As a leader in the child welfare sector, we are on a mission to raise the voices of others, help to inspire greater inclusion and create the conditions that make greater equity possible, so all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential. But we cannot do this work alone.

To help expand our work within Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, we’re thrilled to introduce Derreasha Jones as our very first Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist, a role made possible by a significant investment by the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund.

Derreasha began her EDI journey while serving as the Council Representative of the Black Student Union and President of the NAACP at the University of Central Florida, advocating for space, resources, representation and the inclusion of Black students. During her senior year, she was selected to join the Inaugural President’s Student Advisory Council with a platform advocating for the safety, equity and inclusion of Black students.  Her efforts led to the creation of a multi-cultural student space within the student union and the addition of the  Dr. John T. Washington Center Mural on campus.

What is your #MyEDIWhy?

“EDI is the first step in building bridges to success because when you start there, no one gets forgotten. It is imperative for us to be genuine and intentional in our EDI efforts to truly do GOOD. Providing resources for needs and implementing change behind our sentiments simply because it is the right thing to do. Our work creates a greater impact when we refrain from performative EDI and embrace incorporating these practices into our culture. With a unified stance, we can best serve and uplift our communities. The urge to change lives for the better will drive us so we can all do our part to make the world a better place for all.”

What piqued your interest in your new role?

“I have a strong conviction to uplift my community however I may, whether empowering others by helping tackle homelessness, hunger, mental health, self esteem… or figuring out ways to partner within communities to provide resources and care to our most marginalized populations. Throughout my adolescence and college years, I’ve been passionate about so many of the initiatives CHS leads throughout Florida, being a product of foster care myself and a successful adoption, so when I learned of this opportunity to partner from the inside, I couldn’t ignore. 

I am most excited about the impact we can create together and to be trusted to partner with our team members statewide to help lead our EDI efforts internally and externally. I believe, together, we can provide solutions to best provide resources, support and guidance to combat the statistics affecting the populations  underserved.”

Do you see any misconceptions about EDI you feel others may have?

“A common misconception about EDI is that it’s purpose is to make you ‘feel bad’ or guilty which, while not true, also removes the focus from the underserved community. EDI is learning. EDI is ongoing. And EDI involves all of us… no matter how involved or ‘knowledgeable’ or ‘uninformed’ one feels they have been in the past. 

In my role, I plan to demystify this misconception by keeping education and growth at the forefront for our team members so we can best serve those in our care and do even more GOOD.”