Our Commitment to Diversity


The CRI leadership team and Board of Directors have been working to develop a comprehensive plan to become a more diverse and inclusive community.  While many of these efforts have been underway since last fall, both the killing of George Floyd and the onset of the COVID crisis have only underscored their importance and created a greater sense of urgency at CRI. 

Social Issues Affect Us All   What We've Been Doing in 2019 & 2020

What we Can Do to Move Beyond Words   What will be Different at CRI In our Future


Fall 2021

Considerable progress, training and reflection continue among the CRI board of Directors and senior staff.  This page is going to be updated through the winter and we look forward to sharing more as we progress through the winter.  If members of the community have questions or are interested in learning more about CRI's efforts regarding Inclusion, Equity and Diversity, they are welcomed to reach This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Executive Director.  


July and August through Labor Day 2021


This summer CRI began a pilot to provide free transportation for youth to join any program at CRI - from one week programs teaching basic introduction to participation to competitive programs.   In our evaluation of our role in providing equitable access to transportation and identifying how we can best serve “transportation deserts” to get Boston’s youth to the boathouse, we learned the impact of lack of access of our city’s youth to transportation doesn’t affect one program here - it affects all our youth programs.  We will continue this program into the fall, including the transition from staff driving vans to contracting with a bus company to begin offering regularly scheduled busses (and to be able to manage higher volume of participants) to travel to and from CRI on a regular schedule weekdays and Saturdays.  More information will be forthcoming in this area.

Breaking Down Silos

We have begun a significant transformation of our youth programming.  No longer will our BPS programs be separated from our organizational program offerings.  Under the leadership of our Youth Development staff, kids from across the Boston area are rowing in all CRI youth programs without identification or sequestration.  We’ve promoted our financial aid offerings across CRI to ensure cost is not an inhibiting factor for registration and our staff are broadening their outreach and recruiting into a broader array of communities.  This reorganization of our youth programs will be the basis for continuing conversations and changes from everything from more clarity on the focus of our youth programs to how to increase access for youth across the Boston area, regardless of background, ability or experience.  


Free meals for youth served at CRI 

In partnership with the Mayors office, SummerEats, Project Bread, the Greater Boston YMCA, and Boston Public School Food and Nutrition Services, CRI provided daily meals to young people coming for programs in July and August.   The program was so successful that CRI will begin offering free after school snacks and pre and post nutrition free of charge to all youth coming to row at the Harry Parker Boathouse.  The investment in free food for youth will be similar to our approach to providing transportation - it will involve zero cost to the the participants and accessible without any form of registration or identification of need.  


Summer Pilots with the Let’s Row Fellows program; programming with Boston Centers for Youth and Families and with the Boston Parks and Recreation were all successful 

With the success of these program and firming of our relationship with these Boston based partners, CRI will continue to evaluate how we can strengthen our offerings and connections for summer programing.   The Fellows program was a resounding success with the four Fellows returning to their schools this fall with stronger connections to water rowing and context to bridge the gap between between providing access to rowing on indoor machines at schools and the opportunities for access at the Harry Parker Boathouse and the Charles River.  CRI served over 750 Boston youth this summer through the field trips offered BCYF partners and through our learn to row programs with the parks and recreation departments.  


Supporting our Staff

In our efforts to continue to expand access and equity to support greater professionalization of our staff, we now offer performance reviews for our full time staff and also have made them available for part time staff.  We have a number of long term part time coaches and staff who have earned the privilege of access to professional feedback and support of their growth at CRI - we recognize both these long time champions of CRI as well as any part time member of our staff.  Additionally, we are completing a pay equity effort that will provide adjustments in compensation to staff including ensuring that all full time staff salaries begin at a minimum of $50,000 annually, that CRI is providing cost of living increases to staff where appropriate and to continue to critically evaluate compensation of all full and part time staff that is transparent, equitable and reflective of our commitment to pay our staff a living wage in Boston. 



