Transformation Toward Liberation

As an attorney, so much of my work is seeking justice for past wrongs—who was hurt, what restoration can be offered, what sort of punishment fits the crime, etc.  At Maddox, I’m inspired by our shared commitment to making justice a future reality by dismantling historical systems that have marginalized our neighbors and creating new liberating systems to take their place.  Understanding how we put diversity, equity, inclusion, justice – and now, liberation (DEIJL) – into organizational practice has occupied much of the energy of the Maddox board and staff in 2021.

The Maddox Fund promised to keep our partners informed as we continued our DEIJL journey.  We are committed to transparency and want you to know about our discernment and struggles along the way.  Your questions – and challenges – are welcome as we learn and grow together.

At the start of 2021, the Maddox Fund immersed itself in an equity audit.  Building on our 2020 racial equity imperative, we started this process by examining our internal practices and asking how white supremacy culture is woven into our grantmaking and how we can embody justice and liberation as an organization.  This included an analysis of power, which has been historically reserved for predominately white foundation staff and board members.

During our audit, we examined different aspects of our work and identity.  In that examination, four pillars emerged:

  • Vision and Culture—shared language, shared power, DEIJL values throughout the organization, transparency
  • People—board members, board leadership, staff, board-staff relations
  • Partnerships—nonprofits, investments, vendors
  • Community Leadership—advocacy, partner training and consulting, national and local foundation engagement

For each of these pillars, we developed “North Star” statements to provide a standard by which to audit ourselves every three years. We enter this endeavor with humility and curiosity knowing that living into justice and liberation will require us to move beyond traditional forms of relationships, grantmaking, and investing.

Along the way, Maddox’s language has changed.  Our original lexicon held to words like deadlines, outcomes, rigor, qualifications, reports and measurements. Recognizing that language forms a collective consciousness and is always evolving, our equity journey moved from DEI to DEIJ and, now, DEIJL.  Naming liberation explicitly in how we envision our work will help us keep it centered as we seek to contribute to a world in which people and planet flourish together in regenerative systems free from oppression and threat—our definition of liberation.  We embrace this aspirational vision and know that it requires a radical transformation of our practices. (BTW: Please add to our liberation playlist as music can inspire, challenge and convict our work together).

If I detailed what unfolded during our equity audit’s 13 months of monthly 2-hour meetings and countless board/staff trainings, it would make this a very long blog.  Let me share some highlights and invite you to attend a Zoom meeting in December where we can communicate more of our process and learn from you.

At our most recent equity audit meeting, Dr. Hasina Mohyuddin said that we need revolutionary re-conceptualizations to help us envision something new.  A new vision of a world in which people and planet flourish together in regenerative systems free from oppression and threat will require fundamental shifts and profound systems change.  We hope you will join us on this transformative journey.

A special thanks to Olusola Tribble of Tribble Consulting for walking with the Maddox Board and Equity Leadership Team through our audit process

Things You Can Do      

Documents from and resources use in the Maddox Equity Audit

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