NEW Discoveries: What Board Member Iris Drayton-Spann Thinks About Serving

Since joining the NEW Board last summer, Iris Drayton-Spann, an HR professional has been struck by a few things. One is the diversity of thought at the Board meetings. Another is the acceptance and encouragement of such diversity of thought. “It never ceases to amaze me,” Drayton-Spann said. “The Board is not just a fundraising board, it’s a think tank.”

Drayton-Spann, who is Vice Chair, has served on another board in the past, but this one has really impressed her. NEW Board members come from myriad professional backgrounds and are not self-serving. Rather, they are genuinely trying to use their unique skills to truly serve New Endeavors by Women. “We all ask ourselves, ‘What am I contributing?’ The Board is really taking what we do seriously.”

Born and raised in DC, Drayton-Spann is Vice President, HR and Organizational Development at WETA and a Certified Diversity Executive. She felt drawn to NEW. “I want to ensure that women and children who are homeless don’t feel neglected, alone, without hope, there is a brighter path, and organizations like NEW are on the front line to ensure change will happen, to be there and be present to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Two things have impressed Drayon-Spann about NEW: The holistic approach that the organization uses to address the needs of the entire woman, and also the nonjudgmental care that the women who come to NEW recieve. “NEW doesn’t throw anyone away or cast anyone aside,” Drayton-Spann said. Every woman has different needs and are at different places in her journey, and NEW meets her where she is. That has really impressed Drayton-Spann.

“Drayton-Spann has been an incredible addition to the NEW board,” Executive Director Wanda Steptoe said. “She brings big picture strategy and ideas to the table, but then if someone needs to go out and buy lotions and skin care products to put together a pampering basket for an online auction, she is always more than willing to volunteer. We are very blessed to have her on our Board.”

Drayton-Spann has felt at home on the NEW board and feels that this is right where she should be, helping women in DC who have experienced homelessness, in both big and small ways, and doing it together with a group of smart, good, and motivated fellow Board members. “In NEW,” she said, “I have found my tribe.”

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It’s been a challenging time for all of us as we adjust our days, our budgets and our expectations to COVID-19. And now, add a city and country grasping for footing after the death of an unarmed black man by a white police officer and we all feel even more out of control, unstable, and concerned about the future. Here at NEW we know that one way we can process our own feelings is to think about the needs and feelings of others.

We need you. The women need you. Your community needs you. Now more than ever women and children in DC need a safe and stable place to live.