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To our community!

I marched with my family this weekend. As I marched with my family, I reflected, a lot. As we walked and kneeled and laid in the streets of Seattle, I thought about my place in this. I thought about my girls and their place in this. I spoke with strangers and listened and thought about their place in this moment and this point of intersection. I thought a lot about the way forward.

For the past 3 months I have been focused intently on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on our industry and working hard on how to get our industry back up and running as we navigate the crisis. With my head down, focusing on the impact of Covid-19, I will admit, I did not shift my focus quickly enough to the tragic murder of George Floyd and the matter of systemic racism in our country and in the world.

I assure you, my head is now up.

There is no place for discrimination or social injustice of any kind, racial or otherwise, in our industry or in Seattle NACE. We stand firmly in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and are in full support of the social and political changes necessary to bring lasting, positive change for people of color.

I have spent the past 2 weeks engaged in conversations and listening intently, searching for the best way to “show up” in supporting the real change this moment can bring about. For me personally, that means not backing away from hard conversations or ignoring the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that racism permeates our daily lives. It means listening to all perspectives with openness and love in my heart. It means constant self-evaluation, and it means teaching my girls to evaluate their own biases as they grow in life.

I have spent an equal amount of time exploring what this means for Seattle NACE. As your president it falls to me and the other board members to evaluate how we can do better, as an industry and as an association. I have always been proud to work in an industry so open to diversity, but we can do better.

While I feel our industry and our association embraces diversity, passively accepting diversity is vastly different than openly and loudly celebrating diversity. We can do better. We must, as an industry, actively engage in the process of change. Seattle NACE is here, we are listening, and we are with you. We will work to amplify your voices in this fight against systemic racism and social injustice.

To ensure we are focused on actively engaging in supporting people of color, I will be working on a couple of areas for Seattle NACE:

  • In the coming weeks, I will work with the Seattle NACE board to establish a Diversity Committee, focused on celebrating diversity in our industry. They will work with the Membership Committee to ensure we celebrate the diversity in our membership and look for ways to bring greater diversity to our association. They will also work with the programs committee to ensure we are bringing diverse and relevant education to our region.
  • I will also work with the board to establish guidelines for our Community Service Committee. Ensuring that a portion of our outreach and community engagement through the year be focused on social injustice and racial equality.

Seattle NACE stands with our black communities in support of lasting change for an equitable society. We know we can do better. We are engaged in this conversation. We are with you.

Aaron Shook,
President, Greater Seattle NACE