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Racial Trauma at National Farm to School: A Case Study on Performative Equity Work

Updated: Apr 25

Shared via email by Sommer Sibilly-Brown, NFSN Advisory Board Chair on Feb. 21, 2022


As the Board Chair, I can report that the NFSN Advisory Board is engaged in reviewing the investigation outcomes and recommendations in order to determine next steps. Some actions that have already been taken include:


An independent and comprehensive HR investigation conducted by our fiscal sponsor, Tides. This investigation is being conducted by Tides HR with support from their Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion team.


(Edit April 1, 2022; Jeanette Burlingame): It should be noted that the Human Resources department at Tides is reported to have been complicit in innumerable allegations of racial harm reported by staff against Helen Dombalis and others, including members of Tides staff. In no way is it appropriate to have Tides manage the internal investigation.

NFSN Executive Director Helen Dombalis is on paid leave

NFSN Executive Director Helen Dombalis is on paid leave in order to create the most productive environment for the investigation to be concluded and acted upon.


As part of our Call to Action and racial equity goals, last October we initiated a search for an equity consultant to conduct a comprehensive audit of NFSN’s systems, practices and policies, and to create an action plan for the organization. We anticipate that the audit will conclude in July 2022. The concerns raised in Parker’s letter will be included in the audit.


Shared via email by Sommer Sibilly-Brown, NFSN Advisory Board Chair on Feb. 28, 2022


Here are next steps:

  • At this time, the independent investigation conducted by our fiscal sponsor, Tides, has been completed. The executive committee has received the investigation findings.

  • The executive committee engaged the full board on February 17, 2022.

  • The executive committee is planning to meet with Parker and Helen, separately, before making any final recommendations.

  • Members of the executive committee have begun and will continue to connect directly with staff to ask for their input and make space to respond to their needs and concerns in this process.

  • The next steps are for the executive committee to review, analyze and discuss the findings and recommendations.

Our next update can be found here.


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