Welcome to Eyes On…, where we feature some of our amazing members!
This month, we’re delighted to highlight one of our fabulous board members, Evelyn R. Bradley (she/her). Evelyn is an educator, writer, poet, workshop development consultant, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) adviser. She works with universities, non-profits, and businesses to develop materials that center culturally competent programming.
As a diversity and inclusion consultant, Evelyn provides workshop development, training, and facilitation services through her work with The Dandelion Initiative, HEIST, and The Confederation Center of the Arts.
As an educator, her pedagogical foundation has taught her that the most complicated topics can be broken down and simplified for dissemination to a wide variety of audiences. This knowledge informs all aspects of her DEI work, even with the most complex topics around race, gender, and sexual orientation.
Evelyn is currently the Community Impact and Diversity Manager at The United Way of PEI and the owner and lead consultant of the diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting company Bradley Consulting. She lives in Epekwitk (P.E.I.) with her wife Vanessa. In her limited spare time, Evelyn cooks up well-plated meals and writes the occasional poem.
We caught up with Evelyn to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and what drew her to CAPACOA.
Please note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My self pre-P.E.I. and post-P.E.I. are the same, but very different! In short, since moving to P.E.I., I’ve hosted a TV show, I’ve started two businesses, and I’ve become a writer for CBC. And so, there are lots of different facets to me, at my core. But I think what really sums up my self and what I like to do, is that I have such a passion for creating, teaching, and educating.
Everything I do, whether it’s writing for CBC, or doing a workshop through Bradley Consulting, or DEI cohorts through United Way; it can all be summed up as my passion for educating and entertaining people. I feel like education without entertainment is just not education at all! A lot of what I do is part DEI workshop, part county skit, part DJ. I’m like of a combination of Mr. Dressup with a little bit of Colonel Sanders thrown in!
Who and/or what inspires you?
Everything – people, music, things.
I find inspiration in the simple day-to-day joys, and opportunities where I get to learn something new about someone or something else. Also the little things, like the beauty of a P.E.I. hillside, or a conversation with a parent, because I do a lot of work with youth.
My work isn’t always easy! On days when I need that extra boost, I bring in my playlists. I put on the playlist that gets me going, regardless of what it is. Sometimes it’s ’80’s covers, and sometimes it’s metal. It could even be a metal cover of a showtune. Who knows – it’s always a mystery!
Can you tell us more about your consulting work and what keeps you going?
I think we have to stop thinking of consulting work as being this rigid construct where I sit and talk at you for 2 hours.
A lot of the work I do and shape for others is centered around changing behaviours, not remembering concepts. It ends up being a combination of life coaching, leadership coaching, therapy, and DEI consulting.
My work is always rooted in grace and patience because people don’t know stuff! In so many ways, because technology has evolved so quickly, we assume that because you have access to information, you must know it. And I find that’s not really a fair assessment. Also, if my French tutor can have patience with me rolling my R’s because I’m used to speaking Spanish and that’s not what we’re doing anymore, then I can have patience for somebody’s mom who just doesn’t understand.
And my job isn’t to get you to understand. I don’t understand time change at all, but you know what I do? I change my clocks. We all do! It’s still real, even if I don’t fully understand it. I feel like that’s my approach to the work.
When your identity is also your job, it gets really tricky. As a DEI consultant, I talk about intersectionality every day. Specifically in context, because I don’t have a choice; I live it in context, every day. My identity isn’t going anywhere. The thing that keeps me going is the need for the work to be done, and done well.
Knowing that in every aspect, whether it’s volunteering my time with CAPACOA or whether it’s my job, I can see the change. I can touch it; it’s very tangible, and I know it works.
When it comes to DEI work, I can’t just tell you to read a book and figure it out. It’s not something you can do by yourself. But without it, we will never have a “capital C” community.
How did you first learn about CAPACOA?
It all started when I was doing some really meaningful DEI work with the Under the Spire Festival in P.E.I. The Executive Director there is fantastic (shoutout to Lindsay Connolly) and through our work together, I noticed that there was a gap in the sector around these DEI conversations, specifically as it relates to the arts world. When it comes to available resources and professional development opportunities, there is a lack of support for this kind of work. The performing arts sector as a whole sort of gets lost in the shuffle.
That’s when I got in touch with Sue Urquhart (Executive Director, CAPACOA). Sue and I started having a conversation around my skill set in relation to the organization’s values and future goals. It just seemed like a really natural fit for the work that I wanted to be doing in the sector as a whole.
Do you have anything you’d like to say to those who might be interested in participating in a future CAPACOA event and/or becoming a member?
Yes, the organization was founded in 1985 and has obviously gone through many iterations. But the thing that has stayed the same is what the organization stands for, which is this idea that arts professionals from a broad spectrum of the work deserve to be represented, supported, and allocated for. And all of that by a group of community members that are within their community.
CAPACOA is a national organization made up of peers, and it is designed to be set up, by definition, to help get you what you need both domestically, and ultimately, internationally.
I don’t have a lot of free time so if I’m choosing to use my volunteer hours in this way, it is for a reason. I want to work for organizations who put their money where their mouth is, and with those who aren’t afraid to grow. That’s why I work where I work. So for me, CAPACOA is that organization.
If you’re on the fence, go to an event. If you don’t get what you need out of that event, tell somebody. Set up a digital coffee with me and I’ll answer your questions about CAPACOA, or find the answers for you.
What’s coming up for you?
The work I do can be difficult. The way that I get through my “stuff” is by going to shows, and I love it! It feeds me.
I’m really looking forward to seeing La Galerie from Machine de Cirque in May, the season opener for Under the Spire with Jeremy Dutcher on June 16th, and a summer production of Kitbag Theatre’s The Songs of Johnny & June at the Confederation Centre of the Arts.
Thank you for chatting with us, Evelyn!
Read our past Eyes On… features here.
If you are a member of CAPACOA and would like to be featured in Eyes On…, please email Communications Director Colin Frotten at email@example.com for more details.