Inclusion Office

Our Core Purpose

Our core purpose is to create a better Athens Together by closing the gaps, expanding access, and improving outcomes. By actively listening and learning, we aim to meet every person where they are. We take consistent, focused action to cultivate a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable Athens-Clarke County where a person’s identity is no longer a predictor of outcomes.

What does that word mean?


 “Being included within a group or structure. More than simply diversity and quantitative representation, inclusion involves authentic and empowered participation, with a true sense of belonging and full access to opportunities”. (Source)

Why do we value inclusion?

Because meeting people where they are, and creating spaces where people feel valued and their voices heard is essential. We must work to create an environment where people feel seen, heard, valued, and safe sharing their lived experiences, ideas, and input. Inclusion is foundational to taking responsive action in ways that lead to transformational change.


“There are many kinds of diversity, based on race, gender, sexual orientation, class, age, country of origin, education, religion, geography, physical, or cognitive abilities. Valuing diversity means recognizing differences between people, acknowledging that these differences are a valued asset, and striving for diverse representation as a critical step towards equity”. (Source)

Why do we value diversity?

Because by taking active steps to value differences instead of judging or dismissing differences, we lay the foundation to make room for more voices, accurately identify and assess the impact of structures and policies on individuals and populations, while making choices that emphasize connection, listening, belonging, growth, and sustained change.


“Equity means fairness and justice and focuses on outcomes that are most appropriate for a given group, recognizing different challenges, needs, and histories. It is distinct from diversity, which can simply mean variety (the presence of individuals with various identities). It is also not equality, or “same treatment,” which doesn’t take differing needs or disparate outcomes into account. Systemic equity involves a robust system and dynamic process consciously designed to create, support and sustain social justice”. (Source)

Why do we value equity?

Because it is our responsibility to take action to meet people where they are, assess and grapple with the individual, structural, and systemic impact of law, policy, and history, and then work together consistently to put structures, processes, and supports in place that close the gaps and change the outcomes.


“It is not enough to just ask, to what end are we creating a culture of belonging? We must also ask: Who belongs? How is belonging created? What are we seeking to belong to? How are we participating in advancing or narrowing that belonging? Identifying, amplifying and cultivating aspects of culture that make real a world in which many worlds fits, is the seed of cultural strategy”. (Source)

Why do we value belonging?

A person’s sense of belonging is a fundamental human need.


"When researchers refer to the concept of social connection, they mean the feeling that you belong to a group and generally feel close to other people. Scientific evidence strongly suggests that this is a core psychological need, essential to feeling satisfied with your life." (Source)

Why do we value connection?

Because belonging starts with connection and is the foundation on which community and shared values are built. Creating space for connection is a fundamental piece in cultivating trust and collaboration, engagement and action. 


"I suspect that the most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. And especially if it's given from the heart. When people are talking, there's no need to do anything but receive them. Just take them in. Listen to what they're saying. Care about it. Most times caring about it is even more important than understanding it”.  (Source)

Why do we value listening?

Because listening is a critical element in understanding, identifying, and honoring the dignity of human beings. Without listening, informed and responsive action is not possible.

LISTEN: BONUS RESOURCE on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Listening.

What are our focus areas?
Strategic Action Guide
ATHistory Podcast
Do you need to file a complaint?

*Please note that this is not a comprehensive list.

How can we help

Get in Touch

Contact us via email at

Contact us via phone at Inclusion Office, Main Line: 706-613-3015

Follow us on instagram @athenstogether

We deeply believe in meeting you exactly where you are, so we encourage you to reach out to us via your preferred method of connection. Whether it's email, a phone call, hosting a virtual meeting, or a site visit, we're open to listening and providing support. 

Please note: We value your thoughts, needs, questions, and concerns, and will do our best to respond as quickly as possible. Although our office's capacity for care is boundless, our response time correlates with our bandwidth and may not always be immediate. Thank you for your patience.

*Please monitor for updated content.

**Please note that the Inclusion Office is not responsible for third-party content.