A Message from APSE's Interim Executive Director

2020 has been a difficult year for a lot of reasons. It's been a really difficult year for the Employment First movement; it's been a difficult year because of COVID; it's been a tremendously difficult year as we have watched the continued injustices that are taking place every day against people of color in our country.

Julie Christensen wearing a black mask that says

What does all of that mean to APSE? We are a values focused organization. Our work takes place within the broader context of civil rightsYes, we are committed to Employment First, but we have an imperative and a responsibility to speak to the intersectionality of the issues of the moment. Quite frankly, this conversation is long overdue to address the disparities, that as a national movement, we have not necessarily put the intention behind that we should have.

On the eve of Election Night 2020, it is important to remember that this conversation is not a partisan conversation. Voting is not a partisan act. This is a critical moment where there are significant issues, moral issues, on the ballot that we have to address. It doesn't matter which side of the aisle you're on. We need everybody at the table being willing to sit in an uncomfortable space and to have those conversations. So, that's why APSE and that's why now.

I saw a meme recently that said outrage without action is just privilege comforting itself. That struck a chord for me, because sitting in my role for the last couple of years as the director of policy and advocacy for APSE, we've had a lot of occasions to feel outraged. But what have we done to take action?

Last week, we held APSE's first Facebook Live talk last week, If Not Us: Why We Need to Talk About Race. This was an opportunity to engage in honest and authentic conversation and thinking, as was expertly modeled by our amazing panelists. This was just the beginning of a much needed conversation, with more to come. We invite and look forward to feedback from the APSE community as we continue down this path. We don't have the answers.

Furthermore, I don't have the answers and, in full transparency, I recognize my own vulnerability in the space. I'm grateful for the opportunity to use my platform of being the interim executive director of APSE to elevate these questions and invite all of you to join us in setting a course of action for the future.

The first step towards action is to vote.

Julie Christensen, MSW, PhD

Director of Policy & Advocacy, Interim Executive Director

Photo of the 3 panelists, all of whom identify as BLack, Indigenous, or Persons of Color. Title of the event.

If Not Us: Why We Need to Talk About Race

Amber Boydston and Chisa O'Quinn were joined last week by Wes Anderson, National APSE Board Member, for a Facebook Live session to discuss race and Employment First. In case you missed it. You can watch the full panel discussion here. We look forward to providing more opportunities to expand APSE’s commitment to social justice and to make concrete commitments to action.