Q&A with Dionne Griffiths

Meet Dionne.

Dionne is the new grants officer at CICF. In this role she serves as liaison between not-for-profit organizations, the community and CICF leadership with a particular focus on the organization’s responsive grantmaking efforts. She manages a diverse portfolio, advises on grantmaking processes and provides guidance to organizations applying for grants.

What excites you about your new role?
I’m excited to build authentic relationships in the Indianapolis community and work with this dynamic team in order to bring about more racial equity and opportunities for diverse people and communities. I am eager to collaborate with and support the passionate voices in the Indianapolis community and co-create new ideas and visions that will allow all people here the chance to grow and thrive for the long-term.

In this past year, what book, movie or album resonated with you in the strongest way and why?
In the past year, I watched the Netflix documentary In Our Mothers’ Garden directed by Shantrelle P. Lewis. It resonated with me deeply as a Black professional woman intentionally trying to practice self-care on a regular basis and create work-life balance/integration. It also gave voice to the diverse experiences of Black women in America, across generations. It highlighted the ways in which Black women have survived and demonstrated resilience through centuries. It made me think of the generations of Black women in my family and how I stand on their shoulders. The film also mentioned the importance of thriving; not just surviving. During this pandemic, I’ve seen and heard about the many disparities Black people and other BIPOC people face. And it is vital that we advocate for our overall health and well-being and that we encourage and support each other so that we all can thrive – regardless of race, class, gender, or other identities that we have.

What’s one thing you’re learning now, and why is it important?
I’m learning that everyone has a story and a history that impact and inform their actions, their decisions, and how they relate to other people. I believe that context matters. So, it is important to authentically get to know people, know their strengths, and know what they are striving for and what they aspire for, in order to build real, transparent, and meaningful connections. I’m also further recognizing that we don’t see the world as it is; we see the world as we are. So, I think of this often in reference to how to effectively address and dismantle systemic racism and racial inequity. We are all impacted by it – one way or another. The question is: What are we going to do about? How invested are we in creating a truly racially equitable society? It’s a lifelong journey.

What’s your favorite way to unwind after a busy day?
I like to go walking in my neighborhood and listen to my favorite R&B songs on my phone. Then I drink a cup of hot herbal tea. I take a deep breath and reflect on my day.

What’s your most recent act of equity?
During the pandemic, I have been very aware of how restaurant industry employees and owners have been negatively impacted by the shutdowns, Asian hate, and racial disparities, specifically in Louisville, KY – where I recently relocated from. My Louisville neighborhood is a predominantly white middle and upper-class community, with no Black-owned restaurants and few other people of color businesses. So, I intentionally sought out and supported the locally-owned people of color restaurants in my neighborhood and nearby neighborhood by purchasing takeout orders. These were restaurants that I knew and loved, such as Sichuan Garden, The Grape Leaf, and Guacamole. (If you’re ever in Louisville, KY, I recommend supporting them!) I wanted to support them as an act of racial equity, economic equity, racial solidarity, and community. I’ve consistently done this throughout the pandemic and I will do that here in Indianapolis as well.

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