My post last week spoke about the importance of recognizing our unconscious biases. I also want to recognize the intersectionality of privilege and oppression. While I may have experienced sexism and racism in my life, I am also privileged by being a cis-gender, heterosexual woman without physical or cognitive disabilities. I have lived an economically privileged life which has afforded me housing, healthcare, food, relative financial security and the means to access the highest levels of education. Some of these advantages I’ve worked hard for, but for the most part, I was born into them. Holding these privileges does not mean that I am actively oppressing others. What I do with this awareness is what’s important. Denying that I have them limits my ability to find empathy for those who are struggling. Using my voice from a place of privilege and creating opportunities for others to step up can help to empower those who are disenfranchised.

You may be wondering how any of that is relevant and why I’m even sharing this with you. Well, in my worldview, all organizations begin with the vision of its leaders who realize their visions from the context of their lived experiences and personal values. My experiences of not-belonging have meant that I have worked hard to cultivate a culture of inclusivity within the HERD Community.

Now, The HERD Virtual Summit is now only one month away. We are working hard behind the scenes to curate a diverse and inclusive list of speakers and presentations that speak to the summit theme of Resilience, Recovery, and Reconnection. Now, more than ever, we all need to find ways to build our resilience – physically against the threat of the continuing pandemic and emotionally for difficult conversations emerging from the ongoing protests against police brutality and systemic racism. Someone asked me the other day why the HERD Virtual Summit included speakers and leaders from other training models. They were confused as to why I would want to advertise my “competitors”. My answer to that is simple: We can all learn from each other and collaboration is more valuable than competition.

I want to promote a culture within our community for diversity and inclusion, operating from a spirit of abundance. This is written into our mission statement at The HERD Institute®. I want to live to these values. I also want to hold hope that it’s possible to champion others who are different to ourselves, to hold the belief that there isn’t just one way, and that within our field of equine facilitated work, we are all ultimately working towards the same thing: healing and growth individually and collectively in the communities and organizations that we belong to and serve. I want to promote dialogue and curiosity, shine a light on the more shadowy parts of our industry, moving away from dogma, ruptures, and denial, to a more robust, resilient, and relational space. Perhaps by starting small within one organization, within one summit, we can create a ripple effect into the life space that we all occupy outside of our industry. My hope is that by doing this, that those who have felt invisible can feel seen, and those who have felt marginalized can feel worthy of belonging. Because you do. You belong. Here, in the HERD, and in the world. I see you and you matter.

Warm wishes,

Dr. Veronica Lac
Executive Director