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A Message From Our Board President
June 19, 2020
Morris Logo

Dear Members of the Morris Family,

The Morris Animal Refuge has long stood for love, kindness, and compassion for all people and animals in our society.  These are uplifting words; however, they are just words.  Living up to our commitment toward the values of respect, diversity, inclusivity, and equity requires more than making a statement, it requires action.

At this time, our Board of Directors does not include a single person of color.  This is unacceptable and constitutes a failure on our part.  While we are extremely proud of our diverse staff and management team, it is vital that the board represents the full breadth of experiences, backgrounds, and voices that are present in the community we serve.  We must, and will, do more to build a culture of greater inclusion, adopt a more diverse group of leaders, and a broader collection of perspectives. 

The Board of Directors is committed to creating lasting, positive change and this must start from within.  In our unanimous commitment to doing the necessary and overdue work in creating a plan for meaningful action, we will:

  • Conduct a complete revision of our Board recruiting strategies
  • Work on a Diversity, Inclusivity, and Equity policy for inclusion in our bylaws, so these values become a guiding principle for Boards to come
  • Foster relationships with the local chambers of commerce, including the African American, Asian American, Hispanic, and LGBT Chambers to strengthen our commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity, and support minority businesses
  • Examine our relationships with other nonprofits, suppliers or vendors to ensure they share in our commitment to the values of diversity and respect
  • Expand upon our ongoing and extensive self-assessment of our operations, policies, and management practices
  • Implement and immerse our organization at all levels in ongoing diversity training.
  • Engage with local leaders, our staff, supporters, and community and then listen, learn, and adapt so that our mission is carried out in a way that represents every voice and accounts for all perspectives 

We are proud of being a leader in animal welfare in Philadelphia and around the world since 1874, but that isn’t enough.  It’s important that we’re as proud of HOW we do our work as the work itself.  My promise to you is that we will continue to grow, to learn, and to initiate actions that build a shelter that better reflects the amazing community we serve.  Together, we will do better.

I hope you will join us,

Joshua A. Vieth, PhD

President, Board of Directors