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Intersectional Innovations

Top 20 Restorative
People Leaders to Watch 

1st Edition - Top 20 Restorative People Leader Watchlist

Welcome to our 1st edition!

We hand-selected 20 People Leaders and asked them these 5 questions. This watchlist was released on April 2nd, 2024 by Intersectional Innovations.

Question One

Success Celebration

How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

Question Two

Equity, Belonging,

and Inclusion Advocacy

In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?

Question Three

Innovation and Partnership

How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

Question Four

Feedback Disco

Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?

Question Five

Budget Priorities

If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

Meet Riane Eisler

Spotlight Video Interview - 1st Edition

As the President of the Center for Partnership Systems Riane is one of the world's most influential pioneering Social Scientists. Riane pioneered inclusion of women and children in human rights theory and action and is editor-in-chief of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies, an online peer-reviewed journal housed at the University of Minnesota inspired by Eisler’s work. 

Dr. Eisler keynotes national and international conferences and lectures at universities, corporations, religious institutions, and governmental and nongovernmental agencies such as the U.S. Department of State, Congressional briefings, the United Nations General Assembly.

We sat down exclusively for a 30-minute video interview with Riane for this edition of the Restorative People Leader watch list.

Spotlight Video Interview - 1st Edition

Meet Our Watchlist Winners

We hand-selected a few of our winners to here what they had to say on video. Read below for a summary of all award winner's responses to our 5 questions. 

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?
 

I prioritize the importance of celebrating both individual and team successes, recognizing the collective effort that leads to transformative change for our community, particularly impacting the lives of the youth and families we serve. Alongside verbal praise, I believe in demonstrating appreciation through meaningful actions, such as offering extra time off or treating the team to a fun outing of their choice; sometimes it could be as simple as just bringing them coffee or taking them out to lunch. I ensure to highlight their achievements at a leadership level, in all-staff meetings, team meetings, and one on ones, emphasizing specific aspects of their work that I am grateful for. Personalized recognition, inclusive celebrations, and a commitment to promoting work-life balance are integral to fostering a positive and motivated work environment. By consistently integrating celebrations into our workflow and encouraging open dialogue, we not only acknowledge achievements but also use them as opportunities for growth and learning. At the end of the day, I want to ensure that I recognize all their contributions because they are also part of the community we’re supporting, and we can't ignore all their hard work when they're the ones making it possible.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

Championing equity and inclusion within my team and organization involves prioritizing the voices of both staff and community members. I recognize that our programs are meant to serve them directly, and therefore, it's essential to first hear from them about their needs and visions. All of our initiatives stem from direct feedback and expressed needs from our community members, including our own staff. Ensuring cultural appropriateness and inclusivity requires active listening, ongoing dialogue, and a commitment to co-creation. By valuing and incorporating diverse perspectives, we not only build programs that are responsive to the community's needs but also foster a sense of ownership and belonging among all stakeholders.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

In fostering a culture of partnership and innovation within my team, particularly in the realm of youth development and out-of-school time programs, we employ various strategies to encourage creative thinking and collaboration. For example, when developing programming like our robotics programs, I challenge my team members to think beyond traditional boundaries by integrating real-world applications, such as problem-solving skills and connections to community issues, into our program design. Additionally, we emphasize the importance of connecting abstract concepts to tangible experiences, such as illustrating how cooking involves chemistry principles, to help students see the relevance of what they're learning. We actively seek out partnerships with community organizations and experts to enrich our programs and provide diverse learning opportunities. By infusing our programs with elements that resonate with the lives of our youth and draw on cultural wisdom, we create more meaningful and impactful learning experiences. Through regular brainstorming sessions, cross-functional collaboration, and a commitment to exploring innovative approaches, I empower my team members to challenge norms and push the boundaries of traditional education, ultimately fostering a culture of partnership and innovation within our organization.


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?
 

