Masters of Community with David Spinks
Designing Inclusive Moderation Programs with Shana Sumers
February 1, 2021
This week, we sit with the legendary LGBTQ+ community builder, Shana Sumers. Shana began her career as a music therapist, but after five years working to change lives through music, she shifted to changing lives through diversity and inclusion in the HER community. Sumers’ music therapy background provided her with a strong foundation of listening and understanding different types of people, which led her to become the Head of Community of the HER app. The community grew to 4 million members with 40+ subgroups of safe spaces, for LGBTQ+ individuals to gather, grow, and learn from one another. Shana discusses how to identify Moderators and how she built out the Moderator program. Zero tolerance policies against phobias were enforced and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion discussions were supported and encouraged. The HER app continues to find ways to build this diverse and inclusive community and bring the voices of underrepresented groups to the front. Who is this episode for?: B2C, Online, Starting 3 key takeaways: - Shana learned early of the power of building WITH the HER community by walking in their shoes, learning their needs, desires, and struggles, and not FOR the HER community. - Shana built an inclusive and diverse community by having a zero-tolerance phobia policy, actually talking to the community members to see what they could do better, encouraging continual DEI education, building new subgroups for all identities, and having a diverse set of moderators. - To identify a good moderator, Shana found individuals who wanted to build community instead of their own ego and had genuine concern for the community members. She would interview them, provide training manuals, videos, and monthly meetings to provide support, encourage, and educate them about current issues. Notable Quotes: 1. “The prime definition of what being a community manager is providing spaces for people to connect over general interests. I wanted to be that person so as I started to get into actually building my first community space and what that looked like, I continue to be like, ‘this is awesome’. Who else gets to sit there during their day and figure out techniques and strategies to bring people together. Then you get to sit and watch all of these new connections happen and all of the people find love or friendship or groups to meet up with. It's so cool because you're the person who helped do that. It's like an ongoing party planner without having to pause.” 2. “You have to do the work to go out and learn what the actual issues are and then figure out how you're going to address it. Have company understanding of why this is important and that it's ingrained in your missions and policies and then put programs together that support these communities and continue to support them, not just on a monthly basis, not just when it's black history month, and not just when it's pride.” 3. “So what do you look for in an interview to tell you if someone's going to be a good moderator or not? One that I look for is that they're looking to build community and not to build their own ego or brand or anything like that. There's a very clear language where it shows that they want to give outwardly. So they're saying, ‘I want to give back’, ‘I want to be more in this space’, ‘I'm seeing X, Y, Z’, ‘I wish I could help’. The types of phrases that are helpful, actionable, and show a genuine concern for the community are the people that I look for. Anybody else who's like, ‘Yeah it’ll look good on my resume or I'll be around for a bit, I'm jobless right now so I'm hoping that this will just lead to a job.’ Things that are more beneficial for them, those are the people that we don't want.” Rapid fire question answers: 1. What’s your favorite book to recommend to others? ‘More Than Enough’ by Elaine Welteroth, Gabrielle Union’s Book, ‘We’re Going To Need More Wine’, and ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama. For community-centric books, Jono Bacon’s ‘People Powered’, and ‘Building Brand Communities’ by Carrie Jones. 2. Who’s an up and coming community builder you think is going to do big things? Mica Le John of 2Swim 3. If you had to eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Crab Legs or French Fries 4. What’s Your Go-To Community Engagement Conversation Starter? Set up scenarios and ask people how they’d respond to those scenarios. 5. What’s Your Go-To Self Care? Cleaning 6. If you could choose one metric to use forever to measure communities, what would it be? Participation Framework from Jono Bacon - likes seeing people hit their rewards. 7. What’s the weirdest community you’ve ever been a part of? Australian Lesbian Single community 8. If you’re on your death bed and you could only leave one piece of life advice behind for all the future generations, what would that advice be? Take those unexpected chances and go with your gut.

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