Williamson’s Notes: 2019 Equity Summit



Welcome Conference Attendees, 


I hope that New Orleans has welcomed you with open arms. I’m certain you’ve noticed the unique culture and diversity of our beloved city. This is a community that values our diversity and its ability to Unite us through both good times and bad. Even still, there is a critical need to ensure that diversity is represented in all spaces – especially areas in which our United Way works.   


United Way of Southeast Louisiana set out five years ago to renew our approach to creating lasting change. Through research and engagement, it became clear that poverty is the fundamental issue in the region and the root cause of myriad social problems. This led us to a bold mission – to eradicate POVERTY. We developed a plan, our Blueprint for Prosperity, to present a compelling path forward toward a stronger, more prosperous, and more equitable region.  


The Blueprint identifies specific indicators that measure poverty outcomes, but it lacked indicators that allow us to assess equity. Wrealized we must create specific equity indicators around the internal and external work to fully realize the potential impact of the Blueprint. 


This realization launched our equity journey, which demonstrates our commitment to embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion within our own organization and supporting our partners in their own DEI efforts. We’re looking forward to introducing our Blueprint’s equity indicators by the close of 2019. 


To date, we’ve conducted our own internal DEI audit, staff surveys and trainings, and community partner surveys and meetings. We expanded the make-up of our Board of Trustees to ensure its membership is a true reflection of our community. We challenged our partners to complete a free DEI audit through Beloved Communities to receive bonus points toward their 2019-22 programmatic grant applications, and we’re receiving quality feedback from them thanking us for providing them with the tools to begin their own equity journeys.  


I look forward to connecting with you all throughout this week’s United Way Equity Conference. I have no doubt there are opportunities abound for all of us to learn new ways in which we can expand our local DEI efforts and discuss opportunities for collaborative support. 


Please let me or any member of our local United Way family know if there’s anything we can do to make your visit to the Crescent City more enjoyable. We’re so glad you’re here!


Living United,  



Michael Williamson

President and CEO 

United Way of Southeast Louisiana