Rachel Lawrence

Equity Consultant

What do you do at CEI?

I support teams in the planning process of implementing and embedding equitable and inclusive practices in their day-to-day operations and aligning these goals with the organization’s strategic priorities. 

What did you do prior to CEI? 

Most recently, I served for nine years as the Program Director for SMART (Start Making A Reader Today), Oregon’s largest volunteer literacy non-profit.  As a member of SMART’s leadership team I had the opportunity to lead a variety of process improvement and program quality initiatives to increase the program’s effectiveness.  For the last three years I served on the organization’s equity team and helped to lead the equity planning process for SMART.  It was an extraordinary learning experience to be a part of a predominantly white organization to take on racial equity as a key focus and priority.

Why do you do this work?

I’ve always been interested in understanding and focusing on the root cause of issues and problems . I fundamentally believe that addressing and advancing racial equity at a systemic, institutional and personal level is the most effective way to eliminate the vast disparities that continue to negatively impact historically marginalized and oppressed people. Simply put, I believe  this is the work, and I’m committed to it because I’ve seen the transformative impact it can have on individuals and communities.  As a white woman, I hold white privilege and I want to use my privilege, time and talents to dismantle white supremacy and systems of oppression for the benefit of all. We can not wait, and this work requires all of us.

What do you believe?

I believe that we can create a better future  and in the capacity for people to change and transform. I believe we have the tools and knowledge to make this world work for all of us if we have the courage and conviction to act. I believe in the power of vulnerability to build connection and understanding.  

What is a question that guides your work? 

Am I listening to understand? Is there another way?

Quote that resonates with you?

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.