we have a grant through the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women and Maggie Arthur [Resilience Director of Education and Training] serves on that committee. So when I see her there at our meetings, I am very proud to see someone from Resilience who is active in the community and is an active partner with Northeastern and this grant that we have.