We believe that equity matters; that diversity brings opportunities, as well as challenges; that the grassroots drive change, and resistance is powerful. Inequities are real, and everyone—especially those with power and privilege—has a role to play in creating change, and leaders must step up. We aim to create brave spaces, not safe ones. We believe in conversation and learning, in listening, and in taking action. We value allies, and know that building trust takes time. Impact matters more than intent. We favor patience, support, and collaboration. We understand that this work is complicated, and does not happen all at once, but stepping stone by stepping stone, over time. We look forward to working with you.
There are countless definitions for diversity, equity, and inclusion, none of them perfect. We encourage and support our clients in working with stakeholders to develop their own definitions. In our own work, we use these as a starting place:
Diversity encompasses and explicitly values the many different dimensions of identity, experience, ways of being, and ways of knowing, as well as the process of learning about and engaging with difference. At Stepping Stone, we are particularly attentive to aspects of identity that are relevant to social justice.
Equity means that all people have access to the opportunities and resources they need to meet their life goals. While equality is about sameness (giving everyone the same thing), equity is about fairness.
Inclusion is the active, intentional ongoing engagement with diversity, with an aim of interrupting oppressive systems of power and privilege and creating transformative and critically reflective environments that affirm the inherent dignity and value of all individuals and communities.
Melissa has worked as an educator and facilitator for more than 15 years, and has focused on equity, inclusion, and diversity since 2005. She served as the Associate Director in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Humboldt State University from 2011-2016. Her work centered on implementing strategic plans to enhance and support staff and faculty diversity, advocating for an equitable and inclusive campus environment, and serving as a campus resource on diversity topics, including implicit bias, inclusive pedagogy, and cultural responsiveness.
Melissa came to this work via the nonprofit and environmental education fields. She was formerly the Director of Education at NatureBridge Golden Gate, and has also worked as an educator, program coordinator, program evaluator, curriculum developer, and grant writer with Save The Bay in Oakland, and with Crissy Field Center, Literacy for Environmental Justice, and the Sierra Club in San Francisco.
Melissa holds an M.A. in Education–Equity and Social Justice and a B.A. in English–Creative Writing, both from San Francisco State University.
Outside of work, Melissa enjoys surfing, biking, traveling, gardening, cooking, backpacking, and hiking with her dog.