Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

A National Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement was approved and adopted on October 18, 2019, by the Volunteers of America National Board of Directors. This is part of the National Board’s intentional actions that support the national diversity, equity and inclusion strategy.

The Theological Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement was approved by the Church Governing Board in February of 2018.

Both statements represent Volunteers of America’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. 

VOA Theological Statement PDF
VOA DEI Statement PDF

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For more information, please contact Rhonda Mower, Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.
Phone: 703.341.5004
rmower@voa.org

National Office DEI Strategy Team

  • Cristina Blough (she/her/hers)

    Director, Corporate Partnerships & DEI

    "As a first generation Hispanic American, I strongly believe that learning about other cultures and experiences enhances our ability to empathize with those around us. Celebrating those perspectives, cultures and stories is critical to building a better, stronger and more inclusive VOA for tomorrow and beyond. I’m honored to serve on the DEI Strategy Team as it navigates the creation of a vibrant office culture where people can bring their stories, experiences, cultures, and authentic selves to work."

  • Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock

    Senior Vice President & Director, Shay Moral Injury Center

    "I am a CIS female, Asian American/Latinx, feminist and progressive Christian minister. I want an opportunity to learn from others on the committee and to contribute from my own experience to DEI work at Volunteers of America. I have been involved with organizations and movements for justice and peace since 1968, and I engage in intersecting coalition work because I believe if anyone lives with injustice, it affects me and is part of my struggle. Diversity experiences have defined my life. I was born in Fukuoka, Japan, and raised by my Buddhist grandparents and mother until I was six. My White stepfather moved my mother and me to Fort Riley, Kansas, just as I started first grade; I had to learn English and change religion, culture, and country almost overnight. I was raised in the military with friends of all races, many of whom had lived in foreign countries wherever there were US bases. By the time I was 16, I also had lived on three continents, Asia, North America, and Europe and in three states, Kansas, Mississippi, and California. My last semester in college, I sailed aboard World Campus Afloat, which held classes on board and stopped in fourteen cities along the coasts of Africa and Asia, beginning with Casablanca, Morocco, and ending with Kobe, Japan. I’ve spent many years of my life in the religion academy building and supporting organizations that advocate for minoritized scholars and have accumulated much social capital with experts who work on DEI issues.”

  • Joe Budzynski

    Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

    “As a senior leader of VOA, I believe I am in a unique position to drive DEI change within VOA. Being a part of this group allows me to listen to ideas and concerns surrounding DEI, and lets staff know senior management is engaged in bringing about real change. I bring DEI experience from the work I have done with Leadership Greater Washington, especially understanding how to unleash the power of diverse thinking to advance the mission of an organization.”

  • Kristine Chong

    Program Assistant, Shay Moral Injury Center

    “I am committed to co-cultivating more just and care-filled cultures, and DEI is one of multiple spaces to do so at VOA. I join this group with the insights and lessons from my teachers and comrades that I've had the abundant joy to walk with, including BIPOC, Asian American, immigrant, refugee, survivor, queer, activist, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, disabled, and worker class communities.”

  • Jane Cohen

    Senior Vice President, Human Resources

    "Diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential to me! I am a third culture individual that grew up in different countries and cultures than my Canadian family. Raised bilingually and moving frequently, made me have a multi-faceted cultural identity. The DEI strategy team provides a venue to work with others that also believe DEI is important. I joined Volunteers of America in 2003 because of the mission. The “big tent” approach welcomes everyone into our ministry. We recognizes each individual’s importance and women have been considered equal since our 1896 founding. Volunteers of America encourages and values diverse perspectives and cultures, which gives us a stronger organization and enriches our mission.”

  • Clare Ann Fitzgerald

    Senior Vice President & Counsel for Litigation, Risk Management & Compliance

  • Nicole Jones, PhD

    Senior Vice President, Organizational Development

    “I believe we were all given strengths – amazing, unique gifts that we can bring to our families, our work and our communities. I want to be part of creating a culture where people can bring their strengths, and their best self, to work…a diverse, inclusive culture where employees can thrive. While I will bring my background and experience in organizational development and training, I can also bring my desire to be an ally. I know I have enjoyed privilege throughout my life, and I believe with privilege comes responsibility.”

  • Rhonda Mower (she/her/hers)

    Senior Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

    "I am excited to be a part of the DEI Strategy Group because I get to work with heroes, sheroes and theyroes - internally and externally - to create a world of greater justice and hope for clients, staff and the communities we serve. To the DEI Strategy Group I offer perseverance and a passion for making the world a better place where ALL have the opportunity to thrive! In addition, I am a Certified Diversity Executive as well as a Certified Professional Diversity Coach. And, I bring over 15 years of experience working with executives to create healthier cultures, happier employees and more effective leaders."

  • Stephen Samuels

    Vice President, Innovation & Impact Investing

    “My journey to understanding DE&I began when I became an urban planner. My years practicing community development deepened that awareness as I strived to resolve the complexities associated with neighborhood revitalization and economic development. I’ve learned that with all the social determinants of health, implementation strategies must be designed with multiple perspectives, particularly those that are most impacted and stand to have the greatest opportunity to improve the trajectories of their lives. I don’t think my path to understand, empathize and act will ever end, and I am honored to be included on this team.”

  • Amy Tran

    Communications Coordinator

    "I wanted to be a part of the DEI strategy group because I believe in the work that VOA is doing and I want to be a part of steering the organization towards a more equitable and just direction. My past experiences as a woman of color made me seek out other voices that could articulate what I was going through and explain it in a way that reached me, someone who previously did not understand things like privilege, oppression, and racial trauma. I believe I can offer my unique perspective as a person of color to the strategy group so that we work towards building an organization that is not just an ally, but an accomplice in building a better world for everyone."