Institute for Developing Across Differences

Meet the IDD Global Peer: Elizabeth Greason

Meet the IDD Global Peer

Liz Greason

We regularly invite members of the IDD’s Global Community* to share more about their reflections, inspiration and hopes for the field.

 

This time, we invite you to meet Elizabeth (Liz) GreasonBased in Portland, Maine (US), Liz is principal of Waypoint Intercultural, providing services for clients — corporate, governmental, educational and nonprofit — who want to strengthen how they lead across differences. She also attended the 2023 European edition of the Developing Across Differences Learning Lab & Community Week in The Netherlands alongside other peers with 10+ years of experience in the greater diversity field

 

Here, she shares with us about her work, who inspires her, and more. [Interview edited for clarity.]

How long have you been in the field and whom do you work with?

In some ways, I feel like my entire life has been in service of navigating and bridging across differences. Professionally, I spent over a decade teaching at the high school and college levels, focusing on promoting cross-cultural understanding and critical thinking in the classroom. And I’ve run my intercultural training, consulting and coaching business, for about a decade. 

Our clients are leaders who want support navigating the “differences that make a difference” and building equitable, inclusive, and just workplaces. These include DEI professionals looking to incorporate intercultural development theory into their work, as well as managers, directors, or C-Suite folks who want to build their leadership capacity and increase their effectiveness leading across difference. 

As a specialist already well versed in helping others develop across differences, why do you believe in ongoing personal professional development?

I believe that as long as we’re alive, we have something to learn. And as long as the world keeps on spinning, contexts keep on changing and evolving. 

In some ways, this is the blessing and the curse of our work: there is a near infinite amount of information to learn about the self and other, particularly as they interact with each other and with(in) changing contexts.

On good days, that inspires me. On tough days, it’s daunting and overwhelming. But on both days, being in community with the people and spaces IDD brings together makes the work not only possible, but elevates it by including multitudes of perspectives and wisdom for each of us to learn from. 

IDD Global Peer Elizabeth (Liz) Greason - action1

What does the IDD mean to you?

The IDD has meant finding a community of professional and personal support, a group of practitioners who, like me, exist at the intersections and in the borderlands. 

It can be profoundly isolating at points to belong both everywhere and nowhere. What I love about the IDD community is its embodiment of intercultural competence: there is always someone (or a group of someones) to offer challenge and/or support, as it is needed. And in this roller coaster ride of a profession, I am in equal need of both, depending on the day.  I have deep gratitude for the spaces IDD creates and the individuals who hold that space.

What project are you working on now that has you most engaged—and what is the biggest benefit you see it providing to whom?

Recently, I’ve really been enjoying facilitating 15-week Intercultural Leadership Cohort and Certificate Programs that we at Waypoint have developed. Some of these have brought together DEI professionals and other leaders across sectors; some of these have been within organizations.

Through this, I’m again seeing how time is one of the most important elements for transformation. As we advance in the program, I’m seeing individuals and groups move away from a survival mode, which is often quite polarizing, into a place of psychological safety that allows for creativity and curiosity, something which is absolutely necessary to develop the solutions needed for these polarized times.

I am reminded that leaders create policies and environments based on where they are developmentally. And this will continue to be from a place of Polarization or Minimization, until something shifts.

To be able to help leaders understand this, build their intercultural competence capacity, and then support them as they design new policies and implement new ways of leading from new mindsets…it makes me feel like change may actually be possible and that I can play a small part of this larger change.

Critical mass/community + time + intercultural learning about the self and other + reflection + action (+ reflection again): this may just be the formula we need. Or at least it’s the formula I’m working with right now!

What is your professional philosophy in 100 characters or fewer?

Meet people where they are; know where you are.

Meet Liz and other peers at our next IDD Global Community of Practice calls. 

*The IDD’s Global Community of Practice is an informal, non-commercial setting in which we connect, discuss, and share timely and timeless topics with passionate, experienced “Differences” peers from different backgrounds, regions, age groups, and focus areas.

Do you have topic ideas for future IDD Global Community of Practice gatherings? Do you have a peer you nominate for us to profile in a future edition? Get in touch with our Community Lead Nadine Binder.