To keep the feedback disco alive and vibrant, I prioritize fostering vulnerability-based trust within my team. This means creating an environment where team members feel safe to express themselves openly, knowing that their feedback will be received without judgment or ego. By removing barriers to communication and cultivating trust, team members feel empowered to share their thoughts and concerns freely, leading to constructive dialogue and continuous improvement.

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

If given an unlimited company budget, my top 5 budget items would be:

Essential Services: Addressing socio-economic factors like housing, food security, and healthcare is fundamental to supporting the holistic well-being of our community.
Paying Program Participants: Eliminating financial barriers for program participants and offering them compensation acknowledges their dedication and helps support their families, allowing them to fully engage in our programs.
Employee Salaries & Professional Development: Ensuring livable salaries for staff members and investing in their professional growth is crucial, especially in the nonprofit sector where dedication to the mission drives our work.
Lobbying: While recognizing the limitations of our nonprofit status, investing in lobbying efforts would ensure our community's voice is heard in decision-making processes, countering the disproportionate influence of well-funded entities.
Community Center Expansion:  A new community center equipped with facilities for all departments and staff, along with resources such as classrooms, event space, shelter, and low-income housing, would enhance our ability to serve our community more effectively.

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

I recognize that successes are due to the individuals on the team working together so I celebrate the members of the team. Leading with relationships cultivates a culture of belonging where each person feels valued, trusted, and appreciated for their role on the team. Motivation is self-directed so I do not focus on motivating the teams, I focus on connecting the team to each other.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

Leading with relationships acknowledges that we all have biases, stereotypes, and judgments about ourselves and each other. Equity is a process of differentiating and not an outcome and equitable outcomes are rooted in opportunity, access, and inclusion. Focusing on opportunity, access and inclusion in decision making means that we do  our best to act from an outcome of belonging in the decisions we make.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

I model and support the team to challenge the status quo in all things. Using adaptive leadership, I value curiosity, ideas and dialogue and lead from the perspective that I do not have all the answers and that the answers are in the team.


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?


Leading with relationships creates a culture of acceptance, accountability and sustainability. All team members are encouraged to speak freely laterally and with managers and supervisors. I shift the mindset that only the upper-level voices matter so that team members from all levels of the organization feel a sense of belonging and validation to bring new insight
 

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?


1. A staff of 50 full-time and part-time restorative justice practitioners.

​2. Paid fellowship and intern positions specifically for Baltimore City and County youth and Maryland-based HBCU students.

3. 100% full coverage for health, vision, and dental benefits for all staff.

4. A minimum $150,000.00 salary is required for all employees regardless of position within the organization.

5. Organizational and Individual professional development opportunities (including travel, lodging, etc.)

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

I think it starts with who was impacted and then celebrates who caused that impact. As a leadership team we are guiding the process, but our team members are making the impact. So, we focus on who is responsible for the impact and making sure they are recognized for their hard work. It really helps with the buy-in for future programs knowing leadership is noticing and recognizing their contributions.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

I think that it starts with the culture of accountability for our leaders to understand that everyone is equal, and this really shouldn't be a conversation. We also go through our job descriptions very carefully to make sure that candidates feel like they can apply even if they don't match 100%. Oftentimes you may have someone very talented, and they only meet 80% or 90% of the job description and they don't feel like that's enough. In our eyes it's more than enough and we want to give them the chance to apply and develop those skills. I think it is our responsibility to help develop skills in team members. If they are 100% qualified for the role, they should probably be in a higher position anyways that challenges them to grow. So, it's a conversation from start to finish, but really, it's non-negotiable for us.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

When it comes to diversity hiring, great marketing can make a company sound like they have it together. However, the depth behind the programs and the data points you can provide on how diversity employees thrive in your organization really matters. A lot of companies say they have programs for growth, but do they really? We really focus on development and impact and we have specifics in place to help our people grow and evolve. So, for women in construction when I was in industry there were a lot of companies that say it's important to them, but what are you actually doing to move the needle forward? What programs do you have in place? How are you sponsoring leadership skills and things like that? So, we were able to explain to the ladies that we were working with how we're going to advance your career and give you those tools to put you where you rightfully belong alongside men, because you have the same knowledge and effectiveness.