June 2021

June was a month of implementation of as we return to full operations.  To that end, below are some initiatives CRI has undertaken that have been the effort of our senior leadership and staff.  We are making progress toward making CRI more diverse by laying some of the foundational work and exploring opportunities to engage new and non-traditional communities with rowing at CRI.  The primary headers are focussed around the architecture of CRI’s diversity efforts outlined last August.



Partnership with Boston Centers for Youth and Families:  The BCYF is the City of Boston’s largest human services agency and offers affordable programs for all ages located at various BCYF community centers and facilities throughout the City of Boston. CRI will be hosting field trips for youth and families in this program to CRI to spend a day at CRI - we expect approximately 250 young people in programs of 80 to explore the boathouse, the shoreline and the water in barges.  

Boston Parks and Recreation Department Partnership:  Our middle school indoor staff will provide land based programming for five summer camps hosted by the Parks and Recreation Department to teach rowing at summer camps held throughout the city.  We expect that each of these five days at camps will reach about 100 of the city's youth at each camp.  

Meal Delivery to CRI for Under 18 youth.  Many families in Boston rely on free school breakfast and/or lunches and struggle in the summer months when school offered meals are not readily available. CRI is participating in the Boston Summer Eats program whereby our staff will pick up meals from meal sites across the city that provide free breakfast or lunch and return those meals to registered youth who request them on the days they are rowing at CRI. The  Summer Programs operate week-to-week which fit into our flexible programming schedule for kids who are enrolled in morning/day/afternoon programs.  We are offering this program to youth across all our programs.  

Support of the River Boat clubs which are discussing diversity in the Charles River Rowing community.  CRI is joining with other Charles River Boat clubs to support the way we can support and advance the efforts of clubs on the river to engage our whole community - Boston and Cambridge.   The group has begun exploring ideas as a way to guage where we are at this point as a holistic community and where we collectively want to move toward. 



Juneteenth Observation  As many know, the observation of Juneteenth was signed by the President as a recognized federal holiday a few days before the actual day of observation.   CRI promoted its support of the Juneteeth holiday and will include Juneteenth as an observed holiday starting June of 2022.

Free COVID vaccination program hosted at CRI.   CRI partnered with the Cambridge Innovation Center to provide free vaccines to the Allston Brighton and surrounding community on Wednesday June 30.  We promoted the program to a broad array of community groups, elected officials and local organizations in addition to communicating via our social media and ongoing media channels.  We were pleased to see members of the Allston Brighton community come to CRI and explore the building while receiving their free vaccine.    



Alignment of grant funded and fee for service youth recreation rowing programs:  As was mentioned in the May update, with the reorganization and reduction of silos at CRI, we have begun registering youth who have traditionally registered for “free” programs (grant funded programs) in our youth recreation programming (fee for service programs - summer learn to row, summer skills).  For instance, this means that there are no separate program offerings this summer for youth learn to row (one for kids from Boston and one for kids from outside Boston) - there is simply now “youth learn to row” program offerings.  

Free programming for Boston youth.  Along with the removal of separation between grant funded and fee for service programs, CRI is now offering free rowing for all youth in the city of Boston.  Our Middle School Indoor staff and RowBoston staff have continued to increase their recruiting efforts to engage Boston’s youth in the sport and join any CRI programs and offerings but we believe this is a meaningful and important step toward our goals of making CRI more diverse. 

Middle School Fellows Program: As part of exploration into new connections to our community, CRI is employing four middle school PE teachers in schools we currently partner with.  This fellowship is akin to our visiting coaches programs through the IRL.  These fellows will come to CRI for 4 weeks to complete CRI coach training and ride-alongs with every program at CRI, learn how to sweep and scull and apply the experience to their teachings in their respective schools and upon completion of the program become CRI coach certified and USRowing Level 1 certified.  We are also engaging and encouraging feedback from the fellows to learn more about ways CRI can become more inclusive and diverse.  We hope that the exchange in ideas and experience of the fellows program will enrich all our programs diversity and inclusion efforts.


May 2021

With the relaxing of COVID restrictions, improved opening opportunities and a return to operations, CRI continues to critically evaluate its role and relationship as a local social mission driven organization, a local economic engine, and a community builder — we are looking at the role we play in both elevating as well as advancing the voices of a broad collective of people in our community as we “re-open”.   

