Should DEI Die: The Impact on People and Communities in Crisis and the People and Institutions Providing Care


Should DEI Die: The Impact on People and Communities in Crisis and the People and Institutions Providing Care

How and Why We Need to Protect Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

(Brooklyn, N.Y. June 14, 2024) — With diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts facing an alarming backlash, FPWA and Brooklyn Org are kicking off a critical conversation among women and leaders of color from the nonprofit, philanthropic, corporate, and government sectors about what must be done to preserve this vital effort to help ensure marginalized people and communities are supported to thrive.

DEI represents the modern continuation of the civil rights struggle, embodying one of today’s most pressing issues. It is a comprehensive structural framework aimed at undoing systemic inequities deeply rooted across American institutions. Despite progress, disparities persist because traditional approaches have fallen short.

“The relentless attacks on DEI that we’ve seen around the country – in our schools, in our corporate board rooms, and even in our charitable organizations – is heartbreaking,” said Brooklyn Org President and CEO, Dr. Jocelynne Rainey. “Ignoring the need for remedies to counteract historic, systemic practices that have excluded whole classes of people from fully participating in our economic systems only perpetuates inequality. Let’s raise our voices and demand the attention this issue deserves.”

“DEI provides a holistic, intersectional lens for dismantling complex barriers that have impeded racial justice for too long. Embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion principles into the core of our institutions and communities is essential to fulfilling an enduring, structural reset,” said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director of FPWA. “Legislative and legal actions seeking to dismantle DEI initiatives pose grave threats to hard-won gains in racial justice. The rollback of DEI puts vulnerable communities that human service organizations have sworn to protect and empower at serious risk.”

On June 13, Brooklyn Org and FPWA hosted a special conversation, “Should DEI Die: The Impact on People and Communities in Crisis and the People and Institutions Providing Care,” to kick off this needed series of discussions. The program featured a keynote address by Lurie Daniel Favors, Executive Director of the Center for Law and Social Justice.

Dr. Jocelynne Rainey, President and CEO of Brooklyn Org, and Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director of FPWA, moderated a panel discussion with five women leaders from the the business, nonprofit, government, and educational sectors. The panelists were:

  • Daisy Auger-Dominguez, C-suite leader, author and Board leader;
  • Shawnda Chapman, Director of Innovative Grantmaking and Research at the Ms. Foundation;
  • Debra McPhee, Dean of the Graduate School of Social Service at Fordham University;
  • Kalilah Moon, Executive Director of Drive Change;
  • Dabash Negash, Deputy Commissioner, NYC Mayor’s Office of Equity and Racial Justice.

About Brooklyn Org

Brooklyn Org is a champion for Brooklyn bringing together community changemakers—the families and businesses, the grassroots leaders and growing companies, and local nonprofits and the communities they serve—to be a new model for local philanthropy, built from the ground up, in pursuit of a more equitable and just borough.

Since its founding in 2009 as Brooklyn Community Foundation, Brooklyn Org has moved over $110 million to nonprofits through its strategic grantmaking and Donor Advised Funds, while driving action to address urgent crises and long-term change in Brooklyn. Each year, Brooklyn Org partners with Brooklyn residents to invest more than $5 million in high-impact nonprofits advancing racial justice at every level across the borough. Brooklyn Org ensures that Brooklyn’s challenges are met with solutions, ideas are met with resources, and inequality is met with justice. Learn more at

About The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA)

The FPWA is a leading, anti-poverty policy and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening human services organizations and faith institutions, and advancing economic opportunity and justice for New Yorkers with low incomes. Since 1922, FPWA has driven groundbreaking policy reforms to better serve those in need. We work to dismantle the systemic barriers that impede economic security and well-being, and strengthen the capacity of human services agencies and faith organizations so New Yorkers with lower incomes can thrive and live with dignity. Learn more at



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