Our Ethos: Lisa Tomiko Blackburn

2021 marks the third year of Ethos as a company. To celebrate how much the team has grown since its beginning, we want to spotlight all of the talented and hardworking individuals who make up our team!

Over the next month, we will discover what each team member enjoys most about working here and what their personal ethos is.

This week’s highlight is VP of Strategy, Lisa Tomiko Blackburn!

Describe your role at Ethos.

From a client perspective, I am a strategic partner who uses attunement and EQ to listen; who gathers and synthesizes information; and who draws on a unique constellation of skills and experiences to provide perspective. I use that perspective to design and execute bespoke culture solutions. These often incorporate a blend of DEIB, leadership best practices, and business strategy. I am equipped to assist at all levels of public and private organizations, and at all levels of teams (including C-Suite and Boards of Directors). 

From an Ethos (internal) perspective, I’m a strategy, ideation, and execution partner for the team. I work to create efficiencies in our production and delivery processes, and to maximize value for our clients. I draw on over 15 years of high-level business experience, along with my Juris Doctor; MBA in Strategy & Consulting; Strategic Diversity & Inclusion Management Program certificate; NeuroLeadership Institute coaching credential; and counseling psychology training (including Motivational Interviewing and Multicultural Counseling).

What made you want to work at Ethos?

I have an idealistic hope that every individual may have the opportunity to self-actualize, if they desire. I’m motivated to promote opportunity and well-being for all (with a focus on improving conditions for women and individuals belonging to underrepresented racial groups and other underserved communities).

I’ve engaged in effective human rights and human dignity advocacy on a grassroots level throughout my career. My formal education includes serving as an editor of the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law, and studying Sex Equality with legendary feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon at The University of Michigan Law School. In 2018, I decided to invest in targeted Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging education; I started with a yearlong DiversityInc webinar series. Then, from 2019 to 2020, I attended the Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Management Program at Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership. Following the murder of George Floyd, I spent much of 2020 on Black Lives Matter and women’s initiatives in the legal industry. I was invited to serve as an Adjunct Lecturer for Georgetown University’s DEIB programs at the Institute for Transformational Leadership. The presidential inauguration led me to feel there’s an unprecedented opportunity to advance change, and I wanted to redouble my efforts in the DEIB space.

I chose Ethos because of my connection with Alida Miranda-Wolff, the company’s founder and CEO. We were colleagues at Georgetown and we share an aligned DEIB vision, complementary skills as working partners, high work quality standards, and a healthy degree of mutual interest and respect.

From an existential viewpoint, if this life is short (and I believe it is), I wanted to see what Alida and I can create together to advance Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, alongside the talented Ethos team.

What has been your favorite aspect of working at Ethos?

I get a deep sense of engagement, connection, and “aliveness” talking with people about their deepest challenges and helping them find a path forward that feels good for them.

What has been your favorite project you have worked on?

I have a lot of respect for our clients, who are doing something uncomfortable and hard: they’re trying to learn, grow, and improve. So, I don’t think of work in terms of a favorite project. I most enjoy the people who are willing to be vulnerable in service of growth, and the moments where I can witness and support that growth.

What do diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging mean to you?

In short: Appreciating and honoring individual dignity and uniqueness; being open to and interested in differences in individuals and groups; and acting in a manner that fulfills these values.

From a pure definitional standpoint (adapted from Rhodes Perry’s “Belonging at Work: Everyday Actions You Can Take to Cultivate an Inclusive Organization”):

DIVERSITY – individuals with sociodemographic differences co-exist.

EQUITY – individuals with sociodemographic differences experience fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement.

INCLUSION – individuals with sociodemographic differences are welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate.

BELONGING – individuals with sociodemographic differences can both be authentically themselves and fit in as important members of a group (i.e., without feeling pressure to conform to the norms of the “dominant group” or “power group”).

What does the word “ethos” mean to you?

“Ethos” is the motivating character of a person, group, or culture.

What is your personal ethos? How does it show up in your everyday life?

My personal ethos is in bloom. There’s a compassionate sense of humanity in the challenges of life.

I think I’m a lot like you (yes, you, the reader)! I’m a complex individual with many facets (some may be viewed under a lens of “dominant group,” some “marginalized group,” and some simply unique and individual). I have hopes and dreams and not enough time to live out every experience I want to pursue. I make hard choices, I make mistakes, I learn, I grow. 

Ideally, with exposure to resonant ideas, I evolve. Most recently, existential psychology concepts shape my thinking and actions. Two ideas from Staring at the Sun, by existential psychology pioneer Irvin Yalom, influenced my decision to join Ethos:

  1. The Thought Exercise of Eternal Return (paraphrased): If you had to live this same life over and over exactly the same way for the rest of eternity–right down to sitting where you’re sitting at this very moment and reading these exact words–how would that change the decisions you make?
  2. The Idea of Regret: “Properly used, regret is a tool that can help you take actions to prevent its further accumulation. You can examine regret both by looking behind and by looking ahead. If you turn your gaze toward the past, you experience regret for all that you have not fulfilled. If you turn your gaze to the future, you experience the possibility of either amassing more regret or living relatively free of it. . . . [I]magine one year or five years ahead and think of the new regrets that will have piled up in that period . . . How can you live now without building new regrets? What do you have to change in your life?” 

The life I’m living right now–with all its challenges and all its “wins,” large and small–is a life I want to experience. I am engaged in work that is the hardest work I’ve ever seen. We are, in many ways, asking people to re-examine their identities and do the work of sometimes painful, often exhilarating growth. For some, it’s motivated by business imperatives; for others, it’s deeply psychological. In all cases, there are choices each of us makes every day impacting those around us, society, and humanity. What could be more important?

Cover Photo by Tembo Tones

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Our Ethos: Walter Faro

2021 marks the third year of Ethos as a company. To celebrate how much the team has grown since its beginning, we want to spotlight all of the talented and hardworking individuals who make up our team. This week’s highlight is Consulting Associate, Walter Faro!

2021-06-16T15:32:19+00:00
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