Christian Friend recently joined Tides as its new senior director of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI). In this role, Friend will play a pivotal role in advancing and implementing a JEDI plan in close partnership with Tides’ People and Strategic and Impact teams. To ensure equity remains central to our mission and how we approach social justice philanthropy, Friend will work with Tidesters to identify, promote, and track JEDI principles and practices across our initiatives and operations.
Friend began his career as a social studies teacher with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and youth service specialist with the Charlotte Housing Authority. Later, he served as the director of Community Research and Services at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. Friend also previously held various positions in research, program management, and leadership in diverse sectors, including public education, private consulting, and non-profit management. This range of experience in the social sector has informed his expertise in organizational strategy, organizational development, research and evaluation, public education, leadership development, social justice, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Friend holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in social sciences from the University of Chicago, a Ph.D. in human development and family studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a certificate in diversity, equity, and inclusion from Cornell University.
Tides is delighted to welcome Friend who will help uphold our unwavering commitment to JEDI, which is paramount to our mission of shifting resources and power to community leaders and organizations that have been historically denied both.
What inspired you to join Tides?
I’m at a point in my life and career where values alignment is the most important aspect of work for me. When learning about Tides, the “J” in JEDI was incredibly powerful. A lot of organizations do work in diversity, equity, and inclusion; however, it is rare in my experience to see an organization that includes justice in its framework. Tides is also explicit in defining that its move toward justice requires sharing power. I’m also excited to be part of an organization that is intentional about its analysis and work to share and strengthen the power of proximate leaders and their communities.
What are you most looking forward to at Tides?
I’m looking forward to meeting and collaborating with a diverse group of talented people while uplifting the diverse voices of internal and external stakeholders. I also want to help Tides expand and measure its impact in advancing justice for marginalized communities.
Tell us more about your background and how it informed your interest in advancing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion?
My parents’ experiences have greatly informed my path. My mother was one of 10 children raised during the Great Depression on the outskirts of Philadelphia. She was a scholar and athlete and one of the first and few women of color to be inducted into the Arcadia University Athletic Hall of Fame. She often spoke of the prejudice and oppression that she encountered throughout her life. My father’s family is from Chesterfield County, Virginia. And they have a deep and well-documented family history. My ancestors purchased some of the land that they were enslaved on and my family still owns a portion of that land. Today, I can still visit my family cemetery and see the graves of my ancestors who were born into slavery.
My family’s experiences combined with my own experiences of oppression, along with my growing awareness of the privileges I possess as a cis-gender, hetero male in this country empower me to be a tireless advocate for JEDI principles.
What are some fun facts about you that might not be found on your resume?
My family, including friends, my wife, and kids, are my top priority. I’m a big sports fan with a particular interest in American football and NBA basketball. I love the strategy and personalities in the games. I’m also a big movie buff with a particular interest in science fiction and fantasy genres such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel, DC, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and even indie sci-fi films. More so, I’m a hip-hop enthusiast. I have a particular interest in the connection between hip-hop and American social movements.