Padilla DE+I Collective: Q&A with Indigenous Leader Chad Poitra

The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis two years ago raised awareness of the urgent need for greater diversity, equity and inclusion (DE+I) initiatives. These calls were particularly strong within the communications field, and while Padilla had begun its DE+I program in earnest in 2019, the George Floyd tragedy, which happened only a few miles from Padilla’s headquarters, compelled us to accelerate our efforts. 

Padilla established a Diversity + Inclusion Council to ensure we are being intentional in creating a more diverse work environment. The Council – with guidance from Senior Leadership – focuses on the following key areas: Recruitment, Training, Retention and Content, which includes content we develop for ourselves and our clients. DE+I client counsel is part of work we provide within our Corporate Advisory Group – and specifically, the Social Impact team. To supplement Padilla’s internal expertise, we assembled the DE+I Collective comprised of external advisors to help ensure an inclusive and culturally appropriate approach to public relations and communications for our agency and clients. Throughout the year, we will be profiling Collective members to shine a light on their expertise, experiences and the immense value they bring to Padilla.  

The newest member of our DE+I Collective is Chad Poitra, Chief Disruption Officer for InnoNative Consulting, Inc.; a full-service strategic guidance and planning firm working towards inclusive economies and a decolonized future. 

Chad, welcome to the DE+I Collective! Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Miigwech (thanks) for this opportunity.  I am anishinaabe-ojibwe, enrolled with the federal recognized sovereign nation of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians with more than 20 years in community and business development. 

Tell us why you joined the DE+I Collective.  

I was very fortunate to have a lunch meeting with Matt Kucharski to discuss the company’s overall DE+I work. As an indigenous business professional, I was inspired by the leadership Padilla was providing in approaching this work in an authentic way. Utilizing their business strategy when it comes to communication and brand awareness and applying that approach in a top down, bottom-up ownership of implementing DE+I company-wide.   

After the meeting with Matt, I had the opportunity to meet with additional Padilla leadership to hear others’ perspective on the internal work but also how those experiences were a value-add to the clients Padilla serves in their DE+I journey.  After that, I was in. You’ve got to walk it, not just talk it. 

What do you hope to get out of the experience?  

To support Padilla’s effort and my fellow DE+I Collective colleagues in turning this moment we have into an era. Our communities have been prepared and waiting for this shift for centuries. We have the collective knowledge, experience and values to strengthen our communities.   

What do you hope to bring to this role? 

To be of service. I walk this journey treating everyone with value and respect. To help partners understand the abundance our communities have. I also hope to go outside my comfort level to learn how I can grow both personally and professionally. We all have a lot to learn, and I want to strengthen the practice of governing from abundance, not fear. Building support systems from all walks of life keeps that fire burning. 

What would you like people to know about indigenous communities? 

The resiliency and how leading with values results in positive experiences. To know that the contributions Indigenous people have made in building this country, pre- and post-colonialism, is damn inspiring.  

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