IECF is proud to manage the MOSAIC fund, which was established to promote the education of multicultural enrichment; advocate for unity among races; provide a curriculum that teaches empathy; and support career advancement, mentoring, and scholarships.
It’s been said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” As Riverside County Superintendent of Schools from 2017-2020, Dr. Judy White had a full calendar yet still found time to pursue what she identifies as her “true passion”: promoting racial healing and unity through MOSAIC, a mentorship program that she created for women.
Dr. White, now retired, has been a figurehead in public education for over 40 years. Her positions spanned the breadth of the field, including assignments as school counselor, school site administrator, and district superintendent in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Throughout her career, Dr. White says many women from diverse backgrounds came to her for mentorship and advice – a role that gave her great satisfaction.
The diversity among these women inspired Dr. White. With a vision of strengthening ties and promoting long-term, sustainable unity among cross-cultural communities, she founded the nonprofit organization MOSAIC in 2018 – two years before retiring. Today, her work with the organization allows her to focus on promoting unity while continuing to mentor, encourage and support women across the region.
“I’ve always been an advocate for unity,” says Dr. White, “but as much as we talk about it, we don’t typically hear ‘This is how we’re going to get there.’ When something happens in the news, we – as human beings – have an emotional reaction. But somebody has to be the voice of unity on a regular basis.”
Practical Applications for Complicated Times
The first MOSAIC meeting was born out of multiple requests for mentorship by several women in education. “With my schedule as County Superintendent,” she remembers, “it wasn’t possible to mentor each person individually, so I suggested we meet as a group.” She invited 50 women to the first MOSAIC gathering and told them, “You need to bring someone to the meeting who doesn’t look like you.” One hundred women – a living mosaic – sat down to talk about what they could do to promote unity.
That event resulted in some eye-opening observations and a goal of devising simple ways to promote and model unity, such as starting conversations with people of other ethnicities in the grocery store or inviting a diverse group of children to your child’s birthday party. “It’s the beginning of seeing everyone as a human being,” says Dr. White.
MOSAIC now meets four times a year. Their signature event is a Vision Board meeting in January, with the remaining meetings focused on developing solutions for real-life problems. MOSAIC will expand in 2023 to include a men’s chapter as the organization broadens its efforts to create diversity and respond to the needs of local communities.
Together, the group of multicultural women has written a soon-to-be-published book, When We Talk, which Dr. White says will “address more than just raising awareness, it will offer solutions to the issues we face. Sometimes – because of the current levels of tension – people don’t know what to say or what’s offensive. So we answer the question, ‘How do you interrupt racism?’ and give them the language to introduce conversations, to be present among adversarial people, and to move together toward unity.”
In keeping with her ability to accomplish a lot on a very tight schedule, Dr. White tells us, “There were 21 women available to write this book. So I said, we’re going to do it in 21 hours. We rented a meeting room at the Mission Inn – plus rooms for naps if we needed a break – and we worked with a facilitator and got it done in 21 hours.” After publication, the e-version of When We Talk will be offered to members, and the book will also be used for professional development.
Awarding Leaders in Unity
MOSAIC recently hosted its inaugural gala, honoring students and educators who have been advocates for diversity and inclusivity. “We want to offer scholarships every year,” Dr. White says, “but not just because the students are going on to higher education. We want to celebrate the students who have continually looked out for the well-being of all.” In an effort to involve more students in the practice of unity and diversity, future plans include on-campus MOSAIC clubs at local high schools.
Even more important to Dr. White is the acknowledgment of educators who “do all they can on their campuses to include all students in all things, and who specifically look for students who might feel disenfranchised or excluded.” At the gala and fundraiser in April 2022, the Inclusivity Award was given to educators who reached out to such students and “made sure they were good,” she says. The gala raised $25,000, to support scholarships and awards.
Putting Plans into Action
Additionally, MOSAIC has adopted the teachings of Miles McPherson, author of The Third Option: Hope for a Racially Divided Nation. “We had an idea and a vision about what we want to accomplish,” says Dr. White, “but we needed a method to put it into action.” Several members have become certified trainers of The Third Option, which teaches ways to “explore similarities between people, identify biases, and then move forward to get to a place where you can actually embrace MOSAIC.”
Dr. White is quick to acknowledge the importance of MOSAIC’s board members Dr. Talisa Sullivan, Dr. Lissette Magaña, Adriana Kingston, Vinh Tran, Leah Belote, and Karena Zermeno. “These busy professional women share the vision and the responsibility of making MOSAIC a success,” she says.
Dr. White summarizes, “We believe in racial harmony and the celebration of humanity. That’s what I want for my legacy. When my time is up, I want people to say, ‘She was always promoting unity, she saw people as human beings, and she valued diversity, but not over humanity.’”
To learn more about MOSAIC, visit https://mosaic-legacy.com/. Dr. White invites the community to identify others who exhibit the highest level of demonstrated inclusivity for the 2023 awards. Any individual or organization seeking “diversity and equity training that begins with similarities and honoring each other first” can contact MOSAIC.
The Mosaic Fund welcomes all contributions. Click here to donate online.
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