Jewish Values 4 min read

Creating Our JEDI Covenant

By JCC Milwaukee March 21, 2024

Last summer, we introduced a new Mission Statement – a Mission for a Strong JCC.

Creating spaces. Building opportunities.
Inspiring Jewish moments for diverse communities.

We knew this was just the beginning of our renewed commitment to serving the ever-changing needs of our community. Through partnerships, programs, and more, the Harry & Rose Samson Family JCC has always positioned itself as a gathering space that serves a diverse community. However, to state the obvious, a lot has changed in the last two years, and not just in the scope of an ongoing pandemic. We’ve seen major changes in areas of social justice, and we knew it was time for us to really lean into the work of adapting and evolving our service areas, as well as expanding upon and introducing opportunities to learn and continue moving forward together.

This past fall, the JCC Board of Directors announced nine goals for the year to align and advance our Board Agenda to Invest in Our Future, Innovate Our Service, and Inspire Justice and Equity. “Our Board had a retreat at The Albert & Ann Deshur JCC Rainbow Day Camp where we discussed our goals and aspirations for the coming year,” said JCC Board Chair Nancy Kennedy Barnett. “By the discussions that ensued, it was clear that we needed to dive deeper into diversity and inclusion at the JCC.”

“In addition to our Board of Directors, our family of staff has expressed that this is an area of importance,” says Sarah Siegel, Chief Program Officer of the JCC. “In the 2021 Leading Edge Employee Experience Survey, three questions were added that addressed diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Our results were favorable, but the comments shared represented a wide spectrum. We were hearing from our staff that they were unsure of our commitment to diversity. They want to hear from more voices, and they’re looking for more diversity within our staff and our management.”

In the second year of DEI work, the Board decided it was time to start the work of creating a justice and equity statement that represents the work we’ve already done as an agency, and the work we plan to continue doing. So, the comprehensive effort began. A task force of JCC Board members and staff was launched, Beth Ridley of Ridley Consulting Group was hired as a consultant, and after a five-month process, the Board approved the JCC’s Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) Covenant. “The document continued to evolve as we learned, and we expect the covenant to evolve even further as we put it into practice and learn from our collective experiences,” says Siegel. “Our JEDI Covenant will be a living and breathing document.”

Alongside the JCC’s Mission Statement, our JEDI Covenant will serve as a tool to guide our work. “The Covenant is both a celebration of what we’re doing well and a guide to help us do better,” says Siegel. “Throughout the process, we honored our Jewish values and put DEI practices into action by seeking broad and diverse input, actively listening, and seeking to understand even when we don’t agree.”

The JCC’s JEDI Covenant would not be possible without the dedicated efforts and leadership of Carrie Alme, Reggie Jackson, Reenie Kavalar, Amy Lovell, Sarah Siegel, Kevin Sucher, Mark Shapiro, and Chad Tessmer, as well as our consultant and facilitator, Beth Ridley, who graciously shared her expertise.

When we shared the new Mission Statement of our agency, we invited you to join us in living this mission. We are pleased to share with you the JCC’s Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) Covenant and we ask that you join us in leading with our Jewish values and ensuring everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

Click Here to View Our JEDI Covenant

Click here to read more stories of impact from the 2021-22 Annual Report.