On this episode of the RAISE podcast, Brent chats with Gregory Perrin, Associate Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations at St. Edward’s University. He is also joined by a special guest, EverTrue’s own Jessica Frey, for a conversation about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Gregory is an accomplished fundraiser who is also an actor, artist, and a former ROTC member. He has fundraising efforts and teams in the arts world for the Houston Grand Opera; in the healthcare world for the AIDS Foundation; and in higher education at UT Austin and now at St. Edward’s. One constant throughout his personal and professional life has been his commitment to ensuring that diverse folks thrive in their environments through the support of equitable policies and inclusive and welcoming teams. As Gregory reminds us, when we feel like we belong somewhere, we blossom. Gregory and Jessica share their insights on the daily work that’s needed to uphold DEI in our circles; how important it is to unravel the systemic racism that is embedded in the foundation of many hundred-year-old colleges and universities; and how newer companies have a chance at building a different kind of foundation, one that is inclusive and diverse from the get-go. Thank you, Gregory, for sharing your wisdom with us.
Here are some highlights from the episode…
One of Gregory’s early professional dreams was to become a Civil Rights lawyer. Thurgood Marshall is one of his idols.
Gregory has an undergrad and grad degree in Theatre. One of his favorite roles was playing a wise man in a rendition of Comedy of the Errors set in the 1960’s. The Costume Director got creative and dressed him a-la Jimi Hendrix. (*Ahem* Still waiting on photographic evidence, Gregory.)
A mentor from Gregory’s MFA program gracefully guided him away from his fantasies of performing on Broadway, and towards Arts Management and fundraising. Her guidance was one of the best gifts he’s ever received.
Well-paying internships are so important. They are the on-ramp that brings new and diverse talent into the field. Where are the internships that bring amazing new voices into advancement (and offer competitive salaries)?
The best teacher of all, Experience, has taught Gregory the important difference between public recognition and expressing genuine gratitude.
Gregory points out that you can’t have diversity and equity without inclusion. And if a group of people or organization is truly inclusive, it will naturally welcome diversity and champion equity.
The original founding and founders of a company determine the organization’s long-term diversity. In the startup world, how can we give folks from underrepresented backgrounds greater access to seed funding and investors? In the higher-ed world, how can we work diligently and intentionally to unwork the systemic racism that played a big role in founding many of our beloved colleges and universities over 400 years ago?
As in all deep and complex work, there is a spectrum ranging from intentions to outcomes. We all need to continue to move from positive intentions to increase DEI in our personal and professional spaces, towards bottom-line outcomes that put the intentions into practice.
For all of us, it is important to see our genuine selves represented in leaders that we admire. This is why it is so imperative to increase diversity among organizational leaders across all sectors.