Ms. Enid-Mai Jones is currently the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Association for State and Territorial Health Officers (ASTHO), and has more than 20 years of association management experience. She is a 2007 scholar in the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP).
An active member of the association community, she currently is a member of ASAE Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council and previously served on the Research Committee as well as its Diversity Task force. Enid-Mai is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and holds graduate degrees in Higher Education Administration and Communication Studies (Intercultural and Interpersonal) from the University of Kansas.
Enid-Mai began her career at the Golf Corse Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) in student programs. She previously served as Director of Student Affairs/Diversity for the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and Student/Professional Affairs & Diversity Manager at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), and most recently as Senior Vice President at LifeSpan Network, Beacon Institute.
Connect with Enid-Mai on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- DEI is important to the growth and sustainability of associations
- Some challenges faced as a woman of color
- Insights into building an equitable organization, attracting a diverse talent pool, and eliminating bias
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Lee kantor: [00:00:18] Lee Kantor here, another episode of Association Leadership Radio, and this is going to be a good one today on the show, we have Enid-Mai Jones and she is a director of diversity, equity and inclusion. Welcome.
Enid-Mai Jones: [00:00:32] Hi, how are you, Lee? Very nice to be here.
Lee kantor: [00:00:34] Well, I am doing well. I’m so excited to learn what you’re up to. So before we get too far into things, can you tell us why you think D.I is important to the growth and sustainability of associations?
Enid-Mai Jones: [00:00:49] You know, the world is changing. People are very socially conscious. The new generation of people coming into associations or corporate America are very aware of what’s happening socially. They are very socially aware. So as they come into organizations, they are expecting organizations to be diverse but not only diverse, but actively making the environment welcoming, inclusive and creating a sense of belonging for their employees. People are trying to balance life and work, and they are finding that they are more creative, innovative when they are in a mix of diverse people.
Lee kantor: [00:01:46] Now are you finding that associations are leaning into this and are establishing some D.I, at least representation?
Enid-Mai Jones: [00:01:56] Some associations are doing it and doing it well, say he has really stepped up in that area. And is indeed that is the diversity executive leadership program, which I am proud to say I am a 2007 alum. And that program has been very instrumental in changing has been a game changer for my career. There’s, I think, close to 200 alumni, and we are a source of support for each other. A lot of jumpers are moving up in association management, but again that’s just 200 and it’s just as the E! I find that some associations are doing very well. Some are still doing them more per functional just to cross the T’s and dot the i’s and not really instituting it within the overall organization strategy.
Lee kantor: [00:03:04] Now is there any advice for associations out there so they can, you know, kind of walk the walk instead of just talking the talk so they can actually apply some of those dye in their associations and really benefit from it? This shouldn’t be something that they’re doing just to check a box. This can really help an association reach more people, engage more people and and better the association.
Enid-Mai Jones: [00:03:34] Definitely. My advice would be that this should be done consciously and intentionally and meaning that it shouldn’t be buried way down in human resources. I just had an experience where I went in to consult, and it was very disappointing because I only just I didn’t discover that. Indeed, I was buried all the way down in each hour and that it was not something that executive management was actively involved in. So my advice is, if you kind of do it, do it and get your executive involved in really instituting the program actively and beyond. Just your D- statement where it is across the board, in governance, in your membership, in your employee relations, your suppliers, even as even small organization can do that. So being intentional about it is very important is to get growth. And you realize that when you have a diverse organization, an organization where people can bring their attentive self and feel a sense of belonging, there will perform at the ultimate highest potential. And the organization will move and stay very sustainable. So have the foresight enough to be consciously and intentionally about instituting design.
Lee kantor: [00:05:22] Now, can you share a little bit about your background? Have you been involved in association work for the length of your career?
Enid-Mai Jones: [00:05:32] Yes. As you know, most association executive, I felt I just fell into association management. But I’ve been in association management for over twenty five years and I’ve had a very and I am having a very successful career. My background is. I’m originally from Liberia, West Africa, so I am an immigrant who came to go to the University of Kansas, and that too was an eye opener because I went from functioning in a majority black environment and community into becoming a part of sometimes not a very good part of or seen as as active members. So that moved me to get a master’s degree in intercultural interpersonal communications. And I also have a master’s in higher ed. My interest was really in the retention and recruitment of minorities, underrepresented and marginalized students into predominantly white universities. And of course, like anybody else, I got offered a job to do student programing for the association, and I’ve never looked back.
Lee kantor: [00:06:58] Now, any advice for maybe the younger minority student that’s in college to consider the same path of getting involved in associations? It sounds like there. There’s a lot of opportunity there for the right folks.
