Published: June 28, 2022 | Updated: June 27, 2022

NIA Women of Impact in their words: 'D' is for diversity

Marilee Wallace

Marilee Wallace

The Women of Impact Leadership Roundtable met for the final series of this session in April and we landed on the “D” in our I.M.P.A.C.T.E.D year. Diversity. A Hot topic. A Big topic. A where should we start, Topic.

Diversity; the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.

"Equality and diversity should be supported for their own sake."

Entire businesses, higher education degrees, nonprofit institutions, worldwide scientific research studies, governmental entitles and religious organization are dedicated to the educating equity and inclusion of diversity. World wars and hate crimes have arisen from that lack of understanding and diversity exclusion. It’s universally broad and historically complex.

So let’s just start in our own back yard:

We are lucky in North Idaho to have visionary, community leaders who fought back against hate injustices of the past, which led to the establishment of a nonprofit that embraces diversity by educating our citizens about biases, responses and acceptance. The Human Rights Education Institute (HREI) in Coeur d’Alene is our starting place. Jeanette Laster, executive director of HREI along with volunteer Tiffany Lopez led a thoughtful conversation with our Roundtable Ladies and we were better for it. Jeanette and Tiffany walked us though real life examples, human emotions, and offered solutions we can use by choosing words, our curiosities asked with kind questions and other actions to become aware and think before we let our biases judge. Our meeting began with conversation. Quiet, respectful and sincere conversation that set the tone in our monthly roundtable established that we are first of foremost human beings. Our commonality on this planet is we are all Humans. All over the world, we belong to this connection and that each human being has the right to be on this Earth. EVERY HUMAN. Our discussion then led us to biases, which we all grow to have and how we can recognize we have them. Not to be shameful of our biases but just recognizing we all have them is a big step in understanding equality.

There is too much to cover with this topic in one Women of Impact Roundtable discussion, let alone this monthly article, so we recommend to our group and now to you, to spend some time on The Human Right Education website at Or better yet, go to their office and ask your curious kind questions to their staff or volunteers. The mission at HREI is "The Human Rights Education Institute offers proactive education programs that teach human rights, acceptance, respect for diversity, and cultural humility." Their programs, activities and events seek to reduce racial prejudice and increase understanding in our community. We are on a journey to promote human rights for every person in the Pacific Northwest, serving primarily Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Western Montana. The institute addresses a wide range of diversity issues including race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic class, age, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and job and life circumstances.

Good things happen at HREI and institutes like this one all over the world. In this day where we are becoming more verbally aggressive, quick to judge and be more singular minded in our environments, we are on the verge of squeezing out inclusion. We are pushing away from equality and building more and more biases against diversity. Let’s do a refresher course and start with the one thing we all have in common, each other. Humans. We all belong.

We start up again with our Roundtable Group in September. We invite you to join us next fall and we discover and discuss great things happening to impact women in North Idaho!

The Women of Impact Leadership Roundtable meets once a month for a nine-month series, and we base our monthly agenda on the word IMPACTED. We will begin our next series Sept. 28 and meet monthly through May. To see the lineup of our monthly topics and to get details or view additional programs NIA is offering to Impact women in our region, please visit our Facebook page

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Marilee Wallace, IOM, president/CEO of the North Idaho Alliance Women of Impact.


Courtesy photo

2021-2022 Women of Impact Leadership Roundtable. The next series begins in September.