In many companies, people go to an office every day, and interact with their colleagues in real time as they sit in meetings, take coffee breaks, and collaborate on projects. Here at Kids Included Together most of our employees (we call them Inclusionistas) are out in the world every day, locating themselves where they need to be to get our work (helping people include kids with disabilities) done. We are a distributed team, with staff living in 8 different states across the US, and many of us are frequently on the road, teaching inclusive practices anywhere in the world.
Our Inclusionistas are passionate, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and skilled collaborators. I like to spend as much time with them as I can, which is why our annual KIT-a-Palooza is my favorite week of the year. We bring everyone to our San Diego Headquarters, and we spend the time together reflecting on the past year, planning for the future, learning from each other, collaborating with our awesome board of directors, and finding ways to make our work more effective, inspiring and enjoyable for our learners.
Highlights from this year include:
- A brainstorming session on the “State of Inclusion” with KIT staff, board, our founders, and a few guests.
- We discussed the intersectionality of disability with other minority groups, and Fernando Lopez, Jr of San Diego LGBT Pride, delivered an enlightening workshop on serving LGBT youth.
- Dr. Joseph Hoey, an expert on assessment in higher education and KIT board member, helped us explore measuring outcomes of our KIT Learning Objectives.
- Kat King led us through a session on delivering world-class customer service.
- Micah Parzen, CEO of the San Diego Museum of Man, gave our staff a VIP tour of the California Tower in Balboa Park- a great way to learn more about the history of San Diego, and enjoy views of our beautiful city on a bright, sunny December morning.
- And, of course, we sprinkled in some dance breaks led by Viviana, and lots of delicious food organized by Amanda.
Our KIT-a-Palooza planning team (Sara, Nili, Emily and Amanda) created an agenda that was on point, and our staff presenters (Alissa, Anna, Sasha, Jeremy, Kat, Sara, Emily, Fransy, and Cheri) led us through the content sharing both their passion and their deep expertise. I think we all left the week feeling inspired and energized for the work that lies ahead. We’ve got new ways to make sure that kids with disabilities are welcomed and accepted in communities around the world, and we are feeling ready to take on 2017.
Torrie Dunlap, Chief Inclusionista & CEO