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Community Learning Day at Verity

By VerityCU October 07, 2021

Positively impacting and supporting people, planet and prosperity for all are at the core of Verity’s mission. But we can’t create change in these areas if we don’t fully understand how they intersect with equity, justice, and the deeply rooted systems that impact our Puget Sound communities. 

This is why on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Monday, October 11, Verity staff will come together (virtually) for a day of listening, learning, and dialoguing with four influential leaders in the areas of racial, social, environmental, and economic justice.

Pre-pandemic, Verity staff would spend Indigenous Peoples’ Day volunteering with nonprofit organizations throughout the Puget Sound. When COVID-19 caused plans to shift in 2020, we pivoted to a virtual day of learning about issues and inequities impacting our community and the role we collectively share in building strong and vibrant-communities. While conversation alone does not move racist systems to change, education, self-reflection, and courageous conversations are a part of that journey.

For this second Community Learning Day, we wanted to feature thought leaders who reflect our communities different perspectives, lived experiences, and identities. We specifically sought to amplify the voices and work of BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and Womxn-Identifying experts, as they are under-represented in public speaking.

This year, Verity staff will hear from:

Dr. Charlotte Coté, Associate Professor in the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington

Dr. Charlotte Cote

Dr. Coté is from the Nuu-chah-nulth community of Tseshaht on the west coast of Vancouver Island. She is the author of Spirits of Our Whaling Ancestors. Revitalizing Makah and Nuu-chah-nulth Traditions (UW Press, 2010), which raises issues concerning Indigenous self-determination, eco-colonialism, and food sovereignty. Her current book, A Drum in one Hand, A Sockeye in the Other. Stories of Indigenous Food Sovereignty from the Northwest Coast (UW Press, 2021) combines Food and Indigenous Studies scholarship with personal memoire, stories, case studies, and Indigenous language and philosophy to show how traditional foods play a major role in physical, emotional, spiritual, and dietary wellness. Dr. Coté is the founder and chair of the annual UW’s "Living Breath of wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ" Indigenous Foods Symposium. She serves as series editor for the UW Press’ Indigenous Confluences Series.  Learn more about her work on the University of Washington website

Paula Sardinas, President & CEO FMS Global Strategies 

Paula Sardinas

Sardinas is the leader of a Black and other BIPOC governmental affairs lobby firm, as well as The Purpose Driven Girl, a nonprofit organization focused on empowering BIPOC women and girls. She is also the chief lobbyist for the WA Build Back Black Alliance and is a member of the Black Professional Lobbyist Association. Her career in public policy spans 28 years working in telecom, engineering, banking, IT, STEM, cannabis social equity, and financial literacy. She has helped successfully pass legislation regarding affordable healthcare, data privacy, anti-bullying, credit union charter updates, and more. Learn more about her work on the FMS Global Strategies website or LinkedIn.

Cindi Bright, President of the Bright Group, Host of HeartBeat Radio 

Cindi Bright

Bright leads a consulting firm that focuses on the ecosystems of corporate America impacting and impeding progress for brown and black people. She also hosts a weekly radio show that focuses on the “heart condition” of this country impeding diversity progress. As a Black woman and diversity/race relations expert, Bright consults with public and private companies, boards and various leaders. She is the author of The Color of Courage: Crushing Racism in Corporate America, a personal story of triumph over obstacles to inspire others to stand in their truths and challenge corporate America. Bright is also a recent receipting of the Stevie Award 2021 for Women in Business Social Impact- Race. Learn more about her work on or LinkedIn.

Nikkita Oliver, Executive Director of Creative Justice

Nikkita Oliver

Oliver is a Seattle-based creative, community organizer, abolitionist, educator, attorney, and current candidate for Seattle City Council Position 9. They oversee Creative Justice, an arts-based alternative to incarceration and a health engaged youth-led community-based program. Nikkita has performed on radio, TV and in concerts and is a published writer with many local publications. They organize with several political and social groups, including No New Youth Jail, Decriminalize Seattle, Covid-19 Mutual Aid – Seattle, and the Seattle Peoples Party. They ran for Mayor of Seattle in 2017 and is currently running for the city-wide position on the Seattle City Council. Learn more about Nikkita at or follow them on IG or Twitter @nikkitaoliver.