Meet Vicki Rubio I've lived in Indianapolis for about 14 years and really appreciate the community I've built here. I work for Citizen University as a Program Manager. I get joy out of reading, exploring, and gardening, particularly with native plants. What is it about PLC's work that appeals to you? One of the things that drew me to PLC was the internal work the organization has and continues to undertake to implement anti-racist practices and policies. That internal work is so important for an organization that is working with schools and other community members and groups to advance equity and justice. What kind of work do you do with PLC? I'm currently serving as secretary of the board and also serve on the finance committee. In these roles, I support planning for our monthly board meetings and help provide financial oversight. Can you tell us a memorable experience or something you have learned during your time at PLC? I have learned about the impact that restorative justice and social-emotional learning practices can have in schools. Teachers are building critical skills for engaging with students through PLC workshops. Students are learning about how to manage conflict effectively and how to build a better classroom community with their peers. This work is so vital to building a stronger, more peaceful Indianapolis.
Let’s start with the easy stuff – give us a sample of your professional background and experience. In addition to working in the industry for eleven years, I’ve consulted for diversity and inclusion (D&I) for nearly two decades. My skills and experiences in demand included auditing to determine the current D&I gaps within the business, troubleshooting to pinpoint root causes of D&I issues, creating results-oriented D&I programming, and resolving intercultural conflicts. As a cultural anthropologist, I am interested in best practices in diversity and inclusion in corporate settings as well as cross-cultural issues in a variety of spaces. I have advised both domestically and internationally, and offer my services in my free time to local non-profits to remove barriers for marginalized youth and adults and promote intercultural peace and understanding What brought you to PLC? PLC’s mission and values align to my own, and demonstrates them daily through its committed support in serving the community. What are you most excited about in your new role? Collaborating with like-minded individuals in service to the community. What’s your idea of a perfect day? Spending time with my family (and that includes my pup!) doing anything at all. Oh, and a pot of masala chai! If we pushed play on what you were last listening to (music, podcast or otherwise) what would we hear? Anecdotes of the Buddha’s life, as related to his disciples, collected in Old Path, White
by Naeemah Jackson a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not: the traditional family a social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for: a single-parent family the children of one person or one couple collectively: the spouse and children of one person: any group of people closely related by blood or marriage, as parents, children, uncles, aunts, and cousins: So, what is your personal definition of family? Who is considered “family?” to you? There’s the traditional family unit: mother, father, children that Boomers grew up with while glued to the television watching June Cleaver in “Leave it to Beaver;” clad in her ever-present billowy dress, lovely apron, pearls, and vacuuming in high heels. Then we saw Donna Reed, in “The Donna Reed Show;” again, elegantly dressed and cleaning in high heels. Can’t forget “Father Knows Best.” But then things changed. Enter the 70’s, the ’80s, and ’90s, where families portrayed on television broke the 50’s mold. From blended families as in the ”Brady Bunch,” irreverent families as in “Married with Children,” and “The Conners,” taboo-breaking families like “Archie Bunker and All in the Family,” and of course ground breaking shows like “Good Times” and “The Huxtables,” which portrayed Black families from two different socio-economic worlds. One living in the projects, and one with a father who is a medical doctor, and
Meet Margie Worrell I currently work at United Way of Central Indiana as the Senior Manager of Basic Needs. Much of my day-to-day work is around a program that provides free volunteer tax assistance to families in our area. It is very rewarding work where I get to be around very caring people! My hobbies include hiking, hanging out with my two kids and my dog, and working in my yard - I love to be outdoors! What is it about PLC's work that appeals to you? I think what appeals to me most is the way that PLC works to help people understand how to be connected to others in a peaceful and respectful way. Being a former first grade teacher, I have seen how young children are often able to act with compassion and love; and when they fall short of that, they are able to understand correction and alter their behavior. I am not sure why so many people seem to forget this skill as they grow older. I believe that if we can teach our young people how to act lovingly toward one another, they can change the world. And if we can teach their parents as well, we can make that change even more rapidly. THAT is what I see PLC doing for our community...teaching this lesson to both young and old(er) people! What kind of work do you do with PLC? I am
by Liz Guadiana The Peace Learning Center was so excited to host its very first Latinx Circle: Community Conversations session on September 15th to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month (presented by Liz Guadiana and Iliana Enriquez). We wanted to engage the Latinx community in a dialogue around what was most important to them. Often, we have seen many parallels between American and Latinx counterparts regarding cultural, societal, and familial issues. With that in mind, we created a space for Latinx individuals to voice their concerns or stories pertaining to these very issues. Our opening circle brings us all in by introducing ourselves to each other by name along with any roles or affiliations to an organization. In recognition of the many Latinx cultures that encompass the identity, we showed a short video of Latinx people around the country. It gave us insight into an all-women Mexican mariachi band, the story of how traditional tamales made their way to Mississippi through a family-owned business, and the day-in-a-life of a grocery store owner/radio DJ in the heart of New York. This incited great discussion around what makes us, us. As soon as we started sharing our experiences, we could feel the ‘room’ soften because of how relatable they were to us. Affirming head nods, speaking from the heart, mixed in with some levity helped us all unburden ourselves in a way. Towards the end, we all felt like we had just
