Elisabeth “Biz” Lindsay-Ryan is an equity, diversity and inclusion professor, trainer, and consultant living in the Chicagoland area.
She holds an MA from DePaul University in Human Services and Counseling and a BA from DePauw University. She has taught classes on Civic Engagement, Diversity, Gender and Agents of Change at DePaul University’s School for New Learning. She is a member of Evanston/Skokie District 65 Board of Education where her three children attend schools.
Background on Biz
As a consultant Biz has worked in a multitude of organizations including government entities, corporations, non-profits and educational institutions at every level from preschool through university building capacity for equity, diversity and inclusion within their culture by providing facilitation, curriculum development, policy evaluation, assessment, and strategic planning with administrators, managers, employees, teachers, students and parents. She has engaged in extensive work with schools, school districts and nonprofits on school and workplace climate and helping her clients create a positive and sustained environment where all constituents feel safe, welcomed, respected and valued to reach their fullest potential. Biz is committed to anti-racism, racial justice and helping organizations identify and dismantle white supremacy in their institutions.
Biz also served as the Director of Programs at the Women’s Center at Northwestern University for nearly a decade. Her responsibilities included chairing several university-wide committees, including serving as the Co-Chair for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Support Network. During her time with the LGBT Support Network she spearheaded efforts to secure support and funding for the LGBT Center. She guided change in university policies on gender identity and inclusion, providing Safe Space training for over 1000 constituents. She continues to work with schools to build their capacity to support students that are LGBTQ+. Her efforts help schools understand sexual identity, gender identity and expression, while ensuring their policies and practices include all student experiences.
Throughout her life, Biz has been involved as a volunteer, an activist, Board Member, Trainer, Adviser and Consultant with over 200 organizations addressing a range of issues from racial justice to cancer awareness.
School Culture and Equity
Biz is passionate about working with schools and school districts on issues of school climate and culture. Using developed models for establishing a school climate team structure, Biz provides training, assessment, and implementation strategies to address equity and dismantle white supremacy in schools. These strategies focus on systemic issues like bias in our educators and polices, understanding whiteness and white supremacy, culturally responsive pedagogy, disproportionality of discipline, and opportunity to achieve. This work often includes a combination of professional development for educators and parent education sessions. It is imperative that all stakeholders understand their role in raising and educating children to be global citizens that are capable of understanding their own identities and creating inclusive anti-racist spaces. She also facilitates age-appropriate discussions with students on a wide variety of topics including, but not limited to: identity, whiteness, racial justice, power and privilege, LGBTQ+, consent, sexual decision making, relationship violence, and sexual assault.
Workplace Climate and Equity
"Diversity asks, 'Who's in the room?' Equity responds: 'Who is trying to get in the room but can't? Whose presence in the room is under constant threat of erasure?' Inclusion asks, 'Have everyone's ideas been heard? Justice responds, 'Whose ideas won't be taken as seriously because they aren't in the majority?' Diversity asks, 'How many more of [pick any minoritized identity] group do we have this year than last? Equity responds, 'What conditions have we created that maintain certain groups as the perpetual majority here?' Inclusion asks, 'Is this environment safe for everyone to feel like they belong?' Justice challenges, 'Whose safety is being sacrificed and minimized to allow others to be comfortable maintaining dehumanizing views?'"- Dafina-Lazarus Stewart
Every organization needs to engage in this work. Initiatives that focus on workplace climate result in a multitude of positive outcomes. Biz works with an organization to assess the institutional climate . She guides the organization through a process to ensure they are exploring who is included in the current community, identify current limitations, and what are the opportunities for growth. This may include but is not limited to: reviewing current systems, policies and practices to ensure they are equitable, exploring how whiteness and white supremacy are embedded in organizational culture and develop strategies to dismantle their power, making institutional change to ensure recruitment and retention efforts to diversify staff are effective and climate is inclusive, examine identity and its impacts on building positive staff relationships, reviewing mission and how an organization is effectively serving marginalized communities, and provide training on a wide variety of EDI topics.
A critical aspect of creating a positive climate is to explore the relationships between staff members. One of the biggest obstacles to successful transformation on equity is the work satisfaction, engagement and motivation of the staff and these are all impacted by their relationships with each other. The best equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives have a long-term commitment to learning. It is crucial to develop an ongoing staff development program that allows leadership and the staff to continue to deepen their understanding of these issues. These sessions should begin with foundational frameworks, continue to build understanding, and include relationship building, skill building, and examination of policy and procedures.
As an equity, diversity and inclusion consultant, Biz has facilitated equity, diversity and inclusion work in a multitude of organizations. They range from government entities, corporations, and non-profits to educational institutions at every level from preschool to university.
Due to her vast experience, her services build capacity for equity, diversity and inclusion by providing the following:
- climate team development and toolkits
- curriculum development
- policy evaluation and assessment
- equity rubrics for decision making
- capacity building
- review of recruitment and retention practices
- strategic planning with administrators, board members, managers, employees, teachers, students and parents.
In other words, Biz helps organizations transform their culture to foster belongingness, operationalize equity and improve productivity and morale.