While The Cadets are known for their constant pursuit of excellence on the field, now more than ever, we are striving to apply that same uncompromising spirit to every facet of our organization.

During the summer of 2020, the Cadets Arts & Entertainment Board of Directors established several committees to ensure strategic, responsible leadership for The Cadets Drum Corps and the non-profit organization as a whole. Among those, the Equality & Inclusion Committee has already proven to be an invaluable source of mindfulness, insight and progress, providing a strong organizational foundation in some of the most important and sensitive areas in our society today.

Vicki Ferrence Ray is the Compliance Officer for the CAE Board of Directors and now serves as the Chairperson for the Equality & Inclusion Committee.

“I am honored to be the chair of this committee and to be leading this effort in conjunction with CEO Denise Bonfiglio with the support of the Board,” Vicki said.
“So far I am extremely pleased with how things are going,” she continued. “We have been meeting every two weeks since July and are currently at the end of Phase Two in our four-phrase plan for the year.”

According to the Committee Charter, its members “shall represent a diverse cross-section of the organization taking into account race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and any other relevant distinction.” Membership includes two Board members, two members of the management team, five members from the educational staff, six current members of The Cadets, three Cadets Alumni and two Cadets Volunteers.

“We have an amazing, diverse group who have been a complete joy to work with,” Vicki said. “Participation and engagement have been awesome, and everyone continues to come into our meetings with an open mind, ready to learn.”

Led by Vicki and her Co-Chair, Cadets Artistic Director Darcie Aungst, the Equality & Inclusion Committee began its duties in June with a baseline educational overview of several relevant topics, including race, ethnicity, religion, class and socioeconomic status, equality, equity, justice, feminism, misogyny, sexual harassment, abuse, assault, sex, gender, orientation, identity, LGBTQIAP+ and pronouns.

In subsequent summer meetings, the committee moved on to Phase 2: Reviewing all Cadets Arts & Entertainment policies, manuals and forms. They are now in the process of updating these documents, which can be found at cadets.org/resources.

“Our next phase is to create an education plan for all staff, volunteers and corps members,” Vicki said. “Once the education plan is in place, we will begin implementing that plan to ensure that every new member of our organization completes the training.”

The Equality & Inclusion Committee is moving to a monthly meeting schedule for the fall and winter and will continue to elevate The Cadets organization to the highest standards in diversity, respectfulness, mindfulness, inclusion and safety for all members, employees and volunteers.