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Recently, ACE had the pleasure of speaking with Aryenish Birdie, founder and executive director of Encompass. Prior to Encompass, Birdie was a federal lobbyist at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine:
Can you tell us about the thought process behind your decision to start Encompass?
Aryenish Birdie: There are two core reasons I decided to found Encompass: (1) It’s the right thing to do and (2) It’s the smart thing to do.
During my 20 years in the animal protection movement, I’ve noticed that I’m often one of few people of color in the room when animal issues are discussed. And while I’m proud to be part of a movement whose victories regularly roll in, this lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion will limit our success.
What kind of definition of diversity and inclusion do you think is a productive one?
There’s a great quote from Vernā Myers on our website. She says, “[d]iversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” I think that’s the perfect metaphor in one sentence. Diversity is what you have and inclusion is what you do. Inclusion is the deliberate act of welcoming and fostering diversity and creating an environment where all different types of people can participate, thrive, and succeed. I would say that’s really what I’m more interested in.
A more diverse, equitable, and inclusive movement is a more effective and just movement.
Read the full interview by Larry Butz about animal protection from Animal Charity Evaluators