Vesterheim is committed to championing policies and practices that value diversity, foster equity, and promote an accessible and inclusive community.

In August of 2021, Vesterheim created a Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI) Committee made up of seven staff members – Karla Brown, Tammy Carolan, Andrew Ellingsen, Becky Idstrom, Chris Johnson, Jennifer Kovarik, Chivonne Marlow, and Kim Toussaint. The committee – whose work is ongoing – is responsible for advising and supporting staff and the Board of Trustees.

Some of the DEAI committee’s work has included – strategies that invite and welcome diverse voices into planning and programs; updating of organizational policies and procedures that ensure a welcoming, inclusive, and equitable work environment; refinement of messaging and terminology that is used in Vesterheim’s public media platforms; and development of relationships with individuals and organizations that represent cultures beyond the Norwegian-American experience.

In addition, Vesterheim’s DEAI work has focused on organizing training for Vesterheim staff members with Cultural Connections by Design (CCBD). Created by Dr. Nicole R. Robinson, CCBD has put together an educational structure and platform in response to the rapidly changing diversity landscape in non-profit organizations. The series of online workshops are helping Vesterheim cultivate a culture of belonging by addressing what work is necessary and how to implement needed change.

Other training activities have included a workshop with a trainer from Luther College’s Center for Intercultural Engagement and Student Success using Safe Zone Project curriculum to help understand and work effectively with members of the LGBTQIA+ population; and staff members participated in various workshops with the Annual LGBTQ Workplace Culture Summit presented by the organization One Iowa.

Vesterheim’s staff and board are dedicated to placing diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion at the center of our daily work and strive to create a welcoming environment for all.

Vesterheim's Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI) Committee members: Front – Tammy Carolan, Kim Toussaint, and Chivonne Marlow. Back – Andrew Ellingsen, Jennifer Kovarik, Becky Idstrom, and Chris Johnson. Not pictured – Karla Brown.