Reflections: Amplifying Voices for Equity

Juliet Maloff, senior communications officer, explains how we are shifting some of our storytelling to give more voice to the community.

Reflections: Our Personal & Professional Efforts Toward Racial Equity is a monthly blog. Each month, we will reflect on what we are doing either personally or professionally to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in our work. View more

View our Equity Values & Commitment


As I reflect on our organization’s journey towards emphasizing equity as a Community Foundation priority, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride and eagerness. Over the past few years, the communications team has taken significant strides to align our messaging with the values and priorities now outlined in the organization’s new five-year strategic plan.

One of the key aspects of our new approach is our department’s commitment to using the power of storytelling for social good. To do so, we will be working to amplify the voices of others and spotlight the incredible individuals who are driving positive change in Central New York. We recognize that our role is not to take the spotlight for ourselves, but rather to provide a platform for and uplift those who are making a real impact on the ground. By featuring their stories, we can provide a space for them to reach a wider audience and showcase the incredible work they are doing.

Another crucial part of our communications strategy is our commitment to bringing attention to the inequities local residents are experiencing. It is not enough to simply acknowledge these injustices—we must actively work towards dismantling the systems and policies that cause inequities by being more intentional and deliberate with whose stories we’re featuring. Through these efforts, we aim to shed light on systemic racism and other forms of bias (e.g. abilities, gender identity, socio-economic status), highlighting the stories and experiences of those who have been impacted. By providing a platform for the following individuals, we hope to raise awareness, foster dialogue, and inspire meaningful action:

  • Donors and Supporters: By sharing their personal stories and preserving their legacies, we hope to shed light on their experiences and demonstrate the importance of supporting efforts to create a more inclusive society. These stories serve as a powerful reminder that everyone has a role to play in driving change, regardless of their background or social status.
  • Community Members and Partners: Their stories are an essential part of the narrative we seek to promote, as they provide firsthand insights into the resilience demonstrated against the challenges they face. By sharing their stories, we hope to foster empathy, understanding, and a sense of unity among our audience.

Equally important to our written storytelling are our efforts to ensure that the imagery we use is representing the neighborhoods we serve. According to marketing experts, the average person sees between 4,000 and 10,000 photos in a single day. All of these exposures shape our perception and how we see the world. Our brain processes images faster than words, so in a quick glance we can be unknowingly and unintentionally exposing our subconscious to stereotypes and bias.

Visual imagery can influence not only how people view others, but also how others view themselves. This is, in part, because we consume images through our own lens, perspectives and identities. By ensuring that our verbal and visual messaging is not perpetuating stereotypes or deficit framing, we have the power to influence our audience’s perceptions, ultimately empowering them to form their own opinions without external bias.

There is more work to be done, and I am optimistic for the future as we put our new strategic plan into action. By aligning our messaging with our equity communications priorities, we are creating a powerful platform for change. Our commitment to amplifying voices and addressing inequities reflects our dedication to making a difference in the lives of those we serve. I am proud to be a part of this transformative journey and look forward to playing a part in making a positive impact on Central New York.

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