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Paula Dressel

Paula Dressel works with organizations to produce more racially equitable outcomes.






The Work

Racial equity is essential for the strength of our nation.  Work to advance equity must be intentional and strategic, informed by an understanding of how institutions continue to operate inequitably.  No matter where one sits, there is work to do.  My colleagues and I help organizations improve their mission performance by advancing more racially equitable outcomes. We capitalize on institutional political will where it exists — and strive to create it where it doesn’t. We offer organizations a deeper understanding of the drivers of inequity and tools to identify strategies, policies and practices that can create fundamental change.

Paula’s organization, JustPartners Inc., houses the Race Matters Institute, which offers an online assessment, you can use to determine how well your organization is advancing racial equity.  In addition, the toolkit below as well as other guides are available to help you strengthen your direct practice of antiracism.

Race Matters Organizational Assessment

Inspirations and Influences

Paula and her colleague Joanna Shoffner Scott, Director of the Race Matters Institute at JustPartners, Inc., in Nebraska to provide training to child advocates seeking to advance racial equity.  (2013)My parents raised me with the belief that our nation provides opportunity and that everyone must seize it. It is easier for a working class family to believe that when one has racial privilege and the wealth-building potential of home ownership through the GI Bill. College professors and fellow students at the University of North Carolina helped me understand the gap between that belief about opportunity and the realities of people of color. So, in an important sense, my activism was born from the desire to help make my parents’ belief a reality for everyone.

I became politically active in the 1960s Civil Rights and Anti-War movements, and later around more specific racial justice issues. I have been blessed by friends, students, and colleagues whose own courage and commitment challenged me to up my game. One of those who has become a lifelong friend is Sandra Barnhill. From each of these people, and because of those I meet every day, I learn; I am moved; I struggle to do better.

Personal Quote


“Whenever injustices have been remedied. . .it is because ‘unimportant’ people spoke up, organized, protested, and brought democracy alive.” — Howard Zinn, Voices of a Peoples History of the United States







IMG_0413History reminds us that the pursuit of justice is a struggle every generation must take on — for its own times, whatever its contours, with whatever means available. Justice is a way of life, not a secure destination.  I like Cornel West’s statement that “Justice is what love looks like in public.” 

Every breath we are given on this earth is a blessing. And every day is an opportunity to live in ways that contribute to peace and justice.



Field of Work: Advancing Racial Equality


Professional Website: Race Matters Institute 

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