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?

So, for me it's just being accountable to asking for feedback often. And I honestly find the more that I ask the less I get because they feel like I'm willing to listen and they only bring up the stuff that's important. We have weekly team meetings and one on ones to ensure there is always a place for feedback. We reserve time at the end of presentations and often do roundtables to solicit feedback. The key, in my opinion, is really what you do with the feedback. If you are always soliciting it but never actioning it, your people are going to stop giving feedback. What you do with the feedback is as important if not more than asking for it.

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

Team bonding would be number one for me as HR is constantly supporting other groups throughout the organization. Taking time to celebrate our wins, bonding, and being together really allows us to decompress and reboot for the next wave of support we bring to the organization. I think learning and development is a very big one for us because we need to be able to foster growth and ideas. The more we invest in our people, the more they can put into our customers. Finally, Brand Management is critical to the success of every organization. Most often, Talent Acquisition is the most important, least important department to a company. What I mean by that is they are critical to the companies’ success, but oftentimes asked to work miracles with a tiny budget. Providing the right budget allows for better brand management, more outreach, and a better recruitment process. If you don't have the right material, the right story, and the right message, your brand is going to suffer regardless of what kind of content you put out there.

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

I celebrate my successes with my ‘jar of wins.’ I write my accomplishments and the dates I accomplished them on a sticky note and place them into my Jar of Wins. I read them on my birthday and at the end of the year. I always make a big deal out of team successes with verbal compliments, scheduling activities outside the workspace, and ensuring that each member feels valued for what they contribute. My colleagues feel excited to work with me because I value imagination and play in program (circle process) planning and execution. They know it is imperative for me as one of the organization’s leaders to include those intangibles specific to my team members and our process participants’ needs, including new learning, to help us meet our goals in the circle process.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

I have championed justice, anti-racism, and collaboration within my team and organization by advocating for salary transparency and a flattened organizational structure more aligned with restorative justice principles (co-powering and power-sharing). As a Black woman leader with Black colleagues and supervisees, my utmost priority is to skill-share with Black women professionals who we know often put in the most work but are paid the least. By skill- sharing (restorative justice facilitation; coaching, program management, program budgets, curriculum design, grant management, goal setting, etc.) with Black women, I also plan professional development that challenges the individual and organization practices that can be rooted in white supremacist ideology. I look for Black gender-queer professionals who incorporate an analysis of systems of domination from gender justice training to communication. I use restorative justice tools such as restorative questions and restorative circles so that the people most impacted by the decision can share their thoughts, affirm, reject the potential choices, and even offer new ideas.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

 

As the organization leader responsible for providing high-quality restorative justice practices, I make sure to include in each team meeting space for collective learning and discussion on using Indigenous (Afro-Indigenous in my case) justice practices. These spaces allow us to dismiss neutrality ( white supremacist behavior) and see our role as facilitators (and community residents) to be invested in the well-being of the participants and maintain fidelity to our restorative justice processes. Recently, I have incorporated free writing exercises into our meeting space as a warm-up to encourage our team to indulge their inner child as we think through supporting young people, especially those who need support in mitigating violence and addressing conflict.


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?
 

Along with ensuring staff can experience community building and dialogue to foster a sense of connection as participants in restorative circles, I created a check-in agenda with dedicated space for my team members and me to give and receive feedback from one another. This continuous feedback structure, which includes personal reflection, creates space for team members with less access to the positional and informational power I have to share where their supervisor and the entire director team can improve regarding direct service to clients and operational and development decisions. This space allows managers and coordinators to communicate with their supervisors about where their support and attention are needed for the task or project. This feedback structure challenges power imbalances often heralded as critical in the workplace but does not foster an environment where non-executive, -directorial, and frequently managerial staff members can provide their wisdom and experience that often challenges leadership without the threat of retaliation.

