For Staff, by Staff: Inclusivity Through Community Building

National Council staff practice inclusivity at the LGBTQ+ Pride Parade in Washington, D.C.

Fostering a sense of belonging, inclusion and diversity is a priority for the National Council and a foundational component of our organizational culture. One of the ways we’re doing that is through employee resource groups (ERGs) — voluntary, staff-led groups offering a safe space to connect with colleagues who share similar life experiences, backgrounds or interests.

In celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, we spoke with LGBTQ+ ERG co-chairs Amanda Stark, project manager, Practice Improvement and Consulting, and Paul Lauricella, senior manager of communications, Mental Health First Aid, to learn about the ERG, how they’re supporting the National Council’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, and their recent accomplishments.

Q: Why was the LGBTQ+ ERG formed?

Amanda: “The National Council’s leadership team and DEI Committee expressed interest in expanding our ERG offerings and asked for volunteers to lead an ERG focused on LGBTQ+ issues. The primary goal of this ERG is to create a sense of community for staff: a chance for employees to connect with others facing similar experiences. Once that space was created, it provided an opportunity for us to come together and address issues that affect us as a group.”

Q: What inspired you to get involved?

Paul: “It was important to me that this space exist at the National Council. The group was in need of another co-chair to get it off the ground, so I volunteered.”

Amanda: “I had been desiring this type of space for myself and LGBTQ+ colleagues since I started working at the National Council. I know from both my background in public health and personal experience as a bisexual woman just how important feeling a sense of belonging is for mental health. When the call came for volunteers, I eagerly offered to support. It’s been such a joy getting to work with Paul to create a space for community and learning!”

Q: What are some of your biggest accomplishments?

Amanda: “The LGBTQ+ ERG prioritizes advocacy, staff education and engagement. Among our successes to date, we’ve helped organize our Capital Pride Parade march in Washington, D.C. (pictured); supported internal advocacy efforts for a staff fertility/adoption benefit; and reviewed internal resources like the DEI Committee’s Language Guide.”

Paul: “We’ve also provided guidance on ways to make our in-person events more inclusive; created an internal webpage where folks can find LGBTQ+ resources; shared information with staff on how to become an ally in the workplace; and invited guest speakers to all-staff meetings to provide new insight into LGBTQ+ issues and opportunities.”

Q: What do you enjoy most about co-leading the ERG?

Amanda: “I’m grateful to have dedicated space for connecting with LGBTQ+ colleagues around lighthearted topics, along with the serious ones. We spend time in every ERG meeting discussing LGBTQ+ books, movies, TV shows and podcasts, which I could talk about forever. I am also deeply appreciative for the chance to collectively advocate for opportunities that will support our LGBTQ+ staff and increase staff education.”

Paul: “For me, it’s the people! No matter what project we’re working on, we get to do it with a bunch of passionate, smart and kind colleagues. I also really value the opportunities to work with other ERG co-chairs. Those connections are what feel most meaningful.”

Since its founding in the summer of 2022, the LGBTQ+ ERG has helped create a more inclusive workplace culture where employees feel valued and understood. Stay informed of their work and other updates from the National Council by bookmarking our blog and signing up for our newsletters!