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Strategic Planning Updates

By Allison Reynolds-Berry, Executive Director

Our world has changed a lot since the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center was founded in 1985. Technology alone has dramatically shifted the ways we share information, connect with one another, and advocate for social justice. As the world has changed, so has IJPC. We’ve grown from an organization only for Catholic Sisters to an organization where all people who want to make a difference in peace and justice issues can come together to build relationships, connections, and find information and tools so they can feel hopeful, powerful, valued, and well-informed as we collaboratively create social change. For the first time in my eight years at IJPC, we’re creating a strategic plan and looking ahead to determine the impact we want to have and how to best get there.

When the IJPC board and staff gathered together for our first strategic planning meeting in June of 2022, we reflected on IJPC’s past to help ground us in our vision for the future. One of our Board Leaders, S. Marge Kloos, SC shared a hope that arose for her, “I hope that IJPC remains adaptable to the current realities of society, politics, and peacemaking so that the work we do together is relevant, raising awareness about the needs of the most vulnerable in our community. As the systems we’re working to change shift and change, we remain committed to the work of justice and peace.” Change is a critical and necessary piece of our realities. 

We are excited to be at a point where we’re able to share details about how we’re modifying IJPC’s internal systems and our work moving forward. In some ways we will be changing a lot – the way we talk about the organization, the way we do our work, and the specific work we do. In many other ways, our work for peace and justice will remain consistent. We are sharing the changes with all of you, our supporters, via newsletter, email, website, social media and more.

The Strategic Focus Areas for our 3-year plan include:

1. Defining Our Work – Through program evaluation, research, and creating logic models, we will have a more intentional and strategic impact on issues in the future.

2. Building Brand Awareness – We will evaluate current setbacks and develop new communications strategies to have a recognizable organizational brand to promote our efforts.

3. Strengthening Partnerships and Outreach – We will build an outreach and engagement strategy to both deepen and diversify our network of supporters.

4. Attracting New Revenue – We will ensure our new initiatives are sustainable through research for new revenue and development strategies.

Better Branding for a Bigger Vision

As we set out to create a strategic plan, we identified a concern we didn’t initially plan to address. Over the next four months we will be working to change the name of the organization. The Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center was founded in 1985 by communities of Catholic Sisters for their members. We remain grateful to the Sisters for their vision and sustaining legacy of peace and justice work. We will continue to work in partnership and simultaneously recognize that our efforts for peace and justice have expanded beyond faith communities. We want our name to be more inclusive of who we are today. “Intercommunity” is a word that is not readily understood and we often get misnamed as “International” or “Interfaith.” My personal favorite is the mail we receive for the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Compounding which is what comes up first in a google search of IJPC. It’s difficult for folks to remember the order of our initials incorrectly saying IPJC or getting confused with the local organization OJPC (Ohio Justice and Policy Center). Additionally, we get calls frequently looking for a justice of the peace to perform a wedding ceremony since we are the first on the list when searching “justice of the peace Cincinnati.” We will work to find a name that clearly describes our work.

Vision, Mission, Values

The IJPC Board and staff have reaffirmed our vision of a just and peaceful world. We have updated our mission statement and removed “local, national, and global” from the section that describes the unjust systems we will challenge. The difficult reality is that with a staff of four, we cannot be experts in local work while also being experts in global conflict or militarism. While we remain opposed to war and violence, we will not take the lead in issuing statements or planning actions on these issues locally. Our updated mission is to educate and advocate for peace, challenge unjust systems, and promote the creation of a nonviolent society.

On a separate page, you will find our updated organizational values that inform the why, what, and how of the work we do. These values are education, nonviolence, racial equity, solidarity, intersectionality, and radical compassion. Read more in the statements of what we believe and what we will do regarding each of these values.

  Over our 37-year history, IJPC has taken time to periodically reevaluate our issue priorities to ensure we are focusing on the critical social issues of the day. The last time we did this was in 2015 when human trafficking was named a new issue area. The current strategic planning process has resulted in the decision to shift some of our existing programs and projects into two umbrella issues: criminal justice and immigration justice.

We will ground all of our work, regardless of the issue, within two frameworks that are fundamental to our organization. We are committed to including nonviolent strategy and efforts to promote racial equity throughout all our programs, making sure that no matter what issue we work on, we acknowledge the intersectionality and approach it with the same principles. The staff have spent time detailing what we mean by this and what we hope to live into through our work. You can read more about our frameworks of nonviolence and anti-racism here.

So what does this mean for IJPC’s current issue areas? 

Death Penalty

Our work to abolish Ohio’s death penalty will continue and has grown even stronger over the last two years while working in collaboration with the NoDeathPenaltyOH Coalition. We will continue our pen pal programming with individuals on death row and advocate for review of their sentences post abolition (email Bekky@IJPCcincinnati.org to be connected with a  pen pal). This work will fall under the broader umbrella of criminal justice.

Human Trafficking

Our work on ending human trafficking will look significantly different in the new year. While we’ve made significant progress in helping to shape the public’s understanding of the issue, there’s more to be done on a deeper, systemic level. We are going to shift how we address human trafficking by focusing our efforts on criminal justice, a system perpetuating injustices experienced by survivors of trafficking and many other vulnerable people. This means human trafficking will no longer be a separate issue of focus for us. We are proud of the work we’ve done over the past seven years that grew out of the efforts of the Sisters Against Trafficking. Be sure to check out the website for a more in depth reflection on our accomplishments over the past few years. I am grateful to each of you who have been part of this work for change, and especially for Samantha Searls and her leadership on this issue over the last six years at IJPC.

Immigration

IJPC’s work for immigration reform has taken many shapes over the last two decades. It included a “Love Your Neighbor” faith-based educational campaign, organizing and advocacy by youth through our YES Program on issues like DACA and the DREAM Act, and a lawsuit against the Ohio BMV for discriminating against young people with immigrant parents. Though the YES Program in its previous form has ended, our work seeking justice for immigrants will continue and we look forward to taking time to assess possible campaign priorities keeping the voices of YES alumni and immigrants within the Immigrant Dignity Coalition at the forefront.

Peace and Nonviolence/Rethinking Racism

Programming, responding to, and advocating for peace and nonviolence has been a catchall for so many critical pieces of work over time. In the last four years, we’ve acknowledged the need to intentionally include nonviolence not as a separate issue area but one that is interwoven in every issue on which we focus. We will continue to include principles of nonviolence and nonviolent education in our work. The NonViolence Alliance of Greater Cincinnati will come to closure as it’s been inactive since the beginning of the pandemic, and we will not play a lead role in addressing anti-war or efforts for global peace. Our Rethinking Racism work will continue, along with the docuseries, and we hope they will be a catalyst for individuals to take action on issues of racial justice through the criminal justice and immigration justice work.

 We look forward to sharing additional details on all of these things and more in the months ahead. If you have any questions or want to learn more, please know I am always open to engaging in conversation.

Jeff Hutchinson-Smyth, IJPC Board Chair reflects, “The Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy once proclaimed that “another world is not only possible, she is on her way” and that “on a quiet day I can hear her breathing.” I am immensely proud of the intentionality with which IJPC draws together and empowers people who do, indeed, believe that another world is possible, and who are working to make a more just and peaceful world a reality. I hope and trust that this deep discernment will embolden our voices and deepen our capacities to confront injustice and create a more peace-filled world.”

Thank you for being part of our yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Allison Reynolds-Berry