Meet Maria Wiley, MBA, CFE. I am the Senior Director for Audit, Risk Management, and Procurement for the Indianapolis Airport Authority where I have been working for over 20 years. One of my other duties is being the ADA Coordinator for the airport, where I was able to lead the project to construct 2 Sensory Rooms that are designed for those passengers and guests that have emotional challenges such as Autism, PTSD, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s. During the 2020 pandemic I kept myself busy by completing my MBA through Indiana Wesleyan University. What is it about PLC's work that appeals to you? I continue to be amazed by the impact that the PLC staff is making in our public school systems. The testimonials from parents, students, and teachers confirms the increasing need for the services PLC provides. What kind of work do you do with PLC? Currently, I am on the Engagement Committee and one of our goals for this year is to bring more awareness to PLC and build name and brand recognition. We have also been busy planning the year-long PLC 25th Anniversary celebration. Can you tell us a memorable experience or something you have learned during your time at PLC? After joining the Board, I engaged the PLC staff to provide some team-building sessions for my employees in Eagle Creek park. We all agreed that it heightened our social awareness, and it was a day filled with
Meet George Okantey I am the president and principal consultant at GOT Performance Solutions LLC., a credentialed talent development consulting practice that focuses on experiential learning, empowerment, and transformation. We help individuals, teams, and organizations identify, surface, and resolve perceived or imagined difficulties productively and respectfully. I am an Indiana University Public Affairs graduate and Association for Talent Development Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD). I retired from Purdue University Extension after twenty-one years of service to launch my consulting practice. My customer segments include small businesses, community development agencies, HBCU's, government and nonprofit agencies. I love to travel, explore, and discover. The last two years have not been that great for travel, so I have taken to walking, listening to audiobooks and favorite podcasts like Brene Brown's "Dare to Lead" and Sam Harris' "Making Sense." I am married and have two adult children and three grandchildren. What is it about PLC's work that appeals to you? I believe that life is worthwhile when there is friendship and harmony with everyone. These foundational human needs are interrupted by inequities, misunderstanding, disrespect, violence, hostility, and conflict. PLC focuses on teaching behavior constrain skills that help people relate and understand more, create psychological safety, and resolve disputes safely and respectfully. This work is challenging and appealing because of my life experience and as a true Libra dedicated to freedom, fairness, and justice. What kind of work do you do with PLC?
by Kristina Hulvershorn, Director of Restorative and Humane Learning A rabbit in my neighborhood lost one of her babies this spring. I’ll spare you the details, but I grew connected and began looking for her, wondering how she is coping. She carried on and I see her most evenings, continuing to do what she needs to do to survive. She’s not the only one. My gratitude abounds for all of those around me who keep pushing and keep trying, despite the pain and stress of the world, so I want to take a moment to appreciate those who continue carrying on, despite everything. Without a break or a pause, parents put on a brave face every day and try to give their children what they need, keeping their fear and pain like a secret. Teachers, who have the weight of the world on their shoulders with very little support. They are pulling from wells that may be dry but continue to show up for the children who need them. Even a pandemic couldn’t dampen the light of the activists who continue to speak up for Black Lives, against Line 3, and all of those who continue to stand up for love, compassion, and justice. Despite relentlessly difficult conditions, health care workers continue to show up for their patients. Artists who keep creating and keep the rest of us inspired, connected, and sometimes laughing. Janitors, scientists, writers, grocery store employees,
Meet Jessica Brand Indiana resident for more than 25 years. Married to Scott and have three children, Natalie, 22, Lilah, 20, and Earl, 15. I left the corporate world 12 years ago when our son was diagnosed with autism to be his full-time advocate. I now do some marketing, consulting, and event planning from my home office. I belong to several arts and education organizations where I can practice my passion for community service and outreach. What is it about PLC's work that appeals to you? I love PLC because of our commitment to teach kindness through peace, equity, and justice. There is nothing better than working alongside like-minded people all with this most important focus. What kind of work do you do with PLC? This is my second year serving on the board at PLC and I have enjoyed working with staff to see that the PLC mission can be brought to as many people as possible. Can you tell us a memorable experience or something you have learned during your time at PLC? When you may have lost confidence in humanity, know that there are some amazing people working diligently every day, with laser focus, to make this world a more peaceful and equitable place. Those folks are at PLC and I am grateful for each and every one.
by Mame Keita, Facilitator-Coordinator These past two years have been very telling. The pandemic has exacerbated thus revealed entrenched issues within our society. From health to housing, to education and police brutality to just cite a few, the problems are glaring, acute, and widespread. These inequities demand our immediate collective attention and effort. The time to embrace the challenge of working towards equity is now, when our minds are still fresh, our hearts still bleeding and our anger is still burning strong enough to demand change from our institutions. Our institutions, from public to private, large to small, national or local, confronted with our communal outrage, promised us change. Many of them created compelling equity statements and declared publicly their commitment to equity, but that is not enough. The right, consistent and widely different actions are what will make those ideals a reality. Our community also needs to hold the institutions accountable to those promises if we want to see their realization. The work required is not easy and faced with challenging realities, attitudes can be those of the status quo, or worse, of regress. The justifications can be endless, lack of time, lack of money, unclear path, or just too much trouble until the next crisis. If we fail to work tirelessly to make the changes required, we will soon find ourselves facing the same problem over and over again and wondering why. The road towards equity is