July 21st, 2014
Interview with Linda Quist
of Partners for a Racism Free Community
The Division Avenue Business Association
had a chance to interview Linda Quist, the Director
of Finance & Development for Partners for a Racism
Free Community. Here is what she had to say.
DABA: What is the
mission of Partners for a Racism Free Community?
for a Racism-Free Community works with
organizations, businesses, schools, congregations,
and others to provide tools necessary to build an
inclusive and racism-free environment and be
positioned to succeed in the new multi-cultural
DABA: How many
businesses are members?
Linda: 18 have
completed the assessment process which shows them
where they are. We then coach them to improve
policies & practices to become a more inclusive
environment. Tommy Branns became a full
partner in February of this year. They met the
6 standards on the assessment.
DABA: What is the
process for becoming a member?
Linda: This is a
systems level change tool. We work from the
inside out. We look at a company's purchasing
policy, leadership, internal policies, vendor supply
practices, customers, market place, and
collaboration with outside partnerships.
Sometimes businesses are doing these things well but
we help them write it down as policy. There's
a measurement to track these using accountability,
progress year to year, noting what they have done to
improve, and eliminating barriers from within.
DABA: How did
Partners for a Racism Free Community start?
Linda: We started
as a program of GRACE, which holds a summit every year on racism.
There was talk but no action. Finally we asked ourselves, what can we do to see real change?
Grand Rapids is very multi-cultural, the demo
graphics in this community have changed. It
behooves everyone to become more inclusive.
There are many communities represented on South
DABA: Is there
anything else you want to let the community know
about your organization?
Linda: We offer
workshops on various topics related to bias,
inclusion, racism, cultural competency, hiring and
retaining people of color and other pertinent
topics. The cost is low, only $30 per person,
including lunch. The key to this process is that we
want everyone to know that this is a journey. We are
all going to make mistakes. The important thing is
to join the walk.
For more information visit their Website at