Dear PONI Community,

Over the past few weeks, we have taken time to reflect and educate ourselves on the continued presence of systemic racism and inequality in the United States. We have witnessed protests take place throughout the country—and across the world—in response to the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others whose names will not be forgotten. We have watched as instances of violence and police brutality played out in our hometown of Washington, D.C. and across the country in response to these protests; instances that highlight the injustices Black people face daily. We recognize the anger and hopelessness many of you may be feeling in this extraordinarily challenging moment in history. The PONI team condemns racism and discrimination and stands in solidarity with those unequivocally affected by systemic racism. We stand with you, we support you, and we are committed to doing our part to create change for a more equitable and just society.

PONI was created to develop the next generation of policy, technical, and operational nuclear professionals through outreach, mentorship, research, and respectful debate. Broadening the range of perspectives in the nuclear community to include people from all backgrounds and ideologies is central to our mission. Developing a diverse next generation pipeline is essential to ensuring diversity at senior levels of the nuclear community. The next generation is comprised of diverse voices and they must be represented to ensure the success of our program and the success of this country.

We take pride in being a diverse team and know that it makes us stronger and more effective. While we come from different backgrounds and experiences, we are united in our commitment to the PONI community and our mission of “big tent” inclusion. Our strength lies in our commitment to convene different disciplines, perspectives, generations, backgrounds, and ideologies in a bipartisan format. However, we must do more. Diversity is a powerful enabler and inclusivity makes us all better.

We recognize the responsibility and privilege associated with being a part of the CSIS community and are committed to doing and being better as a program and as individuals. Words are easy, actions are harder, and we must take on the challenge and hold ourselves accountable if we want to see change. As a team, we are committing to the following action items to address and combat systemic racism in our community.

  1. Educate ourselves on the prevention of racism and discrimination and how to be better allies.
  2. Recognize and challenge racism in our office, in our community, and anywhere else we may encounter it.
  3. Create space for Black voices and people of color’s voices in our public events and in our programming.
  4. Diversify the participants of our programming and our Executive Steering Committee to include more Black people and people of color.
  5. Expand our outreach for a more diverse representation to include more Black people and people of color.
  6. Develop meaningful diversity and inclusion strategies and practices to use when selecting participants in our programming.
  7. Provide support to those in our community who need it.
  8. Commit to better hiring practices to mitigate bias and continue to create a safe work environment.
  9. Challenge our leadership and our community to uphold these values.
  10. Hold ourselves accountable to these action items.

These action items are just a start. We will continue to do our part to help dismantle systemic racism and build a bigger lifeboat for our community.

All our best,

Rebecca Hersman, Eric Brewer, Simone Williams, Reja Younis, Suzy Claeys, Max Simon, Bryce Farabaugh, and Joseph Rodgers



The statement can also be viewed here.