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

If I had an unlimited company budget, the top five things on my list would be:

1. A staff of 50 full-time and part-time restorative justice practitioners.

2. Paid fellowship and intern positions specifically for Baltimore City and County youth and Maryland-based HBCU students.

3. 100% full coverage for health, vision, and dental benefits for all staff.

4. A minimum $150,000.00 salary is required for all employees regardless of position within the organization.

5. Organizational and Individual professional development opportunities (including travel, lodging, etc.)

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

So you have to know what grabs people's engines. If you don't know your people well enough to do that, they're not your people yet. There's something called Shen in Chinese medicine, and it refers to the amount of sparkle in somebody's eyes. We've all seen after tragedy, the dullness that shows up in people's eyes, right? Your ability to enhance someone's Shen is everything, but you have to know how to do this. So know your people first, know them, know them first.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

This is going to be a different answer than people are used to hearing. But on a biological level, some things happen physiologically that create exclusion, that happen subconsciously, that are happening on a hormonal level, that are not really anybody's fault. So as a white woman, I believe it is part of my job to encourage other people who like me to say, listen, you probably are othering other people. You might not know it. This is why this is the biological process that's happening in you while you do it, and this is how you overcome it. You have to work on purpose to overcome it. It's not natural. It's not automatic. We are designed to keep each other out in certain circumstances. That's what our biology does because it protects our resources. It protects our tribe. It very important thing. So if we are going to work through this process, we have to somehow move the morality to the side for a moment and say, listen, there's another layer going on here that needs to be addressed.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

So a coach that I worked with a long time ago said she gathers her team a couple of times a year and takes out a big flip chart and writes at the top of it "Wouldn't it be fun if..." Creating an atmosphere where we can throw out ideas and the goal behind it searching for joy and fun. Even when we're in a serious corporate structure leads to some super innovative ideas and leads to a playful nature as we're looking through it. So there becomes a lot less judgment, a lot less butt ends, a lot less reaction and just being like, oh, maybe that would be fun.


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?

To me, this is the shortest answer of all of them. As a leader, you model a live and vibrant feedback. That's it. It doesn't have to be more complicated than that. The more profuse and joyful you are with your feedback, the more likely your people are going to engage in that same type of feedback.

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

Coaching at every level. Your job is to grow people no matter where they end up. I think the next bit is vacation pay, parental leave, sick leave, grief, bereavement leave, all of these things. Trauma healing Community centers and take care for entire communities and not only employees of the company.

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

When listeners of my show reach out to share how my templates have been helpful, or how an episode inspired them to confidently tackle a challenging conversation with their CEO, I make it a point to thank them for their bravery. This gratitude often comes as a surprise, as they don't expect to be thanked for using a resource I created. However, I believe in acknowledging the courage it takes to introduce progressive, people-first concepts in HR, which have been long overdue for an overhaul. This approach not only celebrates their individual moment of leadership but also contributes to a larger movement towards ending the unnecessary suffering of this modern work life.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

The work across my two podcasts has always been centered around real conversations I have with HR leaders about the problems they face in their organizations. When I see a clear pattern, I know I have my next template, episode, or deep dive workshop. I make time for HR leaders of all experience levels, from intern to executive so I keep a well-rounded understanding of what content will be most helpful to the HR world.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

I’m constantly reminding my listeners to find their “HR bestie(s)”. Other than sometimes interacting with me, a lot of them are used to suffering in silence. Problem solving with someone in a role similar to yours, at another organization, can be one of the most helpful, eye-opening, imposter syndrome-killing ways to think through the best solutions for your organization. I also only partner with other organizations I’ve truly vetted as helpful, my promise is to only promote products I’ve seen in action that I know would help.


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?

