The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators announces today that April Powers has joined the organization as its inaugural Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer, effective June 3, 2020. Powers brings over 15 years’ experience in diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging, training, recruiting, community outreach and leadership to the position. Her latest role has been running her own global inclusion consulting and training firm, First Impression Rx, which serves Fortune 50 government and nonprofit organizations. Her previous diversity roles at Nestlé USA and Amgen, as well as her nonprofit clients bring a depth of knowledge to the role on a global scale, with a nonprofit lens.
Powers will be integral to guiding SCBWI, its leadership team, the Equity & Inclusion committee, and the regional chapters in their programs, policies, opportunities and challenges related to DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) matters. The Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer will be the SCBWI’s spokesperson for DEIB internally and externally. She will help inform the SCBWI leadership team, as well as regional chapters, on DEIB strategy, best practices, training efforts, and success metrics. Additionally, Powers will collaborate with SCBWI functional leaders to make sure all processes, programs, and policies are infused with a DEI sensibility.
“We have spent many months in search of the right candidate for this critical position,” commented Lin Oliver, SCBWI Executive Director. “Hiring April could not have come at a better moment in history as we all struggle to dismantle long-standing racial injustice and implicit and explicit prejudice. Our writers, illustrators, and translators must speak for and to all the world’s children. April’s deep expertise and passion in this area will propel us as an organization and as individuals to reach that goal.”
Reflecting on her new position, Powers commented, “I am thrilled to be a part of an organization that contributes to so much joy for so many families, including my own. Supporting ALL writers, translators, and illustrators for ALL children will be an important part of our mission going forward and I’m proud to lead that charge. As a bilingual multihyphenate person: multicultural/religious, mixed race, cisgender straight woman with LGBTQI+ and multi-ethnic family, I grew up never seeing myself nor my family represented in popular culture. At this sad time in history for our human family, we are a part of a community that can bring light, joy, humor, and connection. My goal is to bring even more to SCBWI–more people, more inclusion, more understanding.”
About April Powers
April Powers is the first Equity and Inclusion Officer in SCBWI’s almost 50-year history. Most recently the Managing Director of First Impression Rx, Powers helped companies, including the Center for Nonprofit Management, manage differences through training and diversity and inclusion strategy. She is a highly rated trainer for Fortune 50, government and non-profit companies. Her work includes LGBTQI+ bench-marking through the Human Rights Campaign, project managing a cultural dexterity roll-out and delivering certified training in the areas of Generational Diversity, Intersectionality, Unconscious Bias, Communication, Emotional Intelligence, LGBTQI+ Understanding, Empathy, Customer Service, Effective Teams, Effective Communication, Positive Workplace, Difficult Conversations and Cultural Competence.
Powers graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Spanish Language & Literature. She began her recruiting career with Ryan, Miller & Associates; launched Manifest Executive Search; then became the Manager of Diversity and Recruiting for Nestlé USA as well as an Inclusion Trainer & Consultant at Amgen Inc. She is bilingual, has lived in the USA, South America and Europe. and, thus brings a global perspective with local understanding SCBWI’s goals in the inclusion space.
SCBWI Statement of Intent on Equity and Inclusion
At SCBWI, we recognize that publicly committing to equity and inclusion is crucial to our membership and the readers we serve. Words, stories, and images are powerful: They define who we are for ourselves and for others. Historically, content creation that reaches a wide audience of children and teens has been intertwined with a legacy of privilege, oppression, bias, and racism. We acknowledge that, as part of the children’s publishing industry, we share in that legacy.
We accept the challenge and responsibility of becoming agents of change by affirming the need for increased representation in every facet of the children’s and YA book industry, including but not limited to race/ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity, socioeconomic status, geography, citizenship, and religion. To fulfill our mission of supporting the creation and availability of quality books for every young reader in all regions of the world, we commit to championing equity and inclusion throughout our organization by striving to:
–identify and dismantle inequities within our policies and practices
–expand inclusivity in our leadership, membership, and volunteer corps
–increase the social consciousness of our members through substantive learning opportunities
–continually examine and renew that commitment in our events, programming, online initiatives, publications, awards and grants, community outreach, and education efforts
As creators of books for children and teens, we have both a unique responsibility and a powerful opportunity to help young people create an equitable, inclusive world. We look forward to listening, learning, and leading.