2018 Awaken Inclusion Awards

For the past two years, Awaken has acknowledged our client organizations and leaders who tirelessly work to cultivate workplaces we all dream of — ones that embrace and celebrate diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB).

To us, awards aren’t the goal — they’re one way we pause to acknowledge the work, often thankless and arduous work, of some of our most committed clients we’ve observed in the past year. Awards also don’t mean the leaders and their organizations we’ve chosen to honor are perfect or “done” by any means — but in our seemingly never-ending pursuit of justice and equity for all, we believe it’s worthwhile to take a collective breath and show our gratitude to those who continue to push forward despite countless obstacles and risks.

This year, we decided to point out an Inclusive Learning & Development Program within a company along with three Fearless Leaders making waves in their organization(s) and industry.

Our hope is that these recognitions help spread the incredible work of each of the award recipients, while amplifying the characteristics we want and need to see more broadly in the DEIB world and beyond.

Check out the brief profiles of each honoree and why we selected them. We encourage you to follow their work and reach out to them directly to show gratitude if you feel inspired by their work :)

First —

2018 Inclusive Learning & Development Program Award

Phylicia Jones, Director of Talent Development at PagerDuty

Inclusive Manager Training Program at PagerDuty, led by Phylicia Jones

PagerDuty’s Leadership Development Program is one of the most comprehensive, thoughtful, and innovative talent development programs we’ve come across. Led by Phylicia Jones, their multi-year, multi-module program allows all people managers to focus on building a breadth of core leadership skills while inviting participants to do the critical self-work that is needed to thrive as a great leader and rise up those around them.

By embedding our signature D&I workshops into the Leadership Development Program, PagerDuty was able to position D&I education and awareness, specifically the foundational understanding around identities and psychological safety, as a core competency for all people managers. This seamless integration has modernized the way we define great leadership and the authentic conversations that occurred during our workshops have been truly incredible. The program is being expanded globally, and we’re thrilled to be continuing our journey together!

Why Phylicia loves Awaken:

“Awaken challenges me in all the right ways to rethink the learning environment and build a new of kind learning space where leaders can walk in and see the world a little differently than before. Partnering with Awaken has elevated what leadership development experiences can be and should be for the future leaders of teams around the work. PagerDuty gave me the opportunity, and Awaken opened my eyes, heart and mind to embrace this work and embed these conversations into the learning journey for our leaders.”

Second category—

2018 Fearless Leader Award Winners

Why they were chosen

  • They are strategic in their approach to DEIB — from aligning the executive team to executing on a long-term vision, they approach the work with thoughtfulness and intention. They are invested in our programs and partner with us closely to set our programs up for success.
  • They live their values around inclusion, equity, diversity, and justice and model them through their daily behaviors, and they also embody Awaken’s company values: Balance Compassion and Criticality, Live What We Teach, GSD: Get Shit Done, Win as a Community, Don’t Give Up on Joy.
  • Their commitment to DEIB extends beyond their team/org: They understand DEIB is connected to the larger conversations rooted in social justice, history, and community. They also recognize DEIB work must be embraced in all spaces they occupy and relationships they have. We appreciate the way they treat us (and presumably other consultants, vendors, etc.) with respect and care. And perhaps the most meaningful to us is the fact that they trust us to do our work well. Remember: inclusive and equitable behaviors start way before we deliver workshops!
  • They are courageous and risk-taking. They speak truth to power and are allergic to bullshit marketing slogans and check-the-box D&I activities.

2018 Fearless Leader Award Recipients

Jabu Dayton

Jabu Dayton

“Decolonize Silicon Valley.”

Current Role: Chief Officer of People and Inclusion at Abstract

Previous Leadership Roles at (not exhaustive): Shyp, TaskRabbit, Airbnb, UniversityNow, Nordstrom

Our favorite moments with Jabu:

  1. Jabu ties tech to the broader systems and communities. Her explicit call to decolonize Silicon Valley shows her ongoing commitment to speak truth to power. Status quo isn’t good enough for Jabu — we’ve been inspired by her commitment to raising awareness in and outside of her workplace, including discussing gentrification and the responsibility of tech companies to show up for the community at large.
  2. Jabu was a part of our interview panel when we were going through a hyper-growth phase for our facilitators. She fell in love with so many of our candidates, and she was a huge part of how we were able to build such an incredible team! Thank you Jabu ❤
  3. Jabu never shies away from naming the source of tension and discomfort — here’s to authentic communications all day everyday!