For a feedback disco to work, you must create an atmosphere of safe, open expression, grounded in psychological safety. Leveraging the Radical Candor framework, I encourage kind, clear, specific, and sincere feedback, fostering an environment where care for each other's growth is at the heart of why it’s being given. One-on-ones, surveys, team retrospectives, and anonymous feedback mechanisms ensure all voices are heard. By training in effective feedback techniques and promoting two-way feedback across all levels, you create a dynamic and inclusive feedback loop ‘disco party’.

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

1. Training for the people managers - they spend significantly more time with employees and are often the most overlooked and biggest accidental driver of team disengagement

 

2. Coaching for the executives - When they’re inaccessible, intimidating, a weak public speaker, and/or prioritize revenue decisions over the people, your employees feel it and your culture always follows suit.

 

3. Full-Time Onboarding Trainer - This period is crucial for a new employee; after the excitement of getting the job fades, they're assessing whether joining your company was the right choice. Poor onboarding leads to fear and frustration, resulting in low productivity, which is very expensive.

 

4. An Internal company podcast - An internal company podcast is a cutting-edge and cost-effective way to engage employees during their everyday activities, like commuting or exercising. This format complements traditional communication methods like Slack, emails, and All-Hands meetings, catering to diverse learning styles and offering convenience. It's an ideal platform for executives to share updates, celebrate successes, and make announcements, keeping employees informed and connected in a more accessible way.

 

5. HR Communities and Events - Driving engagement is tough to do by yourself. It's much easier if you share ideas and work with others who are trying to fix similar issues. This way, you can be more forward-thinking in your HR approach instead of just reacting to problems as they come up. Communities like Engagement Academy are writing the playbook for employee engagement for the first time- it’s been vague and very poorly defined in the past. It really is the golden age of HR right now!

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

Celebrating success and marking milestones is crucial to helping the team and individual members feel a sense of accomplishment and momentum. This is a bit easier in our environment because our programs are cyclical and have specific milestones we need to meet on a monthly or yearly basis in order for the program to succeed. I make sure to take time in employee 1x1 meetings to congratulate them on achieving significant milestones, and also share the news out with other team members, including Board members, via email. Finally, we host teambuilding celebrations to mark the end of a program year, and include our student leaders in those celebrations, so that everyone has a strong sense of completion before they graduate, start college and focus on other projects.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

Our organization trains youth on creating inclusive and equitable spaces, so these values are intrinsic to our work and permeate everything we do. We leverage youth voice to determine the direction of our programs so that our work always remains relevant to today's young people, and we are intention in our recruitment of youth from marginalized backgrounds into leadership roles. We undertake leadership training with youth co-leaders on core DEI and social justice principles, so they understand how their actions can create a more inclusive and equitable space, and we do specific training on how to build consensus in decision making so there are no winners or losers.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

As our program is youth-led, we provide space for the youth leaders to brainstorm what issues they want to focus on, how they want to shape the program so that it best meets their needs. This process leads to a lot of open-ended creativity and innovation that has helped us continue to refine and reform our program over the years. We have a strong culture of constant improvement so that we never do things "because they were always done that way" and are constantly seeking feedback from stakeholders for improvement. As well as a small nonprofit with limited resources, we are always looking for creative and unique ways to use our small amount of funding for the biggest impact, and this naturally leads to a lot of creativity!


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?

Authenticity and vulnerability are two topics we specifically train both our youth members and adult staff members on, as foundational to building relationships. We practice being vulnerable with each other through exercises and workshops. As we are constantly seeking feedback, it creates an atmosphere where suggestions for improvement are always expected, and not interpreted as criticism.

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

Number one for us would be an app for our youth participants, to feel connected to our programming and informed of opportunities! Otherwise, we would love to build out our staff capacity to better serve and support our youth. A bit lower on the list would be funds to help with publicity and marketing, to spread the word and make more youth aware of our services and get them involved!