Enid-Mai Jones: [00:07:13] It is, you know, I am I to do a lot in getting interns and I am. And I do encourage minority students and marginalized students to apply for the internships that I offer and introduce them into association management. There’s a lot of people don’t realize that you can have a very rewarding career in association management and and that you can have very good work life balance and, like I would say, make a good living in association management, but also the service and the impact you can have on communities and be instrumental in guiding a profession or trade to become sustainable and growth and see growth. So my advice is that we reach out to more minority students, students at historically black colleges and encourage them to take that step and come into association management.
Lee kantor: [00:08:28] Now what about some advice for the associations out there that maybe haven’t leaned into this DTI initiatives as much as they could? Is there some insights you can share about some of the benefits, maybe that they’re not like, you know, people don’t know what they don’t know, but can you share some insights you’ve learned over the years working with a variety of organizations?
Enid-Mai Jones: [00:08:53] Well, as we all know, if you have a group of people who they are thinking like. Then there is no innovation, creativity without innovation is does not exist, so you can have people who are highly intelligent, who are creative. But if they are thinking alike, there is no innovation. Change does not happen. So you do need a diverse group of people, and diversity is not necessarily counting the numbers as to race. The diversity can be any combination off of disability, gender, race, sexual orientation, even people who went to different universities. So you can have people who went to big research universities and people want to smaller liberal arts schools because they’re at the smaller, liberal arts schools, they’re more the more liberal worldly. Curriculum, so the expansion of the curriculum is to become more well-rounded. So when you have that mix, you move on to innovation, you move onto people who don’t think alike. So problem-solving solving communication, all of those things become more highlighted, become more creative, become something that can bring changes. And we all know that the pandemic and the social movement were the great disrupters of the last couple of years. So we are all struggling to find to redefine who we are as people and also as organizations. So this is the time now to reinvent who we are as organizations and people so that we can open the door to a more well-rounded people can come as at that respectful, authentic self and feel good about who they are and what they bring to the table. Yeah, I’m sorry.
Lee kantor: [00:11:23] I think that it’s important for people to just open their mind to the fact that if everybody looks the same around the table, then there might be some biases that you all have that you may not be aware of. And by having a mind of diverse, having a more diverse group around you will open up opportunities that maybe you haven’t even thought of.
Enid-Mai Jones: [00:11:51] That is very true. You know, we all come with our biases because we all come with out our vision and virtues, morals, whatever way you want to describe it already in place because those are things that we get from our community, our was and and the way we were brought up. So we all come of our biases. And therefore, if you come with your biases and you are self-aware, I always say to people, diversity, equity and inclusion stands for becoming self-aware, self aware of who you are, self aware of, how you what’s what your makeup is. Once you can do that, you are then more able to check yourself when those biases surface or people are able to check you and your more receiving of those checks.
Lee kantor: [00:12:56] Now in your career, can you share maybe a rewarding story where you felt like, Hey, my voice was heard and I made a difference and I’ve really impacted this organization?
Enid-Mai Jones: [00:13:12] Oh, a lot, a lot has happened to for me and my last organization, Lifespan Network, where I was four for 14 years. I was always hurt, I was the minority person on staff there, but I did not experience the misogynistic or microaggression that people that some of my colleagues have explained because I had a boss who was very self-aware. And so therefore she opened up doors for me because she herself, even though she was a white woman, she also came from a marginalized community. So therefore, she was very aware of some of the biases and. Obstacles there, so she was very, very instrumental in my career growth. And so I came in as a director, and when I did make the change, I met a senior vice president and so that had that opportunity alone. And I was also allowed to build an entire educational institute. From $100000 revenue generating to over half a million dollars, so I can never thank her enough for the trust she placed in me and giving me wings to fly.
Lee kantor: [00:14:56] And then now you’re able to help others with their wings and fly.
Enid-Mai Jones: [00:15:01] Definitely. So, definitely so.
Lee kantor: [00:15:04] Well, if there’s someone out there that wants to connect with you and maybe just have a conversation and learn from you, what’s the best way to do that? Are you on LinkedIn?
Enid-Mai Jones: [00:15:14] I’m on LinkedIn. The person can send me a message, or they can send me an email at E! An idea from David M as in Mary as an Apple I a.m. dot com.
Lee kantor: [00:15:29] And that’s the and that’s where to find you on LinkedIn also. Enid Mae Jones.
Enid-Mai Jones: [00:15:34] Yes.
Lee kantor: [00:15:35] Well, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You’re doing such important work, and we appreciate you all.
Enid-Mai Jones: [00:15:42] Thank you so much for asking me and reaching out to me. This has been a wonderful conversation.
Lee kantor: [00:15:49] All right, this is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you next time on association leadership radio.