In April and into early May, we implemented a reorganization that removed a longstanding “silo” at CRI - our Inclusion and Advocacy group. Previously this area included our BPS middle school indoor rowing program, the RowBoston program, and all our para and military programming.  

Silos can be areas of excellence - they provide focussed, direct lines of communication around specific and discrete activities.  Across CRI during a significant decade of growth and innovation, silos increased organizational clarity, improved lines of communication, and provided opportunities for creative leadership.  In short, the approach to silo’s wasn't “bad” - they fulfilled their role in the growth and stabilization of CRI and made CRI what it is today - an incredibly innovative, complex and large organization relative to nearly all other public access rowing organizations in the US.

However, when the Board of Directors changed our mission and values in the winter of 2019, we began exploring how to eliminate silos in recognition that for CRI to continue to embrace diversity, belonging, personal growth and resilience, silo’s were limiting, especially in terms of our ability to to meet our mission and fulfill our strategic goals.  As we’ve said, we want “diversity” to become an ethos at CRI the way “safety” is -  intrinsic in everything we do, how we make decisions, and how we celebrate fulfillment of our mission.  Diversity like safety isn’t a goal or responsibility for one leader or coach or program or person - at CRI, it's everyones.   

Over the past year, we've explored opportunities about how to make our programs more diverse, equitable and inclusive.  For example, we looked at two competitive youth programs in the RowBoston and our youth competitive  programs which had two different leaders, staffs and operational goals.  Yet we also recognized that in order to make these programs more equitable, they needed to become more “permeable” - meaning, we intend to create organic ways rowers in these programs could more easily chose where they wanted to row based on respective individual choices.  The programs identity and their overall offerings are robust, compelling, life changing and meaningful.  So, we did not want to change the programs but rather give our rowers more access to the program offerings that meets their individual goals.  We realized that program permeability must exist at an organizational level before it can exist for a young person.  To achive greater permeability we’ve eliminated sequestration of these programs by bringing them together under the same leadership, management and operations.  Under the umbrella of Youth Development, these programs now have the same director, the staff will have greater opportunities to collaborate across programs - meaning our RowBoston coaches will share wisdom, best practices, and insights with Youth Competitive coaches and vice versa.  This effort was operationalized across all of CRI - the same goes now for our para programs, our military programs and the BPS middle school and on water programs - all are now being led and managed by people who can more effectively collaborate, create opportunity and provide our rowers organic and more equitable access.  

A second important motivation for this change - challenges exist within silos but many exist between them as well.  Our staff and the intent of our programming is supportive, inclusive, kind and generous.  But under an organizational focus that separated rowers by demographic or geographic area, we see that these areas also created limited opportunities for purposeful inclusion, diversity and equity.  Previously, there was no stated reason a rower in our “inclusion and advocacy programs” could not have joined our “competitive or recreational programs” - in fact several successfully did.  But who among those programs didn’t?  And, why, if we are simply running “programs” would we create parallel programming for people based on payment status, where they live, or other identifiable means?  Would there be more opportunities for connection, greater inclusion, more personal growth, and greater diversity if we eliminated programmatic silos?  We think so and are eager to learn more and explore this new approach.

Finally, with regard to access and the challenges of increasing diversity we are looking at how to empower our people more equitably.  People from all backgrounds, experiences, and abilities come to CRI well intentioned but willing to accept differences in access as norms in rowing - they may even take them for granted.  Existing norms are reinforced not only by leadership and organizational practices, they are also enabled by lowering the expectations of the disenfranchised as well.  From our beginning, the vision for CRI has been neighbors enriching the lives of neighbors. It is this attribute, seeing our community enriched by what we do to serve everyone, that is guiding decision making - it is the intrinsic philosophy of service to all members of our community that we will continue to lean on to fulfill our mission.    

Other updates include

The board of directors has contracted YWBoston to begin the Inclusion Boston Program - a 16-18 month commitment to training our board and CRI thought leaders in equity, diversity, and includsion.  More on this program will be shared in the future.   