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

I’m not always the best at celebrating individual successes. I see so much work that needs to be done & I often forget to look back to see how far programs have come. Anytime we have a person who really benefits from RJ & has a powerful experience and is willing to talk about it, we do try to share that broadly so that everyone who works in the program gets to see & feel the impact of the work they are doing. I also like to take these stories and distribute them to DAs so that those who refer cases will be encouraged and motivated to keep referring and those who do not refer cases might see the power of RJ and decide to refer a case.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

One of the things we really struggled with at Restorative Denver is that individual prosecutors have discretion on which cases to refer to RJ & which not to RJ. So as you might expect, there is a lack of equity in referrals & some DAs refer cases frequently & some hardly ever refer. This means that an opportunity to participate in RJ often depends on which DA your case was assigned to. So one thing we did this fall was develop a new thematic RJ program for certain misdemeanor gun possession cases and this program removes DA discretion. For this program, if a case meets the referral criteria, it is automatically referred to the program, regardless of whether the assigned DA agrees with the referral or not. It took a lot of research and convincing to get the leadership at the DA’s office to embrace the program, but we eventually got there & I’m excited to evaluate the success of the program.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

Well my “team” is a partnership between the DA’s Office & the nonprofit organization, The Conflict Center. I am sort of at the intersection of both organizations – trying to build bridges and I am constantly trying to get prosecutors to think differently about the goals of prosecution. I find that so many prosecutors focus on the importance of a conviction because they expect the person to reoffend & want them to have a conviction so they can punish them more severely the next time. I am constantly trying to flip this thinking on its head & instead think about how to we get people to change behavior & not commit crimes. I think anyone who has been around the criminal justice system knows that it is not effective at behavior change & to me that is our ultimate goal, so instead of expecting someone to reoffend, I try to talk about how we can support a person to change behavior so that we won’t see them again. And ultimately I think restorative justice is the best way to do that so I am consistently talking about our success rates and reasons why RJ has such a lower recidivism rate than more traditional sentences.


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?

I am just a very straightforward and blunt person. I make space for feedback both for individuals and for the program during our meetings. I am quick to own up to any mistakes that I make and show others that I am not afraid of making mistakes and acknowledging what I should do differently next time. I think that fostering an environment where everyone feels able to be honest about their mistakes and just honest in general about things that are going well and not well in the program, helps everyone to feel free to offer feedback whenever they have it.

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

Expanded capacity so that Restorative Denver can handle more cases – in order to do this The Conflict Center would need to hire more staff and have more money to give to volunteers so it probably is budget items 1-3. Increase the quality and frequency of facilitator & community member training and invest in ways to keep volunteers connected and volunteering with the program, so we have lower turnover with volunteers Hire another Restorative Justice attorney at the DA’s Office so that we can also have more capacity to review cases & increase referrals from our office.

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

I prioritize personalized recognition tailored to each team member's preferences, which requires investing my time to understand their motivations and who they are as people. Whether through public acknowledgment during team meetings or personalized gestures like notes or tokens of appreciation, I celebrate my team's successes loudly. This commitment reinforces a culture of recognition and motivation, fueling ongoing achievements.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

My role as a leader is much like that of a coach guiding a team in a game. Just as a coach understands the individual talents of each player and utilizes them strategically to secure a win, I champion my team members, recognizing their unique strengths and contributions. Upholding equity and inclusion is essential in this game. I strive to create an environment where every player feels valued, heard, and empowered to showcase their abilities fully. This means implementing inclusive strategies, offering diversity training, and advocating for diverse perspectives in our game plan. By prioritizing a sense of belonging, we ensure every player feels acknowledged, respected, and supported, leading us to victory together.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

I encourage my team to challenge norms and think creatively. I promote an environment where experimentation is encouraged, members introduce new thoughts, ask questions, and practice active listening, strengthening our team dialogue. This intentional strategy makes our conversations more productive, inclusive, and powerful. I also emphasize over-communicating with empathy and transparency, especially during uncertain times. Sharing my experiences navigating complex issues as a leader and a Black woman fosters support and unity within the team.


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?

