February 2023: Equity Warrior Spotlight

equity warrior spotlight

This month, we are excited to highlight Marie Michael, the National Society of Black Engineers, and Douglass Austin for the inspiring work they do as Equity Warriors. 

Marie Michael -- Coach, Facilitator, Equity and Inclusion Practitioner at Embodied Coaching & Consulting , LLC

Marie Michael has over 20 years of experience influencing individual and institutional change. Through her organization, she offers somatic training (helping others to embody what they learn in a physical way), facilitation, conflict resolution and racial equity training. Marie works passionately to provide visioning, strategic planning, and concrete action steps to develop the intercultural capacity of those committed to social justice.

In addition to using a collaborative and passionate approach, Marie also models vulnerability, lifelong learning, and a growth mindset within her training. She actively enforces the Embodied Approach, which is the everyday practice of tapping into your aliveness, acting in alignment with your values, and living your full and precious potential. This approach allows Marie to help groups effectively embody equity and mobilize for change.   

As a PK-12 Chair of Equity & Instruction, Marie designed and led all school professional development, created a framework to assess equitable practice, coached faculty, staff, and administrators, facilitated affinity spaces, and worked to develop more inclusive school practices and policies. With the Interaction Institute for Social Change, Marie serves as a trainer, consultant, and event coordinator. Using her years of experience, she coordinated events such as Fundamentals of Facilitation for Racial Justice Work, an open discussion with tools and opportunities to practice facilitating conversations about race and racism.

This is the woman who showed me how to stand up for myself and the things that I believe in. Nearly 20 years ago, she gifted me the powerful Marianne Williamson quote below, which I lean on to this day. I often wonder if this is where my reckless optimism comes from.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

It's the courage to show up that enables us to serve the people who need us.

National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) supports and promotes the aspirations of collegiate and pre-collegiate students and technical professionals in engineering and technology.

The "Chicago Six," Edward Coleman, Anthony Harris, Brian Harris, Stanley L. Kirtley, John W. Logan Jr., and George Smith, along with a slew of other Purdue Engineering students and professor Arthur J. Bond, Ph.D., founded the Society of Black Engineers (SBE) in 1974. Purdue SBE held its first annual meeting in April 1975 with 48 students from 32 schools and unanimously voted to establish the NSBE.

They made it their mission “to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community."

On a collegiate level, the NSBE offers a variety of resources such as professional and leadership development, engineering diversity, and community improvement. With more than 600 chapters and more than 24,000 active members in the U.S. and abroad, the NSBE provides its members with opportunities for mentorship and tutoring, as well as entrance to technical competitions and access to various scholarships and awards. 

Where do I even begin? I have so much to be grateful for, but most of all it's been the people I've met through NSBE along the way who have been there through everything. Together, we've laughed, cried, worked, celebrated, traveled -- and everything in between. 

It was the support of my NSBE fam that got me (and many others) through engineering school. NSBE has always been a place that made me proud to be who I am, instilled in me a deep appreciation for service, taught me how to navigate professional spaces as "the only one," and helped develop my leadership skills. 

I hope to continue giving back all that this organization has given to me.

Douglass Austin -- President and CEO at UPD Consulting

UPD Consulting is an antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion (ADEI) company whose mission is to empower change leaders to achieve better, more equitable organizational outcomes for their employees, customers, and communities.

Douglass earned his undergraduate degree in politics from Princeton University and his master's degree in public policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. Before founding UPD, he served as the Deputy Commissioner of Baltimore Housing and the Chief of Staff of the Baltimore City Public Schools.

As the President and CEO, Douglass has worked on significant management reform initiatives for numerous school districts, nonprofit groups, foundations, and government agencies. These initiatives range from a complete overhaul of the Detroit Public Schools to the formulation of policies and procedures for the state education authority in Washington D.C.

He is an expert on public sector change management and has contributed to the implementation of a number of change initiatives, such as redesigning the special education department of the Baltimore City Public School System and creating and implementing Hawaii's educator evaluation system.

One of Douglass' favorite quotes is "Reality doesn’t care whether or not you believe it."- Bob Fett

It is through my time at UPD that I learned how to navigate the space where my passion and skills collided, but it also pushed me to grow and learn (even when I just wanted to embrace comfort). I am incredibly thankful for the intelligent teams I learned from and worked alongside  -- not to mention each new challenge our clients entrusted us to solve.

Doug and the team at UPD played an important role in my personal and professional life from supporting me through the loss of my mother, taking a sabbatical, getting my pilot’s license, my transition into DEI consulting, and even the launch of Solution Consulting Co. 

Thank you (to all of you).

This journey has been far from perfect, with plenty of bumps and detours along the way. I look forward to continuing to learn, grow, and develop my craft as a DEI consultant. If there is one thing I know for sure, it is that change can be achieved when we come together and truly believe in what we are fighting for.

Email us at [email protected] to nominate an equity warrior doing amazing work in the DEI space!

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