April 2021

CRI concluded a reorganization of our programmatic and leadership structure that reflects our commitment to reducing programmatic and leadership barriers. To that end, we’ve created a new reporting and programmatic structure that eliminates leadership and management barriers and more expressly includes all programs under greater functional support.   

This includes elimination of the Director of Inclusion position which oversaw RowBoston, Let’s Row; Non-Elite Para and Military programs.  

The RowBoston program now is included under the leadership of Beatrice Sims who oversees CRI Youth Development Programs.  In addition to the RowBoston programs, Youth Development includes our Competitive Youth programs and Youth Development programs.  By integrating RowBoston into our Youth Development area, we are creating greater opportunities for all youth rowers and staff to work together toward the best interests of the athletes.  Our youth development coaches are highly collaborative so including the RowBoston staff into the functioning of these programs will lead to greater connection across programs, reduced barriers for rowers to row at the level they chose, and ensure that we retain all athletes once they chose to train beyond the recreational level.  

ParaMilitary and the Middle School Indoor programs are now being directed by our Nonna Giunta, Director of Programs.   This is a significant transition - instead of siloed programming for our non-elite para community and our military programs and recreational youth from the Boston Public School indoor rowing program, our rowers and coaches are supported as the programs staff along with our current programming workforce.  This change is intended to create greater permeability for athletes to transition between all CRI programs as well as explore our program offerings with the support of a more integrated coaching staff.


Making CRI more Inclusive

CRI made changes to our physical space to align with strategic priorities.  This included installing new signage and imagery that more expressly reflects the diversity of CRI and the many different programs we serve.  Anyone visiting the Harry Parker Boathouse will now see our core values installed on the windows at our entrance, the progressive rainbow flag at our entrance, and a new collage of images that refelcts all our programs and is expressely more inclusive than previous signage which celebrated CRI as the para training center.   


Community Partnerships

Community Rowing firmed up partnership with two community based vendors.  CRI now partners with Exclusive Tees to manage a new gear store to fulfill silk screen t-shirt  orders.  Exclusive Tees employs Massachusetts youth at risk and teaches them workplace skills through the operation of a custom screen printing company. From computer design to print press to folding and inventory, youth work as a team to complete orders. 

Our transportation for the RowBoston has now been contractually confirmed with Landbird Transportation a black owned business in Allston.  Landbird and CRI created a long term conteract to pilot our partnership through the end of the rowing season for 2021.  

We are exploring other local community partners and look forward to more announcements coming soon.

March 2021

The month of March was a month of transition for CRI in many ways beginning with the adjustment from nearly a full shut down of programs to nearly full operations by early summer.  We have made testing available to anyone rowing in team boats.  And we’ve made testing of our staff available as well, free of charge.   It’s one of the ways we know to keep our community safe.  

In our efforts to continue allyship, community connection and increasing the diversity of our workforce and our rowers, we have maintained a commitment to our priorities.  In addition to the efforts outlined in February which are now underway, we are on the verge of adding one more element that is essential to our progress as an organization.  Our executive director and board chair along with the diversity committee of the board have been exploring opportunities for learning through training and consulting from a number of different organizations that we think will support our people - not just expanded training classes but the type of lasting growth and change that we’ve been addressing through the course of the past 17 months when we recognized that diversity must be at the core of who and what we value in order to serve our mission.  We hope to have more information on a path toward learning and growth from thought leaders in the area of justice, diversity, equity and organizational improvement soon.  

Additionally, we are finalizing the pathways for our beneficiaries - regardless of background, experience or ability -  to engage CRI and deepen their experience and growth through rowing.  The combination of COVID and the reflection necessary to begin the process to make CRI more equitable has informed decision about our structure, practices and biases.  And to that end, we intend to come out in April with a plan that makes our programming and access to programs more inclusive, equitable and racially and socially diverse. We have learned from feedback and some difficult conversations about the opportunities to make CRI more equitable and, as with smaller more incremental changes, we are taking steps now, even as we learn more.  

