Q&A with Nora Dietz-Kilen

Meet Nora Dietz-Kilen.

Nora is the new effective philanthropy associate at CICF. In this role, she provides exceptional support and high-quality philanthropic advising and stewardship to CICF fund holders. 

What excites you about your new role? 
One thing that excites me (of many) is something I’ve noticed that is similar across the staff. There is a musical term called “timbre” which describes a certain characteristic of sound. When I listen to anyone on the CICF team, including our community ambassadors, talk about their work, everyone has this certain sound, like liquid fire or a smoky honey, that ignites their everyday work, and you can hear it when you listen to them. It’s catching, in the best way. It also feels wonderful to be on a team where there are women of color in leadership positions. So often the first or only, I feel an immediate trust in the organization, its leadership, and the direction it’s heading when I see that.  

In this past year, what book, movie or album resonated with you in the strongest way and why?
The “Stereotypes” music video by the Black Violin music group – I would encourage anyone reading this to watch. Classical performing arts, like symphonies, ballet, opera, etc. have often been exclusionary by stereotype and institutionalized racism. My experience playing violin growing up was an anomaly, as all of my stand partners in orchestra were Black classical musicians, and talented at that. Once I stepped back, I realized that this is not often the case, too often due to lack of opportunity and visibility. This song resonates with me because it’s two adult Black men absolutely crushing it on the violin, but also using their gift of music to elevate other marginalized communities through the power of music  

What’s one thing you’re learning now, and why is it important?
One question I’ve asked myself often is, “do I count?” Do I count as a person of color? Do I count as Asian, if I grew up in a White household? If my first words and name were not English, do I count as White? Do I count as a White family member if I’m the only one who has to grab my citizenship papers first in the case of a fire? I have been doing a lot of identity work lately, and it’an evolving process, especially processing the pain in my communities felt from the Atlanta shootings. I am learning to really own and fill out ALL the space I take up – a challenge I know many Asian women of different origins are battling alone. It’s further important for me to share what I learn as I grow for the little girls behind me, since the space I take up should look like a shoe print, making a path I’d be proud for someone to follow or come alongside. I’ll also add that one thing I recently learned is “You don’t get to be an advocate because you feel like you are, which challenges me to better serve my community every day.

What’s your favorite way to unwind after a busy day?
I have 3 go-tos, depending on how my day went. If it was pretty busy, I plug in a Modern Family or New Girl and zone out. If it was extremely busy, I like to go let off steam in a racquetball or tennis court. If it’s impossibly busy, I usually bolt to Eagle Creek. I also have a big black lab, Cocoa Puff, who is very good at letting me cuddle her and soak up good puppy love to recharge.  

What’s your most recent act of equity?
The most recent act of equity was making tie blankets with my Little Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters. It was her ideashe said one of the things she likes to do is service projects. So we picked out fabrics, plugged in a Disney movie, made tie blankets, drank hot cocoa and donated them to our local shelter. Tomorrow, we are going on a hike and I’m looking forward to hearing how she’s been doing. Listening to her and the battles she faces and how fast she has had to grow upI think that has been the most valuable act of equity as of late. Hearing her, learning about a different reality in the same town we both live in, and helping her see out her ideas to keep giving what she/we can. 

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