June 2021 Equity Update to the Community

One of the principles guiding NTEN is centering our roles around equity. This guidance allows us to remain open to change and improving as we grow alongside our local, regional, and global communities.

As we have done previously, periodic updates like this help us stay accountable to the larger community, who may only interact with a specific program or aspect of our work. While there is much more to the work to deeply advance equity, liberation, and their practices across the organization than what can neatly be included in a recap blog post, this is one way for us to keep as many folks as possible in the conversation with us as we grow:

  • We’ve implemented our evaluation process for the projects and work that we have been wrapping up as our fiscal year comes to an end this month. Specifically, we’ve done deep dives into each department’s work and identified ways to improve upon or further focus our equity and liberation efforts as focus areas for FY22 planning and budgeting at a team and organization levels.
  • To ensure that we continue to look to the future and plan how to better create practices and projects with equity at the center, I have met with all departments to discuss the upcoming fiscal year. Together we identified goals and ideas that each department can work towards in the next fiscal year.
  • We’ve evaluated our employee benefits to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our staff and consistently explore ideas to enhance our benefits. True to equity, potential employees and applicants should know the benefits of working at an organization. We encourage you to post your organization’s benefits online, as well. One benefit not yet finalized is a Paid Time Off (PTO) bonus. Staff are meeting to refine the details but will soon add it as a new employee benefit.
  • 21NTC was all virtual! While we were bummed that we couldn’t meet in person, it was an exciting and innovative event that invited new ways of thinking and planning. A few of the ways we were intentional about our virtual NTC being an equitable event include:
    • Elevating conversations about equity and race on the main stage with three keynotes, so there are multiple voices contributing to the conversation and an opportunity to hear big ideas each day of the conference.
    • Help and guidance from the Accessibility and Community Committees on building and creating accessible virtual spaces and sessions that provided attendees with options to customize their virtual experience to their needs.
    • Hosting online Racial Affinity Spaces during NTC and creating a private online Racial Affinity group that exists year-round.
    • Closed captioning for all sessions.
  • We updated our equity statement and values to reflect our belief that an organizational goal is to strive towards liberation for our communities. We have named liberation in our commitment and note that equity is a critical part of our journey towards liberation.
  • We’d like to highlight the equity work and practices we prioritize when posting online, including the social media standards we implemented to make our posts more accessible. If you haven’t yet implemented these standards when posting online, we encourage you to do so so that all of your community members have access to your online content.
  • Each year we search for and help support staff find professional development opportunities that will focus on their own equity growth within the organization. As we close out the fiscal year, we continue to focus on and meet with our staff to curate and search for equity-focused training opportunities for them.
  • NTEN was named as one of the 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon for 2021. As an organization, we consider environmental justice to be racial justice.

NTEN employs multiple levels of equity review, feedback, and contribution through staff, board, and community equity committees. These committees are crucial to the success of our work towards equity and liberation. Providing space for review, collaboration, feedback, and ideation is key to our community engagement practice. Community-centered work creates opportunities for us to deeply and meaningfully advance equity and liberation within the community and the sector. If you would like to be a part of the community-centered committees at NTEN, applications for all committees are open for new participants through June 30.

Tristan Penn
Senior Manager of Equity and Accountability
Tristan is originally from Central Kansas and is a citizen of the Navajo Nation. Tristan went to college at KU in Lawrence, Kansas (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!). He moved to Portland in 2014 and he loves it! He has worked in nonprofit for the past 16 years with primarily Boys & Girls Clubs and Youth Development Organizations and is passionate about nonprofit community engagement, organizational best practices, youth development, as well as diversity, equity & inclusion.

Tristan began his professional DEI work with Pacific Educational Group's three-year cohort/professional development initiative "Beyond Diversity: Courageous Conversations" while working for Boys & Girls Club and Lawrence Public School in 2009. Additionally, coupled with his lived experience as a Black and Navajo Professional, Tristan has served on previous organizations' Equity Teams and has been a facilitator for DEI (rooted in Racial Equity) in the workplace and nonprofit programming.

Tristan earned a B.S. from the University of Kansas in Psychology - Child and Family Development with a Minor in Classical Greek Antiquity and is currently working towards his Masters in Organizational Leadership and Psychology from Colorado State University.

In his free time, Tristan likes to sample the beers that Portland's breweries have to offer, go to shows, lift weights, watch KU basketball, travel, socialize with friends, and spoil his niece and nephews.