Why Jabu loves Awaken:

“I hire Awaken repeatedly because I am an executive with my own reputation to protect. I can trust that they will deliver a flawless experience to my demanding teams and clients, every, single time. My clients and companies need a fast-paced, compelling experience that will teach them something they had not yet learned. Awaken is an important strategy to keep myself employed and personally feeling amazing about the type of work I do. This work changes lives, forever.

Awaken brings intellect and strategy to complex and highly nuanced conversations. Their facilitators are accessible and knowledgeable without being stuffy or boring. They give life and fun to a meaningful experience, changing perspectives and broadening skill sets for employees who are hungry to learn and grow their development. I consider Awaken experts in a field that is constantly changing and evolving, I rely on them to continue learning myself. How does one gain insights into experiences you have not personally had? You find people that know that space like the back of their hands and can guide you gracefully through it.

Bottom line: Awaken makes me look better to my boss and helps me to retain my employees.”

Lisa Lee

Lisa Lee

“There’s no shortcut. It’s a journey.”

Current Role: VP of Global Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at DoorDash

Previous Leadership Roles at (not exhaustive): Squarespace, Pandora, Facebook

Our favorite Awaken moments with Lisa:

  1. Lisa approaches D&I holistically and strategically. Even before we began our partnership, she ensured our program was set up for success by providing context to the broader org on why D&I education is a critical component to developing an inclusive culture. This thoughtful set up has allowed our programs to thrive at her organizations. Despite her busy schedule, she has kicked off countless workshops and gone through the journey with her teams, modeling vulnerability, openness, and courage.
  2. Lisa’s work expands beyond the tech industry — we’ve observed Lisa fiercely advocate for social justice in communities she’s a part of. She’s always rooting for the underdogs and isn’t afraid to use her privileges to create access and resources. She currently serves on the board of National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and is a Trustee at Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) and we’ve loved being invited to witness these organizations’ incredible work!!

3. Lisa shows up for people she works with. Her commitment to lifting others, taking care of one another, and prioritizing relationships shows even in small details, from advocating for the needs of small businesses to bringing us a giant bag full of snacks to our office warming party. It’s no surprise Lisa is able to build incredibly effective, inclusive, and dedicated team time after time — she inspires while genuinely caring about each person along the journey.

Why Lisa loves Awaken:

“Awaken is a partner whose equity approach to tackling tough diversity and inclusion conversations head on are limitless, and incredibly effective. One of their core values around “compassion and criticality” is precisely the new bar that we need to have today, which is understanding that we are all still learning, but that we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard of awareness and inclusive actions. With Awaken’s help, I look forward to evolving DoorDash into an even better workplace — one that’s hyper-focused on evaluating, enhancing, and promoting a diverse and inclusive culture.”

Moire Rasmussen

Moire Rasmussen

“Don’t hold anything back. We can handle it.”

Current Role: Bay Area & Northwest Diversity & Inclusion Leader at PwC (20 years!)

Our favorite Awaken moments with Moire:

  1. Moire is constantly looking for ways to push boundaries. She understands the real work of D&I begins with the personal and isn’t afraid to challenge people to grow from areas of discomfort. Our initial meetings always included her explicit permission and request for us to speak truth and create controversy, which allowed us to bring authentic, modern, and daring curriculum to her teams.
  2. Moire models how to practice beginner’s mind. Despite having been doing D&I work for close to 20 years, Moire is always looking to learn and expand her knowledge from a place of humility. She practices compassion for others on the learning journey, and models vulnerability at each step while encouraging others to do the same. We’re humbled by her presence and her ability to practice both compassion and criticality.
  3. Moire and her organization’s acknowledgement of the painful loss of their 26-year-old colleague Botham Jean, who was shot and killed by a cop in Dallas, reinforced the importance of having critical conversations around race in and outside of the workplace. Keep being courageous, Moire!

Why Moire loves Awaken:

“When you take the person out of the equation and you remember to add the personal instead, you can’t help but be courages. That’s why I love Awaken — Awaken makes Diversity & Inclusion personal. Awaken helps people see that their fear stands in the way of their connection to others and I applaud Awaken for doing this work. I’m so grateful to be a part of this beautiful journey.”

We’re so grateful for everyone’s tenacity, hard work, and wisdom. Let’s continue doing great work together to develop inclusive teams and culture — here’s to another impactful year!!


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About Michelle Kim

Michelle is an entrepreneur, activist, speaker, and writer passionate about empowering individuals and organizations to create positive change. She is the Co-Founder and CEO of Awaken, a leading provider of experiential and modern Diversity & Inclusive workshops and Modern Manager™ training.