Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Missoula Community JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) network will present ‘Be the Change: Resilience Through Equity’ featuring James Whitfield of ‘Be Culture’ in the UC Ballroom at the University of Montana on Thursday, October 27.

KGVO News reached out to James Whitfield at his home in Seattle to talk about his upcoming visit to Missoula and what he and the Missoula JEDI network hope to accomplish.

“‘Be culture’ is a consultancy, that focuses on equipping leaders to mobilize their communities and organizations to be the culture they wish to see,” said Whitfield. “We primarily focus on helping people integrate equity into their organizational culture, and so we are folks that work with people in the for-profit sector, the nonprofit sector, or the public sector in order to help them think clearly about what culture they want and figure out how it is they apply the tools of leadership in order to help make that happen.”

The Missoula JEDI is Ready to Grow and Take the Next Step

Whitfield said he was invited to Missoula to help the local JEDI network grow to the next phase of its development.

“Other folks from a network that I met with who, frankly, were related to the Parks and Recreation Department, in addition to some other pieces of the city and the county, determined that the network was right at the point where it was ready to maybe take its next big step,” he said. “That meant having someone come out to be able to articulate some of the tactical pieces that were necessary, and help with the framing of why this work is so important, would be useful in this moment.”

Learn what 'JEDI has to do With it'

Whitfield laid out some of the details of what he will be speaking about on Thursday, October 27 at the UC Ballroom on the UM campus.

“On Thursday evening, we're going to be talking about ‘What's JEDI got to do with it?’, and really we're going to be covering the why,” he said. “Why is this important? That's an event that will be open to the public, and really one of the questions that a lot of people find themselves asking is ‘what if anything does this JEDI stuff have to do with me, my work, and our local community?’ And so, the goal for Thursday evening’s talk is really to lay a foundation for why this is important.”

Explaining the Positive Benefits of the JEDI Program

Reacting to a question about the possible misunderstanding or even opposition to the JEDI Network since its inception, Whitfield said he wants to help bring the community together with his visit to Missoula.

“One of the important parts about the way that we do our work and one of the things we're most excited about is being able to bring to Missoula and be able to think about the work in a way that it is about unifying the community and not driving community members further and further apart,” he said. “And so, if Missoula is the way that I remember it being like other rural and growing communities around the country, then it's absolutely a thing that some folks in the community have been concerned about. However, the history of communities like Missoula is to band together in order to get things done when those things need to happen.”

Click here to see the full calendar of events that will occur on Thursday and Friday, October 27 and 28.

The public is invited to attend the keynote address on Thursday, October 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

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