Update on FREC
In January 2023, FREC held an online listening session and dialogue about the difficult situation at last year’s conference, sharing the steps that have been taken and giving our community an opportunity to share thoughts and feelings about what they experienced.
This episode in our history not only opened our eyes to changes we had to make, but created a new outlook on the future of FREC.
The all-volunteer Core Leadership Team (CLT - comprised of folks representing FREC programs and basic functions) wrestled with real challenges of conflict avoidance, accountability, and white supremacy culture. As part of that process, CLT updated the FREC Guidelines for Dialogue below. These now focus attention on whose voices are being centered, an acknowledgement that discomfort, disagreement and vulnerability are part of addressing racism, and several ways we can hold each other accountable within our unique, organic organizational structure.
With awareness of white supremacy culture, we are also changing how we operate and make decisions including taking more risks to be candid, enabling meetings to experiment with what emerges instead of a controlled agenda, and ongoing evaluation of how well we follow the guidelines at the conclusion of our meetings. We have created more transparent descriptions of our roles and responsibilities to enable us to be clearer about our expectations and needs as a volunteer run collaborative.
FREC Reimagined Project
We also realize that FREC needs to take stock of how we are relevant in today’s world. Much has changed in the world since we started fourteen years ago! In January FREC began an intensive effort called the FREC Reimagined Project to ensure that FREC's mission, vision, values and programs continue to be inclusive, relevant and effective. We invite you to help us look at our current work with fresh eyes and share your ideas to envision our future moving forward. We also wish to be sensitive to your learning needs as we re-think our programs. Please fill out the survey which will take only about 10 minutes of your time. Click on the link/QR code here to complete the survey.
Initial results will be shared at the annual Overcoming Racism conference in November. There will be a table outside of the main auditorium where you can meet the FREC Reimagined Project team leaders, ask questions and offer your thoughts. Throughout the conference you are invited to join in a conversation about the results of the survey and together Reimagine FREC’s future.
If you have any questions or are interested in becoming more involved, feel free to reach out to the project leaders at FRECreimagining@gmail.com
We welcome and encourage your engagement in this initiative to explore new horizons for FREC!
FREC Reimagined Project Leaders
Brianne Carmichael and Leah Hicks
Brianne Carmichael is currently the DEI Director at Literacy Minnesota and is a major advocate for intercultural harmony and human-centered design. She holds a BA in English with a concentration in African/African-American Studies. Outside of work, she is a dog mom and she enjoys drawing, travel and literature. She is actively involved with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Delta Phi Omega Chapter and co-leads FREC's Reimagined work.
Leah Hicks is a long-time volunteer with FREC, serving both as an emcee and a facilitator in our Racial Equity Leadership Institute (RELI) workshop series and is excited to be co-leading the collaborative FREC Reimagined team. She has worked at Hennepin County Human Services for over 20 years in various roles. Leah strongly believes Diversity, Equity & Inclusion starts from within each person by having tough conversations, listening to and learning from others' lived experiences. Leah received her BA in Human services, Training in Adult Development from Metro State University. Outside of work she is an avid traveler and spends time with her grandkids and animals.
Guidelines for Dialogue
1. We recognize that we are entering into cross-cultural dialogue and that such dialogue demands something from all of us. Some of us, for example, may be accepting a responsibility to verbalize our thoughts more often than is our norm, while others of us may be accepting a responsibility to engage in more listening and reflection than is our norm.
2. Each of us accepts a responsibility to ensure that everyone's perspective is welcomed and carefully considered within our group. We are mindful of which voices are being centered.
3. We will be alert to the ways in white supremacy culture affects us all.
4. We expect discomfort and recognize our bodies provide important cues to our feelings. It's OK to give ourselves a pause if needed.
5. We understand disagreement is an inevitable part of addressing racism and commit to facing conflict with openness toward the view of others.
6. We will hold each other accountable to ask questions to understand and learn from one another in times of both comfort and conflict.
7. We give ourselves permission to be vulnerable, to have our mistakes acknowledged, and to learn from experience.
8. We will respect confidentiality by taking away the lesson and leaving the story.
9. We will hold one another accountable for these guidelines and for the commitments we make to each other. We will support one another as we continue growing in our understanding and relationships.