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Executive Voice

How Dr. Kerry Mitchell Brown Is A Pioneer In The Diversity And Inclusion Space

Before starting her practice seven years ago, Dr. Kerry Mitchell Brown served as the executive director of a racial justice center incubated in a large organization in Washington DC. Since then, this powerhouse has been influential in planning and leading all policies and programs to end systemic, structural, and anti-Black racism. 

And it’s no wonder why: Dr. Brown is an Equity Strategist and Cultural Architect for nearly a decade, serving as a higher education executive-level administrator at an Ivy League institution. She built structures and processes to address organizational challenges and develop and implement strategic plans around equity, inclusion, and organizational effectiveness.

Dr. Brown’s Calling As A Changemaker

Dr. Brown felt it was a calling to become a changemaker in the diversity and inclusion space. She combined management, organizational, and social movement theories into practice to construct a multidimensional framework for racial equity and organizational transformation. Her approach has gone beyond slogans and outdated diversity and inclusion practices to be highly equitable and cohesive. She begins by drawing on complicated connections and complex architecture between local and national politics, racial inequalities, and the myriad of ways these realities manifest in organizations. 

Based on a fundamental understanding of what drives the behavior and performance of individuals, teams, and organizations. Dr. Mitchell Brown has approached and assisted clients and their needs by developing active listening skills, improving emotional intelligence, working with and within systems, and mindful reflection. 

“Everything that I had done up to the day I decided to go out on my own was the foundation for my success and leadership,” said Dr. Brown. “All of the skills developed while surviving (and in some instances thriving) as a Black woman, working mother, daughter, and wife in organizations and the world served as huge advantages. These experiences sharpened my ability to navigate complex situations, solve big problems with minimal resources, build a resourceful network with diverse people, and leverage resources to further my education and professional skills. Once I could figure it out, I didn’t miss an opportunity to ensure that I made work benefit me.”

How Dr. Brown Serves Her Clients Today

As a successful businesswoman today, Dr. Brown has chosen to select and serve her clients in areas where she can be the most impactful and doing the work she enjoys the most. Equally crucial in owning her own business, Dr. Brown also hasn’t had to worry about managing the persistent weather of “white fragility” and being consistently required to explain her tone, passion, ambition, commitment, or the optics of her work. 

“I recognize that efforts to eliminate anti-Black and structural racism are essential to realizing the promise of racial justice and Black and brown liberation,” said Dr. Brown. “Other approaches, by themselves, have proven to be insufficient. I lead with an examination of race, which creates the foundation for exploring the intersections of other inequities and oppressions. My approach focuses on structural racism. While personal and interpersonal racism deserves attention, it is necessary to elevate the discussion and practice beyond individual bias and interpersonal interactions for long-term change and tangible equity. “

Dr. Brown’s Advice For Implementing More Inclusive Strategies at Work

While Dr. Brown believes that many corporations and organizations are actively doing or have a long history of various inclusive initiatives, she still advises young entrepreneurs not to go at it alone. One of her pieces of advice? Partner with and get support from a qualified professional to facilitate a comprehensive and structured engagement, not limited to isolated training or one-off workshops. She also believes it’s imperative to build a thorough examination of current and prior initiatives and take stock of what’s been done and what’s worked–and why. Understanding how inequity plays out in the organization, both in its operation and the workforce, will help you assess situations and put together a powerful initiative. 

Dr.Brown still does give a word of caution to those hoping to implement more inclusive strategies in their sphere of work. “A word of caution: we can’t require the most impacted people to be the only ones doing the work,” she explained. “Ultimately supporting the people that are further away from the domination line requires those who are at the domination line, white people and men who make up the leadership in corporations and organizations, to take a hard look at their collaboration, speak up, tell the truth, challenge each other, and do things differently as if their life depended on it. When done correctly, racial inclusion will not be limited to public commitment statements but reflected in all products, services, programs, campaigns, strategies, and ultimately, the world.”

For those looking to make the trajectory of a similar career path as herself, Dr. Brown encourages that they maximize all development and support opportunities without going into debt. Suppose you’re able to further your education by exhausting organizations’ tuition reimbursement policies. Goldman Sachs is a major corporation that leverages initiatives and resources to close the gap for Black women in entrepreneurship through their program  One Million Black Women. Increasingly there are programs through the SBA that help to navigate getting access to capital and resources, including mentors and advisors.

Where Dr. Brown Sees Herself In The Future

 Within the next five to ten years, Dr. Brown hopes to continue on the trajectory of becoming healthier, becoming present with family and friends while continuing to bring the best of who she is into all areas of her life. She hopes to grow her practice in the number of clients and the size of her team. Ultimately, Dr. Brown wants to look back at her work with leaders and organizations that she partners with and see seismic shifts where Black women experience fewer microaggressions, microinsults, and microinvalidations to reconcile and heal from.

Olivia Liveng is a contributor at Disrupt Magazine and an award-winning travel, entrepreneurship, and lifestyle journalist and editor who relocated to Copenhagen from NYC. She has been featured in The New York Post, Fodors, L.A. Style Magazine, and Forbes.

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