By Erin Lehmberg
On Tuesday, September 19th, coinciding with National Voting Registration Day, the Institute for Leadership and Social Impact (ILSI) and the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation (PIN) hosted the kick-off session of the fall Impact Series talks featuring Tenè Traylor, Vice President for Nonprofits and Philanthropy for the Urban Institute and PIN founder, Debra Lam. Traylor and Lam invited students, faculty, and community members into the crucial dialogue around equity, change, and hope for a more equitable and just world.
Atlanta-born Traylor rose from humble beginnings with her grandparents working as builders and caretakers. She has been a leader for equity and justice for decades, serving as the head of the NAACP chapter at her alma mater, Georgia State University.
Her north star being progress in equity, Traylor described equity as collective prosperity on a broad level. She works especially towards the end of racial inequity, and for her, racial equity is achieved when “race is no longer a predictor of outcomes.” Today, disparities are seen in health, education, wealth, and other measures of welfare that are “systemic and disproportionate,” Traylor explained. The solution is complex, but voting and holding officials to their word are two practical steps to progress toward equity.
Bringing the conversation closer to home in Atlanta, Traylor recounted the dismal state of Atlanta regarding inequality. While the city is called “Black Mecca” and “the City Too Busy to Hate,” Atlanta has the highest levels of income inequality indicators of any city on all accounts. Our branding as a city is on-point, but equity requires action. The state of the city keeps her up at night, which is why she co-founded the Atlanta Wealth-Building Initiative with the focus of buliding Black Wealth.
What gives Traylor the most hope is the generation she sees today, overflowing with passion, brilliance, and focus. Her closing remarks included a few calls to action for young people today: “Push but be patient. Have a sense of urgency, but also listen.” Balancing drive and humility, young professionals are invited to join in the fight for equity and justice for all people, day by day, by becoming leaders and challenging the status quo.
The session was co-sponsored by the Society of Women in Business at Georgia Tech, and the Center for Sustainable Communities Research and Education. The recording of the talk is available on ILSI’s YouTube channel.
The Institute for Leadership and Social Impact is an interdisciplinary institute that promotes servant leadership and social innovation that contribute to a more just, caring, and equitable world. Learn more about our Impact Lunchtime Talks.