ALIGN Workshop: Examining Retention Through the Lens of Belonging

The Junior League of Annapolis (JLA) hosted a free workshop on January 25th, led by Leadership Consultant, Karen Bond, to examine retention of employees, volunteers, and board members through the lens of belonging. 

Forty community members attended from various organizations throughout the County and surrounding counties to learn how to design environments that foster a sense of belonging. Belonging as defined by Karen Bond describes the values and practices where no person is left out of our circle of concern. Every member has a meaningful voice and has an option to participate.

7 women posing behind a table

The theme throughout the workshop was providing ideas on how organizations work to create a sense of belonging in their group. Examples ranged from organizational wide to examining yourself as an individual to taking actions that make you a part of the answer. Workshop participants detailed their main takeaways from the workshop:

Woman with long light brown locks wearing a black shirt and pearl necklaces

Valerie McDougle

“Maintaining organizational members relies on the ability to value the uniqueness each individual brings to the table. When diversity is appreciated, individuals within the organization grow through exposure to those  differences and have an opportunity to eliminate their own biases. Individuals that are seen and celebrated feel a commitment to the organization and thus remain.

I have made lifetime friends in the League and I stay because I am valued.”

Smiling woman with wavy hair wearing a beige shirtYvonne Gentry Cottrell

“I believe it’s essential to build a supportive and inclusive workplace environment. One way that we can achieve this is to first learn each other’s similarities and differences. As a remote worker, this can be achieved by scheduling a time for colleagues to “check-in” and connect on a Zoom or Teams meeting.

Creating a safe space to ensure others feel that they belong starts from you and me.”

Women with dark blonde hair wearing a brown jacket

Stacie Spragins

“Karen emphasized creating workplaces that allow employees to bring all of who they are to the workplace. The audience described experiences where they behave as who they think they need to be in order to fit in. Karen indicated that steps, such as reflecting on what we can do to change, making body language adjustments like maintaining eye contact, and reaching out to coworkers seated alone can make people feel seen.

Organizations that make a commitment to building belonging create workplaces grounded in peace and diplomacy.”

This workshop is a part of a two-part series aimed to build a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive culture in nonprofit organizations and the business community, and is made possible by a  grant from the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County. Registration is now open for the second workshop:

  • Ouch/Oops: Addressing & Acknowledging Micro-aggressions Through the Lens of Belonging. February 21, 10:00am – 12:30pm at AND Creative Studio in Annapolis. (Registration

Event photos taken by Nyia Curtis of Eye Opening Photography

Additional Resources:

On retention:

  • “The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age” by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, and Chris Yeh
  • “The Employee Experience Advantage: How to Win the War for Talent by Giving Employees the Workspaces they Want, the Tools they Need, and a Culture They Can Celebrate” by Jacob Morgan
  • “First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
  • “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel H. Pink
  • “The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups” by Daniel Coyle

Belonging and Understanding Differences

  • “Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home” by Toko-pa Turner
  • “The Power of Belonging: Discovering the Confidence to Lead with Vulnerability” by Will Wise
  • “Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone” by Brené Brown
  • “The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters” by Priya Parker
  • “The Four Sacred Gifts: Indigenous Wisdom for Modern Times” by Anita L. Sanchez
  • “Radical Belonging: How to Survive and Thrive in an Unjust World (While Transforming it for the Better)” by Lindo Bacon
  • “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” by Brené Brown
  • “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson
  • “The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity” by Nadine Burke Harris
  • “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” by Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” by Richard Rothstein
  • “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
  • “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo
  • “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander
  • “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” by Ibram X. Kendi
  • “The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin
  • “Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches” by Audre Lorde
  • “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
  • “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson


  • “The One Thing Employees Want Most at Work” by Forbes (LINK)



About the Junior League of Annapolis:
Junior League of Annapolis, Inc. is an organization of women whose mission is to advance women’s leadership for meaningful community impact through volunteer action, collaboration, and training. It reaches out to all women of any race, religion, or national origin who demonstrate an interest in and a commitment to voluntarism.


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