Introduction & Overview

Given the complexity of issues organizations, systems, and foundations tackle (hunger, obesity, academic equity, access to health care, etc.), nontraditional voices offer the perspectives and experience needed to successfully identify and implement solutions to complex problems. These voices, however, have traditionally been left out of the decision-making process, resulting in policies and processes that often do not achieve their goals. Including these voices will naturally generate more culturally responsive policies and practices, and policies will inevitably be more aligned to meet the needs of the service population.

The purpose of this toolkit is to help stakeholders intentionally plan for and sustain the engagement of nontraditional partners in boards and committees (generally referred to as ‘groups’ throughout this guide). Creating authentic (rather than token) engagement is more than offering a seat at the table. It takes enthusiasm, leadership, and sustained relationship-building to see the work through. The rewards are well worth the effort.