We will continue to ask, listen, reflect and act.   

February 2021

February was a full month with regard to amplifying positive messages during Black History Month as well as working internally to continue our previously outlined efforts.  


  • Ted Benford met with State Representative Mike Moran, who has been promoted recently to Majority Whip of the MA State House.  Representative Moran’s office is supporting CRIs efforts to reach local community based organizations that would benefit from collaboration and support of CRI.  The opportnities include possible opportunities for CRI to provide programs for local housing centers in Brighton, local YMCA organizations with their upcoming summer camps for underserved youth, organizations and schools serving middle school and high school age youth, and local organizations that serve peeople with disabilities.  

  • Performance reviews are now underway for every full time staff member.  At CRI, our leadership approach includes the tenet  “just share the rules and then let our staff take it from there”.  Essential to that leadership approach is that the rules are the same for everyone - equally available, equitably enforced, transparently evaluated and more.  That is why we’ve made so much of the performance reviews.  

  • We have begun an approach to enable CRI to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive.        

    • First, our staff benefit when they experience our core values of diversity, belonging and respect, personal growth and resilience. To succeed at ensuring we embody our values for our staff, we will focus to continue to enable that staff feel

      • They can be themselves and are encouraged to speak up;  

      • Connected to other staff members at CRI - we succeed because of the cooperation and amazing collaboration required to coach at CRI, and 

      • Their work is personally meaningful and valued by CRI and that they directly contribute to our community, ethos, values, mission values and goals. 

    • Second, and equally important, CRI must be a place where staff see and feel that CRI values and embraces justice, diversity, equity and inclusion.    

      • We will continue to improve our organizational oversight, policies, and practices.  

      • We will continue to attract talented champions and then embrace the opportunity for them to advance their message and  serve our community together, authentically, genuinely, passionately.  

      • We will continue to eliminate organizational barriers and/or promote/create simpler pathways for equity 



  • Maddie Wolters, CRI's Media and Communications Manager, has completed a social media audit to collect and understand how our messaging is “getting out there”.  There is considerable opportunity to concentrate our messaging and unify our platforms in a way that amplifies messages that we wish to promote in service to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.  



  • The diversity committee of the board met to continue its efforts to support CRI with the resources, wisdom and talent of the board with ongoing efforts.  The committee and Ted will be looking at training and education partners for our staff and board in the coming weeks. 


December and January 2021

As mentioned in previous updates, we have taken a learn first, then act approach in our efforts to make CRI more inclusive, equitable and diverse.  And, while the learning, acknowledgement and reflection will improve how we guide our organization and community over a longer term, we are also acting on what we learn and how we can improve CRI as we go.  

Throughout December and into January, CRI began a number of projects and initiatives supported by the architecture we shared in August:   


  • Management improvements.  We survey our staff annually to provide feedback on broken management practices, priorities for leadership and the needs of our people to feel safer, more included and professionally supported.  This feedback is shared openly with staff and our board of directors. 

  • Accessibility.  In January, we evaluated the experience of registrants of our para and military programs at CRI with regard to our physical infrastructure, equipment, behavioral norms, and communication to learn how to act on barriers or lack of resources for these programs.  

  • Employee handbook revision.  We removed gendered language and evaluated our policies with regard to anti racism, transparency, and access. The revised handbook will be posted in January.

  • Support of minority owned businesses.  We have aligned with a minority-owned vendor in our transportation efforts and are looking at other vendors.

  • Alliances.  We are deepening alliances with other rowing organizations that break barriers in rowing, share best practices, and explicitly support their efforts to reach young people who may otherwise be under served or disenfranchised.

  • Stakeholders.  We are organizing greater communication and collaboration with external stakeholders and evaluating opportunities to enrich these relationships.  

  • Transparency and Equity in Performance Reviews.  We’ve created an entirely new performance feedback process to provide staff a transparent and equitable process consistent with our values.



