Consultant: Open doors through social justice work

Shane Nelson

Shane Nelson, entrepreneur and consultant from Philadelphia.

Shane Nelson, an entrepreneur and consultant from Philadelphia, challenged University of the Pacific students, faculty and staff to embrace the issues and opportunities of work in social justice.

Nelson spoke to approximately 70 people on Sept. 17 as part of the virtual series Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Dialogue: Cultivating Transformative Leaders.

Nelson works with higher education clients on matters of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). He also runs a consulting business to guide nonprofit agencies (Reify Solutions LLC) and a program called DEI Essentials.

He touched on these and many other areas during his discussion with Pacificans: “Leveraging Your Agency for Change”:

College students preparing for post-graduation life: “If you are a year out, you can take time to build a network, get your marketing together and have your systems really tight. You would be far ahead of me, frankly, because I have been building this as I go.”

Advice for faculty on DEI matters: “Open up spaces so you are connecting with different student affairs offices and start bridging those silos that can exist. Have some opportunities where maybe you ease off the gas of teaching and share resources that can really change the life of a student.”

Dealing with anger about racial injustice: “I am angry. I’m incredibly stressed out and there have been so many moments where I have sat at the dinner table and just broken down. I think a lot of marginalized folks who continue to meet oppression every single day trigger out at some point to use anger as jet fuel, or just opt out because, quite frankly, ending white supremacy should be white people’s job.”

DEI is an $8.2 billion “business” (according to Market Watch): “That is pretty astonishing, quite frankly. It also shows that this is an area that is growing and changing rapidly. That does create opportunities, but there can be pitfalls with how the money is used.”

Staying positive and building resilience: “Do your best to handle it, but find ways to extend yourself some personal grace. Rest and find that five minutes to potentially pop outside or to go into your own internal space of reflection and get that rest. Take that back from the time that is currently being forced on all of us with all these different crises.”

His dreams: “I think my dreams right now focus on my future family. I think about that child who is going to exist in the world one day … What is the world going to look like for them, and how can I look them in the face and say, ‘you know, I did everything in my power to make this world a little better.’ ”

Parting words: “Be great. It is two simple words, but for me, they have a lot of meaning. It’s super easy to be good. It’s a lot harder to be great. That’s what we all can commit to in this session. We all can do a little bit more in DEI work … We have to get the surface stuff right first. At some point, there is a bottom to this. I promise you there is.”