During Black History Month, we’re reflecting on the key role diversity and inclusion plays in the fight for racial and economic equity. Two spectacular members of the CEDA Family, Jermaine Terrell and Charis Humphrey, shared their thoughts on how CEDA’s diverse staff helps further our mission.
Here’s what they said:
How long have you worked in CEDA and why do you enjoy its work environment?
Jermaine: I have worked at CEDA for 14 years now. I have had the unique experience of being an Energy Efficiency Technician and Production Supervisor. In these positions, everyday my office was a different client home. I like to say that my office changed daily, which gave me the opportunity to see and learn so much about how we impact people’s lives on a daily basis. The environment at CEDA to me is an unselfish environment. We are constantly trying to help and have a positive impact on the people and communities we serve.
Charis: I’ve worked for CEDA as an Energy Auditor since August of 2017. Working as an Energy Auditor has awarded me the opportunity to be the first face and contact in the client’s home, to educate them on all the services the weatherization department provides, and inform them of the actual condition of their home. Witnessing the joy and most often relief on our clients’ faces, that we are here to help, is the most rewarding part of my job.
How does CEDA’s culture promote diversity and inclusion in your opinion?
Jermaine: I believe it starts from the top down; we have a diverse group of Board of Directors. I had the opportunity to work with a few of them and they are passionate about hearing from everyone involved – and they take what you have to say to heart. We also have a very approachable President and CEO in Mr. Harold Rice. You can literally walk up to him in the hallway to have a real conversation about what you feel. He will be engaged and follow up with you about your thoughts and feelings.
Charis: CEDA promotes diversity and inclusion by hiring a diverse group of people. This gives our staff the opportunity to have our differences celebrated and lets us constantly work towards, and improve, psychological safety in the workplace. I also would like to acknowledge our HR Director Paul Lalonde for promoting an anti-racism culture within our CEDA Family. This effort gives me pleasure knowing our staff actively shows up daily for our people in the community, who are disenfranchised and oppressed, with an open heart.
Why would diversity and inclusion among staff be critical for CEDA’s success in the Chicagoland community?
Jermaine: Diversity and inclusion among the staff is what makes CEDA work. We live in the communities we serve, so we know the needs. Chicago and the Chicagoland area are very segregated. If we can hire staff from these segregated communities and get everyone under one umbrella, working to fight the war on poverty, we can attack it in every way possible. Our leaders at CEDA make everyone feel valued and accepted no matter who they are.
Charis: Having a team that is diverse impacts our clients and our ability to serve them. CEDA partners with organizations like the Inner City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) to reach new communities. For me, going out to a community we serve where the majority of our clients look like me makes me more authentically connected and positioned to empathize and sympathize.
How does CEDA’s diversity impact our clients and our ability to serve them?
Jermaine: Having a diverse team only makes us better at adapting to change and differences. In turn, it makes us better at serving our clients.
Charis: Having a staff that mirrors the communities we serve allows us to passionately create solutions that feel right to our communities.
Are you interested in becoming a part of the CEDA Family? Check out our open positions!