HSF in The Reminder Talking About Our Equity Series


Human Service Forum offers professional development

 May 1, 2023 |  Miasha Lee
EASTHAMPTON — The Human Service Forum is a networking/training organization for nonprofit organizations who are doing human service work all across Western Massachusetts and the Pioneer Valley; networking/training support for these organizations and their staff through leadership trainings, workplace equity trainings and anything in between.

This year, the Human Service Forum is running their third annual Workplace Equity Series sharing useful information about building equitable, supportive, and inclusive workplaces.

Executive Director Rebecca Coolong stated, “This year, we are really focusing on moving from conversations to actions; how you can actually take these learnings that we’ve all been doing and apply them to action for your organization.

This series is remotely virtual because we wanted to make sure that everybody has the same access to it.”

The Human Service Forum was formed in 1986 with the idea of helping to create connection points for the nonprofits in the area, in particular for leadership to build relationships to create partnerships and to help each other build bigger stronger organizations.

The Forum is a key provider of professional development training and certification for the human services and nonprofit community. Its membership includes more than 100 organizations and individuals with collective budgets of approximately $400 million, employing more than 16,000 people.

Each year, the organization updates this equity training series. Coolong told Reminder Publishing there are many different pieces and factors the Forum wants to make sure they can touch on as many different conversations and topics as they can.

The Human Service Forum has gone out and convened different area presenters to do each workshop as part of the series. It wants to make sure that they are amplifying as many different experts in the workplace equity field.

The goal is to help organizations move from conversation to action. They’re hoping to help each organization move toward the place where they have some actionable steps; things that they feel they can accomplish, bring back to their organization and start shifting the needle so their organizations can move more into a place of equity and belonging.

“The more people feel that they belong in an organization, the more connected to it they are,” Coolong explained. “Right now, we are struggling in the workforce. One of the most important things that organizations can do is create an environment where their staff and new staff feel they belong and that they’re seen and their voices are not only heard, but equal at the table.”

Along with the Equity Series, the Human Service Forum also has its Supervisory Series, an eight-part series for new supervisors in the human service field. As well as their Community Builder’s event, celebrating people from their member organizations that are known for building strong communities.

Coolong said, “The biggest reward is being able to know that I go home every day knowing that I have helped our community.” She went on to say, “We have given people the ability to learn, to move forward in their missions and we know each day the work that we do helps build a stronger human service community here at Western Mass.”

The Human Service Forum office is located at 203 East St. in Easthampton in the Northeast Center for Youth and Families building. The Human Service Forum can be reached between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.at 413-693-0205 or at rcoolong@humanserviceforum.org and will make appointments to meet with people. For membership or to sign up for the Equity Series, visithumanserviceforum.org.

Future dates for Equity Training Series

Session 4: Honoring personal identities in the workplace. Tuesday, May 16. Certificate conversation from 9-9:30 a.m., workshop 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Each person you work with identifies themselves in a way that is unique to them. The forum takes a moment to acknowledge those identities and look at how to honor them in your work environment in a way that creates a culture of care. Presenter: NCCJ.

Session 5: Organiizational Barriers to Belong, Tuesday, May 30. Certificate conversation from 9-9:30 a.m., workshop from 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. In this session, the Forum will take a close look at your organization’s policies, practices, placement and other factors that might set up barriers. Examine which of those need to be in place as well as identify if there are any changes that can be made to remove some of those barriers. Get buy-ins by senior leadership on changes as needed. Presenter: Think Again Training and Consulting.

Session 6: Cohort plan creations, Tuesday, June 13. Certificate conversation from 9-9:30 a.m., workshop from 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Build a custom plan to improve Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI) for your organization, at whatever point you are at on your journey. Use learning tools to identify action steps and create change at your organization. Break into partners and create a unique plan for your organization, and gain accountability partners to carry these lessons past the workshop. Presenters: Janine Fondon and Lucie Lewis.