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January 2022 equity update to the community

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Jan 25, 2022
5 minute read
Equity • NTEN News

2021 was an eventful year at NTEN as we continued to promote, work towards, and model equitable practices internally and externally. To ensure that NTEN continues to grow in our equitable operations, part of our process is to annually review efforts made to the practices outlined in our equity commitment and identify where we can push forward or expand on those efforts in the coming year. This evaluation process involves all three equity committees, including board, community, and staff. 

Our evaluation and review of 2021 have helped us identify some key successes while providing us with some priorities for 2022. This post is part of our continued efforts to share updates about internal and external efforts and outcomes to more directly invite accountability and collaboration in this work. 

While our complete evaluation is quite long, we've summarized reflections and commitments for 2022 from every area of our commitments in practice.

Staff, board, and volunteers

2021 review highlights

  • We hired two new staff in 2021 and engaged the new staff and their managers in reflection about the onboarding and hiring process.
  • More closely collaborated with and supported other board committees to improve the annual board self assessment survey; and support the board recruitment process.
  • This year, implementing the new concurrent and holistic committee application process resulted in a more accessible and streamlined experience with more community members on NTEN committees than ever before.

2022 focus

  • Strengthening continuity plans; updating and expanding hiring and onboarding documentation.
  • Board moving to a co-chair structure; adding the equity committee chair to the executive committee.
  • Creating more internal documentation and materials to ensure effective and efficient replication for the next call for committee applications and consistency across staff committee leads. 


2021 review highlights

  • We reviewed the sliding scale for membership. The median price remains $99, which is an excellent sign of the strength and value of the membership. However, we also see a substantial number of people diverging from the median price – some paying less as they need and others contributing at 2x+ the rate to support members who cannot pay the suggested price.
  • The membership committee was restarted in 2021 to discuss topics ranging from our website redesign to NTC member options to ways to activate the community around our beliefs and advocacy campaigns.

2022 focus

  • As part of organization-wide efforts to create new evaluation criteria against our theory of change, we are expanding how membership and community metrics are measured and what goals are placed for them, prioritizing engagement and access over revenue or total numbers.
  • We are working on expanding the way NTEN's advocacy efforts are connected directly to the value and identity of being part of NTEN, in addition to serving as an engagement mechanism for folks regardless of membership status or tenure in the community or sector.


2021 review highlights

  • To continue elevating community member voices as faculty, the program team updated expectations for faculty this year by introducing a maximum number of years for faculty leading a specific course.
  • Tristan (NTEN's senior manager of equity and accountability) partnered with the program team to add to the perspectives across the team that support the NTC session selection process with community and session advisory participation.

2022 focus

  • We will work with course faculty to support and ensure that all courses help participants make the direct connections between equitable outcomes or priorities and the course topic as we see more opportunities for supporting folks in using technology as an internal leverage point for advancing equitable policies or processes in their organizations.  

Sponsors and exhibitors 

2021 review highlights

  • The Sponsorship Team has ensured that sponsors (for NTC and year-round) are not only aware of our commitment to equity and liberation but are reminded of how sponsoring NTEN and NTC is an endorsement of how important our work is regarding equity in nonprofits.
  • Changed sponsorship approach for the NTC so that there are no tiers or "levels" of sponsorship related to how much a sponsor gives us; instead, all sponsorships are a la carte based on what options and budget a sponsor has, without any public-facing labels to denote any ranking. 

2022 focus

  • We will more directly monitor how a sponsor is actually "showing up" and working with NTEN, the community, and NTC attendees so that we can both support them in being contributors to the community and ensure the community continues to benefit from folks sharing knowledge and experience (without sales or spam).

Vendors and contractors

2021 review highlights

  • We have successfully put out opportunities for RFPs or other options to work with us that have garnered a diverse pool of applicants.  
  • Many of our most significant contracts are related to the NTC. We are limited by rules or requirements with a convention center.

2022 focus

  • We will ensure that vendor and contractor relationships are being closely monitored and reviewed not only before but during and after the relationship. This will be crucial specifically as 22NTC nears. 

In addition to these above highlights, we have lined out a great deal more 2021 reviews and 2022 focus areas (eight pages worth!). We look forward to continuing to be self-reflective, critical, and forward-thinking in regards to our work and our journey towards liberation.

Tristan Penn

Tristan Penn


Senior Manager of Equity and Accountability, NTEN

I'm originally from Central Kansas and am a citizen of the Navajo Nation. I've worked in nonprofits for the past 16 years, primarily Boys & Girls Clubs and youth development organizations. I'm passionate about nonprofit community engagement, organizational best practices, youth development, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
I began my professional DEI work with Pacific Educational Group's three-year cohort/professional development initiative "Beyond Diversity: Courageous Conversations" while working for the Boys & Girls Club and Lawrence Public School in 2009. Coupled with my lived experience as a Black and Navajo professional, I have served on previous organizations' equity teams and been a facilitator for DEI (rooted in racial equity) in the workplace and nonprofit programming.

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