We’re excited to introduce you to some of the incredible DEI training facilitators that are part of the SGO team. We asked them to share what sparked their passion for this work, what DEI means to them, and why they do what they do. Meet Rachel Sadler, DEI Facilitator!
What does DEI mean to you?
DEI means ensuring that all spaces, whether academic, corporate, leisure, or otherwise, are representative of the global population. It means that all people can see themselves as integral and valuable parts of every community of which they are members. It means being able to show up as our authentic selves no matter where we are in the world and ensuring that others are able to do so as well.
How did you come to this work?
I’ve been having these conversations since I was a kid, but really began to dig into this work when I started teaching. The racial and socioeconomic disparities in education were so clear, yet no one wanted to talk about them in ways that inspired change. When you see the impacts of systems of oppression in real time in the lives of the children that we serve, while also living many of them personally, it’s hard to sit back and just accept these as the status quo. I started asking hard questions during meetings, pushing back on coded language, and advocating for children who had an atypical presentation of their skill sets and/or emotions. My work evolved from the classroom to leadership, where I focused on training educators how to build relationships and create safe spaces in their classrooms. Presently, I’m further building on this work to have a more global impact.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for teams when beginning DEI work, and how can they overcome it?
I think the biggest challenge for teams that are just starting DEI work is understanding that not everyone is in the same place, on the same page, or even in the same book sometimes. Each team member brings their own biases, lived experiences, and differing levels of understanding to the conversation, which results in a need for level setting and overall consideration for respecting where people are in order to help everyone on their journey.
What’s the most fulfilling experience you’ve had while doing this work?
I’m always looking for interesting hobbies to fill my free time, but the one that is my favorite is participating in Muay Thai. I would always tell my students about being an amateur fighter because (duh, it’s cool!) often just you showing up in a space or as your authentic self gives other people the courage or permission to do the same. One year a student of mine came up to me after class to tell me that she had recently joined a martial arts gym because of what I shared about my experience. She said she was always interested in it, but didn’t feel like she could join because it was typically regarded as a male sport. Sharing my love for training and competition somehow made it “ok” for her to try it for herself. Knowing I have the ability to influence others in this capacity is really fulfilling.
What have you learned through your experiences in facilitating?
I’ve learned that you can’t change where people are or even how far they go in this work, you can only provide them with the information necessary to illuminate how systems of marginalization and oppression impact us all. They have complete agency over what they do with that information. My hope is that the majority use it for positive change.
What are some of your favorite resources related to DEI, and why?
“Stay Woke: A People’s Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter” by Tehama Lopez Bunyasi and Candis Watts Smith is a great resource that provides definitions of common DEI terms and an explanation of the politics of racial progress. “Racism Without Racists” by Eduardo Bonilla Silva wonderfully explains how colorblind racism is a detriment to the advancement of the conversation. And anything by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi.
Learn more about the SGO team and our diversity, equity, and inclusion training offerings.
Now that you know more about our facilitators, learn more about working with us!