  • The CRI Speaker Series has been highlighting the stories of our community including 
    • Melissa Ludke’s experience as a reporter for Sports Illustrated and her efforts to gain access to locker rooms in professional sports

    • While we will not host the Grace Grit and Glory dinner this year, CRI will be highlighting the stories of amazing women of color who rowed in our G-Row Boston program in February

    • Ellen Minzner will be sharing the experience of our Para HP program and our efforts to provide our para athletes a pathway to compete at the highest level of our sport including the 2021 Tokyo Olympics

    • We will be sharing additional speakers and alumni/ae of CRI with our community through the Speaker Series and other efforts in the coming months.



  • Program Permeability.  Program permeability is a term we’ve adopted to mean that rowers (especially our youth rowers) have access to all CRI programs appropriate for their abiities.  That their access is unrestricted without cultural or organizational biases toward siloing or implicit assumptions regarding program options.  Immediately one considers financial restrictions however, we also include leadership, coaching access, program policies and practices/norms that encourage program selection.  The goal is to  provide unbiased and unrestricted cross programmatic opportunities - physically, socially, emotionally and psychologically.   

  • Workforce Diversity.  We are actively pursuing diversifying our coaching workforce especially in the area of youth coaches/mentors of our youth programs.  More will be shared in the coming months in this regard.


November 2020

At the November meeting, the Board of Directors unanimiously approved the primary pillars of CRI's strategic plan, they include:

  • Increase Diversity, Champion Equity and Nurture Inclusivity
  • Deepen Local Community Engagement 
  • Strengthen Employee Engagement & Operational Health
  • Build Financial Resilience

Additinonal detail and objectives of the plan will be implemented through collaboration among the strategic planning committee and executive director and will be shared with our community.  Input and opportunity for comment and support will be forthcoming at the end of 2020 and into 2021.  

The Diversity Committee will continue to refine its charter and focus.  More will be updated after the January meeting of the Board.  

Operationally, CRI leadership and staff have begun taking incremental steps toward increasing diversity, inclusion and equity across Community Rowing.  Some of these steps include evaluation of our vendors to explore opportunities to support black and women owned businesses, posting position openings more broadly, exploring workforce development partnerships, updating our performance review process to reflect and measure commitment to our core values,  explore training and education opportunities for our community and more.   See the August Update for information of management efforts to further diversify CRI.  

A more comprehensive effort to integrate the revision of CRI's core values, strategic planning and diversity, equity and inclusion efforts will be forthcoming in 2021.  In the meantime, we will continue to critically evaluate where we can make material and meaningful improvements to our organization and support our community.   


October 2020

At the September Board of Directors meeting, the board designated a subcommitee of board members and the executive director to establish a charter for the CRI Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Committee.  This commitee met in early October to discuss and focus and direction of CRI's DEI efforts.  At the November board meeting, the committee will present the charter to board for approval, as well as communicate its statement of purpose.  

The committee has planned to reconvene in November after the board meeting.  Provided the charter is approved, relevant facets will be shared with our community and more will be shared on this page and through communications with our entire community. 


August 2020

We recognize that living CRI’s core values - diversity, belonging and respect, personal growth, and resilience -  exist on a continuum.  Each requires listening, talking, and reflecting about individual and collective cultural identity.  We are working to enhance our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion across CRI –– from supporting and amplifying our allies, to shaping CRI around the strengths of our diverse community, to hiring and retention practices.  This work will require deep reflection and will be unavoidably challenging.   And, we strongly believe that it is the right thing to do for CRI and for the community we serve.  

While we can create the structure to begin this work, we also recognize that steps needed for progress may not be clear because unconscious bias, stereotypes, privilege, and structural inequities are pervasive factors that are uncomfortable to confront within CRI and within ourselves. 

In August, we rolled out the architecture for the approach to creating a more diverse, inclusive CRI and identified three primary areas of focus - Allyship; Our Connection to our Community, and Diversifying CRI.  Each of these areas contains opportunities to learn, improve and serve.   Below is an outline of structure of how we will organize and address our efforts.  


Allyship - Lead the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion at CRI

Community and Connection Ask what can “you and CRI” do in our community?

