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News & Event

Generous Understanding

Randall Stokes and Ana María Paz Gómez just met but already the conversation flows easily. Introductions lead to Ana explaining that in her home country of Colombia, you take your mother’s last name. Both credit this open dialogue to being Diverse by Design volunteers.

Randall Stokes and Ana Maria Paz GomezRandall Stokes and Ana María Paz Gómez just met but already the conversation flows easily. Introductions lead to Ana explaining that in her home country of Colombia, you take your mother’s last name. Both credit this open dialogue to being Diverse by Design volunteers.

Diverse by Design is a joint project of Agenda 360 and Vision 2015, intended to improve our region’s ability to attract and retain talent, with an emphasis on increasing diversity of all kinds and making our community more inclusive for everyone. This work is supported by a considerable number of organizations including GCF, as well as a wide net of individuals, like Randall and Ana.

Ana, part of the young professional segment of Diverse by Design, made a conscious decision to stay in Cincinnati after college. She is a translator at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

“My family is here now and in our culture it is very important to be near your family, so I don’t really want to leave,” she said. “That’s how I got involved with the project, I liked the idea. I liked that a lot of people are so passionate about working towards making Cincinnati better.”

As she and Randall talk, they agree that diversity is not defined by ethnicity.

“A collection of people of diverse backgrounds doesn't equal an atmosphere of diversity,” said Randall, a native of Cleveland and an employee of GE Aviation in the Sales and Marketing division. “An atmosphere of diversity is when we have people with different backgrounds but that atmosphere is open. You’re comfortable asking questions. You’re comfortable saying, ‘Ana, explain to me again how last names work in your culture.’ Once you start having those conversations, you start making connections and see we have traditions that intersect.”

“When you talk about diversity it’s really hard not to separate people,” said Ana. “You just think African Americans, or Hispanics, or Asian. But no. Diversity can be someone who is an engineer and someone who works in a restaurant. They can all be white and be from Cincinnati, and they are going to be diverse.”

Both Randall and Ana believe being an inclusive and diverse region will only make us better.

“We can’t allow our core focus to be diversity — it has to be growth, health, education, but we can’t ignore the challenges the lack of diversity presents and the great benefit and value that diversity provides to ensure we have a community that’s conducive for all,” Randall said.

When Ana agrees, Randall smiles.

“We’re just two voices in a beautiful chorus,” Randall said. “I’m excited about it.”

This story appeared in GCF's 2013 Annual Report.