Feedback Disco makes me think of "You're The First, The Last, My Everything" by Barry White, underscoring the value of partnership. I see myself as a partner to my teams - creating a safe and open environment where team members feel comfortable expressing themselves. I encourage regular check-ins and feedback sessions, both formal and informal, to solicit input and address concerns. Additionally, I lead by example, actively seeking feedback from my team and demonstrating openness to constructive criticism. We cultivate trust, transparency, and growth by nurturing a culture of continuous feedback and dialogue as partners.

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

If given an unlimited company budget, my top five budget items would be:

Empowering Middle Managers: Research underscores the pivotal role of middle managers in fostering workplace belonging. Investing in their DEI training is a strategic budget allocation.

Technology and Innovation: Investing in cutting-edge technologies, like AI, and tools to enhance productivity, efficiency, and innovation within the organization.

Mental Health Programs: Implementing wellness initiatives, mental health resources, and support services to prioritize employee well-being.

Community Engagement and Social Responsibility: Allocating resources for community outreach, philanthropic efforts, and corporate social responsibility initiatives to make a positive impact beyond the organization.

Flexible Leave Solutions: Supporting caregivers, parents, and spouses with diverse leave options is a valuable business investment. It safeguards roles while enabling a fulfilling personal life.

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

Holding space for gratitude is a daily practice. Celebration and JOY are key components in my organization and network, especially with youth. I don't ask anyone to do what I am not willing to do myself, so by modeling for young people how, when and why we celebrate success on a regular basis, as well as spontaneous occasions, we normalized our joy and success.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

My practice centers identity, dignity, and respect for ourselves and each other's humanity. Diversity, equity & inclusion work is more than a few trainings that come with a checklist of superficial inequities to be swapped out; it's deeply rooted in our identities and relationships with one another. By seeking authentic relationships through conversations, consultations, racial healing circles, anti-racist, anti-blackness, and anti-oppression courses, and conferences, we learn the history of injustice in this country, how injustice is maintained through individuals, culture, and institutions, and the strategies, skills, and tools to disrupt this. To educate, empower, and uplift individuals and communities, one root at a time.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

The partnerships, circles, and programs we build collapse the hierarchical system. Individuals, groups, and organizations seek partnership with The Root Of Us for liberation and healing through our weekly circles, conferences, and daily collaboration in JEDI work. [Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?

We offer different floors with different music and drinks. Our disco has a 70s floor an 80s floor and a 90s floor. We don’t believe in forcing everyone to think and like the same things. We believe in finding peace and joy in our differences.

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

1. Youth Empowerment, Advocacy work, and Education for youth who are historically marginalized and furthest from racial and educational justice. Providing healing spaces, mental health support, leadership opportunities, mentoring and financial support for their DREAMS!

 

2. Wellness and Healing Retreats for all ages and all identities. Providing communities to practice our humanity with each other! "When we unlearn the lies we were told or taught about ourselves and each other, the truth we discover can be applied and acted upon with authenticity, confidence, and courage. That's why we start with the root of us.

 

3. Partner with my favorite farmers to implement and practice Food Sovereignty. Providing horticultural equity education and land that will sustain communities.

 

4. Follow, partner, and continue practicing Climate Justice education and practices with Indigenous leaders knowledge and wisdom, to sustain the earth.

 

5. Sustainability of my family's legacy in education with spaces for healing so there can be learning. School should feel like love, not a chokehold with a smile.

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

I like to celebrate with small things; handwritten notes, text of gratefulness or a short phone call. I also think these things should be immediately after the said purpose of the celebration happens.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

My day job is about identifying improvement opportunities in the world of gender justice. I champion that at every table I get to sit at, rooms I get to be in and people I get to talk to. I truly enjoy this advocacy and the fact that I get to do it all day!

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

Discussion and reflection are key components. Not all meetings have to be formal. Have meetings to discuss current events and what the team's feelings are.


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?

Listen a lot. Let them talk first.