Diversify CRI - Go beyond hiring and recruiting to redefine inclusion 

Internal Allyship

  • Improve Training and education of staff
  • Continue evaluation of compensation and pay equity
  • Address technology biases
  • Evaluate policies and practices for bias


  • What changes can we make to be actively inclusive of our staff?
  • Devote money and time for our staff to engender connection and support
  • Support staff resource groups

Hiring:  Our Organizational Commitment

  • Diversify CRI from the Board to Part Time staff


External Allyship

Intentionally align our values with:

  • Grantors and external support orgs
  • Vendors and vendor selection
  • External pipeline & pathway programs we support


  • Where else and how can we continue to serve our community
  • Add to CRI Speaker Series
  • Look at events and inclusive community engagement opportunities 


Recruiting:  Our Programmatic Commitment

  • Redefine and communicate the difference in goals, measures, & impact between programs and teams
  • Refocus, reorganize offerings to increase program permeability
Explicitly support our Allies Explicitly support racial and social justice efforts in our community Explicitly support diversity


July 2020

Our current efforts to address our shortcomings include a comprehensive strategic planning effort focused on access, equity, diversity and inclusion. Since last fall, many in our community, including members, staff, and directors have already participated in this effort, contributing to an updated mission statement and revised core values (Diversity, Belonging and Respect, Personal Growth and Resilience), as well as helping to define our strategic vision and the specifics around implementation of the plan. This includes setting goals, developing a timeline, and defining performance metrics.

The board is also considering a variety of other efforts, including possible by-law modifications as well as the development of a new standing committee focused on diversity, equity and inclusion throughout all of CRI. We expect to finalize decisions about these at the next board meeting in September.

The management team is also taking important actions to increase diversity and cultivate inclusivity. The team has begun to seek additional learning and team facilitation focused on racial issues, social justice, and anti-racism with some amazing facilitators. This effort also includes ongoing dialogue about CRI’s core values and how to actualize them in everything we do. We have created an overview to answer some basic questions about CRI and our role in society.  

They include:

How can we lead the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion at CRI - explicitly support our allies

  • What can we do in our community - explicitly support racial and social justice efforts in our community  

  • How will we diversify CRI - go beyond hiring and recruiting - explicitly support diversity in our community

  • Lastly, the board and management team have recommitted to creating a board and staff that have significantly more people of color. We are reaching out to new resources and are learning how we can be more effective in being successful in this capacity.

While we have much to learn and changes will not happen overnight, we are committed to creating a community that shares the diversity of our Boston Community, and a community where all those who participate feel welcomed and respected. We look forward to sharing more updates of our progress as we strive to attain these goals.

June 2020



We reject hate, racism and bigotry.  Social and economic justice, diversity and inclusion are in the DNA of Community Rowing.  We are actively pursuing divestment from inequality and embrace the challenge of speaking, living and dreaming of ways we can reflect the best in our nature and hearts.  

Racism, sexism and bigotry are not “out there” while we are “in here”.  They are in the streets, in our schools, on TV, in the news, and embedded in “other” organizations and places.   They are “in here”, too, among us.  There is ongoing fluidity between racial strife and injustice and the ease with which it can be carried to CRI.  What happens “out there” affects us deeply and personally “in here” daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.  We will keep working and sharing our commitment to break through injustice and the loss that we all suffer when people are diminished, dehumanized and excluded because of their skin color, identity, experience, background or ability. 




First, we acknowledge that racism, sexism, bigotry and intolerance are not only artifacts of our past, they permeate our present. Last year, CRI leadership and staff began working to co-construct a leadership system that breaks down hierarchy and gives our entire staff, not just current management, the strongest voices in the leadership and future of CRI. 

  • In September 2019, we stopped operations for a morning to talk about new leadership, a new management approach which began with learning from our staff. We asked, we listened and then we asked some more and we came together to fundamentally change the trajectory of Community Rowing by putting strong voices “in the room” with regard to our mission and our values. 

