Cultural Intelligence Presents:

air mail logoby Mona Simpson

In 2011 after evaluating the areas of strengths and needed growth, the Four C’s Initiative (Customer Service, Communication, Creativity and Culture) was born. By establishing common goals and procedures, inclusive to all County entities, employees obtain additional tools to use when expediting County services to the community.

In May of  2013 the Human Resources Department provided all Ottawa County employees the opportunity to apply for consideration to become part of a Cultural Change Team (now known as the Cultural Intelligence Committee). This team was formed to work towards providing cultural change input,   direction and promote communications with stakeholders as well as internal departments. Another directive for this team is to focus on completing research and recommending cultural change best practices and initiatives.

The Cultural Intelligence Committee is comprised of the following 13 participants:

  • Belinda Coronado—Prosecutor’s Office
  • Albert Doorn—Community Mental Health
  • Vern Helder—District Court
  • David Macias—Circuit Court
  • Reyna Masko—Circuit Court
  • John Meyers—IT/Public Health
  • Laura Mousseau—Human Resources
  • Mona Simpson—Public Health
  • Leslie Ver Duin—Public Health
  • Roxanna Yager—Fiscal Services
  • Al Vanderberg—Administration
  • Elisa Salazar—Community Mental Health
  • Shannon McGoran—Administration

In October of 2013 several members of the Cultural Intelligence Committee attended “The Racial Equity Institute” which was a 2 day conference sponsored by Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance (LEDA). LEDA is a non-profit organization works towards dismantling barriers and ensuring   people of all ethnic backgrounds have the  opportunity and access to participate equally within the communities where they reside. This training provided the committee members a platform of education to inspire thoughts and discussions centered on cultural diversity, racial equity, unintentional bias, racism and the  opportunity to get to know each other.

Since its inception the committee has completed a mission statement, vision statement, agreed upon a logo, determined its goals through the use of storyboarding and has provided input on how to achieve those goals.

Mission Statement: Promoting an environment where all employees, residents, and visitors are valued and welcome.

Vision Statement:  Awareness. Integrity. Respect. Enrichment through Diversity

Committee Goals

  • To increase awareness of social injustice and its effects
  • To improve fair and equal treatment for all
  • To enhance county’s reputation as welcoming to all
  • To equip and empower people to resolve social justice issues

A new logo was established to be used as a  visual representation of the Cultural Intelligence Committee as seen in the header.

In  May of 2014 the Cultural Intelligence Committee attended the Diversity Alliance Summit on race and inclusion on the campus of Hope College to gain knowledge on how to implement the goals defined above. Presented annually by the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance (LEDA), this year the topic of discussion centered around dismantling unintentional bias. There were over 750 in  attendance. Participants were encouraged to challenge their own bias’ and refute them. The summit concluded with a focus on how the diversity within a community is critical in providing economic stability. The Cultural Intelligence Committee met two days after the summit to discuss how to use the tools discussed at the summit to move forward with the goals established for Ottawa County.

The LEDA Connection

Al Vanderberg has served on the LEDA Advisory Committee since 2009. This group meets once per year during the annual Institute on Healing Racism event held in Holland. The committee includes leaders of many of the largest private businesses in the County as well as representation from non-profit and public employers. Early on Vanderberg was struck by the importance that major private corporations were placing on their ability to develop and attract diverse talent to their businesses. In some cases the connection between the ability to attract global talent and the long-term viability of the business being located in Ottawa County and West Michigan was made. This along with other career experiences, perspective gained by more than a decade teaching for Grand Rapids Community College and thinking related to social justice in his leadership roles in his church over the years, led Al to develop a different approach to framing the diversity-cultural intelligence issue in Ottawa County, West Michigan and beyond.

In Al’s opinion, too much wasted effort has been made framing the diversity issue as one of blame, shame and guilt. The real issue at hand is future prosperity. The racial-ethnic mix in our nation is quickly changing and communities that embrace this change will be more economically viable in the future than communities that put on blinders and don’t try to understand the history and current status of the racial divide and work positively towards making their communities places where all feel that they belong.

The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners has been interested in the impact of cultural intelligence on Ottawa County since at least 2006 when it was brought up as an issue in the Board of Commissioners Strategic Planning Session. The Board of Commissioners approved the Four C’s Strategic Initiative over two years ago and progress has been made with improving Communication, Customer Service, Creativity and Cultural Intelligence. The board approved a two-day, 8 hour training program for all County employees and training has been completed for approximately 300 employees at this time.

Vanderberg appreciates the overall receptiveness to the training by Ottawa County employees and is pleased with the progress of the County Cultural Intelligence Committee created to further the work of cultural intelligence during and after the training has been completed.

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Cultural Intelligence Committee attending The Racial Equity Institute

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Diversity Alliance Summit at Dimnent Chapel, Hope College

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