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

Community, Staff, Research, Development, Investments.

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

Frequently and authentically. We use WorkHuman tech along with the human touch. Recognition for the team is weekly, and in person in office if possible. Testimonials are published. Peers and subordinates have stronger weighting for input than bosses alone.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

I led Reward & DE&I at my last company. Belonging for Gender, LGBTQIA+, Accessibility (Neurodiversity, ADHD, etc) and Multicultural were championed by Exec Sponsors for each demographic group. Inclusivity in hiring, promotion, compensation, recognition, office set up, meeting decision making, exec allyship were built, designed and delivered.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

Outside in with inside out thinking together. Using analytic evidence to drive decision making. Building a community with sense of collective purpose to co create outcome on mutually agreed global spotlight projects with members joining from around the world.


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?

No judgement. 10 minute stand up to start the week and end the week. A performance management system that instills frequent in the moment feedback

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

 

Women and Men are paid the same and promoted at the same rate Like Patagonia, your organisation leads by heart not profit alone.

You make and produce products that are sustainable from inception to consumption a true talent marketplace with internal mobility that is funded and a constant 10% of profits are given back to communities.

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

A well-appreciated team is the most motivated. I have always made sure to tell my team how much I value them and appreciate the impact they have on the organisation. Valuing the people who supported them on the journey is as important, and that's why we make sure to send out gratitude letters to the family members of our team members. Recognizing the support network behind each team member reinforces a culture of appreciation and motivation in the workplace.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

I have championed equity and inclusion by co-founding a Lean In Chapter at VIT Chennai. It is a vibrant community of women coming together to support each other, personally and professionally. In team decision-making, I ensure every member has an equal say by soliciting input from all before major decisions. I ensure that diverse perspectives shape our actions and policies, fostering a sense of belonging for everyone.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

Fostering a culture of partnership and innovation involves encouraging team members to challenge norms and think creatively. I promote an environment of open communication and idea-sharing where individuals feel empowered to experiment and explore beyond traditional boundaries. Recognizing and rewarding innovative solutions further incentivizes this mindset.


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?

I try to cultivate an environment of safety where team members feel comfortable expressing themselves openly. I actively listen to their feedback, demonstrating a willingness to address concerns and implement necessary changes promptly. This continuous dialogue fosters a culture of trust and collaboration, ensuring feedback remains an integral part of our growth.

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top 5 budget items on your list?

With an unlimited budget, I would invest in essential tools and software to optimise our team's productivity. Additionally, prioritising experiential learning, I'd facilitate visits to organisations nationwide, fostering knowledge exchange and skill development. Investing in comprehensive training programs, collaborative boot camps, and providing resources for mental well-being would further enhance our team's capabilities. Lastly, considering the well-being of our workspace, I'd introduce elements like stress-relieving activities, such as even having puppies, to promote a positive and conducive environment for our team.

1. Success Celebration: How do you celebrate individual and team successes, and how does this contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment?

In order to truly celebrate someone, you have to know what they like. 
What gives them life? If you do this correctly, you will amplify your team's voice.

2. Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Advocacy: In what ways have you championed equity and inclusion within your team and organization, and how do you ensure that the belonging of all community members remains a priority in decision-making processes?
 

You have to preach curiosity. This allows you to challenge your knowledge and build inclusive workplaces.

3. Innovation and Partnership: How do you foster a culture of partnership and innovation within your team, encouraging them to challenge norms and think beyond traditional boundaries?

No token places. All seats should be earned to ensure that we have a diverse group with enough power to innovate at the table. We need to ask ourselves more often who did we exclude?


4. Feedback Disco: Imagine feedback as a dance floor. How do you ensure the feedback 'disco' is always alive and vibrant, with team members freely expressing themselves?

As leaders we have to welcome other opinions regardless if they are wrong. If you don't include your team, they won't work with you. Leading people towards a common goal is not enough.We need to build followership.

5. Budget Priorities: If you had an unlimited company budget what are the top