County Commissioners Provide Implicit Bias Training

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By Arrick Garringer—

MUNCIE, IN —The Delaware County Commissioners recently contracted with Shafer Leadership Academy to provide the workshop “Understanding Implicit Bias and Microaggressions” for their staff, other County employees, and other elected officials.

The two-hour workshop, which was facilitated by Ball State University Professor of Sociology Dr. Melinda Messineo, provided participants with an understanding of unconscious bias, its origins, and its connection to micro-aggressions, along with tools and proactive everyday strategies for positive outcomes.

Dr. Messineo explains “We used to think there were ‘biased people’ and ‘unbiased people’ and that ‘good’ people were not biased. Over time, cognitive science has helped us understand that we are ALL biased and the difference is not between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ but in how aware we are of our potential biases and how skilled we are at the strategies we can mobilize to reduce the impact of those biases.”

Shafer Leadership Academy provided the workshops three times. First, as an in-person session for the employees of the Delaware County Highway Department. That session was offered early one July morning in the Highway Department garage.

“We’ve taken our programs across the state, and I have to say, it is one of the most interesting places we’ve ever facilitated” reports Shafer Leadership Academy Executive Director Mitch Isaacs. Isaacs continued “It was great through. The Highway Department took social distancing and safety practices seriously. It was a hot morning, but they were alert and attentive throughout the session.”

The next two sessions were offered virtually. Dr. Messineo facilitated one session for the Delaware County Courts. According to Emily Anderson, Court Administrator for the five Delaware Circuit Courts, “The Judges recognized the need for this training and made it mandatory for all staff and probation officers. We heard many positive comments following the training sessions. We thank the Shaffer Leadership Academy and the Commissioners for providing the training.”

The final session took place virtually and was provided to all other County employees and elected officials. According to Commissioner James King, “the training was very informative concerning how people treat others and might not even be aware of what they are saying.” King continued, “I also had the training done for the Daleville police department. Thank you to Shafer Leadership Academy for hosting.”

Half the proceeds from training were donated to Motivate Our Minds (MOM), a local nonprofit selected by Commissioner Sherry Riggin. Jonathan Jones, Executive Director for MOM was pleased by the donation: “Bias is something that lives within all of us, so it is great to see Shafer Leadership Academy and the Delaware County Commissioners spearheading this initiative to help us all discover our biases and address them for the betterment of our communities, our neighbors, and ourselves. MOM being a financial beneficiary of this initiative is truly an honor and acknowledgment of the importance of MOM’s efforts to build thriving communities in Muncie.”

“We are grateful for the County Commissioners partnership on this issue,” says Isaacs. “We have talked with other local government entities about this training, but the Delaware County Commissioners were the first to ask for it and the only to make it a requirement.”

Those interested in the training can contact Mitch Isaacs to bring the training to their company or organization.

About Shafer Leadership Academy:

Located in Muncie,Indiana Shafer Leadership Academy is a community leadership institute where people of all ages, backgrounds, and interests can access the tools necessary to develop and enhance their leadership skills. We provide scheduled leadership offerings, facilitate various leadership events, and build tailor-made courses for individuals and organizations that desire to reap the benefits of personal, organizational, and civic leadership development. Shafer Leadership Academy provides inclusive leadership development so that people, organizations and communities reach their full potential. To learn more about SLA