  • Then in November and December, we reorganized a new leadership approach that de-emphasized hierarchy and started the conversation about servant leadership and our trust and belief in allowing our staff to embrace their primary role in decision making. That began with a simple statement - I Trust You. 

    • We invited voices to the table with our board. 

    • We affirmed our commitment to ensure retaliation and intolerance are not part of our leadership or management

    • We acknowledged that organizational hierarchy produces experience of “inclusion” and “exclusion” in decision making and the workplace (i.e., the old boys club, white privilege, organizational lethargy around difficult decisions, etc) and it also enables a system of marginalization versus advancement for our employees (i.e., not making others feel safe, retaliation, and organizational bias, among them). 

And throughout the fall and into the winter, the board initiated a strategic planning process. 

  • One of their first steps was to ask our staff - “what’s important to you in this conversation”. 

  • Then, leadership and the board invited the voices of our staff into strategic conversations that led to a revision of our mission and, importantly, the statement of our values that reflects the values of those whom we serve and who serve our community. 

    • We amended our core values to be: 

      • Diversity

      • Belonging and Respect

      • Personal Growth

      • Resilience

  • By the time COVID shut CRI we nearly completed revision of the job description of every full time employee to reflect our commitment to our values and mission. Our goal was to answer simple questions including: 

    • How do we acknowledge when our coaches and staff do a good job serving CRI's mission and values? 

    • How do they know they’re doing a good job serving our mission and values? 

    • How do we recognize those who most effectively serve our mission by not only celebrating their performance but how do we learn from them and take their best work to normalize it across CRI? 

We started this hard hard work but are far from complete, and with COVID, we have been massively interrupted. We are not done. We are on a journey to continue to evaluate the structures and processes that may enable systematic dehumanization of those we serve and those who work at CRI.



We will continue to question our role in perpetuation of institutional racism, sexism, and bias. And will address how we want to handle these difficult, painful, complex and challenging issues as we learn and evolve in our thinking and actions. 

We will continue the hard work in our commitment to diversity and inclusion, which will come with discomfort and necessary redirection of our resources. Our front line staff who serve marginalized or vulnerable populations, or who may be from marginalized or vulnerable populations themselves, will continue to be given agency in responding and a safe environment to speak up. While we have begun breaking down the white, male hierarchy, we have a long way to go.

 We will also:

  • Remain committed to learning of the ways in which race has fundamentally shaped and affected us, our sport and our community.

    • We will continue to get outside of our own individual realities, assumptions and experiences and step back to understand how all these factors (visible and invisible) are interrelated 

  • Not be “Neutral” 

    • We have come out positively and proactively to dismantle privilege, exclusion and silence. We’ll continue to do this by 

      • Being on the lookout with open ears, eyes, and minds from the front line staff to our leadership

      • Encourage and accept that we are imperfect and therefore will remain transparent about our work

    • Listen non defensively to any act of speaking up, especially from those who may already feel marginalized

      • Encourage our staff to speak up and be heard 

      • Encourage leadership to allow for opennes and to be available for feedback and hard input

  • Keep talking, keep asking, keep listening

    • Ask people about their experience and what they need to see changed in our environment 

    • When people speak, they will know we have their back  

  • Not be passive bystanders

    • Step in, clarify and call out hate, bigotry, sexism, bullying and other forms of discrimination

    • Not allow small moments to be passed by

  • Invest our time in learning more about what we can do

    • Not look for comfort by having “other people”  “help us” understand. It's incumbent on everyone at CRI to begin or continue their own journey to understand and “come to the table” with self awareness and determination to learn beyond personal experience. 



We believe change begins with our staff representing a diverse group of stakeholders who have sacrificed for the success of our organization and/or who fuel the success of CRI. It also includes:

  • More diverse representation from a wide range of people and backgrounds at all levels of our leadership and management

  • We won’t accept the excuse that “we can’t find people who …” in rowing to be part of our conversation. 

  • If we think the experience of diverse people matters at CRI then we will also measure, share and work to understand our impact on the choices we’ve made. We set goals in rowing all the time - we need to make sure that our goals reflect our commitment to inclusion in the boathouse as well.