News from the Top

The value of IDA’s values


I’ve been a part of the IDA world for over 20 years now in some capacity. Like all of us, I get absorbed by my own organization and have periods when I feel less connected and others when my engagement is strong. But when I need to “reground”, I always have this organization – and all the people within it – to return to. Over the years, IDA has grown in scope, capacity and relevance. For me, the organization has a soul, and it has become increasingly more impactful to me, including my connection to the greater goals and the functioning of my own organization.  

When David Downey shared that the IDA team was holding their own retreat and working towards determining their organizational values, I was impressed by that exercise alone. But, of course, each of us is held accountable for how we implement, operationalize and LIVE the values we claim to hold. Resourcefulness, Optimism, Inclusion, Respect and Integrity are the values that IDA determined. As board chair of IDA, I hope that you feel these values coming through the work and evident in the team.   

Here’s what I’ve observed that gives me pride:

Resourcefulness – I see IDA looking at partners that expand the reach regularly. There are conversations around who we can bring into the tent and other partners that are natural for this growth stage. IDA partners with other national and international agencies that work in economic development, housing, mental health, education and placemaking, just to name a few. In addition, IDA works to stay abreast of innovative resources, therefore keeping us all at the top of our games. Their resourcefulness leads to extended available resources to us, through training and workshops and programs. I use IDA as a go-to when I need to validate the work locally.          

Optimism – While there are many components of our work that feel heavy, IDA takes the opportunity to lighten with a balance of information, best practices, and positive stories. We are all empowered by the knowledge that we gain and the access to this powerful network. Hearing how others have accomplished challenges and being connected to successes gives me hope during the toughest moments.

Inclusion—Since working with IDA, I have been humbled by the care taken in curating programming, the great attention given to determining speakers at conferences, and the deliberate and meaningful approach to ensuring diversity in participation. The approach to inclusion and diversity appears to be led by thoughtfulness and curiosity to ensure that all unique voices are not only invited but feel celebrated.  

Respect & Integrity – These are the baseline of the work. In our own places, we are often challenged by systems that were built before us, inequity that must be repaired, and taking responsibility for our places and their histories. It is the ultimate in respect and integrity when we allow ourselves to be humbled by the past and use it to inform our path. IDA opens the door for these conversations. I have personally witnessed many moments within the IDA umbrella when ideas were challenged and programs were improved because of critical thinking. Like any of our organizations, IDA is not perfect and strives to improve with each program and endeavor. But that growth is done with intention and always with respect and integrity.  

In my own organization, the delivery of IDA programs through the lens of these values, gives me great pride. It fuels me to encourage others to join the organization. And on those days when I feel buried in the minutia of the work, my values and the presence of IDA as a positive resource, gets me back up to the balcony to see the importance of the work before us.