Stories from the Field

A Journey Towards a More Equitable Organization

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Miho Aida headshot

Miho Aida, a long-time educator at our Golden Gate campus, was recently named NatureBridge's new Director of Equity, Inclusion & Diversity. We sat down with Miho to talk about equity, inclusion and diversity work at NatureBridge and learned how Miho's past is indelibly connected to EI&D work.

Miho and niece
Miho and Miho's niece.

Can you us a little bit about you, anything fun or unique and why you're drawn to equity, inclusion and diversity (EI&D) work?

Something that is unique about me is represented in my name. My parents named me Miho with the character 民 (“mi”), which means “people,” as the first part of my name. Inherent in this character is a reference to democracy where all people’s voices are heard and valued. The second character, 穂 (“ho”), means “rice,” the staple food of Japan. They valued rice fields as a symbol of reciprocity with nature that has shaped the Japanese way of life and our culture. By giving me this name, my parents hoped that I would become a protector of people, culture and environment. In addition, my birthdate is the day that the US Congress officially recognized Women’s Equality Day. With my name and my birthdate, I was put on the path to seek ways of being and living that advocates for increasing outdoor access and opportunities for all people, especially for those who had little, if any, access to our public land, environmental and outdoor education and its workforce.

How do you think your responsibilities as Director of Equity, Inclusion & Diversity will affect the organization?

NatureBridge is on a journey to practice ally-ship and to become a more equitable organization. My responsibility is to bring our people onto this journey, walking side by side with a vision, leadership and thought partnership informed by the people. Other responsibilities include creating metrics and accountability to make sure we are moving forward; training and coaching to nurture a growth mindset that is necessary to create a transformational change in our being, thinking, words and actions. Finally, I teach as an educator 4our weeks a year to stay in touch with our students and educators so that I am tuned into EI&D issues encountered in the field that may impact the course of my work.

What are your top priorities for your work going forward?

I would like to create a NatureBridge EI&D future plan! I will continue working with the Bridge Team and our internal EI&D committee that is dedicated to co-creating our future EI&D action plan with NatureBridge staff. I would also like to provide onboarding EI&D training and Nonviolent Communication (NVC) training for all staff. With a record number of new staff joining our organization, we aim to provide onboarding EI&D training for new staff within 2-3 months of their start date. In addition to white supremacy culture training, our goal is to train all NatureBridge staff with a language of compassion, also known as "nonviolent communication", by May 2023 so that we have a framework to resolve conflicts and provide feedback among ourselves and people we serve. Finally, I want to prioritize EI&D training for our board. We are working with our board in collaboration with Avarna Group, an EI&D consulting company, to provide board specific EI&D training as the board EI&D engagement priority.

My dream is that one day, my role no longer exists at NatureBridge because we reach a place where everyone at the organization embodies EI&D practices in all quadrants of our northstar framework. That'll be lovely.

Photo courtesy of Michael A. Estrada

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