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Meet DBIE council members, Jovan Goldsmith and Haley Woods

DBIE: Diversity, Belonging, Inclusion and Equity. What does it mean, really? And how do we put it into practice at City Year Milwaukee? To support with the advancement of City Year Milwaukee’s DBIE practices, staff have the opportunity to apply to serve on the DBIE council. The DBIE council brings together diverse staff members from across the site that serve as a source for consultancy, advocacy and support in implementing DBIE programming for AmeriCorps members and staff.

Meet two members of City Year Milwaukee’s DBIE council, Haley Woods and Jovan Goldsmith, and learn more about their experience serving on the council.

Haley Woods, Interim Senior Impact Manager, & DBIE Council Member
Jovan Goldsmith, Senior People & Operations Manager and DBIE Council Member

What motivated you to serve on the DBIE council for our site?

Haley Woods: As an Impact Manager, I am in the position of getting to serve people who serve people. I work in teams in my school building and across the site. In order to show up for my teams to the best of my ability, it is critical that I continually unpack the ways that I support and coach people to make service an impactful, accessible space where all my teammates can flourish. I wanted to challenge myself beyond what might be comfortable to examine my identity as a white, cisgender woman, and how that identity shows up in different spaces at our site.

I wanted to serve on the DBIE council to create intentional space for myself to think critically about how I bring my identity to my work, to listen as well as speak up, to take space in addition to making space, and to practice curiosity and empathy instead of perfectionism and fear of conflict.

Jovan Goldsmith: I can’t recall a time where my day-to-day wasn’t impacted by inequitable systems and structures. And similar to others I was involved in equity work before I could acknowledge it by name. Joining the DBIE committee created a pathway for me to basically get out of my own head. Yes, a good portion of DBIE work is interpersonal, but an essential part involves convening people and make it operational. This also was an opportunity to improve how I articulate DBIE.

Why is equity work important for City Year Milwaukee? Our city? Our service? Our students?

Haley Woods: One of the things that really inspires me about City Year’s work is that a City Year experience (as an AmeriCorps member, staff member, student, etc.) might just be one year, one chapter of someone’s story before they move on to serve, create, educate and change other spaces. I have worked with teammates who were drawn to City Year by a passion for public education or an interest in working with young people and left motivated to tackle problems in other sectors of society.

City Year as an organization has the unique privilege of holding space at key times in peoples’ lives – as students, as young adults. In my mind, it’s, therefore, our responsibility to foster community and deep learning, not simply for the interests of our own organization, but so that folx who go out from a relationship with City Year are well-positioned to make waves in the spaces they’ll occupy next.

Jovan Goldsmith: Equity work is not a solo act. City Year Milwaukee’s role is to come in as a partner. Just as anyone an individual or institution, City Year Milwaukee needs to understand where it stands and what systems and structures it has that are perpetuating the oppressive foundations we are actively disrupting. When students invite us into their world, it’s our immediate responsibility to be authentic and truly see them.

How is the DBIE committee currently prioritizing equity work? What can some of this work look like long-term?

Haley Woods: I serve on the Site and Staff Programming team within DBIE council. A project we’re currently working on is guiding site staff in reviewing our own experiences (through stories, survey results, etc.) and collectively setting priorities for our site. Through this process, my hope is that we’re able to share power across departments and job titles to name the themes and actions and financial commitments we can lean into to improve our people practices as a site.

What are some of the personal joys and challenges of this work?

Haley Woods: I stumble in this work when I prioritize my own comfort over my participation, and when I only let myself wonder behind the scenes, for fear of “getting it wrong.” This council is a place where I can ask “what if . . .,” educate myself, and commit myself to working on City Year Milwaukee.

I love the power of working in teams and being a member of this council gives me access to another team that’s not only interdepartmental but is intentional, caring and brilliant. It’s given me opportunities to learn, grow and strategize with others I may not meet with regularly – and that brings me a lot of joy!

Jovan Goldsmith: I’ve enjoyed the space City Year Milwaukee has created for staff dialogues to happen and to really look at what staff learning looks like. The DBIE committee this year decided to focus on restoring relationships following an act of harm using restorative practices. We have to be all in, in order to really be successful. I am grateful that our site is making space to have tough conversations around equity. That gives me hope.

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