Darlene Cunningham, actuarial reporting analyst II, has been with USAble Life for nearly eight years, and she's extremely passionate about the positive impact the company has had on her life. Darlene believes that while stress in a workplace is a given, feeling isolated should never be one of those stressors. Darlene is excited to be a part of USAble Life's Inclusion Council. She says, “Being part of something that will expand the breadth of employees who feel the way I do about the company and make USAble Life more inviting and enticing to diverse, prospective hires is an exciting opportunity.”
The concepts of diversity and inclusion can vary for each individual based on their own lives, backgrounds, and experiences. As a mom, she says, “It means not fearing for my son when he leaves the house with his bright pink hair, wearing his favorite hot pink button-down. It means my daughter isn't ashamed to tell educators that even though it might not seem like it, she is Autistic, and she does need help.” Darlene continues, “Diversity and inclusion mean life. It means that no one feels unworthy, unloved, or alone and that no one is too much or less than.”
Darlene's passion for inclusion is inspired by her mother, who she says “always exemplifies inclusion to me.” Darlene believes that every human deserves dignity and respect “because, before they are anything else, they are human.” Darlene grew up watching her mother exemplify the notions of inclusion. She said, “So many times and in so many ways I've seen her always choose to see the humanity of a person before the gender, sexual orientation, economic status, health status, or race, and she always meets that humanity where and how it is.”
Darlene is someone who gives back and is a champion for diversity and inclusion. She says, “I have donated time to the Arkansas Food Bank, I donate money and auction items to March of Dimes, Planned Parenthood, and the Human Rights Campaign, and I participate in fundraising efforts for my kids’ Gay-Straight Alliance.” In looking back, she says, “I see that most of my efforts, time, and money go to causes involving children and mothers.” That's likely because she is most influenced by children. Darlene says, “They are bridge builders and demolitions experts, and they are our civilization's path forward.”
Darlene's wish is that all people could come to understand and be able to identify social constructs and their impacts. “I would love to see a world and a workplace where no one feels like who they are, or the life that brought them to where they are, is a barrier or something that needs to be hidden or toned down to make other people more comfortable, to improve their lives, or advance their careers,” she says.